Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park: A Serene Wildlife Haven in Sri Lanka

Bundala National Park is a protected area located in the southern part of Sri Lanka, approximately 245 km away from Colombo. The park spans over 6,200 hectares and is home to a diverse range of wildlife species, including birds, reptiles, mammals, and fish. With its vast wetlands, lagoons, and grasslands, the park is a nature lover’s paradise and a popular tourist destination.

History and Conservation

Early History
Bundala National Park is located in an area that has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. The park is situated in the Hambantota District, which was part of the ancient Ruhuna Kingdom. The Ruhuna Kingdom was one of the three major kingdoms in Sri Lanka during the early Anuradhapura period (377 BC to 1017 AD). The area around Bundala was an important port and trading hub during this time, with ships from as far away as Rome and China visiting its shores.

During the medieval period, Bundala was ruled by various kingdoms and dynasties, including the Kotte Kingdom and the Portuguese. The Portuguese established a fort in the nearby town of Hambantota in the 16th century, which was later destroyed by the Dutch in the 17th century. The Dutch then took control of the area and built a new fort, which still stands today as a popular tourist attraction.

Development of the National Park
In 1969, Bundala was declared a wildlife sanctuary by the Sri Lankan government, in recognition of its rich biodiversity. The area was then upgraded to a national park in 1993, in order to provide greater protection for its unique ecosystem. The park is now home to over 200 species of birds, including migratory birds that visit during the winter months. It is also home to a variety of mammals, reptiles, and fish.

In recent years, the park has become a popular destination for ecotourism, with visitors from around the world coming to see its incredible wildlife and natural beauty. The park offers a range of activities for visitors, including birdwatching, safaris, and nature walks.

Conservation Efforts
Despite its protected status, Bundala National Park has faced a number of threats in recent years. Illegal poaching, fishing, and logging have all taken a toll on the park’s delicate ecosystem. In addition, climate change has led to rising sea levels and increased flooding, which has damaged the park’s habitats.

To address these issues, the Sri Lankan government has implemented a number of conservation initiatives in recent years. These include increasing patrols and enforcement efforts to crack down on illegal activities within the park, as well as developing new programs to promote sustainable tourism and environmental education.

Best time to visit Bundala National Park

The best time to visit the park depends on various factors, such as the weather, wildlife sightings, and personal preferences.
Bundala National Park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit the park is from December to April. This is the dry season in Sri Lanka, and the weather is pleasant with little to no rainfall. During this time, the water levels in the park’s lagoons and lakes are low, which makes it easier to spot wildlife. The dry vegetation also makes it easier to see animals, as they tend to come out in search of water and food.
If you’re a bird lover, then the best time to visit Bundala National Park is from September to March. During this time, many migratory birds flock to the park to escape the harsh winter weather in their native countries. The park is home to over 200 bird species, including the Greater Flamingo, Asian Openbill, and Spot-billed Pelican. You can also spot several species of raptors, such as the Crested Serpent Eagle and Grey-headed Fish Eagle.
If you want to witness the nesting and hatching of sea turtles, then the best time to visit Bundala National Park is from May to September. The park’s beaches are important nesting sites for several species of sea turtles, including the Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, and Hawksbill Turtle. You can witness the turtles laying their eggs on the beach, and the hatchlings making their way to the sea.
The monsoon season in Sri Lanka starts in May and lasts until September. During this time, the park receives heavy rainfall, and some areas may be flooded. If you’re planning to visit Bundala National Park during the monsoon season, make sure to check the weather conditions beforehand. The park may be closed during periods of heavy rain or flooding, for safety reasons.


Bundala National Park has a unique ecosystem, with a variety of vegetation types. The park is home to over 400 plant species, including 7 endemic species. The vegetation in the park is divided into four types: salt marsh, thorny scrub, dry mixed evergreen forest, and mangroves.

The salt marshes are found along the coast and are dominated by salt-tolerant plants like the salt marsh grass, Sporobolus virginicus, and the salt marsh fern, Acrostichum aureum. The thorny scrub is the most dominant vegetation type in the park and is characterized by thorny trees and shrubs like the palu tree (Manilkara hexandra) and the cactus-like Euphorbia antiquorum.

The dry mixed evergreen forest is found in the park’s interior and is characterized by trees like the satinwood tree (Chloroxylon swietenia) and the ebony tree (Diospyros ebenum). The mangroves are found in the lagoons and estuaries and are home to species like the red mangrove (Rhizophora mucronata) and the white mangrove (Avicennia marina).

Bundala National Park is home to over 320 species of birds, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. Among the most notable species found in the park are the greater flamingo, the painted stork, and the Sri Lankan junglefowl, which is the national bird of Sri Lanka. The park is also home to a variety of other animals, including elephants, crocodiles, and several species of primates.

One of the most fascinating creatures found in Bundala National Park is the saltwater crocodile, which can grow up to 6 meters in length. The park is also home to the Sri Lankan leopard, the sloth bear, and the Indian pangolin. Visitors to the park may also spot several species of deer, including the spotted deer and the sambar deer.

In addition to the mammals and birds found in the park, Bundala National Park is home to several species of reptiles, including the Indian python, the green pit viper, and the monitor lizard. The park is also home to a variety of butterflies and other insects.

Safari and Activities

Safari in Bundala National Park is a unique experience that offers visitors the opportunity to witness the park’s wildlife up close. The park is open to visitors all year round, but the best time to visit is between November and March, when the park is teeming with migratory birds.

