Famous for the large population of elephants that inhabit the area, the region of Udawalawe comprises a national park and man-made natural reserve located around 200 km south-east of the capital city of Colombo. Widely known as one of Sri Lanka's most popular and captivating eco tourism destinations, and the third most visited park in the country, Udawalawe National Park is an exceptional nature reservoir that attracts thousands of travellers that come to admire its beauty and observe in awe the park's fascinating inhabitants. Purposefully created to provide a safe sanctuary for wild animals on the Walawe River a after the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir left some of them displaced, the Udawalawe National Park sprawls along 30,821 hectares of wild land area and is a unique site for spotting herds of elephants (around a total of 400 are estimated to be roaming around the area) and other fascinating creatures.
This natural park comprises a mixture of scrub jungle, grassland and abandoned teak plantation and almost the entire reservoir is covered with reedy Phon grass, which grows all-year-round, with the exception of June and October. The best time of year to spot the many herds of elephants wandering through the park is usually the dry season, which runs between May and September. Herds of up to 100 elephants can be found happily bathing, feeding or playing with their young offspring on these grounds and their number is kept in check thanks to a fence that surrounds the park and keeps humans and cattle outside the park's boundaries. In addition to the main elephant attraction, the park is also home to water monitor lizards, monkeys, sambar deer, water buffalo and the occasional leopard. It's also an inspiring location for bird-watching enthusiasts thanks to the varied number of bird species that have also made the Udawalawe National Park their home.
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