Birdlife at the Beautiful Chundikulam National Park
Birdlife at the Beautiful Chundikulam National Park

If you’re fond of exploring nature, Sri Lanka is a country that you must certainly visit. As you might already know, this island paradise in the heart of the Indian ocean is rich with biodiversity. Hence, Sri Lanka is a much sought-after wildlife destination in the world. Every year, thousands of tourists visit Sri Lanka to explore its unique flora and fauna. However, the best ecosystems of the country are protected as national parks. At present, there are 26 national parks in Sri Lanka under the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Chundikulam national park is the latest addition to the list of national parks in Sri Lanka. Chundikulam national park is the ideal place to observe the amazing environment in northern Sri Lanka which is divergent from the other national parks in the country. Hence, we thought of sharing with you all about this wonderful park. Continue reading!

History of Chundikulam National Park

In 1938, Chundikulam lagoon and its catchment area were declared as a bird sanctuary. Unfortunately, the northern province is the area that suffered the most from the civil war which prevailed in Sri Lanka for three decades. During this time, Chundikulam park was under the administration of the militant LTTE. Sri Lanka Army regained administration over the park in January 2009. They used the park as a military base for the final months of the war. Afterward, the local residents of the area were prohibited from using the area. In January 2012, Sri Lanka Army opened a holiday resort within the premises of the sanctuary.

After the civil war, many local and foreign tourists started exploring through the northern province. The government identified the importance of conserving the natural ecosystems of the province. As a result, many sanctuaries of the area were designated as national parks.

In 2014, the land area of the Chundikulam park was expanded towards Elephant pass, Chalai, and Pallamatalan. With these new additions of land, Chundikulam park was refurbished into the form of a national park. Subsequently, the government declared Chundikulam as a national park of Sri Lanka in May 2015. Finally, Chundikulam sanctuary was established as a national park on 22 June 2015. Now, Chundikulam national park is much recognized as one of the main tourist attractions of northern Sri Lanka.

Why Should You Visit Chundikulam National Park?

Since there are many national parks in Sri Lanka, you must be wondering about which park to choose for your vacation in Sri Lanka. Well, here are some reasons why you should consider visiting Chundikulam national park!

Simply, it’s like a hidden gem near Kilinochchi which is yet to be explored. Chundikulam is not a much-mentioned name in the popular tourist destinations in the world. But it doesn’t make it any less special. In fact, Chundikulam national park is perfect for a peaceful wanderlust experience and also for bird watching. If you are up to traverse through the lesser-known natural wonderlands, you should try Chundikulam.

Keep reading to know some amazing facts about the Chundikulam national park in detail.

Perfect Place to Relax by the Nature

Popular national parks are very busy and often filled with tourists most of the time. Chundikkulam was a recent addition and it is not very popular among the other national parks in Sri Lanka. Therefore, it doesn’t receive that many tourists. Thus, it is the perfect hideout for different varieties of wildlife.

The natural environment stays untouched and its beauty is second to none. So, if you are looking forward to a peaceful and relaxing journey through the original wilderness, Chundikulam park is just the place for you.

The park is in a very dry zone of the island. Thus, the natural environment of the park is eccentric. Around the area of the Chundikulam lagoon, you can see mangrove swamps and seagrass. Then, palmyra and palm plantations which are abundant in the dry zone can be seen in the park too.

Besides, it is a lush green environment close to a shining lagoon and the blue seas. The landscape of the park is spectacular with its shallow wetland areas. A nature lover will fall in love instantly with this paradise situated in Chundikulam. The large protected area of the Chundikulam national park is a natural spectacle endemic to the northern province.

So, likewise, Chundikulam park is like an all-in-one package. The park is always calm and quiet. All this together creates the perfect spot to have a memorable stay under the sunny skies. This natural wonder tucked away in the east of the Jaffna peninsula is a must-visit if you are on a hunt for a peaceful natural dreamland. 

Ample Opportunities for Bird Watching

Kumana bird sanctuary is the most popular bird sanctuary in Sri Lanka and it is said that Chundikkulam national park is only second to Kumana for bird watching. So, if you are looking for a bird-watching hotspot, then Chundikulam must be on your to-travel list.

