Located in Polonnaruwa, the north central province of Sri Lanka, Kaudulla National Park is 190 km away from Colombo. Spanning over 6,900 hectares, the Kaudulla National Park is connected to three other national parks. Kaudulla borders the Minneriya and Wasgamuwa National Parks to the south while bordering the Somawathiya National Park to the east. Declared as a national park in the year of 2002, the park is unique in the sense that roughly 2/3 of the park is covered by water during most months of the year. Most of this water is collected in the Kaudulla Tank and hence it is one of the important landmarks within the park.
In terms of the wildlife, Elephants are the main attraction of the national park. In 2008, 211 individual elephants were counted at the park. Apart from that, the park is also home to several other species of mammals such as the Sambar Deer, Sri Lankan Axis Deer, Chevrotain, Wild boar, Leopard, and Sloth Bear. In total 23 different types of mammals have been identified within the park while a rare chance would be to site a leopard.
At the same time, 160 different species of birds are also spotted within the Kaudulla National Park. These birds range from the Peacock, Eagle and Giant Eagle that are hereditary to Sri Lanka to birds such as Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Adjutant, Asian Spoonbill, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork and Openbill Stork. The Birdlife International has also identified Kaudulla as an important bird area.
Turtles such as the Freshwater turtle, Indian Flap-shelled Turtle and Indian Black Turtle can as lobe seen within the park.
In regard to the landscape, as mentioned 2/3 of the land is covered by water. However, the remaining part of the land is mostly surrounded by grasslands and scrubby forests. The national park is also an important elephant corridor between the Minneriya National Park and the Hurulu Eco Park.
Another special feature of the park is that the Habarana road runs through the park. Therefore, most riders on the route gets to see several elephants crossing the roads. Even-though these elephants are now used to human interferences it should be noted not to do anything which would aggravate the elephants.
The Kaudulla National Park was designated as a national park on the 1st of April in the year of 2002. By the time, Kaudulla was the 15th such location to be named a national park of Sri Lanka.
Historically, Kaudulla was one of the irrigation tanks that were built during the reign of King Mahasen in the Anuradhapura Kingdom. It is mentioned in the history books that King Mahasen has constructed 16 tanks during his time and is also considered as the Minneriya Deviyo (God) for the construction of the Minneriya tank.
How to Get There
There are several options to choose from when travelling to the Kaudulla National Park from Colombo and they are by road, bus, train and air.
By road – The journey to Kaudulla national park from Colombo takes approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes and covers 231.8 km. When travelling by road, you have two options to choose from; you could either taxi to the destination or drive by renting a vehicle. The fastest route is to proceed via the Colombo- Kandy road (A1) to the Ambepussa- Kurunegala- Trincomalee highway (A6).
By train – Since there aren’t any trains traveling directly from Colombo to the Kaudulla National park, you will have to take a train to the Galoya junction from the Colombo fort train station. The train journey will take approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes. From the Galoya station, you have to again taxi for 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the Kaudulla National Park. Travelling by train is an economical mode of travel.
By air – If you choose to travel by plane; the quickest yet the costliest mode of travel, there are three options you could choose from. The quickest and the most recommendable option would be to taxi to Diyawanna Oya and then fly to Katugastota before taxiing again to the Kaudulla National Park. The journey would take approximately 30 minutes in the flight and 3 hours in the taxi.
From Kandy – Easiest and the most convenient mode of transport to Kaudulla from Kandy is by taxi or driving. The total journey will take approximately 3 hours. Taking the train is highly discouraged since the time taken for the journey will be very high.
From Batticaloa – Both vehicle and train can be used to get to Kaudulla from Batticaloa. If you take the train you have to first travel to the Galoya Junction and then taxi to Kaudulla which would take approximately 4 hours and 10 minutes. If you select vehicle you can directly go to Kaudulla in 3 hours and 15 minutes.
From Damnulla/Sigiriya – The only way to get to the KaudullaNational Park from Dambulla or Sigiriya is by taking a taxi or driving a vehicle. The total distance of the journey is 82.3 km and 72.4 km respectively. The duration of the journey will take approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes.
The average annual rainfall at the Kaudulla National Park is calculated to be between 1500 mm 0 2000 mm. This rain is received by the park mainly through the north eastern monsoon during the period of October to December. The dry weather period of the park prevails between the months of April to October while the average annual temperature of the park ranges between 21 degrees Celsius to 34 degrees Celsius.
Food and Drink
There is a plethora of restaurants near the Kaudulla National Park providing delicious food. There are restaurants offering cheap eats, mid-range and fine dining facilities. A few restaurants with good tourist reviews are ‘The Wadiya’, ‘Girithale’ ‘Curry and Rice Habarana’, ‘Cinnamon Lodge Restaurant’, ‘Nelum Kole Bath’, ‘Rivonway’ and ‘Randoli restaurant’ which are situated around Kaudulla, Minneriya and Habarana.
Kaudulla National Park Safari – A safari at the Kaudulla National Park will definitely allow you to see herds of elephants roaming the big lakes of the park or migrating from one park to the other while the safari will also allow you to see a variety of birds at the park which is another highlight.
Camping in Kaudulla National Park – If you are a wildlife enthusiast looking for an opportunity to be in the midst of a national park with a mixed bio diversity of animals as well as different landscapes, Kaudulla is one such park. These camps will allow you to capture a close glimpse of the Sri Lankan elephant in its own habitats while capturing some amazing photographs of the birdlife as well.
Kaudulla Wewa – Covering a huge area of land throughout the Kaudulla National Park, the Kaudulla tank is one of the greatest man-made tanks of the Sri Lankan history. The scenery of the tank during the sunsets will undoubtedly leave you with some great memories to take back home.