The Kaudulla National Park is vast expanse of evergreen forests inhabited by wildlife and a whopping 160 species of birds! It is accessible from the A6 trunk road that links Ambepussa with Trincomalee. The drive is longer than that to the Minneriya National Park from your typical Habarana lodging and is enjoyable when you go in a team. This park if renowned for its nature as well as its history. Let your imagination take over and your mind listen in to the story of this tank (reservoir) and the story behind it. Virtue of patience and passion for nature would come in handy on this trip.
I would clearly state that you want to be driven safely while not intimidating wildlife at the time of hiring and embarking onto the vehicle. Budget about 2500/= Rupees per head, apart from your vehicle hire if you are an alien to the country. It is advised that you get down at the park entrance and walk to the ticket counter armed with the vehicle number to purchase ticket yourself. Otherwise you run the risk of fraudulent overcharging by your "guide" or driver. This explains why you never receive the ticket when they purchase it. If your party comprises of more than a vehicle, it is recommended you purchase all tickets together as it would bring down the total cost of entrance tickets due to the shared service charge.
The park is incredibly quiet and serene. I would go armed with binoculars and telephoto lens recommended if you are a photography enthusiast. Remember you are not allowed to disembark except in a designated rest area but these are primitive with local men running into the bush to spend a penny. Hydration is recommended and a snack would be nice but ensure it is not in the form of a pineapple or you run the risk of a pachyderm borrowing it!
The long drive after the turn off from the main road (A6) lends you a glimpse of life in the remote hamlets. In the spirit of true ecotourism, please ensure your driver does not speed along this stretch as locals have but the narrow strip of road to share with your jeep!
We saw one tightly knit herd of very short elephants running away from the waterhole back into the bush. They were probably spooked by jeep activity. Most nursing female elephants will be naturally protective of their calves while displaying a defensive attitude towards their space so do not encroach too close to their comfort. This is why they manufacture binoculars and telephoto lenses!
Consider yourself extremely lucky if you spot the leopard or bear. They are shy animals and usually have you on their scope even if you have not spotted them.
This is an ornithologist's paradise. There are devoted wildlife enthusiasts that visit this park on a regular basis while others drive in and out, missing the point!
I would avoid this trip during heavy rains. Enjoy Kaudulla and be sure to share your experience on Tripadvisor!
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