A Birdwatcher’s Paradise: Exploring the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast boasts a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts – the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary. Nestled in the Hambantota district, Kalametiya isn’t just a bird sanctuary; it’s a tapestry of diverse landscapes woven together to create a haven for a spectacular array of wildlife.

Imagine a scenic coastline adorned with bays, coves, and sandy beaches. Now, add to that picture sparkling lagoons, dense mangrove forests, and pockets of scrubland. This breathtaking mosaic is Kalametiya, sharing its beauty with neighboring Rekawa and Ussangoda to form the “Ruk” – a haven for nature lovers.

A Sanctuary for Biodiversity

Similar to Bundala National Park, Kalametiya’s coastal location creates a unique ecosystem. The brackish waters of the Kalametiya lagoon, fringed by vibrant reed beds, mangrove forests, and salt marshes, provide a perfect habitat for a mind-boggling variety of birds. This sanctuary is a refuge for both resident and migratory birds, making it a dream destination for birdwatchers.

A Glimpse into the Avian World

The best time to visit Kalametiya is between November and March, when the weather is dry and the birdlife is at its most active. Prepare to be dazzled by a kaleidoscope of feathers. Spot majestic pelicans, graceful herons, and elegant egrets. Keep an eye out for the distinctive storks, spoonbills, and vibrant kingfishers. The sanctuary is also home to a diverse range of ducks, shorebirds, and bee-eaters.

For the truly adventurous, mid-August brings a special treat. Migrant birds arrive from faraway lands like North India, Siberia, Scandinavia, and Western Europe. Witness sandpipers, stints, plovers, terns, and harriers making their temporary home along the lagoons and salterns.

More Than Just Birds

The rich biodiversity extends beyond the avian world. The presence of lagoons and mangroves attracts a variety of reptiles, including 38 species that are nationally and globally threatened. Kalametiya is also home to four nationally threatened bird species, making it a crucial sanctuary for these vulnerable creatures.

Exploring the Sanctuary

Kalametiya offers two main ways to explore its wonders: on foot or by boat. Boat tours are a fantastic option to get closer to the birds and immerse yourself in the beauty of the wetland habitat.

Planning Your Visit

The sanctuary is conveniently located about 22 kilometers from the town of Tangalle. You can easily reach it by taxi or hiring a driver. Opening hours are from 8AM to 5PM, allowing you ample time to explore this natural treasure.

A Sanctuary for Conservation

Visiting Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary is more than just a sightseeing trip. It’s an opportunity to witness the incredible diversity of nature and support the critical efforts to conserve these threatened species. So, pack your binoculars, lace up your walking shoes, and embark on a journey to this hidden paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.



(Cover Image Credit goes to the original owners)

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harshana piyasinghe


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