Safari adventure in the Kumala National Park, Sri Lanka

Waking up at 4.30 is not a part of my daily routine. I actually think mornings are the best time of day to sleep. Getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go see an amazing sunrise and go for an early morning Safari in the Kumala National Park on the east coast of Sri Lanka made it easy, though.

What a great morning view from the top of a cliff overlooking the jungle
We left our hotel in Arugam Bay at 5am heading for the Kumala National Park. We were told that early mornings and late afternoon was the best time of the day to spot the animals living in the area, like elephants and leopards. During the heat of the day, they mostly stay hidden in the jungle.

Before our Safari in the national park, we stopped to watch the sunrise from the top of a cliff overlooking the jungle, with the abandoned Kudumbigala Sanctuary situated on the top.

Kudumbigala Sanctuary on the top op the cliff
The route to get to the sanctuary was a 30 minute hike through the surrounding jungle where we could see monkeys and salamanders and hear lots of birds and other jungle animals. All the trees and plants gave a lot of shadow but the high humidity and temperature made us sweat instantly.

Jungle path to the sanctuary
 We followed a winding path through the jungle and stepped over elephant and leopard poo on our way. It was an extremely thrilling feeling knowing that we were following the same path as these excotic animals, and also knowing that they where around, just hiding in the jungle. All the sounds and movement in the bushes as we passed by also made the hike a real jungle experience.

Steps carved in the cliff made it easy to reach the top
The last part of the way to the top was on the cliff, and this was the steep part. Steps carved into the rocks made it easier to climb. I’m glad we did this trip early in the morning because as the sun started rising, the heat got more intense. We were all pretty sweaty and out of breath when we reached the top. But what a view!!!

The view!
The price for jungle hiking and rock climbing was stunning! Overlooking the jungle on all sides and hearing all sorts of animal sounds from the tree tops and jungle was fantastic. We spent around 30 minutes just enjoying the view, taking pictures and videos before returning to the jeep for the next part of our morning trip, the safari part.

The wetland in Kumala National Park
The Kumala National Park was reopened in 2003, after being closed since 1985 because of the civil war in Sri Lanka. The park was also affected by the tsunami in 2004 that hit the east coast of Sri Lanka and ruined a lot of places. Today everything is restored and a great place for visitors to experience wildlife.

In the park there is a huge area of wetland attracting 255 species of birds and also water buffaloes, crocodiles and turtles to mention a few. Surrounding the wetland there is a dry zone of tropical thorne forest where the elephants, monkeys and leopards can be found, amongst a lot of other species.

Our Safari trip in the national park lasted for about 2,5 hours and took us on bumpy dirt roads around the park, stopping at every photo opportunity we could get. Very exciting and interesting to be so close to wildlife in a safe environment comfortably in the jeep.

Want to visit the Kumala National Park? Read more about how to visit here

The trip to Kumala National Park was a part of the pre-conference itinerary in connection with TBC Asia Conference hosted by Cinnamon Hotels in cooperation with PTBA. All opinions and meanings ar my own.