Bundala is one of the four national parks accumulated in the southeast of Sri Lanka, where the much larger and more famous Yala (Ruhuna National Park) is surrounded by Kumana in the east, Lunugamvehera in the northwest and, last not least, Bundala in the southwest.
Bundala National Park, situated along the coastline between Kirinda and Hambantota, is a former bird sanctuary harbouring 197 bird species, aquatic birds in particular. Together with the adjacent Wilmanna Sanctuary, it covers an area of 6,200 hectares. Due to its five brackish lagoons and freshwater lakes Bundala National Park is an important wintering ground for water birds from central Asia and Sibiria. Bundala has been famous for large migrating colonies of Greater Flamingos. Regrettably, the numbers of flamingoes have dropped significantly in recent years.
324 species of vertebrates occur in Bundala National Park, including 5 mammal species categorized threatened. Besides Yala and Kumana, Bundala is Sri Lanka's only national park where both species of crocodiles inhabitating the island can be obeserved. Saltwater crocodiles (Estuarine crocodiles) live in the lagoons and the estuary of River Kirindi Oya, while the freshwater crocodiles (mugger crocodiles) occur in the heartland freshwater lakes.
A safari in Bundala is an alternative for those who already know Yala or hope to experience a national park without large crowds of tourists. Be aware, despite its small population of elephants and leopards and numerous spotted deers and sambars, Bundala is a highlight for birdwatchers in the first place. All aquatic bird species of Sri Lanka are said to occur in Bundala. With good luck, the rare Black-necked stork can be spotted here.
Bundala is not large enough for real camping safaris. A morning or late afternoon excursion is enough to collect impressions of the setting and wildlife. Bird watchers staying in Hambantota or Tissamaharama will come several times, particularly during the northern hemisphere winter months, when the hugest flocks of migrating birds in Sri Lanka can be observed in Bundala.
In case you want to spend a longer period in the Yala area, don’t miss Bundala. It may be not as spectacular as Yala block 1. But it’s a supplement that makes sense for nature lovers, a litte bit a contrast to Yala, more tranquil and really pretty charming.
Learn more about Bundala National Park here...
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,