Some 15 kms east of Hambantota (250 kms away from southeast from Colombo) in the south lies the Bundala National Park. Away from the Yala’s crowded visitors this is quieter park and makes an excellent place for bird watching and exploring the other flora and fauna of the park.
It was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and was converted into a national park in 1993. Nearly every species of water birds found in Sri-Lanka along with a lot of migratory birds visit the park every year. The park is now internationally acclaimed for withering migratory birds.
The park stretches across the coast for 20 kms enclosing five shallow brackish lagoons, dry thorny scrublands and marshes within it. The temperature is dry and hot. The park is known for its birds- around 200 species gracing the park every year with their presence out of which 58 species are migratory.
Amongst the birds you will find Marsh and Curlew Sandpiper, Curlew and Greenshank Golden and Kentish Plover, Sandplovers, Broad-billed Sandpipper and Red-necked Phalarope. The blue-tailed bee eater, Spoonbill, Red Shank, Green Shank, Spot-billed Pelican, Blue-faced Malkoha, rest-howl eagle etc can also be spotted in the park.
The lagoons at the park are also an attraction for the birds. However it is the greater Flamingo that attracts the most crowds. These beautiful pink coloured long necked birds migrate from as far as Siberia and are a sight to behold.
Amongst the other residents of the park you may spot wild boars, Grey & Ruddy mongoose, porcupine, giant Indian palm squirrels, black-naped hares, Spotted Deer, Wild buffalo, the endemic, jackal and fishing & Rusty Spotted cats. The park is also home to a few elephants and a leopard may also be spotted once in a while. Over all there are 32 mammals occupying the park. The park also attracts a wide no of crocodiles and turtles. The turtles come out at night to lay their eggs here. It makes for a pretty sight.
So if you are planning on exploring this park, let’s get down essentials sorted. Although this park is open year around for wildlife lovers the best time to visit it is from September to March when the migratory birds arrive. The park is open from 6am to 6pm- the last entry being allowed at 4:30 pm. The tickets cost around $10 with vehicle charges being charged separately. Carry water, sunglasses, binoculars, sunscreen, hats and comfortable foot wears.
You can take a full day safari to if you want to explore the whole park leisurely. Guides and packages can be pre-booked. However there are no accommodations in or near the park. Most people prefer staying in Tissamaharama, a few kilometres away from the park. Early morning is the best time to explore the park.
So there you have it. For all bird lovers mark this on your bucket list for your trip to Sri-Lanka!