SRI LANKA Apart from the Wilpattu and Yala National Parks, Sri Lanka has a relatively large area of protected wilderness compared to the other countries of South Asia. Assistance in booking accommodation in the parks can be obtained at The Wildlife & Nature Protection Society office on Chaitiya Road (Marine Drive, opp, Light House), Colombo I (Tel: 25248); from the Tourist Information Desk, Transworks House, Lower Chatham Street, Fort, Colombo 1, or any travel agency. Information on all areas is also available from the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha (next to Zoological Gardens), Dehiwela, or Trans works House, Lower Chatham Street, Fort, Colombo 1 (Tel: 32698, 34040).
Gal Oya N.P. Established in 1954 on 100 sq miles (259 sq km) of the catchment area of the Senanayake Samudra reservoir. Elephants are the animals most often seen. Excellent waterbirds, including the magnificent white-bellied sea eagle. Boats are available for hire. Accommodation: Numerous guesthouses at Inginyagala and Ampari: Inginyagala Safari lnn, Inginyagala, reservations can be made in Colombo. (Tel: 26611-9). Ekgal Aru Lodge (14 miles/22 km away). Nearest town: Inginyagala Route from Colombo: Via Ratnapura, Wellawaya, Moneragala, Siyambalnduwa and Inginyagala (235 miles/376 km)
Lahugala N.P. Declared a national park as recently as 1980, this small area is of importance far in excess of its size (6 sq miles/15 sq km). Probably the finest place in Sri Lanka to watch elephant. Access to the park is controlled by the lodge management. Best time to visit: throughout the year Accommodation: lodge on the park edge; numerous hotels at Pottuvil (14 miles/22.5 km) to the east. Nearest town: Lahugala Route from Colombo: Via Ratnapura, Wellawaya and Moneragala (195 miles)
Maduru Oya N.P. Established in No- . e mber 1983 as one of a series of parks to protect the traditional elephant corridors hich stretch south of Yala. It is close to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa where accommodation is available. Accommodation: none at the park but at Polonaruwa: Hotel Araliya (Tel: 547420); Hotel Serowa (Tel: 23501); and Amaliyan Niwas (Tel: 22232, 22233). Nearest town: Polonnaruwa Route from Colombo: Via Kurunegala, Dambulla, Habaranna, Polonnaruwa and Manampitiya (260 miles/416 km)
Ruhuna N.P. (Yala West). Established in 1938. Now covers 377 sq miles (977 sq km) but only 52 sq miles (134 sq km) are used for game viewing. Has good roads. Permits are obtained at the park office at Palatupana, a mile from the park entrance. Best time to visit: Open mid-Oct. to July Accommodation: lodges inside the park at New Bunawa, Mahaseelawa, Patanangala, Yala, Talgasmankade and Heenwewa; campsite at Yala and Kosgamankade. Outside the park there are hotels and lodges, many of which organize visits into the park: Brown’s Safari Beach Hotel, Yala Safari Hotel, Tissamaharama Resthouse and the Wildlife Protection Society Lodge. Nearest town: Tissamaharama Route from Colombo: Via Ratnapura. Pelmadulla, Uda Wellawe, Tanamalvila and Tissamaharama (220 miles/352 km)
Uda Walawe N.P. Established in 1972 surrounding the Uda Walawe reservoir and covering 119 sq miles/308 sq km. Has good fair-weather (dry season) roads. Accommodation: campsites at Weber-amankade and Pransadhara Nearest town: Uda Walawe Route from Colombo: Via Ratnapura, Pelmadulla and Thimholketiya (115 miles/ 184 km)
Wilpattu N.P. Established in 1938, this is the largest of Sri Lanka’s parks, covering 508 sq miles (1316 sq km). Excellent network of fair-weather roads (a four-wheeldrive vehicle is advisable). Within the park are the ruins of Kuwenis Castle at Kudermalai Point and the Roman Catholic Church at Pomparippu. Accommodation: Lodges in the park at Manikka Pola Unu, Thala Wila, Mana Wila, Kalli Villu, Kokmottai, Pannikar Villu and Maradanmaduwa. Outside the park the Hotel Wilpanu (organizes visits) and the Wildlife Protection Society Lodge. Nearest town: Nochchiyagama Park Office: Hunuvilagama (park gates) Route from Colombo: Via Chilaw and Puttalam (110 miles/176 km)
Yala East N.P. Established in 1969 as a northeastern extension of Ruhuna. Permits and guides available from the park ofice at Okande. Excellent birdlife, especially in and near the Kumana Mangrove Swamp. Boats are available. Accommodation: lodges at Okande and Tunmulla Nearest town: Ponuvil Route from Colombo: Via Ratnapura, Uda Wellawe, Tanamalwila, Wellawaya, Moneragala, Ponuvil and Panama (240 miles)