Wilpattu National Park Sri Lanka

Briefly about Wilpattu National Park Sri Lanka

  • The area is 131,655 hectares
  • A national park since 1938
  • Listed as a Ramsar wetland since 2013
  • Over 40 lake ecosystems
  • It is an area where elephants, leopards, and bears can be seen in abundance
  • Archaeological sites and ancient irrigation systems
  • Two ticket booths: Hunuwilagama and Eluwavankulama
  • The maximum speed of vehicles is Kmph 25
  • Park is open daily from 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Wilpattu national park entrance fees
    Foreign Adult USD 15
    Foreign Child (between 6-12 years)
    USD 8 Jeep fee 
    LKR 250 Service Charge
    USD 8 Plus VAT 15% for the Grand Total

Wilpattu National Park covers an area of 131,656 hectares and is the largest national reserve in Sri Lanka. It was declared a national park in 1938 under the Wildlife and Flora Protection Act. It consists of five divisions, gazetted from 1938 to 1973, and is managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. Bordering the districts of Mannar and Vavuniya, the park spans the districts of Puttalam and Anuradhapura. National Park is bounded by the Modaragam Aru and Aravi Aru rivers to the north, the Kala Oya to the south, and the northwest coast to the west. The western Wilpattu Sanctuary and the 40,000-hectare Mawillu Forest Reserve cover the northern boundary, while the 21,933-hectare Tabbowa Sanctuary adjoins its southern boundary. This area is prime habitat for elephants in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu National Park’s landscape is plain and covered with dry evergreen forest and deciduous thorn bushes. There are about 40 seasonal or permanent lakes surrounded by open plains and dunes known as “Vilu,” or Waluka plains. Lakes are flat, shallow depressions that contain rainwater and usually have no inlets or outlets. That is how it got the name Wilpattu or Patthu/an area full of lakes. Lakes range in size from 10 to 160 hectares and may contain fresh water (E.g., Kumbuk Lake), brackish water (E.g., Kali Lake), or brackish water (E.g., Kokkari Lake). Located in the central and north-western parts of the national park, these lakes provide a habitat for various animals and plants. Wilpattu National Park in 2013 and Under the Ramsar Convention, Mahavilachchiya Lake, which is 10 km away from the lake’s bordering seas, is also listed as a Wetland of International Importance.


Physical features

  • The climate is similar to the arid and semi-arid zone of Sri Lanka.
  • Wet (monsoon) and dry seasons alternate.
  • Altitude ranges from sea level to 240 meters.
  • Annual rainfall is approximately mm. 1000.
  • The rainy season is from September to December, and from March to May.
  • Dry season: January to February, and May to September.


Biodiversity value

About 70% of Wilpattu National Park is covered by dry evergreen forests of varying heights, depending on soil conditions and the location of deciduous thorn bushes. There are also small grasslands located around the lakes, which are exposed to flooding during the wet season. 621 species of plants have been recorded in Wilpattu, and the large fruit tree (Manilkara Hexandra) is prominent in the forest. Permanent and seasonal rivers as well as some 2,000-year-old lakes, coastal salt marshes, and scrubland lie along the coast. Kala Oya estuary is one of the largest mangrove forests in Sri Lanka. The fertile shallows are the livelihoods of small-scale traditional fishermen, and the seagrasses there provide food for the globally endangered porpoise, a species of marine mammal.

Wilpattu National Park and its surrounding area provide habitat for many species of animals:

  • 23 species of freshwater fish
  • 17 species of amphibians
  • 57 species of reptiles
  • 253 species of birds
  • 45 species of mammals

The park is known for being home to globally threatened large mammals such as tiger (Panthera Pardus Kotiya), bear (Melursus ursinus), and elephant (Elephas Maximus Maximus). Spotted deer (Axis axis) herds Found throughout the park, the knotted crocodile (Crocodylus Palustris) is also a rare and abundant reptile in the park. The adjacent shallow marine waters are home to the endangered porpoise (Dugong dugon), Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa Chinensis) and sea turtles (Lepidochelys Olivaceae), and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas).

These endemic bird species have been recorded in and around Wilpattu.

Gallus lafayette, Treron Pompadora, Ocyceros Gingalensis, Pycnonotus Melanicterus, Pellorneum Fuscocappilum, Loriculus Beryllinus, Heen Kottorua (Megalaima Rubricapillus), Rathpita Maha-Kerala (Chrysocolaptes Strickland), Sri Lanka Vehilihini (Hirundo Hyperythra), and Sri Lanka Wild-shrike (Tephrodornis Affinis).


