|Main attractions||Leopards, Elephants, Spotted Deer, Sambur, Wild Bow, Crocodiles, Water Buffalo, Peacocks, and many migratory birds.|
Situated 180 km from Colombo, and about 40 km from Anuradhapura Wilpattu National Park is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. Declared as a sanctuary in 1938, and subsequently a national park, Wilpattu Reserve is a popular attraction for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts.
This park is packed with over 50 ‘Villus’ or lakes and sandy tracks. Vila is defined as a natural depression generally circular with gently sloping banks of sand – a natural pool. Ancient man-made reservoirs mostly now in a ruined state supplement the natural pools to create a unique ecosystem found nowhere on the island.
Entrance Fees to Wilpattu National Park
If you want to hire a jeep you need to get one from the turn-off point along the Puttlam-Anuradhapura Road.
|Description (Fees Applicable for Category 1 Park)||Price|
|Local – Adults||LKR 150|
|Local – Children (6-12 years)||LKR 100|
|Local – Student||LKR 20|
|Local – Children (below 6 years)||FOC|
|Local – Group Fee (per vehicle)||LKR 400|
|Foreign – Adults||USD 25|
|Foreign – Children (6-12 years)||USD 15|
|Foreign SAARC Countries – Adults||USD 20|
|Foreign SAARC Countries – Children (6-12 years)||USD 10|
|Foreign – Children (below 6 years)||FOC|
|Foreign – Group Fee (per vehicle)||USD 10|
|Taxes on total cost||15%|
|Entrance Fee per vehicle||LKR 300|
for example, for 2 foreigners with 1 child between 6-12 will have the cost of
|2 adults||USD 50.00|
|1 child||USD 15.00|
|Group Fee||USD 10.00|
|Tax (15%)||USD 11.25|
The above costs are for entry tickets for persons as gazetted in 2022. A ticket for the vehicle, as given above, has to be purchased separately.
Payments can be made in USD or equivalent LKR by foreigners. You can call 1919 (government information center) for the latest ticket prices. If you hire a private safari Jeep, the prices vary from LKR 11,000 to LKR 15,000 for a half day (4 hours) based on the park. For a full day, it’s double the cost of a half day.
Fees can be paid in USD or in equivalent LKR
Flora of Wilpattu National Park
Some 605 flowing plant species belonging to 108 plant families have been recorded inside the Wilpattu National Park. 33 of these plants are endemic to Sri Lanka.
Habitat Diversity of Wilpattu National Park
Although tropical dry mixed evergreen forests dominate the landscape of Wilpattu, many other diverse sub-systems can be found within its boundaries.
- Forest Echo Systems
- Tropical Dry Mixed Evergreen Forests – This is the dominant echo system in the park. A heaven for valuable timber and shows 4 distinct vegetation layers. 20-30 meter high tree canopy, a 15-meter high sub-canopy tree layers, shrubs up to 5 meters, and herbaceous plants up to 1 meter.
- Tropical Thorn Forests – Areas of thick, thorny, impenetrable plants growing up to 4-6 meters. With tall large Burutha, Palu, and other similar trees scattered randomly. These forests have 2 layers with thorny bushes growing up to 4-6 meters and herbaceous plants up to .5 meters.
- Riverine Forests – Found along the banks of many water streams and banks of rivers that flow through the Wilpattu National Park. These range from a few meters in length up to 10 meters depending on the size of the water flow. Due to the abundance of water throughout the year, these show characteristics of evergreen rainforests. An almost-covered tree canopy that is up to about 15-25m, a sub-canopy at about 10m, and a shrub layer that reaches 0.3-0.5 meters are the characteristics of these forests. Towing gigantic Kumbuk trees are the most prominent trees in this ecosystem.
- Dry Grasslands – Dry grasslands are common in the western parts of Wilpattu National Park. These are patches of land void of forest cover and due to human habitation in the ancient past. This is evident by the archaeological remains going back to the Anuradhapura era found on such grasslands. A grass cover of .1-1 meter in height, isolated scattered trees growing up to 20 meters, and scrubs up to 3 meters are the dominant features of this vegetation.
