Wilpattu National Park is a park located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The park is located 30 km west Anuradhapura and located 26 km north of Puttalam (approximately 180 km north of Colombo). The beauty of Wilpattu National Park spreads over 1,317 square kilometers (131, 693 hectares) and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. The unique feature of this park is the existence of natural “Willus” (Natural lakes), sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu.
Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Value of Wilpattu National Park is that it is among the top national parks world-renowned for its leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population. From December 1988 to March 16, 2003, the park was closed due to security concerns surrounding the Sri Lankan Civil War, before being reopened to visitors 16 years later. Visitor access is currently limited to approximately 25% of the park, the remainder of which is dense forest or scrub. Popular visiting periods span between the months of February and October, although there are a number of private eco-tourism groups that conduct safaris year round.
When considering the climate of Wilpattu National Park, the annual temperature is between 27°C to 30°C and its annual rainfall is approximately 900 mm. The Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry zone but most of the time flora is very greenish and has plenty of water sources. The presence of this Villus with an abundance of water can best be explained in the weather patterns that prevail over the park. The period between September to December is the rainy season while inter-monsoonal rains are expected between March to May. The period of drought in the Park extends from June to early September. The best time to visit Wilpattu National Park is during the months of February and October.
History of Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is not only famous for its wildlife but also for its archaeological and historical importance. About 500 years before the birth of Christ it is believed that Prince Vijaya from India and his followers landed in a place called Thambapanni in the North West corner of Wilpattu and formed the Sinhalese kingdom. Queen named “Kuweni” (considered to be the mother of the Sinhala race) is said to have lived in the place known as Kalli Villu. Historical evidence also shows the fact that Prince Saliya, son of King Dutugemunu lived in Wilpattu over 2,000 years ago. There are still many archaeological ruins and stories to be told about this and many other fascinating historical events that took place within the borders of what we now call Wilpattu.
Wildlife of Wilpattu National Park
Surely, the National Park is known for its amazing wildlife which gets all the tourist attraction. The Wilpattu National park is especially known for its population of Leopards who are the main source of entertainment and excitation in the entire region. Behind Leopards, the park is full of fascinating birds and animals and is thus one of the most famous tourist attractions of the country.
Mammals in Wilapttu: Wilpattu National Park’s varying natural habitats; coastal belt, natural lakes (villus), rocky outcrops, scrublands, open grasslands, and dense forest provide for numerous species of animals. Among the species are 31 mammals. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus). Apart from those two mammals are Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, sambhur, Wild Pig, Water Buffalo, and Mugger Crocodiles.
Birdlife in Wilpattu: Countless species of birds can be found and the park plays host to numerous winter migrants from November to March. Wetland bird species found in the Wilpattu National Park include the Garganey, Pintail, Whistling Teal, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Large White Egret, Cattle Egret, and Purple Heron. Also, many species of Gulls, Terns, Owls, Kites, and Eagles are also lives here. The endemic Sri Lanka Junglefowl, Little Cormorant and the Painted Stork can also be seen.
Reptiles in Wilpattu: The most widely recognized reptiles found in Wilpattu are the screen reptile, mugger crocodile, basic cobra, Indian Lake Turtle, and the delicate shelled turtle which are an inhabitant in the huge perpetual Villus.
Due to the immense wildlife of the park and the scenic beauty, the park is a perfect camping site for the tourists and is a perfect spot for safari as well. These adventurous activities in Wilpattu increase the number of tourist attraction of Wilpattu National Park day by day. Three shifts of Wilpattu Safari are offered in shape of morning safari, evening safari and full day safari at extremely affordable rates. Jeep Safari is the regular norm in exploring the Wilpattu National Park. While Leopards, Elephants, Sloth bear, Deer, endemic birds can be sighted easily during a half day safari, of course, the full day safari at National Park affords greater joys with wildlife. With the rangers at the Wilpattu National Park guiding the wildlife safaris, the visitors are always safe though in the thick of wilderness.
Emerge of people attraction in Wilpattu leads to the essentiality of accommodation spots around the Park. Wilpattu National Park has no accommodation options within the park as at present. But the guides will help you to find the perfect place for your accommodations near Wilpattu. Their intimate knowledge in Wilpattu Safari Hotels, Bungalows, and Guest Houses will surely help you to pick the right accommodation option, right room and the best location for your Safari Tour in Wilpattu.