Here are some tips before going there:
1. Book the safari through your accommodation.
It’s the most comfortable way without any hustle. I read that you can also find cars on the spot, but I don’t think that will be cheaper + you never know how good the driver/guide is. When booking thought your accommodation, you can read the reviews before. And I’m not sure how would you get there without a driver at 5 am in the morning. We paid around 52€ for 2 people and that included the car, the driver (who was also a guide) and the national park tickets.
2. Share cars!!
Our hotel staff asked us the night before if we wanted to share the car. And of course we said yes. It’s cheaper this way, but the most important thing is that there will be less cars in the national park. At the moment there is no regulation on how many cars can enter the park at the same time, and we saw so many huge vehicles with only 2 people inside. So definitely ask if you can share cars with someone.
3. Go during the sunrise.
It’s worth the early wake-up. And the light is just everything. Look at some of the photos Markus took:
4. Bring a jacket.
Hah, coming from the south I was so used to the 25+ degree nights and mornings. But there it was actually quite chilly. And sunrise is the coldest hour of the day I think, so it was kind of cold the first hours of the safari. When the sun came out it was okay again, but definitely bring a jacket / blanket with you.
5. Bring some water and snacks.
Our driver actually got us some cookies, which was so cute! And as we didn’t eat breakfast before, by 7-8 in the morning I was really hungry. So definitely take some bananas or snacks with you. But please-please-please be careful and don’t litter the place. The Udawalawe National Park was the cleanest land I saw in the whole of Sri Lanka and I hope it stays that way for ever.
+ Bonus tip!
Also visit the Elephant Transit home. It’s a government run organisation to help orphan baby elephants. They nurture them until they are old enough to go and live on their own in the wild. It was soo cute seeing these little guys!! OMG. The only thing I disliked was the loud tourist crowd. It’s a pretty popular “attraction” among tourists and locals. You can go and see their feeding every four ours. See more here about the times and the tickets.
Let me know if you have any questions about the safari or Sri Lanka. Thanks for sticking around!