Wasgomuwa National Park | Cultural Triangle | Red Dot Tours

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Wasgomuwa National Park

Wasgomuwa National Park is located between the Central and North Central provinces, 39,000 hectares of riverine and dry evergreen forests, grasslands and wetlands which are home to numerous animals including sloth bear, sambur, spotted and barking deer, wild boar, purple-faced leaf monkey and 143 species of bird. Wasgomuwa is famous for the elephants which frequent the Mahaweli River which runs along one of the boundaries of the park, and its canals and water-ways which run down from the 470-metre-high ‘Sudu Kande’ nearby. There are also archaeological ruins of ancient settlements within the park, the most important of which is Buduruwayaya, which is comprised of ruins of Buddha statues which are estimated to be over 1,800 years old and buildings which date back to the Polonnaruwa period.

Wasgomuwa was closed to visitors until 1948, when it was changed from a Strict Nature Reserve to a National Park. As a relatively ‘new’ park, the animals are still not used to people and so your encounters can be very memorable! Elephants are the main attraction of this park – there are over 150 here – and they are particularly large in size due to their varied diet. Other mammals inhabiting this park include leopard, sloth bear, golden jackal, wild boar, wild buffalo, black-naped hare, sambar, spotted and barking deer, fishing cat, rusty-spotted cat and primates including the grey langur, the endemic toque macaque and purple-faced leaf monkey and the nocturnal grey slender loris.

Wasgomuwa is also excellent for birdwatching. Nearly 150 species of birds can be seen in the park, including migrants, forest birds, water birds and waders. Some of the highlights include the endemic species red-faced malkoha, Sri Lanka jungle fowl, Sri Lanka spur fowl, Sri Lanka green pigeon, Sri Lanka brown-capped babbler, crimson flamback, Sri Lanka grey hornbill and yellow-fronted barbet. Other species include the globally endangered lesser adjutant and painted storks, black-headed ibis, and grey-headed fish eagle. Wasgomuwa is also a very good location to see the elusive spot-bellied eagle owl, also known as the ‘Devil Bird’. Other forest birds include little green bee-eater, blue-tailed bee-eater, common iora, black-headed cuckoo shrike, brown shrike, black-headed munias, Indian pitta, forest wagtail, yellow wagtail, orange-headed ground thrush, jungle prinia, ashy prinia, white-rumped shama, Malabar-pied hornbill and the chestnut-headed bee-eater.

Other animals which can be seen at Wasgomuwa are various species of butterflies – including the rare five-bar swordtail and colourful banded peacock, common jezebel, blue mormon and common birdwing – and reptiles including two types of crocodile and land monitors. If you are lucky you many also see the Indian python crossing in front of the jeep tracks in the early morning.

Stats in Brief

Stratification: Moist monsoon forest & dry monsoon forest

Size: 31,649ha

Status: National Park

Altitude: 60-470m

Temperature: Average 27 (degree C)

Annual Rainfall: Average 1,750mm to 2,250mm

Best time of year to visit: February to September

Optimum duration of stay: 2 night up to 4 nights

Accommodation Options: Dunvilla Cottage, Willy’s Safari, Mahoora standard & luxury camping

Highlights: Sloth Bear, Asian Elephants, Leopard & many species of birds

Overview

Wasgomuwa was closed to visitors till 1948 when it was changed from a Strict Natural Reserve to a National Park. Being a relative ‘new’ park the animals are not very used to seeing people and your encounters can be very memorable! Climatic conditions here are typical of the Dry Zone and largely influenced by the North-East Monsoon from October to January.

The most important cultural site within the park is the Buduruwayaya in the southwest corner of the park near the Amban & Kalu Rivers. These ruins are estimated to be over 1800 years old and feature a Buddha reclining with stone pillars. There are also many other smaller ruins of Buddha statues and buildings dating back to the Polonnaruwa period.

