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North Central Province, Sri Lanka

Wilpattu National Park Safari

Driving through Wilpattu National Park is like entering an enchanted animal kingdom. As you begin your journey into the kingdom, cheeky grey langurs will greet you, and spotted deer will sprint alongside your jeep. Marvel at the graceful elephants, relish the regal leopards, or be charmed by the abundant colourful birdlife at the park. Wilpattu may not be as well-known (or as crowded!) as other national parks in Sri Lanka, but the diversity of wildlife here will not disappoint.

Wilpattu National Park is approx 3.5 to 4 hours' drive from Colombo. The best way to get there is hire a car and driver and drive from Colombo. Other options would require taking a train from Colombo to either Puttalam or Thambuttegama. From either train station, you can hail a taxi or tuk tuk to Wilpattu. This would take about 5 to 5.5 hours in total.

You cannot self-drive in Wilpattu National Park, so it's not possible to get your own vehicle to drive around Wilpattu National Park. You'll need to do the safari in a park- registered vehicle - this will usually be provided by the lodge that you book with, though you can also privately arrange a park-registered vehicle to take you around the park. Along with your park-registered safari vehicle, it is also recommended to take a naturalist that will be able to give you more information about the park and wildlife. Of the lodges listed here, only Leopard Trails will provide a naturalist guide for your safari.

Nope. Just sit back and enjoy!

Wilpattu is good to visit year round. However from May to September, during the height of the dry season, animals are more likely to wander outside the forests and into plain sight in search for water sources.

You'll need 1.5 days at least (including transport from Colombo). In order to experience the best of the park, we would recommend the option with the 2 game drives - this will allow you the most time to see the animals in the park.

All the options include one night's stay and a safari drive or two. The main difference between the options is the quality of the accommodation, so pick the one that suits your budget and your preferences the best. As you can probably see from the price, Leopard Trails is the most luxurious option and includes food, drinks and park fees, unlike the other options. Also in addition to the safari driver, Leopard Trails will also provide a naturalist guide, who can better explain the wildlife and the park to you. The other options are very comfortable, but a little more basic.

If you have a few more days, you should extend your schedule in the Wilpattu area to watch dolphins, wakeboard or head a bit further out to visit Kalpitiya for kitesurfing.