Kumana a?? The bird paradise

A brilliant trip report by Danushka of Lakdasun to Arugam Bay and nearby Kumana. Scoll down for some amazing photos!

It was a long weekend ahead of us, just 3 days left before it. We still havena??t had any clue on what to expect. One of my friends was repeatedly calling for Wilpattu, but I was disappointed after my last visit there. Wilpattu is yet to rehabilitate, that was my opinion. But since everyone was calling for it I joined them. At this point we received a bad news from Wilpattu, Bad but it was good for me ;) it was raining there.

As soon as we got to know about this we checked on other available options. Yala is my favorite place on earth, but since it is a long weekend Yala must be crowded. We decide at least we should let those animals live in peace. The only option left was Kumana, The Yala East National Park which is famous for its birds and, none of us had ever been there. Even though it was the beginning of the bird migration season we decided to go there. After struggling a bit we managed to book a campsite and start our journey toward the birds paradise.

We started from Colombo around 9PM on Thursday. We bought all the provisions needed from Cargills, Maharagama. We didna??t have a gas cooker or a cylinder as my friend who own those had given them to one of his friends. We tried to buy one for our selves but that too did not work out as all the 2.5Kg tanks were sold out at Laughs. So we decide to cook using firewood. After collecting everyone, it was around 12 PM when we left Colombo, and we managed to pass Lahugala by around 5.30 AM. Rising sun had made some wonderful scenery.

Sunrise through Trees at A4 roadSunrise through Trees at A4 road

People leaving to work early in the morningPeople leaving to work early in the morning

Tree canopy on A4 road had made beautiful scenery with the sunrise.Tree canopy on A4 road had made beautiful scenery with the sunrise.

Passing by Lahugala we suddenly saw a signboard saying a??Magul maha viharayaa?? on the right-hand side of the road. We decided to pay a visit there. It was only about one and half kilometers from main road to the temple.

Small tank at the a??Magul maha viharayaa??Small tank at the a??Magul maha viharayaa??

It was a Poya day.It was a Poya day.

A guard stoneA guard stone

Ruined a??Dagabaa??Ruined a??Dagabaa??

Lions at the entranceLions at the entrance

Foundation of a buildingFoundation of a building

It had a beautiful stone craftsIt had a beautiful stone crafts

Beautiful stone crafts of ancient Sri LankanBeautiful stone crafts of ancient Sri Lankan

Another stone craftAnother stone craft

My friends had found a a??Kota Kibulaa?? in the small tankMy friends had found a a??Kota Kibulaa?? in the small tank :) And an actual one as well. So watch out when you getting in to those tanks.

Common Indian Crow Euploea core aselaThere were a lot of crows around. (Common Indian Crow Euploea core asela)

Dark Blue Tiger Tirumala septentrionis musikanosOh there is a tiger as well. (Dark Blue Tiger Tirumala septentrionis musikanos)

After enjoying a glass of lemon, we left a??Magul maha viharayaa?? around 8.30 AM. We reached Potuvil around 9.00 AM and collected the remaining bits of provisions and Kerosene oil and headed toward Panama. It was a beautiful day, my friends wanted to get down at the Arugambay Bridge. It was damn hot; I didna??t want to walk too far. There were lots of gull billed turns around. This is what I caught being closer to the van :-)

A tern hovering looking for a catchA tern hovering looking for a catch

Tern at full stretchTern at full stretch :-)

Our next stop was the famous Arugambay beach. It was the end of the surfing season. But still there were locals and some foreigners surfing around. We had our breakfast and walk around the beach for a while.

Arugambay surf pointArugambay surf point


Beautiful Arugambay beachBeautiful Arugambay beach

People playing aroundPeople playing around

We found very nice and friendly people there. They were very welcoming. We had an electric issue in our vehicle and they helped us a lot to find an electrician and get it fixed. We left Arugambay by 12.30 PM and reached Kumana at about 1.0 PM. Our trekker a??Sunetha?? and driver a??Kumaraa?? were waiting there. We packed our stuff in to the jeep and went inside the park. I jumped in to the front seat with Suneth to get an idea about the park. Here are some shots from the day one. (I have recorded the trip with my new Garmin buddy. The .kmz is attached with this.)

Pelicans at Thummulla wewa were one of our first sights. They were quite far.Pelicans at Thummulla wewa were one of our first sights. They were quite far.

A Mash SandpiperA Mash Sandpiper

There were plenty of Blue-tailed bee-eaters.There were plenty of Blue-tailed bee-eaters.

