Head south east to the serene town of Tissamaharama (or `Tissa' as it is most frequently referred to), which was the capital of the ancient Ruhunu Kingdom in the 2nd century B.C. Tissa is dominated by lakes and gigantic Buddhist Dagobas (temples), lush green paddy fields and lotus-filled lakes. The Debarawewa wetland located nearby is popular for the Black, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, and also the elusive White-naped Woodpecker. If lucky, you can also spot the Brown Fish Owl in this area. Many species of water birds frequent the other wetlands in the area and you may also spot the Mugger Crocodile.
Early next morning leave for Bundala National Park, a fascinating wetland near Hambantota. Bundala’s scrubland, patches of tall forests mixed with many wetland habitats including salt pans, is home to a wide array of birds including migrating shore birds and resident waders. The highlight here would be the flocks of Greater Flamingos that you may see in the saltpans. Water birds include Painted Storks, Asian Openbills, Eurasian Spoonbills, Black-headed Ibis and Wooly-necked Storks. Waders include Pacific Golden, Lesser Sand and Greater Sand, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Little Ringed, Little Stint, Marsh, Common, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Eurasian Thick-knee and Great Thick-knee in addition to Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Snipe, Pintail Snipe and Ruddy Turnstone. If you are lucky, you may spot a Red-necked Phalarope in the saltains.
A visit to this region is not complete without visiting the Yala National Park. Yala, with a total protected area of more than 1,200 sq kms, consists of scrubland, grass flats, monsoon forest and rock outcrops with waterholes. Yala is one of the best places in Asia to see the leopard. However, they are not easy to spot as there are only around 35 of them now surviving within the park. Other mammals found here include Elephant, Sloth Bear, Sambhur, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Stripe-necked, Brown & Ruddy Mongooses, Black-naped Hare, Grey Langers, Toque Macaques & civet cats.