For the third part of our Sri Lanka adventure, we headed further inland to Udawalawe National Park. This was something Han suggested we do and it proved to be an amazing suggestion! Therefore, rather than write a whole post I want to use a different format. Below you will find a collection of some of the photo’s we took whilst on the journey. I hope you enjoy and please leave your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of the page…
We stayed in a place called Nature House which was a short 15 minute drive from Udawalawe National Park. This was idyllic and such an amazing place to stay. The House is family run and the owner has previously worked as a chef further south on beaches for 20 years. This meant the food was incredible, some of the best we had in Sri Lanka. If you are visiting Udawalawe National Park, I would definitely recommend this as a place to stay. The rooms are spacious and modern, clean and well situated. You literally roll out of bed to the restaurant area and relax listening to the wildlife whilst enjoying home cooked food.
In the morning, you rise and get picked up (all organised by your host) in a jeep to visit Udawalawe National Park. I would recommend the early safari and not the later one as this sets you up for beautiful views and a stunning drive in!
Udawalawe National Park
So, below I wanted to simply provide a photo story of the sights we got to see in Udawalawe National Park. Along the way we saw a host of wildlife, here are some of the top ones.
The elephants were the main reason we went to Udawalawe National Park. It took a while for us to see them but once we did they were so friendly and comfortable with us. They roamed in small groups and spent the day foraging and taking dirt baths which was odd to see.
It was nice to see animals as big as this free in the wild and not in a zoo cage.
The Water Buffalo are dotted around different watering holes in Udawalawe National Park. They tended to be swimming or bathing in mud due to the heat. They’re so big, I didn’t realise that they are as big as they are. It is also surreal to see animals like this just free and roaming. There were many younger Buffalo among the packs which had to be protected from the crocodiles lying in wait!
The Crocodiles were not only difficult to photograph but also difficult to spot! They tended to lurk in the same areas as the Water Buffalo which amazed me. They almost seemed like friends just relaxing in the same pond. However, our guide advised they are just very patient and waiting until baby Water Buffalo are left alone. They then move in to feed on the baby Water Buffalo as the adults are too big. Whilst not the biggest, they were certainly intimidating enough.
At first glance this may look like a Crocodile, but it’s not! We actually saw a Monitor even closer at Unawatuna beach, however, they are fond of garbage so the photo’s aren’t great! A Monitor basically looks like a giant lizard/dinosaur. They are almost pre-historic and look mean. Their tails are dangerous and sharp as well as possessing a vicious bite. Stay clear!
So Peacocks were in abundance throughout the park. We were lucky as we got to see them in the middle of mating season. This meant they constantly flared their huge tail feathers and essentially walked around like they owned the place. I guess there’s a reason “Peacocking” is now used in human terms as well!
Other Birds/Birds of Prey
There’s a few varieties of Eagle in Udawalawe National Park and they are very impressive. The image above was taken just as the Eagle was about to eat the prey it had caught. You can see them circling over head but we were fortunate enough (Depending upon how you view it) to see one catch its prey. Eagles are probably some of the most impressive birds on the planet in how they hunt and getting to see this first hand was amazing.
This may not seem like much but it was so bright and attractive in person. The parrot’s blend into their surroundings so well and are so cool. They are the size of normal parrots but have really distinguished beaks and tail feathers.
Again, this was another animal that normally wouldn’t be so impressive. However, seeing them free to roam in their natural habitat made them seem so different. Stork’s are also (Similar to the Water Buffalo) bigger up close than I thought they would be. Whilst this one was on its own we also saw larger flocks of them nearer the water. However, again, they have to be careful of the Crocodiles!
The quality of this photo isn’t great so the colours are muted. However, this little fella was bright and vibrant. We saw a few Kingfisher’s around the park
From a distance (Unknown)
Other points of interest
As you pass through Udawalawe National Park the guides will stop and point out various birds and animals. It’s amazing how keen their eye is and they see things we simply could not have identified if on our own. They will also take you to spots that are, well, just beautiful. Here are some of the best…
Big old tree which has been there for years. This was huge and quite spooky at the same time!
These big, open areas are one of the homes of the Crocodiles. They are sun burnt and sparse. However, they are stunning, especially in the morning.
The above is a photo of a beehive which occupies one of the trees. This is a popular stop off point and the hive is actually quite active. The little lumps you can see on it are all bees at work!