Flora & fauna of Wasgomuwa

Wasgamuwa National park is situated mainly within the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka and extends to the Intermediate Zone of the island resulting in a varied combination of vegetation.   Tropical dry mixed evergreen forest predominates with trees such as Weera (Drypetes sepiaria) Ehala (C.Fistula), Palu (Manilkara Chloroxylon), Satinwood (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (vitex pinnata), and Ebony (Diospyros ebenum). Dense forests cover the hilly ridges and well-developed forests occupy the banks of the major rivers that run through the park; these riverine forests are dominated by Kumbuk trees (Terminalia arjuna). Some areas of the park also have extensive plains dominated by the Grass Illuk.

23 species of Mammals, 143 species of birds, 35 species of Reptiles, 15 species of Amphibians, 17 species of Fish and 52 species of Butterflies have been recorded at Wasgomuwa.

Mammals

Elephants are the main attraction of this park with over 150 Elephants inhabiting the park. These elephants seem to be much larger in size than the ones you will see in Uda Walawe. This is mainly due to the lush vegetation within Wasgomuwa that provides their varied diet. These Elephants are also known for their aggressive behaviour when confronted by humans. Since this park was only open to the public a few years back, the animals are much more unpredictable. Other mammals inhabiting this National Park include Leopard, Sloth Bear, Golden Jackal, Wild Boar, Wild Buffalo, Black-naped Hare, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat. Primates include the Grey Langer, the endemic Toque Monkey, Purple-faced Leaf Monkey and the nocturnal primate the Grey Slender Loris.

Birds

Wasgomuwa is also excellent for bird watching. Nearly 150 species of birds can be seen in the park and this includes migrants, forest birds, water birds and waders. Some of the highlights include the endemic Red-Faced Malkoha in the riverine habitats. Other endemics includes the Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Sri Lanka Spur fowl, Sri Lanka Green Pigeon, Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler, Crimson Flamback, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Barbet. Other species include the globally endangered Lesser Adjutant. Painted Storks, Black-headed Ibis, and Grey-headed fish Eagle. This is also a very good location to see the elusive Spot-bellied Eagle Owl also known as the Devil Bird. Other forest birds include Little Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Common Iora, Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike, Brown Shrike, Black-headed Munias, Indian Pitta, Forest Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Jungle Prinia, Ashy Prinia, White-rumped Shama, Malabar-pied Hornbill and the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater.

Butterflies

Hours can be spent in Wasgomuwa spotting the many species of Butterflies including the rare Five-bar Swordtail, Banded Peacock, Common Jezebel, Blue Mormon, and the Common Birdwing to name a few of the more colourful ones.

Reptiles & Amphibians

Wasgomuwa has both types of Crocodiles found in Sri Lanka, the Estuarine and Mugger Crocodiles along with land Monitors. If you are lucky you can also see the Indian Python crossing the jeep tracks in the early morning.

Accommodation Options

Dunvila Cottage, Wasgomuwa:  Situated just minutes away from the Wasgomuwa National Park with its boundaries 500 metres away from the Cottage, Dunvila is a rustic eco retreat.  The Cottage overlooks a serene lotus filled lake, lush green paddy fields, and undisturbed wilderness. The cottage is surrounded on three sides by the Dunvila Lake and has magnificent views of the Wasgomuva jungles and the Knuckles and Sudu Kandha Ranges. (More)

Willy’s Safari, Wasgomuwa:
Located just minutes from the entrance to Wasgomuwa National Park, Willy’s Safari is a small budget property overlooking a lake.  The hotel has basic, comfortable en-suite rooms.

Mahoora standard & luxury camping, Wasgomuwa:  Mahoora Safari Camps, managed by Eco Team, one of the premier wildlife companies in the island, offers camping inside a range of national parks including Wasgomuwa.  Mahoora offer two grades of camping: luxury and standard and unlike the other competitors, Mahoora offers one-night stays in the parks which are useful when trying to keep down costs. But a two-day stay inside the parks is still recommended. (More)

Access

From Kurunagala to Habarana, turn off beyond Galewela, on to Nelua road, towards Hettipoala. Also possible from Kandy to via Hadawaka. From Hasalaka take a minor road North through Handungamuwa.

Media Reviews

'The jewel that’s Wasgomuwa
by Katrin Fernando, Travel Sri Lanka, Vol 4 No. 12

'A peace retreat in the wilds'
by Florence Wickramage, Ceylon Daily News - Click Here

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