Big Game Camp Udawalawe is rustic and modest with no frills. Nestled in the eastern border of the Udawalawe National Park, it is one of the places we love for a truly close to nature stay for wildlife experiences and safaris. As the camp is situated adjacent to the national park, there are occasional close by visits of Sri Lankan elephants who decide to roam outside their own territory. (But don’t worry as the campsite is well secured with an elephant fence – but it means you might get the opportunity to hear, smell and see what goes beyond the fence!) It is not totally isolated as there are nearby villages and local homes scattered in the vicinity.
The campsite is situated in a sizeable cleared land with an array of trees that provide a shady canopy for the inviting hammocks around the property. There are nearly 16 mobile tents that are methodically arranged so that each has sufficient privacy and an open view. Each mobile tent can accommodate a double/twin bedding or a triple. (Triple generally takes up all the space.) Inside the tent you will find elevated beds with comfortable mattresses, linen, a luggage rack and a side table with bottled water, a torch and a pedestal fan. There is electricity and an en-suite bathroom; certainly, comfortable enough given the limited space. We particularly like the outside veranda to sip a cup of tea at sunset, especially when the sun begins to descend on the horizon across the manmade lake.
And what about the meals - what can you expect to savour at Big Game Park in Udawalawe? Big game Camp offers a mix of Sri Lankan and western cuisine including a 3-course lunch and dinners. We love the BBQ dinners around the campfire. Our kids were thrilled to toast marshmallows on the campfire - what an excellent and rather unexpected treat.
All meals are served outdoors. What we really like about mealtimes is that it is never in the same place, it could be under a tree, near the lake or under a shady canopy, giving guests the chance to enjoy every bit of the adjoining forest, birds and butterflies that cheerfully fly around.
You can head into the nearby park for safari during your stay, but we also recommend you take a morning or afternoon nature walk with the inhouse naturalist during your stay – we loved the gentle walk and the chance to learn more about the local environment from a local – strolling through the dry bushland chena cultivation, paddy fields and past water ways. We think it is important to have a half a day to enjoy the surroundings of the camp, including lying in the hammock reading your favourite book! This can easily be done in between safaris.
Big Game Camp Udawalawe is a great stop over when you travel from Ella to the south coast. Ella is an hour and a half drive from Big Game Camp. You can reach the main entrance of Udawalawe National Park, the only park that guarantees a sighting of an elephant in every safari, in about 30 minutes from the camp. It’s also about 2 hours onto Yala National Park for wildlife enthusiasts visiting Sri Lanka’s national parks.
The camp is great for wildlife lovers who seek modest accommodation that has great value. It is great for families and couples, even for solo travellers. There is always community gathering at meals times especially after the evening safari/ BBQ dinner around the campfire.