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|Year and Month||January, 2016|
|Number of Days||2 ½|
|Accommodation||Puttalam Rest House|
|Activities||Wildlife, Photography, off-road driving|
|Route||D1 – Colombo->Puttalam
D2 – Puttalam->Wilpattu -> Puttalam
D3 – Puttalam -> Eluwankulama -> Colombo
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Related Resources||Trip report : Wilpattu|
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
This is a quick report with few tips to unseasoned travellers to Wilpattu National Park
15th Friday was a holiday and some of our friends gathered as usual in the afternoon and the chat turned in to a trip planning session and was thinking of going to Wilpattu early next morning with the intention of being at the entrance by 6 AM. One of the guys wanted to leave on the same day and the discussion turned in to leaving in the evening on the same day.
So we called out home fronts and 5 of us got the green light from the chairpersons to go on Friday itself. We reconvened with cloths and other necessities two hours later and were off around 4 PM, 2 hours after decision. We had no specific plan or a place to stay the night. In the worst case we would spend the night at Tabbowa Wewa in the vehicle.
We were in Puttalam at around 8.30 PM and figured out it might be too late to find any accommodation around Wilpattu Junction and went to Puttalam Rest House to check availability of rooms. There we stuck gold, a five bed room for 2,750/-.
Initially we wanted to go in to Wilpattu from the Eluwankulama Entrance but we were told that his entrance is now closed by the manager of the rest house.
So we decided to leave by 5 AM and at 4.45 AM another friend who couldn’t make it the previous day appeared at the rest house. So the team was now 6
We left around 5.15 and decided to have a quick breakfast at Wilpattu Junction. We passed 3-4 breakfast places and reached Wilpattu Junction to find there are no places to eat at that time. So we turned back drove about 5 km back to have the breakfast and to buy some food to be taken in.
So this is tip number 1 : There is no place to have quick breakfast at the Wilpattu Junction before 6 AM. Have your breakfast on the way at any of the night shops which are open on the Puttalam – Anuradhapura Road.
Finally we went in to Wilpattu around 7, which was still good. At this time Wilpattu was filled water and roads are muddy and some under water.
Tip Number 2 : If you go to Wilpattu during rainy season or just after, hire a 4 wheel drive vehicle unless you have a good 4×4 and aren’t scared of mud and water.
Animals were spread rather thin probably due to the rains. After driving almost 100 kilometres within the park, we didn’t see any of the big 3 for the whole day. But to compensate this there were a large number of birds, local and migratory throughout the park.
There has been a sighting of a leopard crossing one of the roads and we and some other Jeeps spent well over an hour trying to track its path to no avail.
Tip Number 3 : Chances of seeing larger animals in Wilpattu is rarer than in Yala. So don’t be too disappointed if you doesn’t see any big animals (Elephant, Bear and Leopard) specially when there is lot of water.
Not seeing any big animals didn’t bother me too much since Wilpattu offers an ecosystem so unique and beautiful just driving through these jungles and the Villu’s will take your breath away.
Also the 4 wheel drive over the muddy roads, 1-2 feet deep water lodged roads and sandy roads itself gave everybody a unique thrill.
Especially Roads through Pannikka Villu and Kokare Villu were 1 ½ to 2 feet under water. ( Panikka Villu Crossing Video )
Tip Number 4 : When crossing water, always make sure you know the depth. If you don’t know, get down walk across and get a feeling of the maximum depth.
On our way back we reached the water hole called Humbas Wala to find a new Hyundai Tucson stuck in mud on the main road itself. Trying to avoid the center hump on the road, it has slid towards the waterhole.
We pulled the vehicle back towards the road using the winch and asked him to take wheels on the already existing track. Well, you could imagine the state of its front and rear bumpers after crossing that part. (video )
So we come to tip number 5:
Although SUVs come with 4WD or AWD, they are generally not meant for off-roading. So if you love your SUV, leave it at the entrance.
Tip number 6 : According to the guides of both vehicles, the local hiring jeeps will generally not help any outside vehicle in distress inside the park true to Sri Lankan style since they do not want these vehicles in the park which hurt their business.
The guide explained that if they had not found us or rather if we had not found them, the only option might be to hike a ride to the entrance, find a tractor, bring it in to the park and pull the vehicle out. The tractor was said cost anything from Rs 5000 upwards.
So finally we came out of the park around 5 PM looked around for a place to stay but couldn’t find any place suitable for our liking. Then we called Puttalam Rest house and booked the same room again.
On Sunday we decided to have a bath at Kala Oya at the Wilpattu Eluwankulama Entrance before coming back home. So we left the rest house at about 8 AM, had a rice breakfast at small shop at Wanathawilluwa and reached Eluwankulama Army Camp at about 9.30 am.
Here we found 2 things, one is Eluwankulama Entrance was open and had been temporally closed due to high water levels on the Kala Oya earlier. Two, bathing at the Sapattu Palama across Kala Oya was now restricted.
Some people informed that we could take a dip at a place about 1km before the entrance and we went in search of this place and ended up near an entrance of an electric fence to fend off wild elephants. So finally we gave up on the bath and proceeded towards Colombo.