Sri Lanka is home to twenty-six national parks and the Kaudulla National Park is one of the most eminent parks, it is spread over a massive 6656 hectares and is home to a countless number of wild animals, aquatic animals, and exotic birds. The Kaudulla National Park is also connected to the Somawathie Chaitiya Park and the Minneriya Wildlife Park, both of which are excellent spots where you can explore Sri Lanka’s wildlife, especially elephants.
Declared as a National Park in the year 2002, the Kaudulla National Park was the fifteenth nature reserve that was given the title. The Park also brings tourists and travelers from all around the world mainly to see the elephants population that lives in abundance at the Park. In the dry seasons, all the elephants from the surrounding National Parks including the Kaudulla, Wasgomuwa and the Somawathie Chaitiya Parks come together at the Minneriya National Park in an unofficial ceremony called “Elephant Gathering” by the locals.
When you look at the map of Kaudulla National Park a little closely, you will notice how the National Parks in Sri Lanka are so closely connected to each other, making it easier for animals to go from one park to the other in search of food, water or mates.
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The best time to visit the Kaudulla National Park is between the months of August and December so you can see a maximum number of wild animals at the Park. The famous Sri Lankan elephant gatherings take place in the months of September and October so plan your visit accordingly.
You can reach Kaudulla National Park from the Colombo-Trincomalee main road if you are traveling by road. You can hail a cab directly from Trincomalee to the National Park which would cost about INR 2300 to INR 2800 and reach you to your destination in about 1 hour 20 minutes.
From Dambulla to Kaudulla National Park: If you’re traveling from Trincomalee to Kaudalla National Park, you can board a night train from Trincomalee that drops you at Galoya Junction in 2 hours, costing you around INR 29 to INR 100 (one way). From Galoya junction, you can either walk it up to the park (takes about twenty minutes) or hail a taxi.
From Dambulla to Kaudulla National Park: If you are staying at Dambulla, you can hire a taxi that will take you from Dambulla to Kaudulla National Park, covering a distance of 44 kilometers in 42 minutes, costing you around INR 1400 to INR 1800 (one way).
Kaudulla National Park Entrance Fee: INR 1280
The Kaudalla National Park lies between the coastal city of Trincomalee and Dambulla so you can find accommodation at one of the following hotels:
1) Dambulla Rock Arch
Dambulla Rock Arch is located only two kilometers away from the Dambulla International Cricket Stadium and only at an hour’s distance from the Sri Lanka airport, making it one of the great place to stay at when you are in Sri Lanka. Dambulla Rock Arch is a bed and breakfast concept with well-furnished rooms having access to beautiful views of the gardens. The guesthouse also has pick-up and drop facilities for guests coming in from the airport.
Where? 696/4, Anuradhapura Road, 21100 Dambulla, Sri Lanka.
Pricing: Moderately priced.
2) Sevonrich Holiday Resort
The Sevonrich Holiday Resort is a great option for those looking for more of a fun time with family and friends. The resort is located in Dambulla and has an outdoor swimming pool that all the guests can use. The better part about this resort is that you don’t need to step out of the resort to grab a meal at the resort itself has an in-house restaurant that serves up yummy food. We suggest you go in for stay packages that are inclusive of the buffet breakfast so you can pack yourselves up on some sumptuous food before you take off to exploring the places around.
Where? No:151, 2nd Lane, Jayamawatha, Yapagama, Dambulla, 21100 Dambulla, Sri Lanka.
Pricing: Relatively expensive.
What you will see on the park tour:
- There are over 200 elephants in Kaudulla National Park so, if you want to go elephant-watching, there is no better place than Kaudulla.
- Other than elephants, you will also find a lot of colorful peacocks, chirping birds, wild boars, Sri Lankan axis deer, Sri Lankan sambar deer, spotted deer, black bears and varied monkey species along with crocodiles lounging around the park.
- If you are lucky, you might also get to see a few leopards with their baby leopards loitering around the forest when you are on the safari.
- You can’t miss the main center of attraction, the Kaudulla reservoirs which co-incidentally also lie in the center of the National Park. The Kaudulla reservoirs were built in the third century by King Mahasen for irrigation purposes but were left in the ruins for the longest time. After a long period of desertion, the reservoirs are now major sources of life for diverse aquatic species and provide drinking water to all the animals residing at the National Park.
- Around the reservoirs, you will also see a lot of birds such as the Spot-billed Pelican, Asian Spoonbills, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle, the Black-headed Ibis, and the Open Bill Stork that lounge around the water tanks, especially during the summer months.
1) Jeep Safari
If you want to explore the national park, there is no better way to do it than to do a jeep safari through the park. If you’ve been on safaris before, you might have had disappointing times where you don’t see any animals all through the safari. However, if you are on the Kaudulla National Park safari, you will see a lot of wild animals roaming about freely in the park. The jeep safaris usually start off from the main entry gate of the Kaudalla National Park and take you around the entire park to watch the wild closely.
Jeep safari timings: There are two jeep safari slots that you can choose from, the morning slot or the afternoon slot. The morning slot starts at 5:30am while the afternoon slot starts at 2:30pm. If you are going mainly for the elephants, we suggest you take the afternoon safari slot.
Duration of the Kaudulla National Park jeep safari: You would take about three hours to go around the entire National Park through the jeep safari.
Kaudulla National Park Safari price: The jeep safari costs around INR 3189 and is inclusive of a private safari jeep, Kaudulla National Park entry fees and a pick-up/ drop to your place of accommodation if it falls within five kilometres from the park’s main gate.
2) Elephant Gathering at Kaudulla National Park
As you might have already gathered, the elephants at Kaudulla are the main stars of the National Park. Irrespective of whether you are fond of elephants or not, watching the “Elephant Gathering” at Kaudulla is a sight you that you just cannot miss! These elephant gatherings peak around the months of August and September where you can see herds of elephants coming together to chill by the park’s reservoirs while munching on some fresh grass.
3) Photography in the wild
We all have hidden photographers in us and the Kaudulla National Park is sure to bring out the photographer in you. While you are on the safari, be very vigilant and look around for wild animals that hurry through the forests, so you can quickly pull out your cameras and take beautiful shots of these animals as they are in their natural elements, jumping across the forests.
The flora and fauna at the Kaudulla National Park consist of diversified species of plants and animals that only add to the beauty of the verdant forests that surround the reservoir. Visit the Kaudulla National Park and the surrounding national parks to pack in your fix of wild adventures on your visit to Sri Lanka.
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