We love animals and so when we decided to spent part of our honeymoon in Sri Lanka, we knew that a national park safari was on the cards! We did a lot of research and decided that Udawalawe National Park was one of the easiest to get to based on our other travel plans and was also one of the best in terms of wildlife. I did plenty of accommodation research and came across Master Campers Udawalawe who offered safari drives and glamping accommodation packages! Dan and I love glamping and have been lucky enough to glamp in Slovenia and Cornwall before. We loved every moment of our experience with Master Campers from the luxury tents, to mouthwateringly good food, amazing personalised service and guided safari of the national park complete with an incredible amount of beautiful wildlife!
Master Campers had arranged all our transfers for us and it couldn’t have been more simple. One of their local drivers picked us up in Ella and drove us the two hours to the campsite. Our driver was fantastic, he even stopped to let us get some photos at fantastic viewpoints and at a beautiful waterfall not far out of Ella.
Once we left the highway we turned into beautiful sugar cane fields and after a few minutes arrived at the campsite. We were greeted by the friendly staff who whisked our bags away and replaced them with delicious mango smoothies, using fresh mango from their mango trees. Mangoes are my favourite fruit and so I was already incredibly impressed and so excited to be there.
We love glamping because it allows you the opportunity to be in nature but also comfortable at the same time. The safari tents were high quality and we were really impressed with the space, comfortable bed, mosquito net, fan, air conditioning and attached bathroom with toilet, shower cubical and running water. I wouldn’t describe it as the most luxurious glamping but it is very clean, comfortable and everything you need is provided.
We were really lucky to be given the tent that is situated right on the lake and is without a doubt the most private one. I think we were given this one because it was our honeymoon and we were so happy with it.
From our front balcony we could watch the local domesticated water buffalo as they grazed and swam in the water. It was pretty magical to be able to sit there with a glass of wine and a beer and watch these magnificent animals in their natural habitat, completely surrounded by nature.
Once we had settled in and were nice and relaxed it was time for lunch! We were served lunch at our tent and it was the best food we had the entire time we were in Sri Lanka! Lunch was a delectable feast of curry and every amazing accompaniment possible! It was finished off with curd, a Sri Lankan dessert delicacy. We were given a break to let our food go down a bit before we headed off on our first safari!
Our safari vehicle was a pimped out Toyota Hilux and it was the best safari vehicle we saw in the park. Super comfortable with excellent visibility from the high seats and plenty of room for everyone! Our driver was fantastic and our guide Roy was amazing! Roy had incredible knowledge of the park and its inhabitants and his eyes were amazing! He spotted so many incredible animals and always ensured we had plenty of time to stop, watch the animals and take plenty of photos.
We loved that they made a real effort to stay away from other vehicles and for the majority of the time we were in the national park we hardly saw any other vehicles. Master Campers also really made an effort to give the animals plenty of space and it honestly felt like just as a safari should be. We’d read mixed reviews of many people who’d visited Yala National Park and said that the park was so crowded and many vehicles basically chased after animals and so we were really glad our research paid off and we chose a responsible company and a national park which felt large enough that we could enjoy it to ourselves.
We saw SO many elephants! I was blown away by just how many we saw. They truly are the most majestic animals and we were so lucky to see so many and also see so many babies including one who was only a few weeks old and another who was a few days old! I literally cried with happiness he was so cute!
We also saw monkeys, lizards, a mongoose and a huge variety of amazing bird species as well as a few very rare jungle cats! Even Roy couldn’t believe how lucky we were! We didn’t get to see any leopards but we weren’t disappointed as we had seen so many other amazing animals!
After about 4 hours we headed back to the campsite as it was getting dark. The staff had lit up the campsite with lanterns and fire and had set up an amazing bar for us! We enjoyed a few drinks before tucking into an amazing five course dinner with the highlight being an incredible seafood platter with a full lobster each! It was too dark to take any good quality photos of our meals so we just enjoyed them without having to worry about the pressure of taking photos.
After dinner we headed to bed for an early night as we had to be up at 5am for our morning safari! We were woken and provided with tea and biscuits to start us off! We headed to the national park and were lucky to be the first car to arrive and the first car into the national park which was a pretty special experience in itself.
Our morning safari was just as amazing as the first one and Roy took us to a different section of the park which included the wetlands where we got to see plenty of crocodiles, birdlife and also have fun skidding around in the mud during a pretty intense four wheel drive session!
We also got to see plenty more elephants! I would love to include more photos but this post will never load so we are also going to share a photo diary from Udawalawe soon which will be very elephant-photo heavy!
We arrived back to camp to find our tables laid out by the lake and breakfast ready to be served! Breakfast was a delicious combination of Western and Sri lankan cuisine and I fell in love with coconut roti’s slathered in jam. I know it is not a traditional way to eat them and most people (including Dan) eat them with dahl but when you are in Sri Lanka, do yourself a favour and try them with jam – you won’t regret it!
After breakfast we packed up and enjoyed one last cup of tea on our balcony before we departed. Our safari and glamping experience was the highlight of our Sri Lanka trip and is something we would recommend to everyone visiting Sri Lanka. Our two day/one night safari cost us US$390 for the two of us and literally included everything from our accommodation, meals, bottled water, alcohol, safari, guides and park entrance fee. Whilst it may sound expensive for a short period of time it was honestly worth every cent. Master Campers were amazing and we loved the glamping, the food, the service and of course the safari – we couldn’t fault a thing!
My only recommendations are to bring A LOT of bug repellent/mosquito spray with you as we got absolutely eaten alive at night whilst we sat outdoors and to ensure you come with an empty memory card as you’ll need it for all the amazing photo opportunities!