Elephants at the Kalawewa National Park
Elephants at the Kalawewa National Park

Every place in Sri Lanka has a unique beauty. This uniqueness can only be identified by the eyes of an environmentalist. This story is about another wonderful creation of Mother Sri Lanka which has captured the eyes of local as well as foreign tourists. It is nothing else but Kalawewa National Park!

This is like a wonderful picture of nature with beautiful lakes and trees. It is located in the vicinity of Kalawewa and Balalu Wewa which is a huge lake in Anuradhapura. The beauty of this place is indescribable and one who has been here once will come here twice. Thus, Kalawewa National Park is certainly a must-see for those who love nature and wildlife. This is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where you can see wild elephants, especially tuskers. Besides, spread over 6000 hectares, this park is one of the youngest national parks in Sri Lanka.

History of the Kalawewa National Park

Kalawewa was built by King Dhatusena. Combining this, he built the Balalu Wewa and his sole objective was to uplift ancient agriculture. Realizing the value of the park, the government initially turned it into a sanctuary. Due to the high number of tusked elephants and wild elephants around the area, it was declared a National Park by the Government in 2015. It is now under the Department of Wildlife Conservation.  

Significance of the Kalawewa National Park

Throughout the history of Sri Lanka, tuskers have had a huge place. Besides, local and foreign tourists love to see these elephants. This is why Kalawewa National Park is so unique as it shelters a good number of these majestic creatures.

Situated in the dry zone, this park has dynamic ecological features. It has a beautiful environment that dries up in the dry season and fills with blue water during the rainy season. During the rainy season, it is rich in aquatic birds as well as terrestrial birds and inherits rich biodiversity. The following sections will enlighten you more about this wonderful land of greenery.

Fauna of the Kalawewa National Park

Elephants with ivory are the specialty of Kalawewa National Park. These ivory elephants are born with a special genetic makeup from Asian elephants. It is a very rare genetic composition and most of them live in Kalawewa National Park. There is a resident wild elephant population as well as a migratory wild elephant population. These migratory wild elephants come and stay here during the rainy season.

Besides, this park is home to a variety of colorful birds. You can find below some of the most common birds out there.

  • Teals (Anas crecca)
  • Gulls (Larus sp.)
  • Herons (Ardea sp)
  • Water hens
  • Kingfishers
  • Swallows
  • Egrets
  • Storks
  • Bulbuls
  • Swamphens

Most of these are aquatic birds and their habitats have been created in the vicinity of Kalawewa and Balalu Wewa. It is home to a large variety of butterflies and a large number of reptiles. You can see the purple-faced leaf monkey species here. Dragonflies are a common sight here. 

Flora of the Kalawewa National Park

A very rare feature can be seen in the Kalawewa national park. As the dry season approaches, the water in the tank slowly dries up. Then the muddy ground in the middle of the lake and along the banks appears. After a few days, light green grass sprouts and grows on it. It is a very fascinating sight.

Wild elephants and the rest of the wildlife community love to eat these newly sprouted grass. Other plants found in the dry zone are as follows.

  • Palu (Manilkara hexandra)
  • Banyan (Ficus bengalensis)
  • Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia)
  • Wood-apple,
  • Golden rain tree
  • Weera (Drypetes sepiaria)
  • Ebony (Diospyros ferrea)
  • Ceylon oak (Schleichera oleosa)
  • Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)

Apart from that, Kumbuk is found mostly on all sides of the lake. The roots are submerged during the rainy season and emerge during the dry season. These add coolness to the area.

Climate of the Area

Kalawewa National Park, which belongs to a tropical climate, is located in the dry zone. The average annual temperature is about 26.5 degrees Celsius. However, the heat is relieved by the winds that blow over the lakes. Northeast monsoon winds reach the park during October and November. Annual rainfall is about 1255 mm and the lowest rainfall is in June. November experiences the highest rainfall. 

Things to do in Kalawewa National Park

The most famous activity in Kalawewa National Park is the safari tour. Large herds of elephants graze on the bottom of the lake, which dries up during the dry season. It is common in this park but rare in other places. When you go on a safari, ivory elephants are more likely to catch your eye. You can see more here than just watching the elephants in the elephant orphanages. The baby elephants that run around the ground, the other adults in the herd that protect them, etc. are all enjoyable to watch even throughout the day.

With the onset of the dry season comes the park’s most comfortable and most colorful season. Migratory elephant herds from other areas are a familiar sight to behold in the park. There are two morning and afternoon safari trips. You can attend any of them.

When the safari jeep pulls over the lake water which is shallow to the knee, it will be a thrilling experience. Boating is also available here during the rainy season. There are travel services that do such activities and you can easily find such a service provider nearby.

Also, bird watching is an iconic activity here. Thousands of openbill storks flock to the park. Their arrival is very spectacular. Arriving at the park, they create various patterns in the sky and break the tranquillity of the place. You can watch the birds closer during the safari trip. This park is great for observing their behavior patterns, body features, and other things.

Besides, the Kalawewa National Park with its beautiful landscape is perfect for photography. The environment at sunrise and sunset is one of the things that should be captured on camera. Further, this is also a great place for wildlife photography. 

Best time to Visit the Park

You can visit here all year round. But it is sometimes closed due to weather conditions. It will be convenient if you make a phone call to the office before visiting it. Also, it is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m for safari. Tickets are available at the entrance. 

How to Reach the Park

If you are coming from Anuradhapura, you can take the A9 road, pass Kekirawa, turn left at Madatugama, take the Pubbogama-Adiyagala road and proceed to Kalawewa National Park. The journey takes 1 hr 30 min and the total distance is 67.5 km.

If you are coming from Kandy you can take the Jaffna Highway and turn right at Madatugama to reach the park. It takes 2 hr 45 min and covers a distance of 94.6 km.

If you are coming from Colombo, you can take the Dambulla-Jaffna Highway via Kurunegala and enter Madatugama road as before. The journey takes 4 hr 15 min and the distance is about 181 km.

Bottom Line

Even if you do not know about Kalawewa National Park, you will not hesitate to visit this place after you hear about this. Here, you will be able to come with your family and experience something new. Cozy accommodation is available in the area and transportation is also available. Thus, this place is perfect for relaxing a bit and experiencing a change from a busy life.

So, what are you waiting for? Wandering among the wildlife and the vegetation, fill life with fresh breath. This is a great place to make a lot of good memories. Do not hesitate. Come and have fun. Kalawewa National Park is waiting for you. Happy and safe traveling!