A wild ride through the numerous national parks scattered along the East Coast is an ideal way to quench your adventurous spirit. From Lahugala wild elephants to the Pigeon Island Marine Park where rather than a safari from a jeep, a boat ride awaits you, to the wilds of Kumana exploring the wildlife of the East would make up a big chunk of your travel itinerary. So strap those hats on and get those cameras ready to capture the exciting moments that are bound to creep up as you cross the terrain.
Approximately 265 kilometres from Colombo, lies a treasure by the name of ‘Maduru Oya.’ Established as a National Park of Sri Lanka under the Mahaweli Development project, the park provides a sanctuary to wildlife. However, that is not all. This destination posses a rich history in engineering and a lot of adventure with an army camp being situated there
Once known as Yala East National park, this naturally evergreen area situated in the district of Ampara was made into an independent wild life reserve fourteen years ago after being closed for an extensive period. Since then it has come to be considered one of the most important nesting and breeding grounds in the country with an awe inspiring 255 bird species having either been photographed or recorded there including a variety of rare species like the Black-necked stork and the Eurasian spoonbill. In addition to this Kumana National Park is also home to a large variety animals such as elephants, An elephant family On alert, a herd of deer, leopards, deer and mugger crocodiles. All wildlife at Kumana National Park as well as the extensive flora that grows there are supplied water by the Kumubukkan Oya that borders the western region of the park as well as 200 hectares mangrove swamp called Kumana Villu. The latter provides an excellent feeding and resting habitat to the various water birds that migrate to this place from April to July. The park also holds over 20 lagoons and man made tanks often used by the animals as watering holes. While not as well known as its neighbour Yala National Park, Kumana nevertheless provides its visitors with an authentic wildlife experience devoid of any artificiality. It is also a preferable spot for those who do not want to deal with large crowds. Kumana is the best place to observe animals in their natural habitat.
The island just one kilometre and a few minutes by boat, from Nilaveli Coast, Trincomalee is in itself a unique destination. Lush greenery and white sandy shores enveloped by the foaming waves of the bright sapphire ocean, The Pigeon Island Marine Park is a must visit for the ocean lovers and the adventerous; snorkelling amidst the colourful schools of fish and the conserved coral reefs is an exhilarating experience! Make sure you’re well equipped and accompanied by an expert, who will guide you through the sites and even take you to a shark point!
March to July is marked as Gal Oya National Park’s feast for the eyes. Boat and/or Jeep safaris make for a splendid late afternoon with its animals spread across 100 square miles of rich and unique landscape of grasslands, evergreen forests, elevations and depressions of rocky plains, and water bodies. Wildlife at the Park features toque and macaque monkeys, langurs, leopards, sloth bears, elephants, and over 100 species of birds, among many more inhabitants, like its butterflies. Via cities of Ratnapura, Pelmadulla and also through Wellawaya and Monaragala, the Park is easy to access.
Often famed for being one of the smallest National Park in Sri Lanka, Lahugala Kithulana National Park is a very important habitat for Elephants and endemic birds. Its untouched and pure environment is an area of about 5131 hectares, and holds the Lahugala Tank, a source of life to the many living forms in the abode. When visiting, be sure to stick close to your tour guide, and pay attention to the wildlife experts as they guide you along the paths where you will discover the wonder of wildlife in Sri Lanka.