- Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names such as Ruhuna National Park (block 1) and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 37 kilometres from Gestupana Lake View. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds.
There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala sanctuary 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.
With over 35 leopards, Yala West has one of the world's densest leopard populations and is renowned as one of the best places in which to see one of these stunning cats. Panthera pardus kotiya, the subspecies you may well see, is unique to Sri Lanka. The best time to spot leopards is February to June or July, when the water levels in the park are low. Elephants are also well-known inhabitants (the best time to spot them is also between February and July), and with luck you'll also get to see the shaggy-coated sloth bear or some of the fox-like jackals. Sambars, spotted deer, boars, crocodiles, buffaloes, mongooses and monkeys are here in their hundreds.
The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilisations. Two important pilgrim sites, Sithulpahuwa and Magul Vihara, are situated within the park.
- Bundala National Park
Bundala national park is a biosphere reserve that is frequented by tourists as it is the wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala National Park is spread in an area of 6000 hectares, and is located around 44 kilometres from Gestupana Lake View. Bundala was declared a national park in 1993 and a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2005. Bundala is located at the Southern end of Sri Lanka where the land, the sea and the wet lands meet. Bundala national park has a unique combination of lagoons, beaches, sand dunes and jungles that cannot be found anywhere else in Sri Lanka.
Bundala national park is home to close to 200 species of birds, with main tourist attraction being Greater Flamingo that migrates to this area in large flocks. Other main birds that can be found in the area are Waterfowl, Cormorants, large water birds, black-headed ibis and painted storks. Travellers can also find other wildlife attractions in Bundala national park including few Sri Lankan Elephants, common langur, Jackal, Leopard, wild boar, Porcupine, giant squirrels, crocodiles and fishing cat. Four out of five species of turtles found in Sri Lanka visit Bundala to lay eggs during October to January.
- Uda Walawe National Park
With herds of elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards, Uda Walawe National Park is the Sri Lankan national park that best rivals the savannah reserves of Africa. In fact, for elephant-watching, Uda Walawe often surpasses many of the most famous East African national parks. The park is located around 70 kilometers from Gestupana Lake View, which centres on the 308.2sqkm Uda Walawe Reservoir, is lightly vegetated but it has a stark beauty and the lack of dense vegetation makes game-watching easy. The park is beautifully situated just south of the hill country it's certainly the one national park in Sri Lanka not to miss.
Uda Walawe has developed into one of Sri Lanka's most popular national parks mainly thanks to its large and easily spotted population of elephants. It's the best place in the island to see pachyderms in the wild, although in other respects it doesn't have the range of fauna and habitats of Yala or Bundala.
Most of Uda Walawe lies within the dry zone, and its terrain is flat and denuded, with extensive areas of grassland and low scrub (the result of earlier slash and burn farming) dotted with the skeletal outlines of expired trees, scratched to death by the resident elephants. The actual landscape of the park is rather monotonous during dry periods, although the lack of forest cover makes it easier to spot wildlife than in any other Sri Lankan park and the whole place transforms magically after rain, when temporary lagoons form around the reservoir, drowning trees and turning the floodplains an intense, fecund green.
The principal attraction is, of course, elephants, of which there are usually around six hundred in the park; animals are free to migrate along an elephant corridor between here and Lunugamvehera National Park, though most stay here. There are also hundreds of buffaloes, plus macaque and langur monkeys, spotted and sambhur deer and crocodiles, while other rarely sighted residents include leopards, giant flying squirrels, jungle cats, sloth bears and porcupines. Uda Walawe is also good for birds, including a number of endemics and some birds of prey, while the reservoir also attracts a wide range of aquatic birds including the unmistakable Lesser Adjutant, Sri Lanka's largest – and ugliest – bird, standing at well over a metre tall.
About 5km west of the park entrance on the main road is the engaging Elephant Transit Home usually referred to as the "Elephant Orphanage". Founded in 1995, the orphanage is home to around 25 baby elephants rescued from the wild after the loss of their parents. As at the better-known orphanage at Pinnewala, elephants here are bottle-fed milk until the age of 3½, after which they're given a diet of grass. At the age of 5, most are released into the national park (around thirty so far); a few have been donated to important temples. You can't get quite as close to the elephants as at Pinnewala; outside feeding times the elephants are allowed to wander, so there's usually nothing to see.
- Lunugamvehera National Park
Lunugamvehera National Park is the immediate catchment of the Lunugamvehera reservoir. This serves as a link between the Ruhunu Yala National Protected area complex on the east side and Udawalawe National Park to its west and facilitates the ranging of elephants to and from areas such as Haldummula and Koslands in the Uva and Southern region of Sri Lanka. Located 1 kilometer from Gestupana Lake View.The Lunugamvehera National Park was established for protection as a corridor for elephant migration from the Yala National Park to the Uda Walawe National Park.
Lunugamvehera National Park, which is a contiguous stretch of forests of famous Ruhuna (Yala) National Park, was declared open in 1995 with the objectives of protecting the catchment area of Lunugamvehera reservoir and wildlife resources therein. Protection of this catchment area is vital to maintain the water levels of five other reservoirs downstream like Kirindi Oya River and wetland characteristics of Bundala National Park too.
Due to the grass the gas that grows around the Lunugamvehera lake, many wild animals could be seen arriving here searching for food. Among them are many elephants and buffalo apart from dandulena, Porcupines, Kola diviya, MOngoose, Wild boar, Mimiththa and Spotted deer.Among the types of bird which live here are the native Jungle fowl which faces a threat of extinction. Among the reptiles could be seen the Crocodile, Star tortoise, and Pala Polanga.The national park is a significant part of the jungle tract, which pave way for the seasonal movement of the wild elephants in the area. It ensures the continuous movement between Yala and Udawalawe National parks, which is quite important for the long term existence of elephants. Lunugamvehera is an ideal habitat for water birds too.
Lunugamvehera is in the Dry zone of Sri Lanka and therefore the park is exposed to annual drought, relieved by the south western monsoon. Out of 23,498 hectares of total land area, 14 percent is land under the reservoir. Nearby Thanamalvila area receives a 1,000 millimeters of annual rainfall.The forest of Lunugamvehera national park is also characterized by its several forest layers. The mosaic of scrubland and grassland which make up these forests consists of plant species such as the endemic Drypetes sepiaria, Manilkara hexandra, Schleichera oleosa, Lannea coromandelica to name a few. The Grassland area contains several species of grasses such as Chloris montana, Cynodon dactylon, Panicum maximum, Imperata cylindrica and others which are also common in abandoned chenalands. Teak and Eucalyptus plantations are now common in the forest.