The historical and cultural value

Structures scattered throughout the park, including tanks, Buddhist monasteries, stupas, and rock inscriptions, provide evidence of a civilization based on irrigated agriculture in the area. Many legendary and historical events are associated with the park and its surroundings. It is said to be between Kudiramale Point and Modaragam Aru mouth in Wilpattu National Park in Tammanna, where King Vijaya landed, where the Sinhalese people are said to have originated around 500 BC. 2,000 years ago, the place where King Dutugemunu’s son Prince Saliya lived with his bride Ashokamala must have been Galbandi Neeraviya on the northeast side of Maradanmadu lake. Furthermore, prehistoric sites of the Paleolithic and Mesolithic eras have also been recorded.

The park was closed to the public for nearly 20 years during the Sri Lankan Civil War but reopened on 27 February 2010 after the war ended in May 2009. For a considerable time, the park or its vicinity has been used as the front line of war. As a result, the management of the park was severely hampered and the staff and wildlife also faced a lot of trouble. Now the park’s infrastructure and management have been rehabilitated and strengthened, resulting in the recovery of wildlife.

In Wilpattu, there are 135 border villages with a population of about 34,000 people. Their livelihoods include saltwater fishing, and cattle rearing in the northern and southern parts, but they are mostly engaged in crop cultivation. Living near a national park presents them with many challenges such as animals eating crops. But there are also jobs in the tourism sector related to this area. Wilpattu has a community outreach program that hopes to reduce such problems and increase the benefits of working closely with local people.


How to visit?

To visit the park, one should obtain a permit at one of the two park entrances, Hunuvilagama (Anuradhapura) or Eluwankulam (Puttalam), and pay a fixed entry fee. The park is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm, but opening times may vary due to inclement weather. Only four-wheel vehicles are allowed to travel in the park and the maximum speed limit for these jeeps is 25 km/h. Visitors are allowed to come out of their vehicles at specific places like Kumbuk Lake and Kudiramala Point only. A museum has been set up at the Hunuvilagama entrance.

The National Park has seven field bungalows that can accommodate up to 10 people and a forest lodge that can accommodate up to 50 people. There are also campsites for those who prefer a more independent and adventurous experience. Day tours as well as bungalows, hostels, and campsites should be booked through the E-service or directly through the Wildlife Department.

Within 10 km of the two park entrances, you will find various levels of accommodation. More lodges are KM from the park. Available in Anuradhapura or Kalpitiya which is 25-30 km away.


Safari Time in Wilpattu.

There are three types of Jeep safaris to explore Wilpattu National Park. It is like this.

Code of Conduct for Tourists

  1. It is not allowed to feed the wild animals in the park or to keep or take any object or material as a souvenir or take it out of the park. (This also includes animals, insects, plants, flowers, eggs, bones, skulls, rocks, etc.)
  2. Observe with strict silence so as not to disturb the animals.
  3. Do not get out of your vehicle. Avoid leaning out of windows or climbing onto roofs while traveling.
  4. Leaving your vehicle is only allowed at specific locations like Kumbuk Lake and Kudiramale.
  5. Throwing trash or any foreign matter away from your vehicle is strictly prohibited.
  6. Please take all rubbish with you and dispose of it responsibly.
  7. Smoking is strictly prohibited in the park.
  8. Only authorized four-wheel vehicles can drive in the park, with a maximum speed limit of 25 km/h.
  9. Driving slowly makes it easier to spot small animals like birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
  10. Please ensure that your driver does not interfere with other vehicles and does not disturb the behavior of wildlife.


  1. What is Wilpattu National Park famous for?
    Wilpattu National Park

    Wilpattu National Park is a wildlife sanctuary located in Sri Lanka, known for its diverse range of flora and fauna. The park is famous for its population of Sri Lankan leopards, which are considered to be one of the largest leopard populations in the world. In addition to the leopards, Wilpattu National Park is also home to other wildlife such as elephants, sloth bears, deer, water buffalo, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species. The park is also known for its beautiful landscapes, including dense forests, open grasslands, and serene lakes.
    Overall, Wilpattu National Park is a popular destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts who come to explore its diverse ecosystem and enjoy the natural beauty of Sri Lanka.

  2. Is Wilpattu National Park worth visiting?

    Wilpattu National Park is definitely worth visiting for those who love wildlife and nature. It is one of the largest and oldest national parks in Sri Lanka, covering an area of over 1,300 square kilometers. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including leopards, elephants, sloth bears, and many species of birds. In addition to the wildlife, the park also boasts beautiful landscapes, including lakes, forests, and grasslands. However, visitors should note that Wilpattu National Park is more remote and less developed than some other national parks in Sri Lanka, so it may require more effort to reach and explore.

