Wilpattu National Park from Kalpitiya

Wilpattu National Park

Home | Activities | Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park from Kalpitiya

While Kalpitiya is better known as a kiteboarding paradise or a great destination for dolphin-watching, a day trip to Wilpattu National Park should be high on your list. Wilpattu National Park is home to leopards, sloth bears, and elephants, and it is Sri Lanka's largest national park. The name "Wilpattu" describes the landscape of the area: "Willu" stands for natural lakes in Tamil, and "pathu" stands for ten in Tamil. The park is known for its high leopard population, with over 40 known leopards. Other wildlife found in the park includes Sri Lankan sloth bears, crocodiles, spotted deer, and elephants, as well as several species of birds such as Lesser Adjutants, Painted Storks, Spoonbills, Shikras, and Crested Hawk Eagles that will delight birdwatchers.

In 2013, Wilpattu was certified as a wetland by the RAMSAR organization. The park has a total of 205 water bodies, both natural and man-made, within its perimeter. Elephants in this part of Sri Lanka are said to be larger in size than the average Sri Lankan jumbo because they feed on nutrient-rich grasses growing in the villus. The Wilpattu Ramsar site extends beyond the boundaries of the national park to the ocean front to include the rich coastal and marine habitats of Kalpitiya. Seagrass beds, mangroves, salt marshes, swamps, and floodplain forests contribute to the area's rich biodiversity. The site once supported a thriving agricultural civilization, and 68 archaeologically important sites have been identified.


Due to its remote location, the park sees fewer visitors, allowing you to enjoy the wilderness and wildlife to its fullest. Visitors can access 25% of the park, but since this is a large park, it may mean less frequent sightings. The park is open all year, but the best time to go is from February to October.

Overland: You can take a minivan or a private car through the towns closest to the park entrance, such as Nochchiyagama, Puttalam, and Anuradhapura. The ride takes about one and a half hours.

Kalpitiya boat
Valampuri to wilpathu

You can also reach the park by boat from our resort to another eco-resort close to the park entrance. This option is the fastest, taking only 30 minutes. However, be aware that the ride might be bumpy if the wind picks up and generates swells in Dutch Bay. Usually, the early morning rides are silky smooth!
Another benefit of the boat option is that you can visit "Ali Gahaa," or the Elephant Tree, which is not native to Sri Lanka.

This is, in fact, a large baobab many centuries old, with old wrinkled bark resembling the skin of an elephant. The boat takes you through the green mangroves and past small fishing huts that are worth checking out if you are nearby.

kalpitiya baobab

In the Park:

Opens from 6 am to 6 pm
Only jeeps can enter the park
Safaris are split in morning/afternoon, or full-day packages
The entrance is somewhat remote, so reserve your seat in advance to ensure jeep availability
Maximum of 50 tickets are available per day, and you can reserve your place online

If possible, we recommend spending a full day at the park as it allows you more time to explore and increases your chances of spotting the elusive wildlife. However, if you are short on time, a morning safari should be your first choice as animals tend to be more active during the cooler morning hours.

Due to some visitors complaining about not seeing many animals during morning safaris, we highly recommend doing a full-day safari.

» We don't offer tours for people who are not staying at our resort.