About Us

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park is the largest and oldest national park in Sri Lanka, situated in the North Western coast of Sri Lanka, roughly equidistant from both the towns of Anuradhapura and Puttalam. The park is well known for its leopards, sloth bears among other animals, but also for the lush dry zone jungles and nearly sixty lakes or tanks.

Wilpattu is a great park to explore and is certainly off the beaten path. Which means you are not likely to see many other tourist or locals in the park.

Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka
Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka


Wilpattu National Park is located on the North Western coast of Sri Lanka, around 185KM North of the Capital Colombo.

In my experience the park is around 5 hours drive from Colombo, along the coast line. The map below shows the exact location of the park.

View Wilpaththu National park, Sri Lanka in a larger map

How to get there

It is best to get to the park as early in the day as possible. The best place to make camp for a visit to Wilpattu National Park is in Anuradhapura or Puttalam.

There are organised tours available from most hotels in both these locations. A full day safari jeep hire will cost around £40-£45. These tours will usually get you from your hotel to the national park.

There are buses and trains that run from Colombo to both Anuradhapura and Puttalam towns, ideally you should get there the day before.

When I did my safari (more detail at the end of the article) I organised it through this company, they were very efficient, friendly and reasonably priced.

If you are going to drive to Wilpattu from Colombo here are the instructions for that

Take the Puttalam road that goes past Negombo and chilaw. From Puttalam you need to take the Anuradhapura road for around 20km till you reach the Wilpattu Junction, then a further Eight Kilometers down the Wilpattu road is the entrance to the park locted in Hunuwilagama.

Where to stay when visiting Wilpattu National Park

Personally I would stay at Anuradhapura as that gives you more of variety of things to do and see. Puttalam on the other hand is a coastal town so if your into beach and sun more than history and culture then you could stay there.

What to Expect in Wilpattu National Park

As I mentioned previously Wilpattu or Wilpaththu National Park is still mostly off the beaten path for tourist, and this is mainly because it was closed due to security concerns for a very long time and only recently has it re-opened to the public after the end of the civil war.

Wilpattu National Park is the oldest National park in Sri Lanka, and is also the largest covering a whopping 425sq miles, that is a large area when considering the size of Sri Lanka. It gets its name from the fact that it contains many lakes and tanks. The park is home to some 60 lakes or tanks, and is covered by dense dry zone vegetation.

Wilpattu National park is one of two National Parks in Sri Lanka famed for its Leopards, but thats not the only famous inhabitant, it is also home to sloth bears, elephants, deer, among other mammals as well as various species of birds, and reptiles.

After much scrolling around the internet trying to find the best footage of the park, I stumbled upon this video.

History and Highlights of Wilpattu National Park

The history of the park dates back to the year 543 BC, when prince Vijaya landed on its coast line in a spot known as Thambapanni, it is also where he met Kuveni, and where it is said that Kuveni had her palace.

Prince Vijaya is the first recorded king of Sri Lanka. It is said that Prince Vijaya and 700 of his clan landed on the North Western coast of Sri Lanka on a beach they called Thambapanni (Copper Sand Beach). Vijaya was a cast away from his kingdom in India by his father. If you are interested in learning more about this visit the following link -

Set aside the history of the park, the main attractions are the wildlife, in particular the most famous inhabitant the Sri Lankan Leopard. Secondly the sloth bear.

On my visit however we were not lucky enough to see any of the two, mainly because we did a half day tour. However we did see elephants, deer, birds lots of water birds, foxes, deer, wild boar, wild water buffalo etc.

Finally of course if nothing else the tanks and lakes are very beautiful, and the driving tracks through the park and the coast line are a treat to the eyes.

I found the drive through the forests to be very relaxing and cooling, which is a stark contrast to the heat out side the park. As mentioned before the park is in the North, where the climate is rather dry and hot.

Photos from Wilpattu National Park

Bee EaterSun Set in Willpattu National ParkSun Set in Willpattu National ParkDeer in the Sun Set in Willpattu National ParkDeer in the Sun Set in Willpattu National ParkSun Set in Willpattu National Park
Willpattu National ParkWillpattu National ParkPeacock Willpattu National ParkWillpattu National ParkWillpattu National ParkWillpattu National Park
Willpattu National ParkWillpattu National ParkWillpattu National ParkBee EaterP1170093P1170084
P1170085P1170083Land Monitor Willpattu National ParkWillpattu National ParkSerpent Eagle Willpattu National ParkSerpent Eagle Willpattu National Park
Willpattu National Park, a set on Flickr.

My own experience of Wilpattu National Park

Visited Wilpattu National Park on the 30th of Dec 2011, we based our selves in Anuradhapura and aimed to reach Wilpattu for 2:30PM. I will post an article on the route and road conditions separately.

Wilpattu covers a massive area in North Eastern Sri Lanka just North of Puttalum and west of Anuradhapura. Either location would be good to hold camp at. There are places you can stay at locally too, however I am yet to do more research into that element.

While planning the Trip to Wilpattu National Park I came across a few good websites

Personally I think gives the best information for a visitor and gives you contact information for a reasonably priced jeep operator, whom we used our selves.

The Jeep operator was very efficient and very easy to speak to, he organised a jeep to wait for us at the turn off point from the main road. You can contact the guy on 009471 248 1177. The rate for the 1/2 day safari was Rs 3500 which works out to be around $30 - 32 US. Payment needs to be made to the driver, in SLR.

We found that our driver had a keener eye for detail than the actual park ranger. Tickets for locals are dirt cheap, while if you are a non local or do not hold a visa for 3 or more months for Sri Lanka you pay $35 to get into the park.

Entrance To Willpattu National Park
Back To Top