Accessed around 15km east of Hambantota (and a similar distance west of Tissa), 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, as well as being home to significant populations of elephants, crocodiles, turtles and other fauna. Although it doesn’t have quite the range of wildlife or scenery of nearby Yala National Park, Bundala is much quieter and makes a good alternative if you want to avoid Yala’s crowds or scenery of nearby Yala National Park, Bundala is much quieter, and makes a good alternative if you want to avoid Yala’s crowds.
The park stretches along the coast for around 20km, enclosing five shallow and brackish lagoons, or lewayas (they sometimes dry up completely during long periods of drought) separated by thick low scrubby forest running down to coastal dunes. Almost two hundred bird species have been recorded here, their numbers swelled by seasonal visitors, who arrive between September and March. The lagoons attract an amazing variety of aquatic birds, including ibis, pelicans, painted storks, egrets and spoonbills, though the most famous visitors are the huge flocks of greater flamingoes.