Bucket List Experience: Udawalawe National Park & Elephant Transit Home.
Uduwalawe National Park
We booked our trip to Uduwalawe National Park through our hotel in Tangalle (Sea View Tourist Inn – recommended). The tour only included ourselves and our tuk-tuk driver.
Morning pickup at 5.30am
1.5 hr drive to park from Tangalle
1 jeep and driver
Entry to park
As long as we wanted in the park (lasted about 2 hours)
Transport back to hotel
Cost: 5000 for 2 persons
Other birds (not sure name) Kingfishers
What to bring:
Camera + large lens
Jumper (if you leave before sunrise like us and travel in a tuk-tuk, you’ll need it!)
Water + snacks (we had a packed lunch)
Description & tips:
If a photographer, remember to pack a good lens. You don’t always get very close to the animals because of course they are in a NP and are there to wonder freely so we should respect their space. You may have quiet moments with animals where the only jeep around is your own but if a family of elephants or a group of monkeys are gathered together looking exceptionally cute, other jeeps will appear out of nowhere and you’ll begin to struggle to get a shot that doesn’t include a crowd.
-Our driver was exceptionally good at spotting wildlife and very knowledgeable especially of all the different species of birds we saw.
-The driver will slow down and get in a position for a great view even if it means blocking the view of another jeep (this did happen and we did feel bad).
-Take your time; stay and look at each animal as long as you like because your driver will not move on until you give the OK.
Elephant Transit Home
Cost: 50Rp per person
Feeding times: /every 3 hours/
Description & Tips:
Get there maybe 30mins before the feeding time to make your first in line for a good viewing position. (There is a place to eat and drink across the road with a few souvenirs, but nothing more). Please note, the park is not accessible before the stated times above.
Time this well, it is good to go before or after your Udawalawe NP visit as they are only minutes away from each other. We did not time it well and were waiting for 2 hours.
The feeding time lasts for 1 hour.
You will notice the ETH has a small building to read about the history but it’s best do this after feeding.
Be patient and wait. You’ll see a handful of elephants being fed first and then more will come and more and more, each group patiently waiting at the gate for their turn. Staff will feed them milk to start and then corn and sugar canes are positioned close to the platform and watering hole for the elephants to eat and play and for amazing photo opportunities.
Please note: at times you will see staff with sticks gesturing towards the elephants. During our visit we did not see any violence or bad behaviour towards the elephants, they simply used them to guide the elephants, e.g. when cheeky elephants that keep running behind staff member’s backs for more milk.
That said, if you know of any such violence to events that have occurred in this ETH then please let us know so we can change our blog accordingly.
Why we didn’t choose Yala NP?
Yes they have leopards BUT sightings are said to be rare.
They have more elephants BUT more elephants attract a lot more tourists ( we discovered this online and when asking locals) which means there will be a lot more waiting and crowds.
Anyway, if you need anymore convincing, check out our photo gallery from the Udawalawe National Park!