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Udawalawe Safari In Sri Lanka – A Complete Guide

An Udawalawe Safari is near the top of most people’s Sri Lanka bucket list. So here’s all the info on how to experience one of your best days on the island.

How To Get To Udawalawe

Udawalawe is a small town located in the southern part of the Ratnapura District in Sri Lanka.

The two most popular destinations that tourists choose to visit from are either Ella or Mirissa:

Bus From Ella:

From Ella you will have to take 3 buses:

Ella to Wellawaya bus station. (Cost: 75 Rupees/Duration: 45 minutes)

Wellawaya bus station to Thanamalwila. (Cost: 80 Rupees/Duration: 40 minutes)

Thanamalwila to Udawalawe. (Cost: 80 Rupees/Duration: 45 minutes)

Bus From Mirissa:

From Mirissa you will have to take 3 buses:

Mirissa to Tangalle bus station. (Cost: 60 Rupees/Duration 1 hour 30 minutes)

Tangelle bus station to Embilipitiya. (Cost: 60 Rupees/Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes)

Embilipitiya bus station to Udawalawe. (Cost: 40 Rupees/Duration: 30 minutes)

Day Tours:

If you just wish to visit on a day trip safari from other areas of Sri Lanka, there are plenty of options on Get Your Guide such as:

Ella To Udawalawe National Park Wildlife Safari Tour

Colombo To Udawalawa National Park Wildlife Safari Tour

Bentota To Udawalawa National Park Wildlife Safari Tour

Negombo To Udawalawa National Park Wildlife Safari Tour

All of these 1 day tours will all include hotel pickup and drop-off, national park fees, and a private Udawalawe jeep safari.

Udawalawe Safari Prices

Once you make it to Udawalwe, there are generally two types of Udawalawe Safari tours.

A half day tour or a full day tour.

Udawalawe National Park: Private Safari Half Day (3 hours) – £15 per person.

Udawalawe National Park: Private Safari Full Day (8 hours) – £50 per person.

All tours will include hotel pickup and drop-off (some may ask to you to meet them at the entrance gate), national park fees, and a private Udawalawe Safari in a 4×4 jeep.

Udawalawe Safari Times

Half day tours: 6am or 2.30pm (duration of 3 hours)

Full day tours: 6am (duration of 8 hours)

Udawalawe Safari In Sri Lanka Safari Udawalawe Safari Jeep
Our private Udawalawe Safari jeep

What To Expect On An Udawalawe Safari

We stayed in Mirissa and took the long journey up to Udawalawe via public bus.

The afternoon slot was perfect for us, which started at around 2.30pm. There are also morning safaris running between 7-10am.

Among the travellers you meet and reviews you hear, you’ll never know exactly when the best time is to take a safari in Sri Lanka.

Although we were advised by a lot of people that more elephants are usually visible in the afternoon, as they make their way to their watering holes.

It was the first time we have both seen wild elephants, so our Udawalawe safari will always be in the top highlights of our travels.

Udawalawe Safari In Sri Lanka Safari
Looking out for the crocs at Udawalawe National Park

After arriving and meeting at our collection point, our guide helped us up into the 4×4 and we were all set for an afternoon of animal spotting.

We paid our fees at the Udawalawe National Park Entrance and after heading through the gate it was only minutes before we were greeted by a family of 4 beautiful elephants!

Our guide was full of information about the size, age and origin of these amazing mammals and every other animal we saw.

Also he was constantly on the look out to find some of the rare breeds that used Udawalawe safari as their habitat.

Throughout the tour we spotted everything from water buffalo to crocodiles and monkeys to eagles. As well as every colour and breed of bird you can imagine.

Udawalawe National Park Safari In Sri Lanka Safari
Udawalawe National Park in all it’s glory
Udawalawe Safari In Sri Lanka Safari
Getting up close and personal on our Udawalawe Safari

The Udawalawe Safari Reality Check

As the evening set in and the excitement died down at Udawalawe National Park, it was nice to sit back and take in everything that had happened. As we headed towards the end of our trail we found ourselves reflecting.

Sometimes we can take for granted what’s right in front of us, but at our Udawalawe safari experience we were fully aware of what was happening and how special the day had been.

This safari in Sri Lanka truly made us appreciate the power of now!

As we exited the park our tour guide drove us back to our agreed drop-off point. Cruising up the highway, looking out into the planes and watching sunset over the park made us pinch ourselves.

We ended the Udawalawe safari feeling unbelievably full of gratitude. It was a perfect end to a beautiful day!

Udawalawe National Park Safari In Sri Lanka Safari
A solid day on our Sri Lanka Safari that we’ll remember forever!

Where To Stay In Udawalawe

Luxury – Mahoora Tented Safari Camp

Located at the eastern border of Udawalwe National Park in Sri Lanka, Mahoora Tented Safari Camp provides tents with modern and private bathroom facilities, a bed and private patio.

Guests can enjoy a private jungle dining experience as well as barbecue dishes served by nightly camp fires. 

Mahoora Tented Safari Camp is about 133.6 miles from Colombo City and 155.3 miles from Bandaranaike International Airport. 

Fitted with carpeted flooring, the tents feature spacious interiors and mosquito nets. A fruit platter and umbrellas are also provided.

Mid-Budget – Grand Udawalawe Resort

Located within a 10-minute drive from the famous Udawalawe National Park, Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort features an outdoor swimming pool.

It also offers spacious rooms with views of the surrounding nature. Free parking is available on site. 

The resort is just 550 yards to Ath Athuru Sevana, an elephant orphanage, and approximately 99.4 miles from Katunayake Airport.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium is within a 40-minute drive away. 

All air-conditioned rooms come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen satellite TV, an electric kettle and ironing facilities.

En suite bathrooms come with a hairdryer, bathtub or shower facility. Wired internet is also provided at a charge.

Budget – Humming Birds Safari Resort

Set in Udawalawe, less than 0.6 miles from Udawalawe National Park, Humming Birds Safari Resort features rooms with garden views and free WiFi.

Boasting a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with a restaurant. The guest house has family rooms. 

All guest rooms at the guest house come with a seating area.

At Humming Birds Safari Resort all rooms include a desk and a private bathroom.

For more places to stay in Udawalawe, you can check the latest prices on

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Udawalawe Safari In Sri Lanka Guide


Sunday 22nd of April 2018

Hi! I’m booking a Udawalawe Safari, but am looking for recommendations on what safari company to use. Can you help?

Thanks! Kathleen

Charlie Pauly

Monday 23rd of April 2018

Hey Kathleen...we used Niluka Safari who were great!