  3. What is the best time to visit Wilpattu National Park?

    Wilpattu National Park in Sri Lanka is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, the park’s many natural lakes and ponds dry up, which makes it easier to spot wildlife congregating around the remaining water sources. The weather is also generally dry and sunny, making for a more comfortable and enjoyable safari experience. However, it’s worth noting that Wilpattu is open year-round, and visitors can still have a rewarding experience during the wet season, which runs from October to February, though there may be more rain and muddy conditions.

  4. Which is better Wilpattu or Yala?

    Wilpattu National Park and Yala National Park are both popular wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka, known for their diverse ecosystems and variety of animal species.
    Wilpattu is known for its dense forests, vast wetlands, and numerous lakes, which provide a rich habitat for various species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. It is also known for its relatively low tourist crowds, making it a more peaceful and serene destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
    On the other hand, Yala is known for its high density of leopards, which are a major attraction for visitors. It also has a variety of habitats including dense forests, grasslands, and coastal areas, providing habitats for a wide range of wildlife. However, Yala tends to be more crowded with tourists, especially during peak season.
    whether Wilpattu or Yala is better depends on your personal preferences. If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience, Wilpattu may be the better choice. If you prefer a more diverse range of ecosystems and a higher chance of spotting leopards, Yala may be the better choice.

  5. When is Wilpattu National Park open?

    Wilpattu National Park is open for visitors throughout the year, but there may be occasional closures due to seasonal flooding or maintenance work. It is recommended to check the official website or contact the park authorities directly for the most up-to-date information on opening hours and any closures. The park is typically open from early morning to late afternoon, and visitors are required to purchase an entry ticket and follow the park rules and regulations.

  6. What’s the best way to see Wilpattu National Park?

    The best way to see Wilpattu National Park is through a jeep safari.
    A jeep safari allows visitors to explore the park’s rugged terrain and spot a variety of wildlife in their natural habitats. It is also a safe way to navigate through the park, as the terrain can be rough and dangerous for those not familiar with the area.
    It is important to note that visitors to Wilpattu National Park should always be accompanied by an experienced guide. The guide can help spot wildlife, provide information about the park’s history and ecology, and ensure the safety of all visitors.
    Visitors should also keep in mind that Wilpattu National Park is closed during the monsoon season, which typically runs from October to January. It is best to visit during the dry season, which runs from February to October.

  7. What tours in Wilpattu National Park are good for avoiding crowds?

    Wilpattu National Park in Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. If you want to avoid the crowds while exploring the park, it’s best to choose a private tour or an early morning or late afternoon safari. Private tours allow you to customize your experience and move at your own pace, while avoiding the large groups that typically come with group tours. Early morning or late afternoon safaris are also recommended as they tend to be less crowded and provide better opportunities to spot wildlife as animals are more active during these times. Additionally, visiting the park during the off-season or weekdays can also help you avoid crowds.

  8. What are the best tours can do in Wilpattu National Park?

    Here are some of the best tours in Wilpattu National Park:
    Jeep Safari
    Bird Watching
    Nature Walks
    Photography Tours
    Overall, Wilpattu National Park offers a wide range of tours that cater to all types of travelers.

  9. What is the accommodation like in Wilpattu National Park?
    Wilpattu national park accommodation

    There are several accommodation options available in and around Wilpattu National Park. The most common type of accommodation is the safari campsite, which offers visitors the opportunity to stay in tents or bungalows within the park itself. These campsites usually provide basic amenities like beds, mosquito nets, and shared bathrooms.
    For those who prefer more luxurious accommodation, there are several hotels and lodges located near the park entrance. These lodges offer comfortable rooms, swimming pools, and other amenities like spa treatments and guided tours of the park.
    Overall, accommodation options in Wilpattu National Park cater to a range of budgets and preferences, ensuring that visitors can enjoy a comfortable stay while experiencing the park’s natural beauty and wildlife.

  10. Is it possible to combine a trip to Wilpattu with other areas of Sri Lanka?

    Yes, it is possible to combine a trip to Wilpattu National Park with other areas of Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is located in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka, and there are several other popular destinations within a few hours’ drive.
    Some of the nearby places that can be combined with a trip to Wilpattu include the cultural triangle (Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Anuradhapura), the beach town of Negombo, the city of Colombo, the ancient city of Kandy, and the hill country tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya.
    Travelers can plan a multi-day itinerary that includes Wilpattu and these other destinations, either by hiring a private car or by joining a tour group. The duration of the trip and the specific places to visit will depend on the traveler’s interests and preferences.

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