Birds Watching Yala

Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. Actually it consists of five blocks, two of which are now open to the public; and also adjoining parks. The blocks have individual names also, like Ruhuna National Park for the (best known) block 1 and Kumana National Park or 'Yala East' for the adjoining area. It is situated in the southeast region of the country, and lies in Southern Province and Uva Province. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu it was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka, having been designated in 1938. The park is best known for its variety of wild animals. It is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. It is one of the 70 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Sri Lanka. Yala harbours 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. The number of mammals that has been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world.

 

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Horton Plains National park

Perched on the very edge of the hill country midway between Nuwara Eliya and Haputale, Horton Plains National Park covers a wild stretch of bleak, high-altitude moorland bounded at its southern edge by the dramatically plunging cliffs that mark the edge of the hill country including the famous World's End, where the escarpment falls sheer for the best part of a kilometer to the lowlands below. Set at an elevation of over two thousand meters, Horton Plains are a world apart from the rest of Sri Lanka: a misty and rain swept landscape dotted with beautiful patches of pristine cloud forest, whose characteristic umbrella-shaped keena trees, covered in a fine cobweb of old man's beard, turn from green to red to orange as the seasons progress. The cool, wet climate has fostered the growth of a distinctive range of flora, including various rhododendrons, bamboos, tree ferns and many endemic species of plant, making the Plains an area of great biological value and fragility, though the stands of cloud forest are now receding, possibly because of acid rain generated by motor traffic across the island.

The Plains’ wildlife attractions are relatively modest. Herds of elephants formerly roamed the area, until they were all shot by colonial hunters, and though few leopards still visit the park, you'll have to be incredibly lucky to see one.The park's most visible residents are its herds of sambar deer, which can often be seen handing companionably around the entrance office waiting for handouts, while you milht see rare bear-faced (also known as purple-faced) monkeys. The P ams are also one of the best places in the island for bird watching, and an excelent place to see montage endemics such as the dull-blue flycatcher Sri Lanka bush warbler Sri Lanka whistling thrush and the pretty yellow-eared bulbul, as well as striking orange minivets.You'll probably also see beautiful lizards, some of them boasting outlandishly fluorescent gree scales, through their numbers are declininig as the result of depredations by crows, attracted to the park by litter left by loutish visitors.

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Adam's Peak (Sri Padaya)

Poking up from the southwestern edge of the hill country, the soaring summit of ADAM'S PEAK (Sri Pada) is simultaneously one of Sri Lanka's most striking natural features and one of its most celebrated places of pilgrimage - a miniature Matterhorn which stands head and shoulders above the surrounding hills, giving a wonderful impression of sheer altitude (even though, at 2243m, its actually only Sri Lanka's fifth highest peak).

Photos of Kuruvita - Erathna Sri pada (Adam's Peak) route

Photos of Udumalimboda - Erathna - Sri pada (Adam's Peak) route

Photos of Hatton - Sri pada (Adam's Peak) route

The mountain has accumulated a mass of legends centered around the curious depression at its summit, the Sri Pada or Sacred Footprint. The original Buddhist story claims that this is the footprint of the Buddha himself, made at the request of the local god Saman different faiths subsequently modified this to suit their own contrasting theologies. Sometime around the eighth century, Muslims began to claim the footprint as that of Adam, who is said to have first set foot on earth here after having been cast out of heaven, and who stood on the mountain's summit on one leg in penitence until his sins were forgiven. Hindu tradition meanwhile, had claimed (though with no great conviction) that the footprint was created by Shiva. In the final and feeblest twist of the Sri Pada legend, the colonial Portuguese attempted to rescue the footprint for the Christian faith, claiming that it belonged to St Thomas, the founder of the religion in India, though this belief has never really taken root.

Despite all these rival claims, Adam's Peak remains an essentially Buddhist place of worship (unlike the genuinely multi-faith pilgrimage town of Kataragama). The mountain has been an object of pilgrimage for over a thousand years, at least since the Polonnaruwa period, when Parakramabahu andVijayabahu constructed shelters on the mountain for visiting pilgrims. In the twelfth century, Nissanka Malla became the first king to climb the mountain, while later foreign travellers including Fa-Hsien, Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo and Robert Knox all described the mountain and its associated traditions with varying degrees of fanciful inaccuracy.

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