Location Wilpattu National Park lies on the northwest coast approximately 24 miles (39 km) due west of Anuradhapura and spans the border between the North Western and North Central provinces. It is bounded by the Moderagam Aru and Kala Oya in the north and south respectively and by Portugal Bay and the northernmost reaches of the Kalpitiya peninsula and Karativu island. Beyond the Moderagam Aru stretches the Wilpattu Sanctuary, lying inland from the coast. Extension of the park to include the adjacent waters of Portugal and Dutch Bays as a marine sanctuary is being considered for the protection of the dugong. Declared a sanctuary in 1905 and upgraded to national park status in 1938, Wilpattu is one of the oldest and most important of protected areas in Sri Lanka. Its flora and fauna are representative of the dry zone lowlands, with three distinct types of vegetation: salt grass and stunted shrub bordering the beach; a 3 to 6 miles (5-10 km) wide coastal strip of monsoon scrub; and dense monsoon forests further inland. Its most distinctive feature is the high concentration within its confines of lush villus or natural lake-like basins. A topographical feature peculiar to this part of the island, all villus - with the exception of two which are saline - contain pure rainwater and support an abundance of resident and migratory water-birds. Besides its varied avifauna and reptiles - the most conspicuous of which is the mugger crocodile - Wilpattu has over 30 species of mammalian wildlife: including elephant, leopard, sloth bear, water buffalo and deer. Access The route from Colombo is via Negombo, Chilaw and Puttalam, with a turn-off at the little hamlet of Thimbiriwewa near the 28th mile post along the Puttalam-Anuradhapura road. The park office, where one obtains a permit and guide, is at Hunuwilagama, 8 km from the turn-off. Cultural Heritage Much legend and history is associated with the park and its immediate surroundings, which contain a number of important cultural sites. Visitor and Visitor Facilities All overlook villus except the last, which is by the Moderagam Aru. Most of these are closed toward the end of the dry season in August-September. There is a good network of gravel roads, especially between water holes. A museum is situated at Hunuwilagama. Good hotel facilities are available at Anuradhapura. There are three camp sites ( Kokmote 1, Paluelandagahawewa, Maila Wewa) and four Bungalows (Thalawila, Manawila, Panikkawila, Kokmote) Reservations at the Head office, Battaramulla. Tel. 011 288 8585
Updated: November 24th, 2014.
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