Sri Lanka has over 26 national wildlife parks and going on an off road safari is a popular activity for all ages. These wildlife areas are an ethical and responsible way to see the incredible wildlife in this island paradise. Interestingly, Sri Lanka has the largest elephant density in Asia.
Kaudulla national park has to be one of my favourite parks, if not my favourite in Sri Lanka. It’s off the beaten path, located in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa in the cultural triangle. It is easily accessed if you are staying in Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa or the Habarana areas.
Apart from the varied scenery which is pretty incredible, you are always pretty much guaranteed to see the biggest land mammals, the elephants! There are a lot fewer 4WD jeeps than in the better known parks such as Yala & Udawalawe located further south.
For spotting elephants in their natural environment Kaudulla National Park is one of the best national parks in Sri Lanka. It is home to 200 plus elephants, many monkeys & crocodiles, an abundance of birdlife & it can be visited all year round. Minneriya National Park is the other national park in the area. Elephants are free to roam around and travel via the elephant corridor into either Minneriya or Kaudulla.
The small trails are a great adventure through bushland, breaking out into fields of wild grass and the water tank. Take water, sunscreen and wear clothes that can be covered in dust. This is an adventure you will never forget.
The Elephants are often spotted gathering by the water, a stunning place for relaxing & watching these amazing animals. The water with its dead trees still standing is co-incidentally the perfect backdrop for photographing.
Old tusker males, females with their families & the small calves all gather together & entertain the human visitors just by their presence. They can be photographed with large bunches of grass in their trunks or throwing up dust onto their backs. Of course the little ones throwing dust and rumbling with each other has to be a highlight. Naturally these giants are herd animals & this is the way they roam around.
As we all know, elephants have in the past been hunted for ivory. Unfortunately this practise still happens on occasion. An awesome bunch of rangers do their best to protect these friendly grey mammals. At the moment the average of tuskers is only around 7% of the total elephant population in Sri Lanka.
Other wildlife is also roaming around freely. Sri Lankan Sambar deer, Sri Lankan Axis deer, wild boar, buffalo, Sri Lankan Leopard, (although rarely seen) and sloth bears are other mammals found in Kaudulla National Park, along with 160 species of bird.
Apart from land animals, crocodiles can be spotted & large water birds such as spot billed-pelicans visit the Kaudulla water tank. Jungle fowl, peacocks and plenty of small birds, all brightly coloured keep the jungle song humming. Keep your eyes out for eagles searching for prey & nesting in the woody trees.
Safaris in Kaudulla can be done in the morning or afternoon. The afternoon safaris are less busy and possibly better to spot the majestic elephants. The safari experience takes about 3 to 5 hours, includes a private 4wd jeep, park entrance fee, pick-up and drop-off at your hotel in Dambulla or Sigiriya.
Wildlife spotting in Sri Lanka is a year-round experience. We can promise you that there are elephants to be spotted at all times. Our local friends will always know where the elephants are gathering on the day you visit.
Kaudulla is one of the lesser known parks in Sri Lanka, the benefit of this is that you will experience times in the park when it’s only you (and then times with a few other jeeps). It’s an amazing experience & It’s a bit off the most visited tourist trail which we love at Picker's Pocket.