Bundala is an internationally-acclaimed park!
The Bundala National Park covers an area of about 62 sq.km. It is situated on the south coast of the island with the town of Hamabantota to its east and Yala to the west. Bundala was designated a wildlife sanctuary as early as 1969. In 1991, it was declared Sri Lanka’s first wetland before becoming a national park in 1993.
In 2005 the park received international recognition, as it became the fourth biosphere reserve in Sri Lanka according to UNESCO standards.
Bundala is very famous for large flocks of Greater Flamingo that fly in here in at the end of the year. Numbers such as 2.000 have been reported here especially when food is aplenty for them. Bundala is also well known for migratory birds that arrive here in winter from regions as far as Siberia and the Rann of Kutch in India. The total count of bird species here reaches almost 200 out of which 60 are migratory species.
The best time to visit the park is between August and April when migratory birds settle here for the season.
South of the park, the coastal stretch of about 20 kilometres offers an interesting terrain made of scrub jungles, sand dunes, narrow beaches and rocky lagoons. The beaches serve as nesting grounds for four of Sri Lanka’s five species of marine turtles. Between October and January, groups of Olive Ridley turtles, Green turtles, Leatherback turtles and Loggerhead turtles nest in the sands here.
The park office and entrance is on the road to Bundala village off the A2 highway. As in most parks, guides and drivers are available at the entrance.
If you are not keen on visiting the park but are staying close by, check at your hotel or guesthouse if they can provide you with a bicycle. A bicycle tour around the park can be very rewarding. The surroundings are green and serene, the terrain is flat and there are numerous little paths around paddy fields that offer alternative scenic routes. Over and above, you are sure to get welcomed by locals for tea and get stared at by monkeys perched on fences!
If you are on the A2, stop by the numerous stalls all along the A2 to check out the local curd sold there.
Bundala is home to civets, giant squirrels and crocodiles. The reptile population here is quite varied and includes a sizeable number of snakes like pythons, rat snakes, cat snakes, whip snakes, etc. But the only reptiles you are really likely to come across are the larger ones like marsh crocodiles, estuarine crocodiles and monitors.
What can you expect to spot?
Easily: A variety of birds including Brown-capped Babbler, Golden Plover, Kentish Plover, Ceylon Woodshrike, Ceylon Junglefowl, Curlew, Greenshank, Elephant, Spotted Deer and Hanuman Langur.
If you use your senses: Wild Pig and Jackal.
If you are lucky: Black-naped Hare, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope.