Bundala National Park is situated on the south east of Sri Lanka close neighbouring Yala National Park. The park, filled with lagoons and a stunning coastline, is the place for avid birders as it remains an important habitat for migratory birds that nests during the Northern Hemisphere winter.
The small, yet beautiful, Bundala National Park sits 245km to the south east of the capital of Colombo. Just a fraction of the size of neighbouring Yala National Park, the 3,698 hectares of Bundala are a birders paradise. It is a globally important winter ground for migratory birds that fly over during the months of September-to-April. This national park is also the first of its kind in Sri Lanka to be declared as a Ramsar site. Bundala National Park is centred around five shallow brackish lagoons with spectacular sand dunes and seashore. This setting has resulted in a diverse and complex environment helpful for the sustenance of birdlife and habitat for other mammals, fish amphibians and reptiles. Dry, thorny shrubs and herbs dominate the flora of this park while water lilies and reed beds adorn the marshland. These marshlands are the home for lesser whistling ducks, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbills, lesser adjutant and Asian openbill to name a few.
The seashore has gained a name for nesting of all endangered five species of turtles. The salt pans within the park are still used for production and make quite a picturesque setting. Although mammals are not the focus, few Sri Lankan elephants can be sighted. Sloth bears and Sri Lankan leopards are rarely seen. The most commonly found mammals are toque macaque and spotted deer. However, this is also the habitat of Indian pangolins, golden jackals, sambar deer, fishing cats and rusty spotted cats. Safaris generally take place in the morning at 6.00 a.m. and in the afternoon at 3.00 p.m. The park closes to visitors by 6.00p.m. The safaris last 3-4 hours with a break in between for snacks near the picturesque shore. Before the 2004 Tsunami, Bundala National Park was famous for the large flocks of flamingos that arrived for the winter. Since then the numbers have reduced drastically and sighting these beautiful birds has become a rarity. However, there are plenty of other birds in the park for birders.
The park is favourable for photography due to flat terrains.The occasional appearance of large elephants during safari is another highlight as they walk gently and careful on the sandy paths especially near the salt pans. A variety of accommodation within a driving distance of 30 minutes to an hour is available. These include upmarket resort type hotels close to the main entrance of Yala National Park and midrange smaller properties in Tissamaharama. Staying at one of these locations is the best way of visiting the park. Your visit can be combined with Yala National Park or en route from Yala National Park to the south coast. An unforgettable memory from Bundala National Park is when we met a large, angry, lone elephant on safari. The elephant decided to turn away from us and go back into the forest, but later we learnt from the park’s ranger that this elephant has been angrily walking around for days.
Here are sample itineraries for wildlife tours of Sri Lanka featuring Bundala National Park. Click below to read more about safaris in Bundala or get in touch to receive a detailed, tailor-made itinerary.
Amazing trip! We absolutely loved it. Sri Lanka is now a country we would definitely like to go back to and explore further.Thank you so much for all the work you did in putting the trip together for us. It was a great mix of places for us to get a good feel of the country. We will be encouraging all our friends to go to Sri Lanka.