The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Kumana National Park is a birders’ paradise. Hidden away in the south-east of Sri Lanka, it was one known as East Yala, but it is best approached from the laid-back coastal settlement of Arugam Bay on Sri Lanka’s East Coast. This is a chance to escape the hordes and discover a place of natural beauty.
Kumana houses one of the finest bird sanctuaries in Sri Lanka, established in 1938. Its mangrove swamp provides an ideal nesting ground for many species of birds. It is at its finest between May and July when many water birds migrate to its mangrove swamps to nest. Around 255 of Sri Lanka’s 400 bird species have been recorded here.
One of the most valuable aspects of Kumana is the Kumana Villu - a 2 sq km natural swamp lake, fed by the Kumbukkan Oya. This along with other reservoirs and lagoons dotted around the park ensures regular sightings of such bird species as painted storks, spoonbills, pelicans, white ibis, herons, egrets and little cormorants. The very rare black-necked stork has also been an occasional visitor.
The entrance to Kumana National Park, which extends over 356 sq kms, is at the last coastal settlement on the East Coast, Panama, via the Kudumbigala sanctuary. Its isolated position means it is considerably quieter than its popular and more easily accessible neighbour, Yala, to the south-west. Between them, the two parks offer a large expanse of wilderness but the experience is very different.
Mammals such as elephants, leopards, jackals, wild boar and fishing cat also wander into Kumana from the better-known game park, Yala, which lies directly to the south-west. Reptiles include the mugger crocodile and several varieties of turtle. The vegetation of the park is mainly tropical dry zone forest with mangroves, kumbuk trees and marshland.
The dry season in Kumana generally runs from February to September and is the best time to visit the park. Even outside the May to July migratory season there are many species of birds to enjoy. Check out Red Dot’s birdwatching tour of Sri Lanka here and learn more here about birdwatching in Sri Lanka.
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