Wilpattu National Park
Situated 180 km from Colombo, and about 50 km from Anuradhapura Wilpattu National park is the largest wild life sanctuary in Sri Lanka. Declared as a sanctuary in 1938, and subsequently a national park, Wilpattu reserve, is a popular attraction for both tourists and wildlife enthusiasts
This park is packed with over 30 'vilas' or lakes and sandy tracks. Vila is defined as a natural depression generally circular with gently sloping banks - natural pool.
The park was closed in 1996 after LTTE Tiger Terrorists brutally murdered 26 of it employees. The park once again opened to the public in March 2003 after 18 years. During these 18 years the jungle was a heaven for the terrorists, poachers and illegal timber traders.
Due these reasons the leopard population seems to have drastically come down. There has been no leopard population count done in the recent past. But in 1978 when we visited Wilpattu we saw no less than 7 leopards in 2 days. But after reopening I have visited this park twice but saw no leopards at all. Even the deer population have thinned due to poaching. During my last 2 visits we only saw about 20 spotted deer, one elk, 6 foxes, few wild rabbits only. Another reason for this is the animals in this park are not used to vehicles and run into the jungle at the first sound of a jeep.
If you want to hire a jeep you need to get one from turn off point along the Puttlam-Anuradhapura Road. You will find all sorts of jeeps parked here. The prices are from Rs. 1750/- to 2000/- per half day or double for full day.
All the bungalows inside the park have been destroyed or burned down. One of the bungalows was re opened on the 30 Feb. 2004 called "Kokmote". Therefore if you want to stay the night you need to book hotel nearby. Camping was allowed for some time but now that is not possible either. There are very few motels close to Wilpattu but it is best to stay the night at Anuradhapura which is about 50 Km away from the park.
The park can be reached through Puttlam and is approximately 180 km from Colombo and Approximately 50 km from the ancient city of Anuradhapura. From Puttlam turn left to the Anuradhapura Road. The turnoff to the Wilpattu Entrance is close to the 43rd km post on this road. From this turn you need to travel about 10 km's on this road to reach entrance to the park.
If you are coming from Anuradhapura you need travel almost 40 km on the Anuradhapura - Puttlam road to the turn off.
All the bungalows inside the park have been destroyed or burned down. One of the bungalows was re opened on the 30 Feb. 2004 called "Kokmote". Therefore if you want to stay the night you need to book hotel nearby. Anuradhapura has a large number of Hotels.
June 28, 2007