Visiting Udawalawe National Park was the perfect introduction to an actual safari for my three children who were all under 5 years old. Only an hours drive from the Shangri La Hambantota in an open top 4 x 4 safari jeep the children got to experience safari life patience, having to whisper, use binoculars to spot the animals and most of all enjoy the great out doors.
Udawalawe National Park lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River. The reserve covers 30,821 hectares (119.00 sq mi) of land area. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan elephants.
It is quite possibly the best place in Sri Lanka to see elephants throughout the year as there are , and you can sometimes witness a herd of females and their young moving or bathing together in their natural habitat.
As we had the jeep to ourselves, the driver was kind enough to go around the park at our own pace, waiting patiently for elephants to cross the bumpy tracks on the road so as we could watch them closely and follow his path. When the children spotted a baby elephant they were so excited, they babies were so cute, staying close to their mother but like any young they were walking in a daze and easily distracted falling behind.
This is the perfect opportunity for tourists to witness elephants at one with nature being free to roam as they wish. My children loved trying to spot the elephants using binoculars.
This is certainly a trip I would recommend doing when in Sri Lanka. The hotel will arrange the tour for you offering two time slots to visit the park. We went in the afternoon which was ideal as we caught a glimpse of the elephants bathing in the river late afternoon and the temperature was a lot cooler.
Here’s a video I found which will give you a little insight into the park
Udawalawe National Park costs:
Adult - $150.37 Child (6-12Yrs) $32.50
Fly Dubai takes 4 hours from Dubai flying direct into Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. The resort is then 35km away. Emirates fly into Colombo and you then have about a 4 hour drive.