The Wilpattu National Park situated along the North Western coastal lowland of Sri Lanka is both the oldest and largest national park in the island. The many ‘villus’ or small lakes that dot the landscape of the park are responsible for its name ‘villu-pattu’ which means “Land of Lakes”. These depressions which fill up with rainwater attract a wide range of water birds and wildlife. The park is also accorded a prominent place in the island’s history as, according to the records of the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijjaya from India landed at Kudiremalai Point in Wilpattu, married Kuveni a local princess and founded the Sinhala race.
One of the big wildlife attractions in Wilpattu is the Sri Lankan Leopard which can often be seen lounging beside the villus inside the park making it an ideal choice for safari tours in Sri Lanka. Yet another animal that attracts visitors to the park is the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, a highly endangered wildlife species. Elephants, spotted deer, wild pig, Asiatic Buffalo and Muntjac or barking deer are among the thirty one species of mammals identified at Wilpattu, while mugger crocodiles, water monitors, turtles, tortoises and snakes are the most common reptiles. The park is also home to over 200 bird species which include Painted Storks, Black-headed Ibis, Asian Open-bills, Whistling Teals, Eurasian Spoonbills, Little and Indian Cormorants and many species of kingfishers.
The park is 140 km away from Jetwing Vil Uyana, and a 2.5 to 3 hour drive each way. The hotel offers two safaris – the first starting at 04.00 hours for a half day morning/full day safari, and the second at 10.30 hours for a half day afternoon safari. The duration of a half day safari is 8 – 9 hours, while a full day tour will take 14 hours. The hotel will provide you with a water bottle, binoculars, transport, park entrance fee, jeep hire and a packed breakfast if travelling on a morning safari, and a fresh fruit juice on return to the hotel. Wear comfortable clothes, and bring your sunglasses, caps or hats, cameras, binoculars, field guides, insect repellent and sun block with you.