Wilpattu National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national parks. Situated in the northwest coast of the island, the park is close to other tourist destinations such as Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Kalpitiya. Wilpattu is named after the presence of numerous small lakes, which are called ‘villus’ – there are over 50 of these dotted around the park. These act as natural reservoirs during dry months, ensuring there is water all year round.
There is quite a diverse array of vegetation in Wilpattu, from dense scrub jungle and dry zone forests to the small lakes that are surrounded by grassy plains. The diversity of flora reflects with the variety of fauna available. Leopards, sloth bears, Asian elephants, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild boar, crocodiles and buffalos are just some of the animals you will get to see on you safari here. Endemic birds are aplenty here – spot several wetland species such as Sri Lanka junglefowl, babblers, woodshrike, and black-capped bulbul. The park’s population of butterflies is also worth looking out for.
Wilpattu has a rich history – it was declared a wildlife sanctuary in the early 1900s, and was elevated to National Park status in 1938. The park was closed for over 15 years during the civil war, and is slowly gaining back its momentum. For this reason, Wilpattu is the perfect place for tranquil and peaceful safaris in Sri Lanka – it is less crowded compared to Yala National Park.
The best time to visit Wilpattu is between February and October, with well organized safaris conducted by eco-tourism experts in Sri Lanka. Jeep safaris are the best way to explore the park, with either half day or full day safaris. Safaris are guided by experienced rangers at the park, ensuring a safe and informative outing.