Once known as Yala East, the Kumana National Park is situated adjacent to the west border of the Yala National Park. Situated in the Eastern Province, this national park is situated 12 km south of Arugam Bay and is accessible through the Wellawaya – Pottuvill road.
Spanning over an area of 18,148 hectares, The Kumana National Park is renowned as one of the greatest parks for bird watching in Sri Lanka. With much less visitors in comparison to the Yala National Park, Kumana provides a more tranquil and less crowded experience of the wildlife in Sri Lanka.
Known for its birdlife, the Kumana National Park is also a great venue to spot wild animals such as leopards, elephants, crocodiles, turtles, white cobras and wild buffalos. Even-though the wildlife density of this park is lower than Yala it is not rare to spot these animals roaming within the park. In addition to that, the Kumana National Park also houses around a dozen bears but they are not seen as often as the other animals.
In terms of the birds, a 200-hectare mangrove swamp called ‘Kumana Villu’ is a place where many water birds nest during the months of May to June. This villu is subjected to occasional inundation of sea water. There have been sightings of very rare species of birds such as the black-necked stork of Sri Lanka while several other commonly spotted species of birds are Malabar pied hornbills, green bee-eaters, blade-headed orioles and painted storks. Watchtowers situated within the park provides a great platform for the bird watchers while many report spotting dozens of peacocks within the park as well. The park records a total of more than 430 species of birds where around 250 of those species migrate to the park in huge flocks during the months from April – July.
In terms of the landscape, the park is bordered by the Kumbukkan river to the west and the south-eastern coast to the South. Scattered around the national park are more than 20 water pools such as the Kudawila wewa, Thummulla wewa and Kotalinda wewa which provide great spots for spotting wildlife in its most natural habitats.
Formally known as the Yala East National Park, the name of the sanctuary was changed to Kumana National Park on the 5th of September 2006. The park was forced to be closed down to the public between the years of 1985 and 2003 due to the civil war that prevailed within the country.
Similar to Yala, the Kumana National Park was also hit by the massive tsunami on the boxing day of the year 2004. This tsunami did massive damage to the park leaving the coastal belt of the park completely changed. However, no animals were harmed during this natural disaster as they had moved away to safety prior to the time when the waves hit the park. It is assumed that the animals were alerted by their sixth sense which allowed them to move to safety.
Kumana was also once a hunting ground for Nittawo who were one of the sworn enemies to the indigenous population of Veddhas in Sri Lanka.
How to Get There
There are several options to choose from when travelling to the Kumana National Park from Colombo and they are by road, bus, train and air.
By Road – The mostly used mode of transport when traveling to Kumana is either by hiring or driving a car. The total duration of the journey would add up to 6 hours and 20 minutes while the total distance is 364.7 km. Tour consultants at Epic Sri Lanka Holidays can make arrangements to provide the necessary vehicle facilities for this purpose.
By Bus – The economical or the least costly method of transport to Kumana is by bus. However, it should be noted that this journey could leave you weary and that there are no direct busses to Kumana. Firstly, you have to travel to Kataragama of the Pettah Bus Terminal which would take approximately 8 hours and then taxi to Kumana from Kataragama for another 3 hours and 25 minutes.
By Train – There are no stations in the close proximity of Kumana. The nearest station is in Kital Ella when you take the train from the Colombo Railway Station. The train ride will undoubtedly take you through some beautiful sceneries even though the ride will approximately take 9 hours and 20 minutes. After getting down in Kital Ella you must again taxi approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach Kumana.
By Air – The costliest mode of transport to Kumana is via air. Cinnamon Air offers domestic flights which can be used to reach Kumana. Out of the several stops available, the quickest is to fly to Batticaloa and then taxi to Kumana which would approximately take 3 hours and 15 minutes through the south-eastern coast line of Sri Lanka.
From Kandy – The quickest wat to get to Kumana from Kandy is by air. You have to fly to Hambantota from Katugastota and then taxi to Kumana for approximately 4 hours. Alternative methods are to taxi directly to Kumana or to take a train ride to Kital Ella and then taxi to Kumana.
From Galle – There are two options to chose from when traveling to Kumana from Galle. Either you can take a bus to Hambantota or Monaragala and then taxi to Kumana or directly taxi to Kumana which would take approximately 6 hours. Option of flying is also available, but it is not recommended since you will have to deviate to Kandy before reaching Kumana.
All arrangements regarding vehicles and flight bookings will be handled by Epic Sri Lanka Holidays.
The mean annual temperature of the national park is estimated to be 27 degrees Celsius while the national park receives an annual rainfall of around 1,300 millimeters for a year. The wind in the Kumana National Park can range from 15 kilometers per hour to 23 kilometers per hour between the two monsoon seasons. Hottest weather in Kumana is generally recorded during July and the coldest weather is recorded during January.
Food and Drink
Nearest available restaurants for dining are located in the city of Panama which is a few minutes’ drive from Kumana and also Arugam Bay which is further away. If you are looking for a place to dine in, the popular eat outs are Nilana Hotel and Restaurant, Ranga’s Beach Hut, Ocean Sky Chillout Lounge, Why Not Restaurant and The Green Room Restaurant.
Kumana National Park Safari – The Kumana National Park is one of the best national parks available in Sri Lanka for bird watchers from around the world. Around 430 species of birds are identified within the park while other wildlife species can also be spotted.
Camping in Kumana National Park – Spending your time in a tent of a wildlife park as diverse as Kumana in terms of its birdlife will definitely leave you with great memories to take back home. The calm and tranquil nature of the park together with the hospitality within the camp site will allow you to enjoy nature at its best.
Birdwatching in Kumana National Park – Renowned as the best location or by some others as one of the best locations for birdlife in Sri Lanka, the park is a haven for endemic birds and also migratory birds. According to records, a total of 430 different species of birds have been identified within the park while 250 of those are migratory birds
Bambaragasthalawa Naga Pabbata Monastery Ruins – Among the ruins of this ancient monastery complex, lies a reclining statue of Lord Buddha which is 26 feet long. The statue is highly damaged by treasure hunters but remains as a major tourist attraction within the park.
Kudumbigala Monastery – Assumed as built in the year of 246 BC during the time of King Devanampiyatissa, this monastery complex has served as a refugee for Buddhist monks who wanted to get away from the chaos in cities and follow their paths to enlightenment. The dagaba found at this complex is the only cylindrical dagaba found anywhere in Sri Lanka.
Okanda Devalaya – An important pilgrimage site of the Hindu devotees in Sri Lanka as well as the Buddhists. It is also the last gathering stop for the devotees who take part in the long walk to the Kataragama Devalaya from Jaffna called the ‘Pada Yathra’ every year.
Kumana Turtle Conservation Centre – Involved in breeding and protecting turtles, this conservation center will allow you to get close as you want with the turtles. If you are interested to hold a baby turtle or even a large turtle, this conservation center will provide you what you are looking for.