The park offers a number of safari options, including jeep safaris and bird watching tours. Jeep safaris are the most popular option, and visitors can choose from a range of tour packages depending on their budget and interests. The park’s experienced guides will take visitors on a tour of the park’s different habitats, including its lagoons, scrublands, and forests.

Jeep Safari in Bundala National Park

One of the best ways to explore the park’s rugged terrain and get up close with its wild inhabitants is by taking a jeep safari.

A jeep safari through Bundala National Park is an unforgettable adventure that promises a thrilling experience amidst breathtaking scenery. The park is characterized by its varied topography, which comprises of dense forests, grassy plains, and shallow water bodies, all of which can be accessed via jeep. The terrain is quite rugged, so it’s best to let an experienced driver take the wheel and navigate through the park’s narrow dirt tracks and rocky terrain.

As you begin your safari, keep your eyes peeled for the majestic elephants that roam the park’s grasslands. Bundala is home to one of the largest elephant populations in Sri Lanka, and the sight of these gentle giants grazing in the wild is a truly awe-inspiring experience. You may also spot other large mammals such as wild buffalo, sambar deer, and spotted deer as you explore the park’s different zones.

Bird enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Bundala is also a popular spot for bird watching. The park is a haven for over 200 species of birds, both resident and migratory. Some of the most sought-after species include the greater flamingo, painted stork, Eurasian spoonbill, and black-necked stork. The wetlands of Bundala provide an ideal habitat for these birds, making it an important birding destination in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the wildlife, Bundala’s natural landscape is equally stunning. The park’s coastline stretches for miles, and the ocean vistas are breathtaking. The park’s salt pans and lagoons are also worth exploring, as they offer a glimpse into the unique ecosystem of the region.

As the sun sets, your jeep safari will come to an end, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime. Bundala National Park’s jeep safari is an ideal way to experience the natural wonders of Sri Lanka and witness the majestic animals that call it home. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and embark on an adventure like no other!

Bird Watching Tours in Bundala National Park

Birdwatchers from around the globe visit Bundala National Park to explore its diverse habitats and spot rare and beautiful bird species. Here is everything you need to know about bird watching tours in Bundala National Park.

Why Bundala National Park?
Bundala National Park is one of the top bird watching destinations in Sri Lanka. The park is a Ramsar wetland site, which means it is recognized as an important site for migratory birds. The park is also home to a variety of habitats such as salt pans, lagoons, mangrove swamps, and sand dunes, which provide shelter and food for many bird species. This unique combination of habitats makes Bundala National Park an ideal destination for bird watching tours.

Bird Species in Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is home to over 200 bird species, including 52 migrant bird species. Some of the bird species you can spot during a bird watching tour in Bundala National Park are the Sri Lankan junglefowl, greater flamingo, painted stork, black-necked stork, Eurasian spoonbill, Asian openbill, gray-headed fish eagle, brahminy kite, and the Indian peafowl. You can also spot a variety of waterbirds such as ducks, geese, herons, egrets, and cormorants.

Bird Watching Tours in Bundala National Park
There are many bird watching tour operators in Bundala National Park, offering half-day and full-day bird watching tours. The tours are led by experienced bird guides who have a thorough knowledge of the park’s bird species and their habitats. The guides use binoculars, spotting scopes, and field guides to help visitors spot and identify the bird species. The tours are conducted in small groups, and visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes, bring sunscreen and insect repellent, and carry a water bottle.

Camping in Bundala National Park

Choosing a campsite
There are several campsites within the park, each with its own unique charm and facilities. Some of the most popular campsites include the Bundala Rest House campsite, which is located within the park and offers basic amenities such as toilets and showers, and the Kalametiya Beach campsite, which is located just outside the park and offers stunning views of the ocean.

Whichever campsite you choose, make sure to check with the park authorities about any permits or regulations you need to follow before setting up camp.

Camping in Bundala National Park offers plenty of opportunities for adventure and relaxation. In addition to wildlife watching, you can explore the park’s scenic trails, go birdwatching, or take a dip in the nearby beaches.

Most campsites offer basic amenities such as toilets and showers, but it’s a good idea to bring your own supplies and equipment, such as a camping stove, sleeping bag, and insect repellent.

Safety tips
While camping in Bundala National Park can be a thrilling experience, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Make sure to follow park rules and regulations, such as keeping a safe distance from wildlife and not lighting fires outside designated areas.

It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit and to inform park authorities of your camping plans and contact information.

In conclusion, Bundala National Park is an essential part of Sri Lanka’s rich natural heritage. The park’s unique ecosystem provides a home to a wide range of animals and plants, many of which are endemic to the region. The park is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to explore its wildlife and natural beauty.

One of the park’s main attractions is its birdlife. The park is home to over 200 species of birds, including migratory birds such as the greater flamingo, which visits the park between November and March. The park is also home to several species of water birds, such as the painted stork, the spoonbill, and the pelican. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park and see these beautiful birds up close.

Another highlight of Bundala National Park is its elephant population. The park is home to around 10 to 15 elephants, which can often be seen grazing or taking a dip in one of the park’s many waterholes. Visitors can take a jeep safari through the park and try to spot these majestic animals in their natural habitat.

In addition to elephants and birds, Bundala National Park is also home to a wide range of other animals, including crocodiles, deer, and monkeys. The park is also known for its diverse plant life, which includes mangroves, salt marshes, and thorny scrubland.

Overall, Bundala National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Sri Lanka’s natural heritage. Its unique ecosystem, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes make it a truly unforgettable experience. By visiting the park, visitors can help support conservation efforts and ensure that this precious natural resource is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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