Wilpattu National Park is among the oldest and the largest (131, 693 ha) National Parks in Sri Lanka. Key tourist attractions of this National Park is its large network of Villus (Natural Water Tanks) and it is famous for visiting Leopards and wild bears.
The area was declared as a sanctuary in 1905 and upgraded to a National Park in 1938. Before the Civil War, Wilpattu was one of the Sri Lanka’s most popular parks. However, it was shut down in 1985 following an attack on its wardens by LTTE cadres. The park reopened and started welcoming tourists in 2010.
Villus (Natural Water Tanks), Scrubs and Forest
Special feature of Wilpattu NP is that it has water filled Villus (natural lakes/ water tanks). More than 40 villus (shallow lakes) are scattered in the park and these wetlands support a variety of wildlife. Each villu ranges from about 2 to 400 ha in extent, with the largest being the Periya Vila. The western sector of the park has deeply forested areas and thorny bushes.
Three types of vegetation can be found inside the park:
- Salt grass and low scrub immediately adjacent to the beach,
- 5-10 km coastal belt of monsoon scrub of very low stature; and further inland,
- monsoon forest with tall emergent.
Include Leopards, Elephants, Sloth Bears, Deer, Crocodiles, Porcupines, Reptiles and bats. A total of 31 species of mammals have been recorded. Many species of large mammals in the park, including Elephants (Elephas maximus), are dependent on the villus and tanks as a source of water and succulent vegetation, especially during the dry season.
Among the vertebrate species recorded, 20 are endemic (1 fish, 2 amphibians, 10 reptiles, 3 birds, and 4 mammals) while 31 are nationally threatened (2 fish, 2 amphibians, 14 reptiles, 7 birds and 6 mammals).
- The birds include 24 winter visitors, including several species of waders and waterfowl.
- Wetland bird species such as Garganey, Pin tail, Whistling Teal, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Large White Egret, Cattle Egret and Purple Heron.
- Gulls, Terns, Owls, Kites and Eagles.
- The endemic Sri Lanka Jungle fowl, Little Cormorant and the Painted Stork
How to get there
You can reach Vilpattu NP from Colombo via Negombo, Chilaw or Puttalam. The turn off is at the little hamlet of Thimbiriwewa on the 28 th mile post along the Puttalam Anuradhapura road.
The Park office and the main entrance is at Hunuwilagama 8 km from the turn off from Puttalam – Anuradhapura road. You can obtain a permit and a guide at this Park Office. Jeep and driver can be hired to explore the park at the entrance or at specialist wildlife camps.
Accommodation at Wilpattu National Park
There are Camping sites run by Department of Wildlife Conservation located at Wilpattu. However you need to reserve these from the DWLC on a competitive basis and facilities are bare minimal. Now you can reserve a Wildlife Circuit Bungalows & Camping Sites by official government side below.
e-Service Reservation Service of Wildlife Circuit Bungalows & Camping Sites:
Privately Holiday bungalows/ Luxury Camping
There are few privately owned holiday bungalows situated very close to the park (Walking distance) and they are Base Camp Wilpattu, Wilpattu Holiday Bungalow, Wilpattu Bungalow and Wilpattu Safari Lodge.
Base Camp Wilpattu
If you want to go on a safari adventure in Wilpattu NP, you can lodge in this recently established Luxury Camps situated in Pimburuwellegama, at the edge of the NP. The luxury camp is ideal for complete relaxation with grand access to abundant wildlife and Nature Walks. Dinner is served dinner out in the bush around the Camp Fire. They also arrange Trackers to go inside the NP.
This is started recently by Nilantha Vishvanath, a well known conservationist in Sri Lanka, who has a excellent knowledge on wildlife in Sri Lanka. He was a President of Young Biologists’ Association of Sri Lanka and currently working at University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
Contact Base Camp Wilpattu
Call Nilantha +94 72 362 3152
Map of Wilpattu National Park
Large Wikimedia Map
Wilpattu National Park Wildlife Map
Learn More on Wilpattu NP
A visitor Centre and museum is situated at the park entrance in Hunuwilagama.
Read More from Official website of Department of Wild-Life Conservation
Park Fees for Entry into Wilpattu National Parks from Department of Wild-life conservation
Read Lakdasun Tour Report on Wilpattu NP
Researchers Ranil Nanayakkara and Nilantha Vishvanath are on ascertaining elusive and endangered sloth bear population density in the Wilpattu National Park. Read More…