Bundala National Park

Top choice in Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park is a fantastic maze of waterways, lagoons and dunes that glitter like gold in the dying evening sun. This wonderland provides a home to thousands of colourful birds ranging from diminutive little bee-eaters to grotesque open-billed stalks. It is a wetland sanctuary of such importance that it has been recognised under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Many big mammals are also present, with between 15 and 60 elephants depending on the season (December is the best month).

The park shelters almost 200 species of birds within its 62-sq-km area, with many journeying from Siberia and the Rann of Kutch in India to winter here, arriving between August and April (December to March is the peak time). It’s also a winter home to the greater flamingo, and up to 2000 have been recorded here at one time.

Bundala also has civets, giant squirrels and lots of crocodiles. Between October and January, four of Sri Lanka’s five species of marine turtles (olive ridley, green, leatherback and loggerhead) lay their eggs on the coast.

Bundala stretches nearly 20km along a coastal strip between Kirinda and Hambantota. The entrance is west of the 251km post. There’s a visitors centre at the main gate that has views over the marshes; check out the skeleton of a fearsomely huge crocodile.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bundala National Park attractions

1. Wirawila Wewa


West of Tissa, the Hambantota–Wellawaya Rd runs over this large lake (via a causeway). It's home to resident waders and visited by migrating birds.

3. Museum

7.78 MILES

This small museum, next to Yatala Wehera, contains an extraordinary range of treasures including an ornate, ancient bidet, which – as well as an elaborate…

4. Yatala Wehera

7.79 MILES

Lotus ponds surround this site, which has a wealth of elephant details in the carvings (note the footpads). It was built 2300 years ago by King Mahanaga…

6. Tissa Dagoba

8.05 MILES

This large much-restored dagoba looming between Tissa town centre and the wewa is believed to have been originally built around 200 BC by Kavantissa, a…

7. Kirinda Temple

8.05 MILES

Kirinda centres on this imposing hilltop Buddhist shrine, which includes a stupa and huge standing Buddha. It's dedicated to Queen Viharamahadevi, who…

8. Tissa Wewa

8.39 MILES

The centrepiece of the town and its surrounds is the lovely Tissa Wewa (Tissa Tank), a huge artificial lake. In the evening, check out the flocks of…