Uda Walawe, Open for visitors and teaming with wildlife
Friends and I visited Uda Walawe National Park over Easter weekend (20 March 2008) and I was delighted to see that the park is back to its former glory. It was closed for nearly two months due to security concerns but was reopened on 1 March. We were able to see many herds of elephants even during the heat of the day. There were three small family groups which we saw and there were some small baby elephants in the herd. They were about 2-3 months old. We also saw a few lone male elephants as well and as usually were treated to a few mock charges – always exhilarating. The park has had a quite a bit of rain lately. It’s very green and lush and a great 4WD experience. Many species of birds were also seen and some of the migrants were also still around. Many birds of prey like Eagles and Kites were seen during the afternoon. This park is a heaven for wildlife photographers as it’s a small park and you can encounter many elephants and other wildlife within a short safari.
Uda Walawe is usually is very good in the evening when the sun is settling however with the weather pattern these days it seems to be raining in the evenings. Therefore it’s best to visit the morning early morning as soon as it opens. The new ticket office is now open so visitors can enter the park and go to the new visitor centre to buy the tickets and have a look at all the displays with information on the wildlife at Uda Walawe. Visitors are advised to go a bit early with the new security measures in the park you need to fill a form with all the information of the each person who enters the park. National Identity or Passport numbers are needed with full names of all the visitors. This procedure does take a bit of time so it’s best to go a bit early to the park to get through all the paper work.
The trekkers and jeep drivers seem to be most grateful for any sort of tip that a visitor offers as they have been out of work for more than 2 months with no means of income. The park is still not seeing the large number of visitors it used to see in the past and a jeep driver gets a hire only every few days and the same for the guides in the park. A visit to the Elephant Transit home in Udawalawe is also highly recommend specially if you’re travelling with children, it would be a unique experience for them. Uda Walawe is easily accessible and is en route when you’re travelling from the hill country to the south coast.