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|Year and Month||October, 2010|
|Number of Days||Three Day Trip|
|Crew||7 (between 25-45)|
|Accommodation||Camping at Bakinigaha (Alimankada) campsite|
|Transport||Van up to the park entrance and a Jeep inside the park|
|Route||Colombo -> Ratnapura -> Udawalawa -> Tanamalwila -> Wellawaya -> Buttala -> Potuvil -> Panama -> Okanda -> Kumana and return on the same route.Google Earth Trail Map of Kumana National Park|
|Tips, Notes and Special remarks||
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It was a long weekend ahead of us, just 3 days left before it. We still haven’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 didn’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.
Passing by Lahugala we suddenly saw a signboard saying “Magul maha viharaya” 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.
After enjoying a glass of lemon, we left “Magul maha viharaya” 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 didn’t want to walk too far. There were lots of gull billed turns around. This is what I caught being closer to the van
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.
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 “Suneth” and driver “Kumara” 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.)
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 “Bakinigaha” because of a giant “Bakini” 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.
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.
In the evening we went directly to Yalaka Lagoon looking for black-necked storks and we found them
It was a satisfying evening at Kumana. And the sunset was as beautiful as this.
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 “Bambaragasthalawa” 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.
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.
Even though it was the end of the surfing season at Arugambay there were still people showing their colors at Arugambay.
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 trekker), Kumana park warden, Indika (our jeep driver)