It is such a magical experience to see large flocks of colorful birds in the same place. However, we always have to remember that we are stepping into their home and enjoying the beautiful scenery from a safe distance. Chundikulam national park offers a whole new perspective on the birdlife in Sri Lanka. 

There’s a lot of diversity to the birdlife in the Chundikulam park as in different sizes, colors, and shapes. This diversity is the reason why bird watching in Chundikulam has become a much more extraordinary experience.

Some birds that you can see in the park are as follows.

  • Eurasian Teal
  • Curlew sandpiper
  • Gull-billed Tern
  • Greater flamingo
  • Brown-headed Gull
  • Black-tailed godwit
  • Eurasian spoonbill
  • Northern pintail
  • Eurasian coot
  • Eurasian wigeon
  • Shoveler
  • Wood sandpiper

Likewise, the park is home to a lot of endemic and migratory birds. However, the most in-demand birds in the park are greater flamingos. Flamingos are such pretty birds and the greater flamingo is the biggest of their bird family. Huge flocks of greater flamingos migrate to Sri Lanka for the winter. These pretty pinkish birds in the shallow waters are such a beautiful sight.

So, owing to all these factors, we can certainly suggest Chundikulam national park for bird watching.

Delightful Safari Rides

Safari rides are the best methods to witness a close wildlife encounter. In national parks, animals are living their best lives in their natural homes with the necessary protection from the authorities. In safari rides, humans are just visitors and they can’t disturb the lifestyle of the undomesticated animals. That’s why wildlife enthusiasts love safari rides rather than visiting a zoo that keeps wild animals as prisoners.

Chundikulam national park is also ideal for safari rides to explore the wildlife. These safari rides to the Chundikulam park promise to give you upfront exposure to various kinds of wild animals living in the park. While the park is more famous for its birdlife, it also provides a home to different kinds of mammals too. For instance, Chundikulam national park provides shelter for thin on the ground mammals such as the fishing cat, the sloth bear, the jungle cat, and also leopards, deer too.

Mugger crocodiles and saltwater crocodiles are reptiles that can be seen in the wetland area of the park. It’s always fun and adventurous to see how such wild animals spend their lives in this beautiful natural territory. Safaris always provide you with a much-needed adrenaline rush. A safari is not just watching animals from a jeep. It is an educational experience that connects you with nature. The exotic animals of the Chundikulam national park will be a huge part of your astounding safari experience.

Wonderful Photography Opportunities

What is the best method to preserve a precious memory forever that will be otherwise gone? Of course, it is photography.

If you are visiting Sri Lanka, then you must bring your camera or a smartphone with you. That is simply because there are so many beautiful places that are definitely postcard-worthy. Chundikulam national park is no exception.

The beautiful surroundings, the vibrant flora, and fauna are great subjects for photographs and the sunlight will provide you with the best natural lighting.

Wildlife photography is a hobby like no other. There are so many benefits that one can get out of it. A beautiful picture is the best souvenir you can get in the park to show your friends and family. There’s beauty everywhere in the park and if you have the eye for it, you will be able to capture it with your camera lens. 

Many species of animals in the Chundikulam park are endemic to that ecosystem. So obviously, such photographs are so valuable and will be even more in the future. However, wildlife photography requires a lot of patience. Let your tour guide know beforehand and he/she will take you to the spots where you can capture photographs of the most number of wild animals.

Most importantly, a photograph is a great way to bring awareness. By sharing your photographs of the Chundikulam park, in a way you are promoting the place as a tourist attraction and also raising awareness about the precious wild lives. With photography, you are immortalizing your overwhelming experience. It doesn’t matter what your profession is, don’t forget to channel your inner photographer when in Chundikulam national park.

Where is Chundikulam National Park Located?

Chundikulam national park is in the northern province of Sri Lanka. The Jaffna peninsula is the main part of northern Sri Lanka and Chundikulam is on the east side of the Jaffna peninsula.

