Although a younger and smaller than parks like Yala and Wilpattu, Udawalawe national park is the 3rd most visited national park in Sri Lanka. A high and consistent number of Elephants that call the park home is, without doubt, the reason for this. While the park was meant to protect the catchment area of the Udawalawe reservoir, it also serves as a home for displaced animals of the area.
Home to about 500 wild elephants, it is one of the few parks where large numbers of Elephants can be seen together throughout the year. Other large mammals such as Leopard and Sloth Bear although present, are a rarer sight. Toque Macaque, Grey Langur, Buffalo, Golden-backed Jackal & Black-naped Hare account for the more commonly seen mammals apart from the Elephants. The waters of the Udawalawe reservoir which lies toward the North/ Northwest of the park provide an ideal home for resident and migrant wading birds. The vast grass and scrublands with occasional emerging trees make it easy to spot many raptors as well. It is also one of the very few parks that lie on the border of the wet zone and the dry zone, thus facilitating sightings of birds from both climatic zones. These facts make Udawalawe one of the best National Parks in Sri Lanka for bird watching.
It is also a very beautiful park, with large expanses of grass, thorn and scrubland dominating the terrain. The Udawalawe reservoir with the majestic escarpments of the Kalthota mountain range as its backdrop makes for scenic photo opportunities. The park is best visited during the evening hours as Elephants are more active towards that time of the day.