Wasgomuwa National Park
Wasgomuwa National Park is one of the most unspoilt of all Sri Lanka’s reserves, enjoying an isolated position and being largely enclosed and offered a measure of protection by two large rivers, the Amban River and Mahaweli River, which bound it to the east and west.
The park straddles the northeastern edge of the hill country, and ranges in elevation from over 500m to just 76m along the Mahaweli River; it comprises mainly dry-zone evergreen forest along the main rivers and on the hills, and open plains in the southeastern and eastern sections. The park features the usual cast of Sri Lankan fauna, including up to 150 elephants, best seen from November to May . at other times they tend to migrate to Minneriya and Kaudulla national parks. Other wildlife includes sambar and spotted deer, buffalo and rarely sighted leopards and sloth bears, plus around 150 species of bird, including a number of endemics.
Getting to Wasgomuwa is half the fun, with a range of scenic approach routes to the park providing views of pristine countryside and wildlifespotting opportunities. The park’s entrance is along its southern flank, about 20km north of the village of Hettipola, where all the roads in converge. Most people get to Hettipola via the Kandy to Dambulla road, turning off either at Naula, passing through Elahera and skirting the park’s western side, or at Matale, from where the road climbs over the northern part of the Knuckles Range and through the villages of Rattota and Pallegama. An alternative approach to the park from Kandy is to take either of the two main highways that run east of the city to Mahiyangana. From Mahiyangana, head up north through Girandurukotte, and over the Japan Bridge to Hettipola. Alternatively, a more direct alternative is to follow the northern road (the A26) from Kandy to Mahiyangana and turn off at Hasalaka, from which it’s a beautifully rural 45-kilometre drive, via Hettipola, to the park entrance.