Activities

While the Yala Park remains the main attraction, you can also visit other places of interest nearby. The Kataragama Shrine (28km), Kirinda temple (1.5 km), Sithulpahuwa Rock Monastery(35 km), Nimalawa Arannaya (Rock monastery-1km) and the Bundala National Park (one of the four RAMSAR Sites in the country -18 km), Uda Walawe National Park (70km) famous for elephants throughout the year and birdlife & newly opened Lunugamwehera National Park are all within an hours drive from the Panthera lodge and The Great Basses Lighthouse regarded as one of the best dive sites(16 km by boat).


Don’t be mislead by the tranquility of the place, there is plenty to do at this location if you are the adventurous sort. The most popular activity in the area among the local tourists is visiting the Yala National Park which is famous world wide for the highest concentration of leopards (Panthera Pardus Kotiya).. A visit to the famous Katharagama Temple is yet another must do, if you visit this area.


Wildlife Safari


Sri Lanka’s most popular national park, the Yala National Park is situated just fifteen minutes away from the lodge. It is regarded as the most densely populated leopard territory in the world with over 50 recorded leopards in an extent of 14,101 hectares of Block One. Entry to the park is by vehicle only – in reality a jeep and driver from the area is your best bet. (Jeep hire is approximately US$ 35) Most drivers in the area are experienced in the many dangers of the forest and take good care while driving in the park. The Wild Life Department too, provides the visitors to the park with a tracker who is experienced with the layout of the park and usually knows where you can spot the normally elusive Leopards and Elephants. The other mammals found frequently at Yala include the Sri Lankan sloth bear (Melurus ursinus), water buffalo (Babalus bubalis), Indian wild boar (Sus scrofa), Sri Lanka spotted deer (Axis axis ceylonensis), and Sri Lanka sambur (Cervus unicolour).


Bundala National Park, which is famous for migrant birds during the European winter is half  hour away on the Kirinda – Hambantota road. It is a treat for birders and if you visit the park during the periods of September – January, you can see flocks of Flamingo feeding at the inland water holes. If you are taken in a four wheel drive vehicle inside Bundala, you can experience the sand dunes at the edge of the park. (Jeep hire is approximately US$ 40).


Ancient Archeological Sites


In close proximity to Kirinda at a place called Gotimbaragodella, you can find the ruins of an old castle that dates back to 2nd century BC. It is the castle at which King Kavantissa resided during his tenure. Inside the Yala national park, you can find ancient monuments from the same period where, King Kavantissa and his bride Viharamahadevi are supposed to have spent their honeymoon.


A short drive to the town of Tissamaharama will provide you the opportunity to explore an ancient capital city of Sri Lanka with monuments, temples and irrigation systems that date back to the 2nd century BC.


Diving


If a majestic tusker next to your jeep fails to start your adrenaline flowing, then you can travel by boat to the Great and Little Basses Reef, where you can dive and swim close with reef sharks which frequent the seas off the Kirinda coast. However we do not recommend diving if you have not had proper training or the necessary equipment as there are no professional diving services operating in the area. If you do decide to take a dive, you are on your own.


Kirinda achieved a place in the history of underwater exploration in Sri Lanka with the discovery of a wreck of unknown origin on the Great Basses reef, containing several cannon and thousands of silver Moghul rupees, all dated 1702. The discovery was made in 1961 by an underwater film crew shooting Mike Wilson’s “Boy Beneath the Sea”.


Biking


Biking excursions are possible and you can get the details from the bungalow keeper.


Camping


Camping in either the Yala National Park or Bundala is possible.  Advance notice needed to make  arrangements.