Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest national park with an area of 130,000 hectare. It is also the oldest national park which has been reopened after several years of closure due to the armed conflict in the country. A few decades ago it was Wilpattu that was known ahead of Yala for its Leopard population. A unique feature of Wilpattu national park is that the entire park is dotted with large sand rimmed natural lakes known as “Villus”. The Villus collects rain water and tends to attract wildlife especially during the times of drought.
The main draw in Wilpattu is the leopard and sloth bear. It is also one of the better parks to see barking deer. Wilpattu is bounded to the north and south by 2 main rivers, the Modara Gamaru towards the north of the park and the Kala Oya to the south of the park
Wilpattu is not only famous for its wildlife but also for its archaeological and historical importance. About 500 years before the birth of Christ it is believed that Prince Vijaya from India and his followers landed in a place called Thambapanni in the North West corner of Wilpattu and formed the Sinhalese kingdom. There are still many archaeological ruins and stories to be told about this and many other fascinating historical events that took place within the borders of what we now call Wilpattu.
In Wilpattu watch out for:
- Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya)
- Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus maximus)
- Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus)
- Spotted Deer (Axis axis)
- Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak)
- Mouse-deer (Tragulus Nigricans)
- Wild Boars (Sus scrofa)
- Water Buffalos (Bubalus bubalis)
- Mugger Crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris)
- Ceylon Junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii)
- Brown-capped Babbler(Pellorneum fuscocapillus)
- Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea)
- White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus)
- Ruddy Mongoose (Herpestes smithii)
- Indian Grey Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii)
- Purple-faced Langur (Trachypithecus vetulus)
- Sri Lankan Grey Horbill (Ocyceros gingalensis)
- Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca)
- Greater Thick-knee (Esacus recurvirostris)
- Pin-tail Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
- Indian Rock Python (Python molurus)
“Old world hospitality with a contemporary flair”
Leopard Trails bespoke tented safaris redefine the original tented safari with convenient modern-day amenities, all the while staying true to the romantic ambience of a by-gone British colonial era filled with adventure. Mobile Camping is the most authentic form of safari, a true immersion into the sights and sounds of the wilderness.
American chef and tv personality Anthony Bourdain once compared a plate of rice and accompanying curries to an artist’s palette because different ratios of each curry mixed into a mouthful can give rise to completely varying flavours on the tongue. Eating Sri Lankan cuisine is both art and science, and managing this collision of flavours on your plate does take some practice to master!
Sri Lankan food is underrated, uncommercialised and waiting to be discovered by the global foodie. At Leopard Trails, our jungle kitchens remain simple and authentic. At Wilpattu, a utilitarian contraption of welded steel and canvas serves as a kitchen. Racking and other facilities are built by the chefs themselves within a matter of days but this does not detract from the authenticity of the food made within its canvas walls. Fresh curry leaves, freshly grated coconut and a host of different spices are married together in various forms to produce an endless array of colourful and fragrant curries and sambols. The smell of frying spices starts to emanate from our kitchens as early as 7am and the unhurried labour intensive preparation continues throughout the day to prepare the best local food, not just for our guests but also for our hungry staff. It may seem counterintuitive but a diet of spiced foods complements the relentless equatorial sun. Spicy foods increase circulation and ultimately cools you down!
Here’s a quick look at the fresh intensity of Sri Lankan food prepared at Leopard Trails! It is best enjoyed by eating with a new adventure on every plate.
Please note: occasionally during the wet season we offer an alternative campsite.