My husband and I checked out of our hotel in Tangalle at 6am and took a private van (arranged by the hotel) to Udawalawe. We stayed at Hotel Athgira, right across the street from an elephant orphanage and a 10 minute drive to Udawalawe National Park.
The private van ride cost $5000 rupees, equivalent to $30 USD, and took about 2 hours. In my opinion it was well worth the money and was a nice break from the hectic bus stations.
We arrived at our hotel rather early and wasn’t able to check into our room, but the staff was incredibly helpful and kind (we were also given fresh mango juice on arrival!). They allowed us to leave our bags in the lobby and then called a safari tour to come pick us up. Since we were traveling in Sri Lanka during the off season, it was a super simple process to arrange a half day tour, we also got the jeep tour to ourselves!
On the drive towards the park we passed a huge field full of elephants out by a lake and we even got up close and personal with one elephant that was hanging out by the fence eating grass. I want to mention that these elephant are in fact behind a fence and with the magic of editing I was able to get rid of the fence in a few photos. I do not recommend approaching a wild animal–especially one of this size!
COST FOR TWO ADULTS: **There’s no ATM in the town of Udwalawe, so make sure you have cash prior to your visit!**
A three hour tour within the National Park (pay with cash): 3500 rupees (22 USD)
Entrance fee for the park (pay with card): 7000 rupees (45 USD)
Tip for driver: Any price, but we gave 1200 rupees (8 USD)
TOTAL: 75 USD
Udawalawe National Park is HUGE! We saw elephants, crocodiles, birds, monkeys, buffalo and more! The best time to go is in the morning. Towards the end of our 3 hour tour most of the animals where underneath trees hanging out in the shade to escape the heat.
After the Udawalawe National Park safari we were dropped off at our hotel and decided to go see the elephant orphanage. They do baby elephant feedings at certain times of the day so that was great to see! It costs 1000 rupees for two people ($6.50 USD) Besides the park and the elephant orphanage there’s not a lot to do in the town itself, but you can hop on a bus and head to Pelmadulla where theres places to grab something to eat or cash from an ATM!
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE YOUTUBE VIDEO FROM THIS DAY!