Journey: Colombo to Udawalawe

There is a river called “Walawe” in SL that originates from Adam’s Peak in Horton Planes, and seeps down south, flowing into the Indian Ocean at Amabalantota, a small town in Southern Coast. From Ambalantota, about 60km inland along the river, at a point now called Sevanagala, an embankment dam was built with foreign aid across Walawe for irrigation purposes and hydro electricity generation during late 1960’s.

Back then, to mitigate the loss of flora and fauna in the area, the Project Engineers proposed a wild life sanctuary and a large swath of land was cordoned off abreast the construction site to serve the purpose. The sanctuary was later declared a National Park and came to be known as “Udawalawe” (‘Above’ Walawe) overlooking the Udawalawe reservoir, providing a natural habitat for elephants, leopards, deer, boar and a wide variety of fish, reptiles and bird species.

It is now a major tourist attraction in SL, earning millions of rupees in revenue from its steady stream of visitors who range from nature lovers, bird watchers, environmentalists, botanists to ardent travellers from every corner of the world. No doubt you are one of them, and we are going to disclose you the easiest way to visit the park.

Travel Options

You have limited number of spoons to serve your soup here. No air or train travel available for this trip. Cinnamon Air does not offer you fancy rides to Udawalawe Reservoir. But it would be better if you can charter a flight. Saves a lot of daytime to watch elephants.

Rails are out of the question. You can reach Matara using the coastal track, but after that, it is the bus again. Above all, it is a very roundabout trip that demands more than half of your daytime.

So now what is left is the road. You can get into a bus or hire your vehicle. If you are hiring a vehicle to continue into the jungle as well, make double sure that it is sturdy enough for rough terrain. Great if it is a four wheeler.

Colombo to Udawalawe on the road

There are several routes available for you, but a better approach is from Colombo via Ratnapura and Pelmadulla on the Embilipitya road. At Thimbolketiya turn left and from Udawalawe junction proceed towards Thanamalwila.

The main entrance to the park is on this Udawalawe-Thanamalwila road about 11km from Udawalawe Junction. You would be driving along the southern boundary of the park, passing 7th Mile Post,
Sevanagala. Odometer reading would be less than 120km from Colombo.

You don’t have to worry about directions if you are using public transportation. Get a Monaragala heading bus from Colombo Fort and fall asleep. The conductor would wake you up in due course. But ask him to keep an eye on your belongings. Not all passengers are thieves, but it is safer to expect the unexpected.

Intercity private buses are sometimes equipped with CCTV. They offer you air conditioning and relatively comfortable seats. Choose a place a window; ideal position to save your life in a collision. Drivers can be impatient and reckless.

For National Transport Commission go to:

We highly recommend you hire your vehicle for this trip.

Travel Tips

We always raise our hands with approval whenever trains are mentioned. But for this one we keep our arms crossed. No, we can’t give thumbs up for rails for your NE trip. It takes too much time, exhausts you and demands that you hire another vehicle once you get out from the train at Nanu Oya. After all, giving up the train journey would not deprive you of the spectacular scenery. You would have plenty of that on the tarmac too.

To be on the safe side, Check weather report through
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