Best of Udawalawe

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Udawalawe
In the Hill Country in the far south, Udawalawe National Park is best known for its large population of Sri Lankan elephants. In the 1970s, the park was created as a sanctuary for wildlife displaced by the construction of a nearby reservoir, and today Udawalawe’s 119 square miles (308 sq km) support over 400 elephants, sometimes gathering in herds of up to 60 individuals. You can make the most of your stay by spending the night in a tented camp or nature-minded lodge. 

On a safari trip, you’ll ride in an open-sided 4WD on the edge of grasslands and bush forest in search of the park’s resident elephants. The lack of dense vegetation makes wildlife spotting easier, and you might encounter jackals, sloth bears, peacocks, and perhaps a leopard in addition to a dozen or more elephants. You can learn all about the life cycle of the planet’s largest land animals at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. Here orphaned calves and adolescents are taken in and cared for until they can be released back into the wild.
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A leopard in Yala National Park
Map of Best of Sri Lanka's Wildlife - 7 Days
Best of Sri Lanka's Wildlife - 7 Days

From elephants to leopards to whales, the wildlife of Sri Lanka awaits as you embark on this weeklong adventure around the country. You'll go on Jeep safaris in national parks, spotting magnificent animals and birds along the journey. Then you'll continue onward to the coast, where you'll see blue whales during a boat tour off the coast of Mirissa. Rounding out the itinerary are a handful of cultural experiences, including a cooking class at a safari camp and time for sightseeing in the capital city of Colombo.

A leopard in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Map of Wildlife & Beaches of Sri Lanka - 5 Days
Wildlife & Beaches of Sri Lanka - 5 Days

This five-day tour highlights the remarkable wildlife and pristine beaches of Sri Lanka's central and southern provinces. Start your adventure with safari tours in Udawalawe and Yala National Parks, where you'll spot elephants and leopards in the wild. Next, you'll head down the coast to the golden sands and turquoise waters of Mirissa and Bentota before spending your final day in the vibrant capital city of Colombo. 

Immerse in nature at Ravana Falls
Map of Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature: 6 Days
Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature: 6 Days

Marvel at the diverse scenery and wildlife of Sri Lanka during this compact six-day trip. Start by exploring the beaches of Negombo before heading east into the misty mountains of Nuwara Eliya. Visit a nearby tea plantation, where you'll learn about tea and, of course, taste it. Go on an evening safari in Udawalawe National Park and get up close to its elephants and other wildlife. Witness baby elephants being bottled-fed at a local sanctuary before getting lost in the frenzy of the vibrant city of Colombo.

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days

See the best that Sri Lanka has to offer on this week-long itinerary around the country's cultural monuments and natural wonders. You'll visit historic temples in Kandy and Sigiriya, see the colorful fish market of Negombo, and learn about tea production in Hill Country. The trip features not one but two Jeep safaris in national parks, providing ample opportunities to see elephants, monkeys, and rare birds in their natural habitats.

Sunrise in Galle
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This eight-day itinerary takes you to the heart of Sri Lanka for ancient history, Buddhist culture, and exciting adventures in nature. From Negombo (near the capital), you'll experience a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tour a tea plantation, meet elephants, and explore towns loaded with Portuguese and Dutch colonial history. End each day with an opportunity to catch an alluring sunset that only South Asia can offer.

Kandy's Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Map of Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle - 8 Days
Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle - 8 Days

This eight-day adventure will take you to Sri Lanka's must-see highlights. Learn about Negombo's colonial past, climb Sigiriya's rock fortress, wander through Dambulla's cave temples, and explore the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Then take a scenic train ride and transfer to Nuwara Eliya, where you'll learn about tea production and enjoy spectacular views. Look for elephants, monkeys, and other wildlife at Udawalawe National Park, then relax in Tangalle and keep an eye out for sea turtles.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

Ancient rock temples, wild elephants and whales, sloping hills planted with tea: this 10-day tour of Sri Lanka takes you to the country's incredibly diverse highlights. Go on a Jeep safari, taste tea where it's harvested, and scan the ocean's surface for whales. With a mix of cultural sites and outdoor adventures, plus time to relax on the idyllic beaches of Mirissa, this sweeping itinerary has something for everyone.

