The park is internationally known for being home to migratory water birds in Sri Lanka of which Flamingos are a highlight. The national park is situated 245 kilometres (152 mi) southeast of Colombo close to the city of Hambantota.
The landscape of the Bundala National Park consists of dry thorny scrublands, brackish lagoons and herbs, being the most abundant plant. This national park is also home to around 200 species of birds and of which 58 are migratory birds while 32 species of mammals have also been identified.
In terms of reptiles and amphibians, the Bundala National Park is abundant with estuarine and mugger crocodiles while turtles laying eggs in the beach during the night is a site every visitor will remember through their lifetime.
Bundala was first designated as a wildlife sanctuary and later re-designated to a national park. In 2005 the park was designated as the fourth biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Bundala was also the first site to be designated as a Ramsar wetland in Sri Lanka. The park has a dry zone climate of which 80% of the climate is with average relative humidity.
The park also has five shallow, brackish lagoons of which three of them have salt pans. They are Bundala Lagoon (520 hectares), Embilikala Lagoon (430 hectares), Koholankala Lagoon (390 hectares), Malala Lagoon (650 hectares) and Mahalewaya Lagoon (260 hectares). Out of the five, Koholankala Lagoon and Mahalewaya Lagoon are almost entirely developed for salt production.
Although the park was affected by the tsunami in 2004, due to the protection provided by the sand dunes the damage caused to the park was minute.
Bundala National Park was first declared as a wildlife sanctuary in the year of 1969 and the later named as a national park in the year of 1993. At this stage the park was spread over an area of 6,216 hectares but later it was reduced to 3,698 hectares after it was regazetted in 2004. Bundala National Park is also the first site in Sri Lanka to be named as a RAMSAR Wetland by the treaty of ‘Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’. In addition to that, Bundala National Park was also named as a Man and Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in the year of 2005.
Like many areas of the Southern region of Sri Lanka, Bundala national Park was also hit by the deadly tsunami of 2004. However, the damage caused was minimum due to the natural sand dunes bordering the coastal edge of the park.
How to Get There
There are several options to chose from when traveling to the Bundala National Park from Colombo and they by road, train and air.
By Road – The easiest and the most used way of getting to Bundala would be by either renting a vehicle to drive or by taxi. The quickest way to get there is via the Southern Expressway (E01). An alternative option is to take the Colombo-Batticaloa highway (A4). The duration of the journey would range between 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours depending on the route taken. Tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays can make arrangements to provide the necessary vehicle facilities for this purpose.
By Bus – The economical mode of transport to Bundala is through busses and its available every 30 minutes from Pettah, Colombo. Nonetheless travelling by bus may leave you weary. It is important to note that there are no direct Bundala bound buses. After getting into a bus at the Pettah bus Terminal it would take approximately 8 hours to reach Kataragama. From Kataragama you will have to taxi to Bundala and this would take approximately 45 minutes. Therefore, the whole journey would take a time period of 9 hours approximately.
By Train – Kamburugamuwa is the closest railway station to Bundala. To get to Kamburugamuwa from the Colombo Railway Station it would take approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. Some major stations at which the train would make stops are at Kaluthara, Aluthgama, Hikkaduwa and Galle. Once gotten down from Kamburugamuwa, the journey to Bundala of 94.4 km by road via a taxi will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. In case if you wish to take a bus to Bundala after coming in the train, you will have to get down from Galle and take two busses from Galle to Hambantota and from Hambantota to Bundala which would take approximately 3 ½ hours.
By Air – This is the costliest mode of travel to Bundala. There are several options to select from and both ‘Cinnamon Air’ and ‘Sri Lankan’ offer domestic flights. However, it should be noted that there are no direct flights to Bundala. For the three options stated below it is necessary to taxi to Diyawanna Oya from Colombo. For the first option you must taxi to the Katunayake Airport Bus Station and then fly to Hambantota directly and again taxi to Bundala which is 33.6 km away. For the second option you would have to take the 30-minute flight to Hatton and then either taxi or drive to Bundala which is 189.8 km to the south and this would take approximately 3 ½ hours. The third option is to fly to Katugastota and then drive to Bundala which is 242.2 km south which would take approximately 4 hours.
From Kandy -The quickest way to get to Bundala is by air; approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. You could either fly from Katugastota to Hambantota or to Weerawila before driving to Bundala. An alternative is to taxi to Hatton and fly to Weerawila. A taxi or a drive to Bundala from Kandy via road will take approximately 4 hours.
From Galle – The quickest way to reach Bundala from Galle is by hiring a vehicle or a taxi. This way it takes just over 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach the destination. The easiest way is via the A2 highway going through Colombo, Galle, Hambantota and Wellawaya. Another easy and fast route is via the Southern Expressway while another alternative is to take a Hambantota or Monaragala bound bus and then taxi to Bundala.
All these arrangements regarding vehicles and flight bookings are handled by Epic Sri Lanka Holidays.
The average temperature at the Bundala National Parkranges around 27 degrees Celsius while Bundala is mostly a hot and dry area. The dry season at Bundala is between the months of May to September while Bundala also receives an annual rainfall of 900mm – 1300mm. The best time to visit the park is between the months of September to March when most of the migratory birds visit the park.
Food & Drink
If you decide to go camping at the park you will be able to enjoy a variety of Sri Lankan and International dishes. These meals will be provided by the camping/glamping organization to suit your needs.
If you are looking for a real dining experience in the city, the popular eat outs that offer international dishes like American, Southwestern, Italian, British are Spice Lounge Restaurant and Bar, Orchid Restaurant, The Grand Yala Restaurant, The Flavors Restaurant etc. while these restaurants also offer Sri Lankan dishes. Smoky Kitchen and Muthu Restaurant are typically known for the Sri Lankan food. All restaurants and cafes are conveniently located about 0.3 miles to 2 miles away from the National Park.
Bundala National Park Safari – The park is internationally known for being home to migratory water birds in Sri Lanka of which Flamingos appear to be a highlight. The national park is situated 245 kilometers (152 mi) southeast of Colombo. The national park contains five shallow, brackish lagoons with salt pans in three.
Camping at Bundala National Park – If you are a wildlife enthusiast looking for an opportunity to spend the night under an all equipped tent, Bundala is one such venue for such an experience. Spacious tents with all facilities where all you have to do is to sit down and enjoy the serenity of living within a natural park.
Salterns at the Bundala National Park – Bundala National Park has five shallow brackish lagoons within its boundaries and three of them are salt pans which are also known as ‘Lewaya’ in the Sinhala vocabulary. Namely, Bundala Lagoon (520 hectares), Koholankala Lagoon (390 hectares) and Malala Lagoon (650 hectares) are the salterns available in the area.
Golf at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Country Club – The 18-hole golf course at the Shangri La Golf Resort and Country Club is picturesque destination for all golf enthusiasts. Designed by the world-renowned golf architect Rodney Wright, this golf course guarantees a memorable golfing experience for you to take back home.