Kaudulla National Park and Minneriya National Park are the best places in Sri Lanka to spot many wild elephants. The Kaudulla National Park has opened in 2002 and is surrounded by grasslands. The park is not particularly large, but certainly large enough for a complete jeep safari. It is home to more than 200 elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and even a few leopards live here. Kaudulla National Park can be visited year-round to see the elephants and other great wildlife. Read in this blog post what you need to know about Kaudulla National Park and what the best period is to go.

What to expect during a safari in Kaudulla National Park

The park is also known as “The Gathering” because here you will find the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world! In the dry season from July to December it is the best timing to spot the elephants. But this park is a year round destination, and because it’s not such a huge area, there is always a chance to see some elephants.

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Two times a day you can go to Kaudulla National Park for the safari. In the morning around 6AM most tour operators arrive at the park, and in the afternoon around 2AM the second round starts. The safari usually takes about 4 to 5 hours. You can choose the time you prefer, but it is advisable to go in the afternoon because the elephants than come to the Kaudulla tank to drink and bath. Of course there is also a lot of other wildlife to see in the park. Read further to find out which!

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Animals to see during a safari in Kaudulla National Park

Kaudulla National Park is mostly known for the many elephants you can see. But, there are of course also many other wild animals to spot during your safari! See below the wildlife living in the park.

  • 24 species of mammals including the Sri Lankan elephants, a handful of leopard (very rare to spot), deer, small black bears, deer and many monkeys
  • 25 species of reptiles such as crocodiles and the monitor lizard
  • 26 species of fish
  • 160 species of birds. Kaudulla has therefore been identified as an important bird area.
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Best time to do a safari in Kaudulla National Park

The best time to visit the elephants in Kaudulla National Park is between July and December. The elephant herd migrates from Kaudulla National Park to Minneriya National Park because those two parks are connected. During the drought period, the elephants move to the Minneriya National Park in search of water and food. The jeep drivers certainly take this into account. They know exactly where the herds can be found in the morning and then go to the right park.

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Entrance fee Kaudulla National Park

It depends a bit if you book through your hotel or directly at a jeep safari tour operator. And also with how many persons you are in the jeep, so you can split those costs for the jeep and the jeep driver. The prices vary per season, but be prepared to pay around 3000 rupee entrance fee for the park and around 6000 rupee for the jeep. Depending on the amount of people in one jeep, you can split the costs. But sometimes the tour operators than make the price a bit higher… So it’s hard to say exactly what you will pay. This is just an indication.

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Our experience during the Kaudulla Safari

The hotel we stayed at advised us to do the safari in the afternoon. It wasn’t a sunny day which was actually great because we didn’t melt in the jeep haha. We had a great jeep driver and were the only ones who booked a safari that day, so we had a private jeep. That was really awesome because we had all the space we needed to make photos without having someone in the frame.

The drive in the park was sometimes bumby, but the jeep was really comfortable and our driver knew exactly what he was doing.

We saw many elephants at the Kaudulla tank, but also a jackal, many different birds, deer and a crocodile!

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What to prepare before your safari

If you love nature, wildlife and photography, you will be completely in your element during the Kaudulla National Park safari! Because you want to be sure to capture every moment you see a wild animal, there is a big chance that your memory cards will be full in no time. So take enough of these with you and always make sure you have empty memory cards before you leave for the safari!

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET
  • Hat
  • Zoomlens, if you have one. Otherwise this would be a perfect reason to buy one if you love photography! 200mm is the minimum you will need! Also a camera with very good Inbody Stabillization is highly recommended!
  • Enough empty memory cards
  • Binoculars. Some tour operators provide these, but if you’re with more people in one jeep it’s not guaranteed that everyone can use a binocular at the same time
  • Take enough water with you. Most of the tour operators provide water, but I would suggest to always take at least half a litre refill bottle yourself
  • Light snacks
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