Kelani River in Sri Lanka
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 10 Days

From mountainous national parks to rushing rivers to the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, the landscapes featured on this tour around Sri Lanka are paradise for travelers who love the outdoors. On this action-packed itinerary, you'll hike and cycle, try whitewater rafting, and spot elephants in the wild. You'll end up at the beach for a free day of water sports, swimming, and sunbathing before the trip comes to an end.

Views across the Sri Lankan city of Kandy
Wonders of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Ahangama -10 Days

From ancient temples to mountain villages and national parks, this 10-day itinerary introduces you to the many wonders of southern and central Sri Lanka. Setting out from the laid-back beach town of Negombo, you'll visit some of the country's most remarkable cultural sites like Yapahuwa, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya, and explore the surrounding landscapes with memorable cycling and safari excursions. After a week of discovery and adventure, end your trip with a few days of relaxation on the Indian Ocean beaches of Ahangama.

Elephants grazing at Yala National Park
Map of Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days
Honeymoon in Sri Lanka - 12 Days

This 12-day honeymoon is perfect for couples who love exotic wildlife and natural scenery. Starting from the capital, you'll circle the island-nation exploring a boggling array of national parks, rainforests, ancient villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Buddhist relics. After each day of sightseeing with your private guide, you'll have quality time (alone) at your accommodations—a fun mix of resorts, beach hotels, and safari camps—for the ultimate romantic adventure.

Views from "World's End" in Sri Lanka's Horton Plains National Park
Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure: Rafting, Hiking & Waterfalls - 12 Days

Perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, this jam-packed 12-day itinerary highlights Sri Lanka's most dramatic and diverse landscapes. Hike to five of the country's most scenic waterfalls, raft down the raging Kelani River, see rare wildlife in Horton Plains and Udawalawe National Parks, and end your adventure with some well-earned downtime on the white sand beaches of Weligama.

Enjoy a safari adventure in Wilpattu National Park
Map of Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days

With a colorful cultural history and rugged landscapes ideal for outdoor adventures, Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination for a family vacation. This two-week tour around the island features a dolphin-watching tour, multiple safari adventures, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and visits to ancient fortresses. Thanks to the mix of hands-on activities and cultural education, it's an excellent option for travelers of all ages.

Playing in the tea fields around Nuwara Eliya
Map of Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days
Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days

Equal parts fast-paced adventure and laid-back beach holiday, this two-week itinerary hops around central Sri Lanka with family-friendly tours of cultural landmarks, national park safaris, and a scenic train journey into the mountains. Then it's time to slow down with a week on the south coast beaches of Tangalle, where a private oceanfront villa serves as your base for fun day trips, family watersports, and plenty of beach time.

Explore Sri Lanka on a 14-day cycling adventure
Map of Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days
Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days

This cycling tour takes you to Sri Lanka's top cultural sites and also off the beaten path. Cycle along rice fields, tea plantations, and tranquil villages to reach ancient kingdoms rich in history and culture. You also have the chance to explore Sri Lanka's wildlife parks to see herds of elephants roam the wild country.

A traditional boat in the Maldives
Map of Explore Sri Lanka & The Maldives - 14 Days
Explore Sri Lanka & The Maldives - 14 Days

This 14-day island-hopping trip offers equal parts exploration and relaxation. Uncover the history and culture of Sri Lanka, a jewel of the Indian Ocean, from ancient rock fortresses and historical capital cities to quiet tea plantations and national parks home to elephants and other endangered wildlife. You'll spend some time unwinding on the beaches of Unawatuna before heading to the capital city of Colombo to catch your flight to the Maldives. You'll spend the last few days of the trip snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying epic sunsets in this island paradise.

Other popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka
Kandy · Sigiriya · Colombo · Negombo · Ella · Nuwara Eliya · Yala National Park · Galle · Tangalle · Wilpattu · Dambulla · Anuradhapura · Bentota · Pasikudah · Mirissa · Habarana