South East Dry Zone
Dominant with thorn forests, lakes, lagoons and variety of forests, this is one of the most diverse parts of the country with ecology and animals. Known for the mighty Elephants and the popular Leopard, the Yala National Park is located in this zone. Being mostly dry throughout the year the zone receives its water from the North East monsoon rain season, this gives from 1500mm-2000mm rainfall for a year. Lowland grasslands are dominant in the flood plains. Most of the land area in the zone is protected for either plant life or animal. This offers the lushness of the Southwestern Wet Zone, in an astonishingly short space, east of Tangalle, everything changes. Open savanna and shallow wetlands take over from the dank forest and rich undergrowth and the increasingly frequent patches of bare earth have a burnt and arid look. From Nonagama, 25km east of Tangalle, there are two choices of routes through the dry zone. Both offer magnificent wildlife spotting opportunities. The road inland takes you close to Udawalawe, famous for its Elephants, from which you can travel to Ratnapura or the Singharaja Rainforest or into the highlands. Alternatively, you can continue east on the coastal road, visiting salt pans for some superb bird watching, the remarkably varied wildlife of Yala, and on to the strange and wonderful pilgrim site of Kataragama.