- Wetland Eco Systems
- Floodplains – These border the Kala Oya River and are created by the annual flooding of excess water Kala Oya. Floodwater silt deposited on the ground is the main source of nutrients for plants. The vegetation is similar to Riverine ecosystems except for large patches of grass interspersed in the floodplains. Swamps – Unlike floodplains, swamps are waterlogged land favorable for water-loving plants.
- Ancient Tanks and Ponds
- belt of vegetation. Marshland border most of these tanks which probably has been paddy fields in the past. Uru Wee, a wild rice has been found growing in these areas.
- Villus – This is the most prominent feature of Wilpattu National Park. Shallow pools of all sizes with a sandy rim are spread all over the park. Moving inwards you find dry grassland, marshy habitats, and then aquatic habitats. There are about 50 villus with varying diameters of 300m to 2km.
- Mangrove forests – The largest and the most diverse mangrove habitat in Sri Lanka is associated with the Kala Oya which boarders Wilpattu National Park. The mangroves lies in the area the Kala Oya reaches the sea and the woody trees in the mangroves are adapted for salty water.
- Salt Marshes – Salt marshes lie along the Wilpattu coastline seasonally get submerged during high tides and high in salt content. Only few plants can survive these extreme conditions but plays a vital role as feeding and nesting grounds to many resident and migratory birds.
- Beaches and Sand dunes – The beach along the Wilpattu consist of mangroves, steep cliffs and sand dunes. Most well known sand dunes are at Kudiramalai Point where the winds are very strong due to the high elevation.
- Sea Cliffs – In Kudiramalai Point is an uplifted limestone rock cliff rising up to 20 meters above the sea level. This cliff stretches almost 2 km from the Kudiramalai Point. This massive limestone rock with scattered caves is full of fossils of branching corals, limestone layer and red layer of earth.
The Wilpattu National Park was closed in 1985 after LTTE Tiger Terrorists brutally murdered 23 of its employees. The park once again opened to the public in March 2003 after 18 years. During these 18 years, the jungle was a haven for terrorists, poachers, and illegal timber traders.
During this period, the leopard population dwindled with poachers having free passes to the jungles. 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. 2 visits after the reopening in 2003 no leopards were spotted. Even the deer population has thinned due to poaching. 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. But the leopard and the other wildlife populations are now gradually increasing. But with time passing spotting leopards and bears has been more frequent.
This National park is open to visitors from 6.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. All the bungalows inside the park were been destroyed or burned down during the terrorist period. Currently, Panikkawila, Manawila, Thalawila, Kokmote, Lunuwila, Manikkapolauththu, Weewewa, and Maradamaduwa Dormitory bungalows are operating within the wildlife park. These can accommodate 10 adults and cost approx Rs. 6150/- (all charges and taxes included) per night. These bungalows have to be booked through the Department of Wildlife Conservation. There are some good eco-type bungalows around the park, but for some luxury, the closest is Anuradhapura which is about 50 Km away from Wilpattu.
Current Crisis at Wippatu National Park
During 2010-2015 over 3000 hectares were cleared and its valuable timber felled on the western side of the Wilpattu National Park has been cleared to make way for illegal Muslim settlements in the North and the East provinces breaching the country’s laws under the Forest Conservation Act.
A number of conservation groups have been pressuring the Government to take action against this rape of Wilpattu Forest but yet no decisive action has been forthcoming from the government as of today.
- Environmentalists to file legal action on ‘illegal’ Wilpattu settlements
- Illegal settlements around Wilpattu National Park
- ‘Settlements in Wilpattu are recent ones’
See the map or the list of markers below for the water bodies inside the Wilpattu National Park. The primary source of this information is the incredible Google Earth KMZ map of Wilpattu shared at Lakdasun here
Map of Wilpattu National Park and Other Places of Interest
The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites
Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.
Travel Directions to Wilpattu National 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 on this road to reach the entrance to the park.
If you are coming from Anuradhapura you need to travel almost 40 km on the Anuradhapura – Puttlam road to the turn-off.
|Route from Colombo to Wilpattu National Park Entrance||Route from Anuradhapura to Wilpattu National Park Entrance|
Travel time : 45 minutes.
Driving directions : see on google map
Travel time: 45 minutes.
Driving directions: see on Google map