What are you going to know about Wasgamuwa National Park?
Wasgamuwa National Park: A Hidden Gem of Sri Lanka
Nestled in the central province of Sri Lanka lies the Wasgamuwa National Park, a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Spread across 36,900 hectares, this park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, flora, and fauna, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.
The name Wasgamuwa is believed to have been derived from the Sinhalese words “Walas Gamuwa,” which means “the garden of bears.” This name is thought to be a reference to the sloth bears that were once common in the area. The park was officially established in 1984 and is one of the four protected areas that make up the Central Highlands World Heritage Site.
The history of Wasgamuwa National Park can be traced back to ancient times, with evidence of human settlements in the area dating back to prehistoric times. The park is located near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, which was the capital of Sri Lanka during the 11th and 12th centuries. The ruins of the city still stand today and are a popular tourist attraction.
During the colonial period, the area that is now the park was used for hunting and logging. The British colonial authorities established a forest reserve in the area in the early 20th century, with the aim of protecting the natural resources of the area. The forest reserve was later expanded to include the area that is now the national park. In the 1950s, the Sri Lankan government began to take a more active role in conservation efforts in the country. The Department of Wildlife Conservation was established in 1951, and the government began to establish national parks and wildlife reserves to protect the country’s flora and fauna.
In 1984, Wasgamuwa National Park was established as a protected area, with the aim of conserving the natural resources of the area and promoting ecotourism. The park is managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and is open to visitors throughout the year.
Today, Wasgamuwa National Park is an important area for conservation efforts in Sri Lanka. The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species. The park is particularly known for its population of elephants, which are a major tourist attraction.
The park is also home to several important cultural and historical sites. These include ancient Buddhist temples and the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Visitors to the park can explore these sites and learn about the rich history of the area.
In recent years, the park has faced several challenges, including human-wildlife conflict and illegal poaching. The Sri Lankan government has taken steps to address these issues, including the establishment of a wildlife corridor to connect the park with other protected areas and the deployment of anti-poaching patrols.
Overall, the history of Wasgamuwa National Park is a testament to the importance of conservation efforts in Sri Lanka. The park is a valuable resource for both the country’s wildlife and its cultural heritage, and it is essential that it be protected for future generations. Through continued conservation efforts and responsible tourism practices, Wasgamuwa National Park can continue to thrive and provide benefits to both the local community and visitors from around the world.
The park is situated in the Matale and Polonnaruwa districts and is bordered by the Mahaweli and Amban Rivers. Wasgamuwa National Park is located approximately 225 kilometers from the capital city of Colombo and can be easily accessed by road. Visitors can travel from Colombo to Wasgamuwa via Kandy, which is located approximately 140 kilometers from Colombo. From Kandy, the park is located about 60 kilometers away and can be reached via the Colombo-Kandy road and the Matale-Wasgamuwa road.
The park is situated in a scenic location, surrounded by hills and mountains. The landscape is varied, with grasslands, dry evergreen forests, and wetlands, providing habitats for a diverse range of flora and fauna. The park is also home to the Mahaweli River, which is one of the longest rivers in Sri Lanka and plays a vital role in the country’s agriculture and economy.
The park’s location makes it an ideal destination for nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, sloth bears, leopards, and sambar deer. It is also a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 143 bird species recorded within the park.
The park is open throughout the year, although the best time to visit is from May to September, when the park is at its driest and wildlife sightings are more common. The park is closed from October to January due to the heavy monsoon rains, which make the park inaccessible.
Visitors to Wasgamuwa National Park have a range of activities to choose from, including wildlife safaris, bird watching, hiking, and camping. The park offers several accommodation options, including campsites, bungalows, and eco-lodges, catering to a range of budgets.
Best Time to Visit Wasgamuwa National Park
The park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, the animals tend to congregate around waterholes, making it easier to spot them. The park’s opening hours are from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm, and visitors are advised to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon for optimal wildlife viewing.
Wasgamuwa National Park is home to a wide range of vegetation types. The vegetation is mainly composed of dry mixed evergreen forests, moist mixed evergreen forests, and grasslands. The dry mixed evergreen forests are characterized by a canopy layer of trees that reach up to 20 meters in height. The moist mixed evergreen forests, on the other hand, are composed of trees that reach up to 30 meters in height. Grasslands are also present in the park, which serve as grazing grounds for herbivorous animals.
Wasgamuwa National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife species. The park is famous for its large population of Sri Lankan elephants. It is estimated that there are over 200 elephants residing in the park. The park is also home to several other mammal species, including the Sri Lankan leopard, sloth bear, sambar deer, spotted deer, water buffalo, and wild boar.
The park is also home to over 140 species of birds. Some of the most common bird species found in the park include the Sri Lanka junglefowl, grey heron, little egret, and cattle egret. The park is also a popular destination for birdwatchers, as it is home to several migratory bird species that visit the park during the winter season.
Reptiles are also present in the park, with several species of snakes and lizards residing in the area. The most common reptile species found in the park include the Indian python, mugger crocodile, and water monitor.
Activities in Wasgamuwa National Park
With its scenic landscape and diverse wildlife, there are plenty of activities to do in Wasgamuwa National Park. Here are some of the best activities that you can do in this magnificent wildlife sanctuary.
Wasgamuwa National Park is situated in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, and it is approximately 200 km away from the capital city of Colombo. Visitors can reach the park via several modes of transportation, including private vehicles, public transport, and hired taxis. The park’s main entrance is located at the ancient city of Wasgamuwa, approximately 6 km from the park’s center.