Chundikulam lagoon is the heart of the national park and it is located in the middle part of the whole Jaffna lagoon. The nearest major city to the park is Kilinochchi. There is only a distance of 12 kilometres between the park and Kilinochchi town. Jaffna is the main city of the northern province. There is a distance of 68.9 kilometers from Jaffna to Chundikulam national park. Meanwhile, Chundikulam park is located 381.1 kilometers away from Colombo. A total land area of 196 km2  belongs to the park.

The climate around Chundikulam National Park

Sri Lanka is a tropical country and the Chundikulam park is in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. As a result, this area is mostly sunny and dry throughout the year. The climate type of the park is a tropical dry savanna climate. It receives the rainfall mainly from monsoons during the months of October, November, December, January, and February. However, the landscape of the park belongs to an arid plain. There’s a diversity in this land area of the park. The park contains beaches, sandhills, palmyra palm plantations, salt marshes, wetlands, mangroves, thorny scrublands, and dry forests. It is able to witness different kinds of ecosystems within the park premises. There is very little human activity in this land area. Other tourist attractions near the Chundikulam national park are Fort Pyl, Thaalayadi beach, Chundikulam lagoon, and Chalai lagoon.

How Do You Get to Chundikulam National Park?

The easiest way to reach the Chundikulam national park is to go to Kilinochchi and then go to the park. Chundikulam national park is situated 1 hour away from Kilinochchi.

If you wish to use public transportation, the cheapest option is taking the train from the Fort station to the Kilinochchi station which will take around 5 hours and 30 minutes. If you are going by bus, you have to go to Pettah and take the bus to Kilinochchi. The bus ride will also take about 5 hours and 30 minutes. If you are going to the national park from Kandy, then the recommended public transportation method is taking the train from Kandy station to Kilinochchi station and that train ride takes around 6 hours. If you are traveling by bus, go to the Kandy Good Shed bus station and take a bus to Nittambuwa and then to Kilinochchi. This will take about 8 hours.

Visitors can use the A9 road via Parantan and Pacchilapalli to reach the park from Kilinochchi. For this, you can either go by bus or use a taxi service from Kilinochchi. Public transportation is a budget-friendly method to reach the park.

Is There Any Entrance Fee to Visit the Park?

Yes, there is an entrance fee to the park which varies on factors like your age and nationality.

  • Foreign adults: 15 USD or its equivalent to Sri Lankan Rupees
  • Foreign child (6-12 yrs): 8 USD or its equivalent to Sri Lankan Rupees
  • Local adult: 40 SLR
  • Local child (6-12 yrs) : 30 SLR
  • Service charges: 8 USD or its equivalent to Sri Lankan Rupees

What is the Best Time to Visit the Chundikulam National Park?

The time period between March to September is the dry season and it is the most recommended time period to visit the park. During that time, you can go on a safari in the park exploring the flora and fauna. But if you are visiting the park to see migratory birds, then you should visit during the time period of November to February. At that time, the sand dunes of the park are filled with large flocks of birds. The early morning and the evening is the best time to visit the park to see the wildlife and you’ll be able to avoid sweltering heat too. Many people usually choose to visit the park after 3 pm.

The rainy season is not the best to explore through a wildlife park. Hence, many tourists avoid the monsoon time period to travel in the park.

Things to Remember When Planning your Trip

Traveling to a corner of the island which is quite different from the rest of the country might feel a little bit intimidating. But don’t have any doubts because the experience you will get is so worth it. Since it is a dry area, take your water bottle to keep yourself hydrated and wear appropriate clothing for the climate. You can easily arrange transportation and accommodation facilities according to your budget from a service provider. And finally, make sure that your camera has enough space to capture all your beautiful memories in Chundikulam park.

The Bottom Line

The north of Sri Lanka is yet to be explored even by the local tourists. It’s gaining more and more tourists by now because of the area’s unique natural beauty and culture. If you are visiting Sri Lanka, remember to pay a visit to the northern part too. Then of course, as you know by now, you should definitely visit the huge Chundikulam national park. That experience will be so valuable as you are exploring through a hidden gem. The area lacks human settlements and is far away from the madness of our usual world to give you a much-needed peaceful vacation. So, do not miss this chance to visit the country’s most exotic spots during your Sri Lankan tour.