Wilpattu National Park
Experience the wonders of a jungle safari at Wilpattu National Park – the largest and one of the oldest National parks in Sri Lanka. With over 30 species of mammals and an impressive variety of flora and fauna spanning its jungles and nature trails, a visit here is definitely something to remember for a lifetime. The name Wilpattu essentially means a land of many lakes ‘villus’ or water bodies and this is exactly what you’ll find here.
Where is Wilpattu National Park located?
Wilpattu lies inland on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, approximately 26 km north of Puttalam and 185 km north of Colombo. It spans towards the ancient capital of Anuradhapura. The park spans the border of North Central and North Western Province of Sri Lanka and covers an impressive 131, 693 hectares, making it the largest national park in the country! The west border of the park stretches 35 km along the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. Wilpattu was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in
1905,and was upgraded to National Park status on 25th February 1938. Wilpattu is bounded to the north and south by 2 main rivers, the Modara Gamaru towards the north of the park and the Kala Oya to the south of the park
When is the best time to visit Wilpattu National Park?
Avoiding the rainy season between Septembers to December during the north eastern monsoon and Inter monsoon between March and April, It is best to visit the park during the dry season, which falls between February and October. The park has an annual temperature of 27.2°C and to visit the park during early morning or late afternoon is the best as animals hide in the forest to avoid the harsh heat. However, the park is open throughout the year for visitors.
What is the landscape like at Wilpattu National Park?
The park consists of mostly dry zone high forest, with extensive open plains. Since it is so large and ranges from 0 – 152 meters above sea level, the park supports over ten habitats covering three ecosystems within it as forests, wetland and coastal & marine ecosystems, making it a biodiversity hotspot of flora and fauna. The incredible variety of terrain, ranging from jungle and plains to wetland makes the park a haven for all kinds of flora and fauna.
The main feature of the park
of courseis its name sake– the presence of ‘villus’ or natural lakes that are found all over. These natural lakes are natural water basins that are surrounded by white sand that fill with rainwater. There are over 60 lakes and tanks natural lakes that span the park that range from small ponds to large natural reservoirs. Majority of the villus arefilled with fresh water and are extensive wetlands, whilst some are filled with sea waterand brackish water.
What fauna can be found in Wilpattu National Park?
There are several different types of animals to be found here, with an impressive array of mammals, birdlife and reptiles. As the park is quite large, the animals are spread out thinly.
What flora can be found in Wilpattu National Park?
Majority of Wilpattu is composed of dense forest and scrub, while the remainder is made up of pockets of extensive open plains. There are several flowering plant species in the park, with over 25 endemic plants. There are three main types of vegetation found in the park. Littoral vegetation which consists of an abundance of salt grass and low scrub that is adjacent to the beach. Low stature monsoon scrub is found 5 – 10 km within the coastal belt. Monsoon forest with tall emergent is located further inland.
Wild Life in Wilpattu
The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards and Sloth bears. Alongside these, it is possible to see Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Asiatic Buffalo and Mugger Crocodiles. Endemic birds include the Ceylon
Cultural Significance of Wilpattu
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 which is now known as Kudrimalai Point (Horse Point). It was here that he married Kuweni and thus founded the Aryan Sinhalese population. Queen Kuweni, who is considered to be the mother of the Sinhala race, lived in Kali Villu where you will be able to see the remaining pillars of this ancient palace. History shows that Prince Saliya, the son of King Dutugemunu, lived with Asokamala in Maradanmaduwa in Wilpattu. There are also remains of an ancient harbour between Palangaturai and Kollankanatte. 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.