Wilpattu National Park is located 180 km north of Colombo, bordering the north western coast of the country and is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. It is also the oldest with a rich historical past behind it. According to chronological accounts it is believed that Prince Vijaya (who came from East India in 543 BC and landed in Sri Lanka by accident) at Thambapanni near Mannar, now known as Kudrimale Point (Horse Point) was the founder of the Sinhalese nation. He is known to have married Kuweni a local tribal princess, the remains of whose palace can still be seen at Kali Villu, situated within the park.
Wilpattu can be reached by travelling from Colombo to Puttlam on the A3 road and there onwards on the Puttalam Anuradhapura A12 road or via Kurunegala, from the North Western Province of the country,
The entire area of the park amounts to 131,693 hectares, of which the main block or zone as it is referred to, is bordered by the Indian Ocean in contrast to the smaller zones which are landlocked.
The uniqueness of Wilpattu is its many “Willus” (natural lakes) which amounting to over 50 forms an intricate network of waterways that are found extensively spread around the park. The source of water is the inter-monsoonal rains in March and the northeast monsoons (December to February).
Packed with exciting wildlife, Wilpattu is waiting to be explored! The varying habitats have attracted many species of wildlife, both resident and migrant. 31 species of mammals have been identified; some of them being Leopard (a favorite amongst visitors), Sloth Bear, Elephant, Spotted and Barking Deer, Sambur, Wild Boar and even Crocks. It is also home to an abundance of endemic birdlife such as the Jungle Fowl, Painted Stork, Owl, Terns, Gulls, Eagles, Heron and the winter migrants who home for short periods within the nature reserve. Butterflies such as the Blue and Common Mormons, Common Rose and Crimson Rose amongst many other species can be seen vividly fluttering around. On top of the list of reptiles is the Mugger Crocodile followed by Monitor Lizards, Python, Cobra, Rat Snake along with Star Tortoise, Pond turtle and Soft shelled Turtle amongst many others.