Udawalawa National Park

With herds of elephants, wild buffalo, samba deer and leopards, Uda Walawe National Park is the Sri Lankan national park that best rivals the savannah reserves of Africa. In fact, for elephant-watching, Uda Walawe often surpasses many of the most famous East African national parks. The park, which centers on the 308.2-sq-km Uda Walawe Reservoir, is lightly vegetated but it has a stark beauty and the lack of dense vegetation makes game-watching easy. It’s certainly the one national park in Sri Lanka not to miss. The entrance to the park is 12km from the Ratnapura–Hambantota road turnoff and 21km from Embilipitiya. Visitors buy tickets in a building a further 2km on. Last tickets are usually sold at 5pm. A park guide is included in the cost of admission and these guys, who all seem to have hawk like wildlife-spotting eyes, are normally very knowledgeable about the park and its animals. A tip is expected.