A tree standing alone in the grasslands of the Beautiful Lunugamvehera National Park
Beautiful Lunugamvehera National Park

As you know, the splendid island of Sri Lanka is a charming land of greenery, that attracts anyone. Going beyond, it also happens to be a land with several national parks, that shelter a wide array of wildlife. Among the national parks in Sri Lanka, Lunugamvehera National Park is one of the best destinations for Elephant sighting in Sri Lanka since it is a favorable habitat for Elephants who come from the nearby Southern and Uva areas. In addition, the park is a bird-watching hotspot with so many water birds, endemic birds, and many other migratory birds.

The park was closed for many years due to the civil war that took place in Sri Lanka for decades. But, the park was reopened after 2009 with the end of the civil war. Afterward, it became a significant attraction for both tourists and locals. Hence, we thought of sharing with you all about this wonderful land of greenery. Continue reading!

Why was Lunugamvehera National Park Established?

The main intention of establishing the Lunugamvehera National Park was to provide an important catchment area for the Lunugamvehera Reservoir. In addition, it stands as a sanctuary for the wildlife in the area. Furthermore, the Lunugamvehera National Park facilitates the animals to move from one to the other between the Udawalawe National Park on the west and the Yala National Park on the east. Thus, it acts as a corridor between the two national parks.

Identifying the above key values of the Lunugamvehera National Park, the Government of Sri Lanka declared it as a national park on the 8th of December 1995. The park is goverened by the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka

Where is Lunugamvehera National Park?

Lunugamvehera National Park belongs to the Monaragala District of the Uva Province, Sri Lanka. The park is about 260 kilometers away (southwest) from the commercial capital of Sri Lanka which is Colombo.  Furthermore, the park belongs to the Buttala, Kataragama, Wellawaya, and Thanamalwila divisional secretariat divisions of Monaragala district and Lunugamvehera secretary division of Hambantota district.

How to Reach the Park?

Anyone who starts the journey from Colombo can reach the park in two different routes. One route lies via the Southern province while the other via the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka.

Anyone who plans to reach the Lunugamvehera National Park via the Southern province should reach Galle first. Next, the travelers should come along the southern coastal belt of Sri Lanka passing Matara, Hambantota, Tissamaharama, and Thanamalwila. After passing Thanamalwila, anyone can reach the Lunugamvehera National Park within a few minutes. This route is approximately 265 kilometers long. While reaching the Lunugamvehera via the southern region of Sri Lanka, the travelers have the chance to visit the amazing Dutch fort in Galle, engage in whale watching and surfing in Mirissa as well as snorkeling in Hikkaduwa.

The route to reach Lunugamvehera National Park via Sabaragamuwa province is about 231 kilometers long. However, it is shorter than the route via the Southern province. Anyone who comes via this route has to reach Ratnapura first. Next, they have to pass Udawalawe and Thanamalwila to reach the park. When reaching the park through the Sabaragamuwa province, travelers have the chance to visit the gem market at Ratnapura and buy some of the best quality gems in Sri Lanka. In addition, Udawalawe National Park is there in the same way. 

Physical Features of the Lunugamvehera National Park

Lunugamvehera is an IUCN category II national park. It spreads over an area of 23,498.8 ha (58,066.8 acres). Hambantota is the nearest city. Since the park is in the Dry zone of Sri Lanka, annual drought is visible in the park. However, the southwest monsoons supply rain to the park. The annual rainfall is about 1000 millimeters. Furthermore, the mean annual temperature of the park is about 30 °C (86 °F).

Lunugamvehera National Park is situated at an elevation of 91 meters (299 ft). Out of the total land area of the park, 3283 ha is the land under the reservoir. It is about 14% of the total. In addition, the park consists of two smaller reservoirs which are about 50 ha.

Flora and Fauna in the Lunugamvehera National Park

Being one of the significant national parks in Sri Lanka, Lunugamvehera National Park provides a home to thousands of flora and fauna species. Let us have a look into the amazing flora and fauna diversity of the park.

Flora in the Park

Lunugamvehera National Park consists of several forest layers which are formed by a mosaic of grassland and shrubland. The following plant species are common in the forest of the park.