Types of Safaris
Wasgamuwa National Park offers visitors two types of safaris – jeep safaris and walking safaris. Both options provide unique experiences and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the park’s wildlife. A jeep safari is the most popular option, and visitors can explore the park’s vast wilderness in the comfort of a jeep.
Jeep Safari: The jeep safari is the most popular type of safari in Wasgamuwa National Park. It is an excellent way to explore the park and see the wildlife. The jeeps are open-topped, allowing visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park. The jeeps are driven by experienced drivers and accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will help visitors spot the animals and provide information about the wildlife and the park.
The jeep safari usually takes around three hours, and the best time for a safari is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. During the safari, visitors can expect to see various species of mammals and birds, including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, and several species of deer.
Walking Safari: The walking safari is a unique experience that offers visitors a chance to explore the park on foot. The walking safari is led by an experienced guide who will take visitors through the park, pointing out the various animals and birds that call the park home. The walking safari is an excellent opportunity to experience the park’s natural beauty up close and to learn about the plants and animals that make it their home.
The walking safari is usually conducted early in the morning and takes around three hours. Visitors should wear comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for walking in the wilderness. The walking safari is not recommended for children under the age of 12, and visitors must follow the guide’s instructions at all times.
Dos and Don’ts in Wasgamuwa National Park
While on safari, visitors should keep in mind that the park is a protected area, and they must follow the rules and regulations set by the park authorities. Visitors should not disturb the wildlife or litter the park. They should also not get out of the vehicle during the jeep safari or wander off the designated trails during the walking safari.
Visitors should bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent. They should also wear appropriate clothing, including a hat and sunglasses. Visitors should avoid wearing bright colors as they can scare away the wildlife.
Wasgamuwa National Park is a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 150 species of birds inhabiting the park. Visitors can explore the park’s diverse birdlife through guided bird watching tours, which can be arranged through the park office. Some of the most popular bird species that can be spotted in the park include the Sri Lankan junglefowl, the gray-headed fishing eagle, the black-capped bulbul, the woolly-necked stork, and the painted stork.
Visitors can explore the park’s diverse flora and fauna through guided nature walks. The park is home to a variety of vegetation types, including dry evergreen forests, moist mixed evergreen forests, and grasslands. Visitors can explore the park’s diverse vegetation types and learn about the different plant and animal species that call the park home.
Camping in Wasgamuwa National Park is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a certain level of fitness, stamina, and a passion for adventure. But for those who dare, it is an experience of a lifetime. Here is all you need to know about camping in Wasgamuwa National Park.
When to Go: The best time to camp in Wasgamuwa National Park is between December and April when the park is dry and easily accessible. This is also the time when the animals come out to graze and hunt, giving you the best chance to spot them in their natural habitat. It is important to note that the park is closed during the monsoon season, which is from May to October.
Camping Options: There are two camping options in Wasgamuwa National Park: the official campsite and the private campsite. The official campsite is located inside the park and is managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. It is a basic campsite with a few amenities such as a toilet, a shower, and a cooking area. The private campsite is located outside the park and is managed by private tour operators. It is a more luxurious campsite with amenities such as comfortable beds, hot showers, and gourmet meals.
What to Pack: When camping in Wasgamuwa National Park, it is important to pack light but also carry all the essentials. Some of the items that you should pack include a sleeping bag, a tent, warm clothes, sturdy shoes, insect repellent, a first aid kit, and a camera. It is also important to carry enough water and food for your entire camping trip.
What to Expect: Camping in Wasgamuwa National Park is a thrilling adventure that allows you to experience the park’s wildlife up close. You can expect to see elephants, leopards, deer, sloth bears, and a variety of bird species. It is important to remember that the animals in the park are wild and should be respected. It is recommended that you keep a safe distance from them and avoid disturbing their natural habitat.
Activities: Apart from wildlife spotting, there are plenty of other activities to do while camping in Wasgamuwa National Park. You can take a guided nature walk, go bird watching, or explore the nearby villages. The park is also home to the Mahaweli River, which offers the opportunity to go river rafting or canoeing.
Wasgamuwa National Park has several designated picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a picnic with family and friends. The park’s picnic areas are usually located near water bodies and offer stunning views of the park’s scenic landscape.
Wasgamuwa National Park is a paradise for nature photographers, with its scenic landscape and diverse wildlife. Visitors can capture stunning photographs of the park’s wildlife and natural scenery. Photography tours can be arranged through the park office, and visitors can learn about the best locations for photography within the park.
Visitors can explore the local culture and traditions of the surrounding villages through guided cultural tours. The park’s surrounding villages are home to several ancient temples and historical sites that visitors can explore.
There are several accommodation options near Wasgamuwa National Park, ranging from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. The accommodations are equipped with all the necessary amenities to ensure visitors have a comfortable stay. Visitors can choose to stay in one of the lodges inside the park or in a nearby town.
The Sri Lankan government has implemented several conservation measures to protect the wildlife and their habitat within Wasgamuwa National Park. The park is managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and is considered a protected area. Poaching and illegal activities within the park are strictly prohibited, and the park rangers are tasked with enforcing these regulations.
The Sri Lankan government has also implemented several programs to mitigate human-elephant conflict within the park. The park is situated near several human settlements, and there have been instances of elephants damaging crops and property. To mitigate this issue, the government has implemented several measures to prevent elephants from entering human settlements, such as electric fences and elephant corridors.
Wasgamuwa National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the natural beauty of Sri Lanka. The park’s diverse flora and fauna, along with its serene surroundings, make it a paradise for nature lovers. With its various recreational activities and conservation programs, the park offers something for everyone.