6 Things To Do With Your Family In Hambantota
One of Sri Lanka’s largest southern coastal towns, Hambantota has transformed itself from a bustling fishing village to a must-visit tourist spot. The area was badly hit after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, but since then it has gone through a major facelift and it is now one of the best places to visit with your family– especially for the more outdoorsy.
Bundala National Park
Bundala National Park is blessed with a myriad of landscapes- dry shrub jungles, lagoons and mangroves, saltpans, sand dunes and a long stretch of beach- with exotic fauna. Bundala has one of the best-preserved wetlands, and it holds about 197 species of migratory waterbirds, but the highlight of the migration period is the appearance of the greater flamingo who travel in large flocks– it feels surreal to see this cloud of pink birds. The park is a great place for a family holiday because even though it is smaller than the other parks, it has a lot to offer.
Found between Hambantota and Tangalle, Rekawa is a small fishing village which has a beach on one end and a mangrove shrouded lagoon on the other. Since the beach doesn’t get as many people, the beach is a premier breeding grounds for sea turtles, including some rare species like the hawksbill and leatherback turtles. There are also numerous turtle hatcheries along the beach which you and your family can visit to learn more about their conservation efforts. The best time to visit the hatcheries is from January to April, and preferably during a full moon so that you can see the newly hatched turtles waddle their way from the sandy beaches and into the sea. The journey of these tiny turtles is awe-inspiring and it definitely should not be missed.
Mirijjawila Botanical Gardens
One of the five botanical gardens in Sri Lanka, Mirijjawila is the only botanical garden in the dry zone and its main purpose is to protect the flora of the region. Centrally located, the garden is between the Mattala International Airport and the Hambantota Port; the vibrant green carpets of grass, the tall lush trees, and the beautiful flowering plants make a garden oasis in the middle of this bustling city.
Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary
The sanctuary, founded in 1984, is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest bird sanctuaries and is home to 120 species of birds- 54 of which are migratory. Kalametiya spans over 2500 acres, with a terrain that includes swamps, mangroves and brackish lagoons, so the best way to spot birds here is by going on a boat safari. Although it is predominantly a bird sanctuary, while you’re on the safari you will spot a host of other animals like deer and elephants too.
Lunugamvehera National Park
Lunugamvehera National Park is an hour drive from Hambantota. It was declared a National Park in 1995 to protect the Lunugamvehera reservoir, as it is vital in maintaining the water levels of many rivers south of it. The park is one of the smallest in the country, and it also acts as a corridor connecting Yala and Bundala national parks. The park also boasts an impressive elephant population and is also home to over 300 types of birds, fish and reptiles.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium
Located in the heart of Hambantota, this fairly new stadium was constructed in 2011. It has hosted many matches including the 2012 ICC World Cup T20, and it can seat up to a whopping 30,000 people! Nothing brings Sri Lankans together like cricket; the excitement in a stadium during a World Cup while Sri Lanka is playing is almost palpable, so if you do get the chance you should definitely try and go for one.