  • Diospyros ovalifolia
  • Coffea wightiana
  • Croton lacciterus
  • Manilkara hexandra
  • Lannea coromandelica
  • Drypetes sepiaria
  • Schleichera oleosa
  • Carmona microphylla
  • Polyalthia korinti

In addition to the plant species, the following grass species are common in the grasslands of the park.

  • Securinega leucopyrus
  • Carmona microphylla
  • Panicum maximum
  • Cynodon dactylon
  • Chloris montana
  • Mimosa pudica
  • Chromolaena odorata
  • Lantana camara
  • Imperata cylindrica

Furthermore, eucalyptus and Teak plantations are popular in the forest now.

Fauna in the Park

Lunugamvehera National Park consists of 43 species of mammals, 183 birds species, 33 species of reptiles, 12 amphibian species as well as 21 fish species. The following are common mammal species in the park.

  • Sri Lankan axis deer
  • Grizzled Giant squirrel
  • Water buffalo
  • Sri Lankan elephant
  • Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain
  • Asian palm civet
  • Wild boar
  • Sri Lankan sambar deer
  • Fishing cat
  • Gray mongoose
  • Mouse deer
  • Sloth bear

The park contains a few endemic amphibians like Fejervarya pulla and Bufo atukoralei. In addition, it is the home for aquatic reptiles like Mugger crocodiles.

Furthermore, nearly 200 species of endemic and migratory birds make this a nesting and breeding ground. The availability of the reservoir and other water bodies in the park influences them to arrive here. Let us go through the following list which contains some such bird species.

  • Asian openbill
  • Black-headed ibis
  • White-bellied sea eagle
  • Spot-Billed pelican
  • Indian pitta
  • Gray-Headed fish eagle
  • Indian roller
  • Barred bustard quail
  • White-necked stork
  • Malabar Pied hornbill
  • Blue Faced malkoha
  • Chestnut-headed bee-eater
  • Sri Lanka Woodshrike
  • Jungle owlet
  • Jungle fowl
  • Crested serpent eagle
  • Crested hawk-eagle
  • Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler
  • Marshall’s iora
  • Indian peafowl
  • Painted stork
  • Gray heron

If you visit this park, you are surely going to spot a majority of them!

Safari at Lunugamvehera National Park

Indeed, a safari at Lunugamvehera is a must to experience if you visit there. Anyone who visits the park has the chance to choose three safari options as morning safari, afternoon safari, and full-day safari. Usually, the morning half-day tours begin at 6 in the morning while afternoon tours begin at 2.30 in the evening. Before starting the tour, all the visitors will have the chance to get into an initial meeting with the safari guide and the eco team crew. They will provide the visitors with a brief explanation about the tour. While going on the safari in the national park, the guide will explain the various interesting attributes, as well as visitors, can spot several mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and bird species who have made their homes in this sanctuary.

Furthermore, these safari tours will take you to amazing destinations and make longer stops at certain watering holes. This is to offer travelers with unique photography opportunities. When reaching the end of the tour, the visitors will get the chance to cover most of the forest patches, wetlands as well as grasslands of the national park. Morning half-day tours end up usually at 11 in the morning. In the same way, the afternoon tours and full-day tours end up their journeys at 6 in the evening.

Each safari package would include an experienced guide as well as modified comfortable jeeps. Hence, it would give the visitors a unique safari experience. Furthermore, customized tours like family safari, photography safari, and honeymoon safari are available according to the preferences of the visitors.

The Best Time to Visit Lunugamvehera National Park

Since the park is located in the dry zone of the country, the park consists of dry weather with high temperatures throughout the year. But, from November to January, the park receives monsoonal rains, making the temperature close to 30 degrees centigrade. Therefore, most visitors consider that it is best to visit Lunugamvehera National Park from November to January.

Furthermore, many travelers have been used to visiting Lunugamvehera National Park during September too. This is done when the Yala National Park is closed in September of every year for maintenance activities.

However, Lunugamvehera National Park is a perfect destination to go on safari throughout the year, considering its overall conditions. 

The Bottom Line

Of course, many might not know about Lunugamvehera National Park. Yet, let us assure you that it is one of the best places for you to visit in Sri Lanka, especially, if you are a nature lover. The pleasant environment out there, and the amazing wildlife are sure to delight you, adding a bunch of wonderful memories to your travel diary. So, if you are to arrive in Sri Lanka any sooner, make sure you visit this wonderful land of greenery. Happy and safe traveling!