Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu, which means ‘natural lakes’ in Sinhala, is a remarkably vast national park that holds over 60 rainwater lakes. Sri Lanka’s largest and most peaceful park is brimming with woodland, birds and a plethora of wildlife, from leopards to wild pigs and from crocodiles to elephants. If you are looking for a genuine Sri Lankan wilderness experience, then Wilpattu should be on your itinerary.
Wilpattu National Park is located in the north west of Sri Lanka, 30km from Puttalam and 190km from Colombo. The park is open all year round. As well as an abundance of wildlife, ancient ruins have also been found in Wilpattu and historical evidence shows that Prince Saliya, son of King Dutugemuni lived in the area over 2000 years ago.
This sensationally peaceful park is open from 6am to 6pm and offers a fantastic opportunity to explore by jeep in a very peaceful setting; it's much quieter than Yala National Park. Not only is Wilpattu the largest national park in Sri Lanka, but also one of the oldest. The park is unique because of its naturally occurring lakes. Visitors can often see magnificent buffalo bathing in the lakes as they drive around them. The rain water lakes attract a huge amount of marvellous bird life, making it a haven for birders, who can expect to see plenty of painted storks, Sri Lanka jungle fowl and a number of species of owl.
Safaris in Wilpattu National Park are spectacular and it is particularly renowned for its leopard sightings, but this definitely isn't guaranteed. Visitors can expect to see a wide range of other mammals, including elephant, sloth bear and water buffalo. The park is a paradise for reptiles, from monitor lizards to mugger crocodiles, especially on the banks of its lakes.
You will be spoilt for choice for somewhere to stay in Wilpattu National Park, from all-inclusive tented safari camps, to bungalows and guest houses much further out. Due to the vast size of the park it is best to stay for a couple of days in order to take in as much of the area as possible. Budding photographers are recommended to stay for more nights to further their chances of capturing leopards and bears.