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|Year and Month||May, 2006|
|Number of Days||Three Day Trip|
|Crew||8 (between 25-30 years of age)|
|Accommodation||Camping – Marawila & Kali Villuwa camp sites|
|Activities||See Wildlife, Photography, off-road driving|
|Weather||Excellent - Sunny, clear sky|
|Route||Colombo -> Puttlam ->Vilputtu & Return on the same rout|
|Tips, Notes and Special remarks||
We started form the suburbs of Colombo at about 4.00 in the morning. The crew was eight in two Land Cruiser BJ43 jeeps. I was driving mine and Hari was driving his, both jeeps were packed with gear and rations for two nights camping.
The drive to Vilpattu was quite effortless. It was early morning and road up to Puttlam is in great shape. With just two stops, one for fuel and the other for breakfast, we were at the park entrance well before noon.
I’m a big fan of Vipattu. One reason I love it because of its shear size. The camp site we reserved is known as the “Kali-Villu” which is 40km in side the park from the entrance. For a country that is just 400km long from the top to bottom, that is quite a bit of a distance away from civilization!
After completing the formalities we started our journey to the camp site at around 10.00 a.m. Just half and hour later, may be after driving about 15km, an unexpected happened. Hari had a flat tire. Changing the tire was not a big deal but now we are down to just one spare for both jeeps with a lot of driving to be done in the wild!
From there the rest of the journey to Kali Villu camp site was incident free but full of excitements. The leopard mother with two cubs that we met on the way was the highlight of the journey.
At the camp site we settled for lunch and relaxed a bit before the late afternoon drive to explore more of this magnificent park.
The camp site “Kali-Villu” did not excite us that much. Located at the edge of one of the larger lakes, their location wasn’t too great. Access to water was not easy either. The sandy camp ground and strong winds made it even more hostile.
The afternoon game drive was quite exciting. As per the planned trek, we had to cross a section of flooded trail where Hari got stuck unexpectedly. Little bit of winching took him out without much of a hassle.
After driving few more minutes around the lake we came across what we were looking for, the spotted, illusive king of the beasts. The first encounter was when it was basking in sun close to Borupan Villuwa. Harith managed to get few great shots of it in evening light. As we were watching it started to move in to the forest. We decided to follow him at a distance. It walked along the jeep track occasionally stopping and sting for few minutes staring at us. Finally it settled on a grass patch allowing us to take some great shots.
After an unforgettable afternoon at Vilpattu we settled on our camp site to spend the night. Even with the diffifulties of sand and wind we managed to get a good night sleep and woke up to another bright, sunny and beautiful morning at Vilpattu.
The seond day was not as exciting as the first day. While we enjoyed the beautiful scenary and observed some birds there wasn’t anything exceptional. May be the camping lunch prepared by Laleendra was the highlight of the day.
Unsatisfied with our camp site, we were also looking for alternatives. Our guide brought us good news. One of the better camp sites, “Mara Vila” was vacant for that night. So we immediately decided to shift. The new camp site was great. It had easy access to water, plenty of shade, and slid ground to pitch our tents. It even had a tree house (rather a sleeping platform on a tree).
The day to came to an end with unsetting behind the trees creating a magical feeling and another peaceful night under the stars approached us.
The last and the third day dawned with more excitements. We packed our stuff and left the camp site quite early.
It was a long journey back to the civilization but it was again an eventful one. We managed to take some nice shots of a bee-eater and watch two leopard cubs playing for about an hour. By 12.00 noon we were outside the park and were heading back to Colombo with sweet memories of three days at Vilpattu National Park.