Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest and one of its oldest national parks. Its unique ecosystem of seasonal lakes is favoured by leopards and sloth bears which can be spotted on their shores.
Wilpattu National Park Safaris
Located on the north west of the island, for many years Wilpattu was off-limits during the civil war and remains largely overlooked by many visitors to Sri Lanka.
A little off the beaten track and less crowded than renown Yala, it offers the option of full day game drives in the park, all resulting in a relaxed safari experience.
Covering over 1315 km², safaris in the park are made by jeep. Setting off in the early morning with your expert naturalist guide, you will explore different habitats ranging from salt grass and monsoon scrub, and taller dense tropical forests which cover much of the park.
Unique to Wilpattu is a network of more than 50 sand-rimmed lakes, or ‘villus’ from which the park takes its name. It’s worth spending a full morning or late afternoon sitting at one of these waterholes to let the jungle come to you.
Such mixed vegetation supports a diverse array of wildlife and in the company of your expert guide you’re likely to see Asian elephants, land monitor lizards, star tortoises, purple-faced langurs, and a variety of snakes. With luck you may spot sloth bears which feed on termites and, in June, the crimson berries of ‘weeru’ trees.
There are also thriving populations of sambar and spotted deer to sustain the top predator, the Sri Lankan Leopard. The exact population in the park is unknown but individuals are often said to be bigger in size compared to the other leopards found on the island. Spotting them is not always easy – there’s thought to be a 50/50 chance.
The diverse birdlife includes endemic species such as brown-capped babbler, jungle fowl and Ceylon Grey Hornbill, while commonly seen migrants are Indian Pitta and Pintail Snipe. The mixed breeding colony at Maradanmaduwa Tank is used by many species of waterfowl including pelicans, ibis, spoonbill and storks.
For a cultural diversion, the ancient capital of Anuradhapura is less than an hour drive east of the park.
+ Read More
- Spot wild Asian elephants
- Unspoilt rich forest
- Leopard and sloth bear safari
- Stay in a jungle camp
Top Reasons To Visit WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK
Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.
BEST TIME TO VISIT WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK
Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry lowlands bordering the north-west coast of Sri Lanka. The park is open throughout the year but the months of February to October are recommended for a safari.
The annual drought lasts from May to the beginning of September, causing vegetation to thin and water holes to diminish making it generally easier to spot wildlife, including leopard.
Heavy monsoon rains start sometime in September and continue through December, refilling the villus which burst into life with resident and migrant waterfowl and purple flowers on the shores. Inter-monsoonal rains are experienced between March and April.
BEST TIME TO VISIT WILPATTU NATIONAL PARK
Our Favourite Camps & Lodges
Leopard Trails offers the most luxurious and authentic wildlife experience in Sri Lanka; guests benefit from a more relaxed safari and the ranger guides are among the best on the island.Learn More
Wilpattu National Park (FAQS) NEED TO KNOW
What is the accommodation like in Wilpattu National Park?
Being off-limits for many years and still largely under the radar, the accommodation options at Wilpattu are more limited than in some of Sri Lanka’s other parks. All places to stay have running water (even if it’s only cold) and flush loos and large meals of local cuisine are a common feature. Being the island’s largest park, the location of your accommodation is key to avoiding a long transfer into the more open central area of Wilpattu via the one entrance. The best camps and lodges are run by people who live and breath conservation with their own in-house guides who are keen to share their knowledge of the whole spectrum of the park’s ecosystem.
Is Wilpattu National Park a suitable family destination?
Wilpattu is a great choice for a family safari. There is plenty of flexibility about where and when you make your safari with freedom to explore as much of the park as you like and immerse yourselves in nature. Wildlife is plentiful but animals are dispersed across a large area and are less accustomed to vehicles than Yala so more patience is required. A variety of additional activities can often be arranged at your camp from cookery classes to nature walks and private bush dinners by candlelight. Junior ranger programmes with camp guides give younger guests an appreciation for the natural environment via tree, bird and wildlife ID and learning tracking skills. From Wilpattu it’s just a short journey to the northern sites of the Cultural Triangle and onward access to the gorgeous sandy beaches on the east coast where the weather is perfect during the school summer holidays.
Is it possible to combine a trip to Wilpattu with other areas of Sri Lanka?
Absolutely – your trip is completely tailored to your wants and needs which is why we are happy to combine your time in Wilpattu with other locations in Sri Lanka. Although known for being isolated in the past, Wilpattu now has good road connections with many other places of interest. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and hear our recommendations so we can put together the best itinerary for you.
From our Travel Guides
What is there to do in Victoria Falls?
About the Serengeti Plains Formation
Five Extraordinary Experiences in Mongolia
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Our second unforgettable trip with Natural High, hopefully not the last!
Fantastic Christmas trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, organised at very short notice. Wonderful staff at every camp, an unforgettable family experience. …
Claire & George
Outstanding customer service well above the call of duty.
Natural High arranged a trip to remember …accommodation first class, transportation on very long road trips was excellent. Spotless . air conditioni…
Personal service and excellent organisation
This was our first holiday to be organised by Natural High. We made the enquiry on New Year’s Eve for a departure in February and within a few days…
Ken and Caroline
Fantasic Natural High
Brilliant, everything is so well organised. We have had two trips of a lifetime organised by Rod Tether who is also a guide extraordinaire!…
Antony & Jane Braithwaite RT
Fantastic Natural High
Perfectly organised trip to two great Nomad camps in Tanzania!…
Natural High nailed it again
Sledding in Sweden was our second wonderful holiday with Natural High. From the moment you speak to them to when you get home the service and attentio…
Fantasic Natural High
We are repeat customers and NH never fail to deliver an exceptional trip. They understand exactly what we want to experience and tailor the adventure …
Ruth Maxwell AH
Enjoyed EVERY second of an action- packed two weeks in Kenya. Asante Sana👏
This was my fourth safari booked with Natural High and, as previously, it surpassed my expectations. Vanessa’s Itinerary was spot on – the three cam…
Julie Baxter VJ
Fantasic Natural High
They picked out good places to stay that fitted the criteria. Very thoughtful and attentive. They called back and they sent emails with suggestions….
Morroco was a pleasant surprise
This was certainly not our first trip with natural high. As any other trip, organization was great, ie pick up, vehicles, local guides, food, all well…
Don and Bernice Willoughby RT
The holiday was absolutely perfect. The recommended places to stay were spot on, excellent service throughout. It shows that each property has been vi…
Susan And Russell Holdsworth VJ
Everything went smoothly and selection of accommodation was perect for us
Excellent, no problems…
Fantastic Kenya 🇰🇪 Safari thanks Vanessa
We stayed at three beautiful lodges; The Emakoko Nairobi National Park, Tortillis Camp Amboseli National Park and Kicheche Valley Camp Mara Conservati…
David Poninghaus VJ
Seamless service, Catherine was able to accommodate my changing needs, even last minute changes that were my fault, and ended up with a wonderful vaca…
Very helpful and accomodating
Very helpful and Catherine went out of her way to accommodate us. It was also short notice from our side and yet it all worked very well. Good advice …
Phenomenal Safari which will certainly stay with us for years to come
Our main contact, Rod, was extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of the Safari that we ultimately decided upon. We trusted his recommendations throug…
Matt & Lucy Worthy RT
First class. Experts in the holiday adventure field. Great to deal with
First class! Natural High are experts in their field. All the boxes are ticked which leaves you to travel without any worries. Excellent destinations…
Perfect family Safari!!
Our family Kenyan safari trip to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary was perfectly planned by Catherine from the moment we landed in Nairobi, to ou…