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Must Visit Locations

Bundala National Park, Southern coast, Sri Lanka

Salt pans, coast, lagoons, Ramsar wetland, Birdlife, Elephants, Mammals, Crocodiles, Marine Turtles

Located about fifteen kilometers east of Hambantota (a similar distance west of Tissamaharama), Bundala National Park is one of Sri Lanka's foremost destinations for birdwatchers, protecting an important area of coastal wetland famous for its abundant aquatic (and other) birdlife. The park is also home to significant populations of elephants, Marsh & estuarine crocodiles, turtles & other fauna, including the leopard. Stretching along the coast east of Hambantota, Bundala National Park is ideal for instant gratification: in a four hour jeep ride, we can see elephants, 8ft crocs, giant squirrels & flamingoes. Afternoon safaris in the dry season (December - May) provide visitors with the best chance of seeing the wildlife.

A Ramsar site

Bundala's lagoons, beaches, sand dunes & scrubby jungle stretch nearly 20km along a coastal strip starting just east of Hambantota passes along Bundala's northern boundary. The park is an important wetland sanctuary that's been declared a Ramsar site. The reserve itself consists of a series of shallow lagoons which are surrounded by low & dense scrub. Tracks go through the bush & connect each lagoon. The sanctuary skirts the sea & it is possible to see the light house on the Great Basses some 40 km away to the east. There are two camp sites in the park.

Salt pans (Salt lewayas)

Much of the park boundary is contiguous with the A2 main road. Before the park, the Malala lagoon, reached by following the Malala River from the main road, is a bird-watchers' paradise, where you might also see crocodiles too. The Karagan, Maha & particularly Bundala lewayas (salt pans) are also excellent for shore-bird enthusiasts.

The area of open scrub around the coastal lewaya offers great opportunities for bird-watching with the added bonus of being able to spot the odd elephant & basking crocodile. The salt pans attract vast numbers of migratory shore birds, accommodating tens of thousands at any time, making it the most important wetlands in Sri Lanka outside the Northern Province.


The park stretches along the coast for around 20 km, enclosing five shallow & brackish lagoons, or lewayas (they sometime dry up completely during long periods of drought) separated by thick low scrubby forest running down to coastal dunes.

Bird species

A total of 197 bird species have been recorded here, made up of 139 resident species & 58 seasonal visitors, the latter arriving during the northern winter (Sept- March). The lagoons attract an amazing variety of aquatic birds, including ibis, pelicans, painted storks, egrets & spoonbills. From September to March, you can see abundant stints, sand pipers, plovers, terns, gulls & ducks. The migrants Flamingoes join the resident water birds-pelicans, herons, egrets, cormorants, stilts & storks-contributing to an extraordinary variety.


The most famous visitors are the huge flocks of flamingos. The Bundala area is the flamingos' last refuge in the southern Sri Lanka, & you can see here in variable numbers throughout the year; their exact breeding habits remain a mystery, though it's thought they migrate from the Rann of Kutch in northern India. It's a winter home to the greater flamingoes & up to 2000 have been recorded here. Many other birds journey from Siberia & Rann of Kutch in India to winter here, arriving between August & April. About 350 flamingoes have made Bundala their year-round home.

Non-aquatic birds

Non-aquatic birds commonly seen here include delicate green bee eaters, one of the south's prettiest residents, blue-tailed bee eaters along with spotted doves, common babblers, parakeets & bulbuls.


Perched sententiously amidst the upper branches of the park's innumerable skeletal palu tees are the peacocks. A memorable site.


In the scrub jungle is home to herds of elephants. There are permanent resident elephants & larger seasonal migratory herds comprising animals that roam the Ruhuna Yala National Park & Uda Walawe National Park.


Bundala is also home to species mammals, including leopards, sloth bears, civets, mongooses & giant squirrels, as well as rabbits (rare in Sri Lanka, & an incongruous sight as they bounce fluffily around amidst the arid tropical landscape), though the most commonly seen mammals are the excitable troupes of grey languor monkeys.

Marsh & estuarine crocodiles

We will view crocs along the sides of the park's lagoons & watercourses. Depending on how wet it, your tracker might let you get within a couple of meters of their log-like forms, or even take you to have a peek inside this burros; a memorable experience, though not one for the faint-hearted.

Marine Turtles

Between October & January four of Sri Lanka's marine turtle (olive ridley, green, leatherback & loggerhead) lay their eggs on the coast of the park.

Sri Lanka Hotel Guide - Hotel Information, Special Offers, News and Trends and much more

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Photo Gallery

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Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park

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