A juv. Lesser sand plover was bathing.A juv. Lesser sand plover was bathing.

There were plenty of Pelicans and Painted storks.There were plenty of Pelicans and Painted storks.

Those birds were very shy.Those birds were very shy.

Flying PelicanFlying Pelican

Unmistaken pair of Black-necked Strokes. A very rare sighting. They were far away in Yakala Lagoon.Unmistaken pair of Black-necked Strokes. A very rare sighting. They were far away in Yakala Lagoon.

Order roxithromycin tablets One of few jumbosOne of few jumbos

As I said, there are plenty of blue tailsAs I said, there are plenty of blue tails

The day one was over for us, we had to reach the campsite and prepare for the night at Kumana. Our campsite was a proposed camsite known as a??Bakinigahaa?? because of a giant a??Bakinia?? tree at the site. Not only that, it was in a path of the elephants crossing from Kumana to Yala block 02. We had to setup our camp on the dried river bead. There were plenty of leopard footprints on the riverbed as well as elephants. Fortunately no bear ;) That night we saw some elephants crossing in the night at about 200 meters away from our campsite. We were lucky to have a giant torch above us (Moon).

Second day morning we spent mostly around Kumana villuwa. It is one of the remarkable places I have seen in Sri Lanka. Sceneries it makes are outstanding. As much as it was good for birding, it was great for landscapes.

Beautiful landscapes of Kumana villuwa.Beautiful landscapes of Kumana villuwa.

Real Kulaa??s of Sri LankaReal Kulaa??s of Sri Lanka. Ready to charge at us. In fact it charged. Unfortunately our jeep driver was too new to the business so he drove so fast that we couldna??t hold our cameras to take any pictures :-(

There were plenty of raptors. (Brahminy Kite)There were plenty of raptors. (Brahminy Kite)

A Fox running faster as we approach themA Fox running faster as we approach them

Managed to capture a flying Pied KingfisherManaged to capture a flying Pied Kingfisher

Little green bee-eateBee eater for sure :-) (Little green bee-eater)

Flying giants (White bellied Sea Eagle)Flying giants (White bellied Sea Eagle)

After the morning visit to Kumana villuwa, Yalaka lagoon and Kumana kale we went back to our campsite for a rest and a cool bath. And then we had to collect plenty of firewood for the night as we were in an elephant pass. In no time at campsite we came across this.

This jumbo was just 20m away from meThis jumbo was just 20m away from me when we saw it on the riverbed. I was collecting firewood. Luckily it didna??t charge at us as we all stand still untill he passed by. And finally we came running and took some memorable pictures.

In the evening we went directly to Yalaka Lagoon looking for black-necked storks and we found them

A pair of Black-necked StorksA pair of Black-necked Storks

They are not so friendlyThey are not so friendly

Airborne Airborne

It was a satisfying evening at Kumana. And the sunset was as beautiful as this.

Sunset over Kumana VilluSunset over Kumana Villu

As night arrived we had put up two big fires. Though there were jumbos roaming around and we heard some noises nearby, this night was much peaceful compared to the previous one. I slept on the riverbed with few of my friends counting stars. It was awesome.

Next morning we woke up and packed everything in to our jeep. We had to leave the campsite before 10AM. So again we were got jam packed inside the jeep. This time we choose to go to the archeological site inside the park known as a??Bambaragasthalawaa?? ruins. The area is well known for the population of sloth bears so the trekker Suneth adviced us to carry a stick with us. Stick is nothing much if a bear approaches you but something was better than having nothing. I kept my camera flash ready, if we came across a bear firing flash would have blinded it for few second so that we could escape. But luckily for us there was no bears close by though there were signs of them everywhere.

Babaragasthalawa Budda StatueBabaragasthalawa Budda Statue. As per Suneth most of the statue had been destroyed by treasure hunters in early 80a??s.

Caves which create perfect hideouts for sloth bears.Caves which create perfect hideouts for sloth bears.

That was our final ride inside the park. We came to the park entrance by 10.30 and started heading back home. Beauty of Arugambay stopped us there for sometime.

Cheap Quibron-t

Along the golden beachAlong the golden beach

Boats ready to goBoats ready to go

Even though it was the end of the surfing season at Arugambay there were still people showing their colors at Arugambay.

Running back to the wavesRunning back to the waves

Fly me higha?? highera??Fly me higha?? highera??

Having lots of great memories at Kumana as well as at Arugam bay, we head back home with plans of going back on next February when the migration heat is high.

Special Thanks to Suneth (our tracker), Kumana park warden, Kumara (our jeep driver)


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