Kumana National Park became an independent wildlife sanctuary in 1969, with not much of an evidence that showed the history of the large landmark. Kumana, before it was named as a sanctuary, was a great hunting ground for elephant poachers and zoo keepers from Dehiwala who wanted the animals to be presented at their zoo. The only evidence of what remains in cultural aspects is the Tamil Kovil which supports the pilgrimage foot tour known as the pada yatra (pronounced Pardha Yarthra). But what shows the most interest in the park are the old cave drawings believed to have done by the Veddas. These cave drawing represented a group of hunters and heard of wild elephant. Some say that the park was once home to the Lankan legend called Nittaewo, a race of dwarves who lived in the country many years ago.
In 2006, the park that had been named 'Yala-East Park' was renamed "Kumana".
- The park covers 35,664 hectares (88,130 acres) and is home to over 255 bird species. Its wild landscape is known for its animal diversity, with over 20 tanks all over the park, Kumana Wildlife Sanctuary is known to be the largest bird sanctuary in Sri Lanka. The park is fairly flat but some mountainous structures can be seen from place to place. The park is mostly covered with wide plains, thick forests and the aforementioned water bodies. Manmade structures are quite rare in the park, apart from a few ancient buildings built for the Tamil pilgrimage walk.
Flora and fauna
The dry zone rain forests are surrounded by dry tropical thorn forests. The park's most dominating plant is Manilkara hexandra, known as 'Palu' by the local Sri Lankans. The trees are usually dry and weak due to the lacking of minerals and water.
Kumana national park's main specialty is it's vast diversity of animal species, and it is also a reason for it's separation from Yala National Park.
Kumana Bird Sanctuary is included in the national park. Kumana is the most important breeding and migrating ground for the birds in Sri Lanka. From the month of April to the month of July, thousands of birds migrate and breed in the area, Very rare species, such as the black necked stork, which cannot be found elsewhere in the country, use Kumana as their main migrating stop and breeding grounds. the reason for the vast consensus of birds is the perfectly compatible landscape for breeding.
Even though mammals are present in the park, many can rarely be seen to the visitors. The frequently seen mammals can be simply put forward as deers, elephants and wild boar. Other than that, many other shy mammals such as golden Jackals and European otters exist within the park. Elephants are usually seen bathing in the water beds of the park. Deers can usually be seen as groups in the open areas of the park. As it was a part of the Yala National Park, there are chances that you might see a Sri Lankan Leopard.
Reptiles and others
Reptiles such as the mugger crocodile can usually be seen near water beds throughout the park (usually around noon). Indian flap-shelled turtles and Indian black turtles also exist in the park. Apart from reptiles, fascinating varieties of butterflies and fish can be seen inside the park as well.
Kumana National Park has a persistent dry climate where heavy rainfall is uncommon, but can be expected during the south-western monsoon season (May–September). From December to March, Kumana receives dry winds coming from the northern parts of the country. The average temperature of this area is about 33 °C (92 °F), with around 58% humidity.
The travelling distance from Colombo to Kumana is 363 km (approximately 255 miles).
Hiring a car is a good option if you like road trips. The estimated time taken for travelling is 7½–8 hours; this may differ according to the route you take
- via Colombo-Kandy Rd/A1: 8 hours 36 minutes
- via Southern Expressway/E01: 7 hours 51 minutes
- via via Colombo–Batticaloa Hwy/Colombo–Ratnapura–Wellawaya–Batticaloa Rd/A4: 7 hours 43 minutes.
the cost may differ according to the needs such as fuel and repairments. When fueling your vehicle, only do so in trusted stations such as Ceypetco (Ceylon Petrol corporation) and IOC.
By train and taxi
You must keep about Rs. 20,000 with you when travelling using this medium.
An 8-hour journey from the Colombo Fort station to Ella in the Badulla district costs of Rs. 250-800 and departs every four hours. The train is basic but comfortable and passed through some spectacular mountainous countryside. As this is a popular route, it is recommended to book in advance as first class tickets often sell out. Third class tickets never sell out, but you may not get a seat.
After getting off from Ella, you must hire a taxi, which should be metered. It will take about 3 hours to get there and it might cost about Rs. 9,000–11,000.
- get on at the Colombo Bastian Mawatha Bus Terminal and enjoy a journey of 3 hours or more. Payment may differ according to the features included in the bus. The cost for a public bus is US$1–2 (Aug 2019). You will stop your bus journey at Tangalle, after getting off you will have to hire a taxi (early booking is best) and continue till the destination. The whole trip would take about 8 hours or so (without including the stops made on the way). The total cost would be about US$90.
- If you are travelling with a group, you can hire a private bus which will travel from Colombo to the destination straight away.
Fees and permits
Permits are not needed to enter the park, but you must carry your passport and identification just in case.
The average fee for a foreign child from the ages 6 to 12 years is approximately US$5, it would take the fee of Rs. 20 for a local child. The service charge is US$8. Carrying some extra money will help you as well.
