With herds of elephants, wild buffalo, sambar and spotted deer, and giant squirrel, this Sri Lankan national park is one of the nation’s finest. In fact, for elephant-watching, Uda Walawe often surpasses many of the most famous East African national parks. The park, which centres 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.
Besides elephants, sambar deer and wild buffalo (although most buffalo you’ll see in the park are domesticated), there are also mongooses, jackals, water monitor lizards, lots of crocodiles, sloth bears and the occasional leopard. There are 30 varieties of snakes and a wealth of birdlife – 210 species at last count; northern migrants join the residents between November and April.