Along the southern coast of Sri Lanka, passing Hambantota towards the east, one reaches the expansive Bundala Nature Reserve, protected by a sand dune bordering the deep blue sea. Located 250km south-east of Colombo within the dry arid zone, it expands to 6,216ha. It is made of mostly thorny scrub jungle, brackish water lagoons and mud flats.
The park consists of rich biodiversity with a large variety of plant and animal species, and is especially famous for its aquatic bird life. Sri Lanka’s jungle fowl is also seen here and the Bundala Salterns within the park provides an ideal site for watching large birds such as flamingos and pelicans in open environment. Large numbers of peacocks roam free within the park. Sri Lanka being the last landing point on the migratory route of birds, the Bundala park with its wetlands makes an ideal location for water birds weathering the winter. One can observe thousands of migratory birds that fly down even way up from Siberia to Bundala during the latter part of the year and leaving around March. This park gained international importance when it was declared a ‘Ramsar’ Wetland under the Ramsar Convention.
Wild elephants roam the park and move in small herds into waterholes in the evenings. Along the routes within the park or even along the beach, one may find lone elephants too. There are the spotted deer, sloth bears, jackals, pangolins, giant squirrels, crocodiles, monitor lizards and other reptiles. Going through the park beyond the sand dune, there exists a most unexpected sight for the visitor. One finds a long stretch of the golden sandy beach facing the deep blue Indian Ocean, where sea turtles come to lay their eggs by night. One can spend hours relaxing at the beach here and there are shallow spots where one could even dip in for a sea bath.
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