Walking is not an option: a truck/jeep will be supplied along with a driver at the main entrance. It is important that you only get out of your vehicle under the guide's supervision. The price ranges of tour vehicles may differ according to the quality and state of the vehicle. Choosing a high quality drive is the best option to enjoy the ride comfortably, a poor quality ride compared to the state of the road might make it difficult for tasks. The tour is mostly taken care of by the driver and possibly, by your guide. If you are travelling with a large group, it is necessary to hire a few more vehicles. A safari truck is usually separated into two pieces. They can simply defined as the cockpit and the balcony. One person can go on the ride with the driver, while the others can enjoy the ride with a panorama view of the park.
Kumana as a national park does not have any special places for tourism, but interesting rituals such as the Pada Yathra is a spectacular moment to see. It is a group of Hindu pilgrims walking from Jaffna to Katharagama. Near the park there is a small Hindu Kovil, which was built for the pilgrimage to stop during their journey. You can go there and refresh yourself or appreciate the art of the Hinduism structures.
- 1 Kudumbigala sanctuary, ☏ .
- 2 Uganthai Malai Murugan Kovil. The nearest kovil/relief zone from Kumana National Park.
Given below are some equipment and clothes that you can bring on the trip
- Ointments – An ointment that would repel smosquitoes (recommended: Siddhalepa)
- Sun lotion
For Bird watching and other activities
- Binoculars – to see animals from a distance (increases safety and lessens tourism impact).
- Camera – to capture the scenic environment
- Notebook – to write down observations and notes, maybe even lodge data of your trip.
- A field guide – to identify animals in the park.
- Wear loose clothing and a hat. Wear closed shoes for your own safety.
- Bird-watching – With over 255 bird varieties, the Kumana National Park is the ideal place for bird-watching. Even though endemic birds are rare in the parts, you surely will spot quite unique birds. Especially waders who visit the tanks of Kumana regularly.
- Zoology – Kumana is home to many species of animals, not only can you study them, you can also see their regular activity and days work. All you need is a pair of binoculars and optionally a video camera.
- Dendrology – Many varieties of trees are present in this giant park. This would be a great opportunity for tourists to study endemic plants to Sri Lanka as well. The Fauna has a wast diversity in the area.
- Archaeology – Explore the History of the greatest animal sanctuary in Sri Lanka. See the oldest cave drawings and inspect some of the greatest rituals done by the Hindu pilgrims in Sri Lanka.
- A small store is included in the main entrance of the park, there you can buy equipment such as pocket guides, souvenirs and snacks for the trip. Other than that the only other shops that can be found are in the village nearby. Things required for the trip can be bought in the supermarkets in Arugam bay. Recommended super-markets are Keels and Cargils. If you do not find any of these super-markets, ask your hotel manager for a trusted store in the area.
Eating is necessary as the tour will at least take an hour. Please take your litter away with you. There are no restaurants or snack bars inside the park and picking fruits from trees is prohibited. You can always purchase food from stores before coming to the park.
It is necessary to bring along a water bottle. You can buy drinks at the entrance shop or Kumana Village.
An overnight stay is required when travelling from Colombo to the South East.
Some hotels near Kumana may lack facilities such as hot water showers, if you need a hotel with full services it is advised that you lodge in a hotel at Arugam Bay (35 kilometers away from the park).
- Lake view hotel, No. 118/18 Air Port Road, Ratmalana South 10390, ☏ .
- 1 Waypoint Arugam Bay, Panama Rd, Arugam Bay•076 905 4292. hotel with full facilities in Arugam Bay LKR 8,859.
- 2 The Blue Wave Hotel, The Blue Wave Hotel Road, Arugam Bay, Pottuvil 05, Arugam Bay 32500, ☏ . 4-star hotel in Arugam Bay LKR 16,082.
- 3 Mahoora Tented Safari Camp - Kumana, Kumana National Park, 32000, ☏ (mobile). Rs. 203,096 per person.
As a wildlife sanctuary, the animals in there are a threat to visitors just like we are a threat to them.
Wild elephants – Sri Lanka is well known for its elephants, and in this national park, you will be sure to spot one. But when you do, you must stay inside the vehicle at all times. You must only get out if the elephant is over 200 feet (60 m) away from you. Unlike some of the tourist spots in Sri Lanka, feeding is not an option. This would just cause more trouble.
Crocodiles/alligators: – The park has over 20 tanks in the interior. Most of these tanks are infested with giant crocodiles. One wrong move and you will be in big trouble, so stay inside the vehicle.
Wild buffaloes – Wild buffaloes are not that hostile to visitors, but only a fool would bother these animals with such large horns.
Snakes and other reptiles – Snake bites are pretty uncommon in these areas, just avoid tall grass and don't wander off into the forest by yourself. Making noise repels snakes.
In case of a medical emergency, dial 110. If you do not have any reception, you can simply ask the driver to turn around the vehicle. It would be best if you bring along a bag of simple medication
If you want to report any other emergency, dial 119 or 118.