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|Year and Month||February, 2012|
|Number of Days||Three Day Trip|
|Crew||6 adults (25-40 years) and one Kid (2 years)|
|Transport||Van, Double Cab & Hired Safari Jeep (Jagath – 0253253143, 0716527536, 0779713538, 0724925002)|
|Activities||Wildlife and landscapes|
|Weather||perfect! (Well it rained in the first afternoon but that shower helped us)|
|Route||Moratuwa -> Peliyagioda -> Negombo -> Puttlam -> Trun-off between 45th and 46th km post on A12 (Anuradhapura Road) -> Wilpattu Park Entrance at Hunuvilagama and return on the same route.|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
It had been almost six years since I last visited Wilpattu. My last visit was in 2006, few weeks before the tragic incident of the landmine explosion which killed six visitors who where on safari. The park was pretty much out of bound since then until the end of the war in 2009. Even after it was re-opened I wasn’t able to plan a trip due to various constraints. This is when a firend at work invited me to join him in a three day trip to wilpattu. I couldn’t have been happier!
We left home in the morning and reached Puttlam by 10 a.m. We did not forget to stop by the road and spend few minutes to enjoy the tranquility of the lagoon.
By 11.30 we were at the park entrance. We met the safari jeep (Jagath) waiting for us at the park entrance. After the formalities and meeting with our tracker, again a Jagath :-), we straight away headed towards the Panikkawila Bungalow . We reached the bungalow by 1.30 p.m
After lunch we set out on the first drive in the park. It was an overcast afternoon in Wilpattu. Lakes were quite full after recent rains. We did the circuit around the lakes and water bodies closer to Panikkawila (See Google Earth Trail Map of the trip – Red Track)
Even in the overcasr weather sightings were good. We managed to observe several species of birds and watch a serpant eagle at close range.
Around 5.p.m. it started to rain and contrary to the popular belief rain did create some unique photo opportunities!
It was almost dark when we returned to the bungalow. As we settled down, we heard some one walking in Panikkawila! It was a junbo who had come to the lake to feed on reeds and grass. It was not even 100m away from the bungalow. Even though we did not see it clearly, we assumed it to be a fair sized elephant.
The elephant was leisurely walking around and was feeding in the lake. After some time we all had forgotten it’s presence!
Following morning we set out early for the morning drive at 5.55 a.m . As we left the bungalow and went around Panikkawila, we saw the gentle giant who was feeding in the lake last night. It had gradually walked to the bank opposite to the bungalow through the night.
Not too far away from Panikkawila we were lucky to witness beautiful sunrise over Nelum wila (Nallathanni Villu)
Our route for this morning was around some of the waterbodies which we did not visit the previous day (See Google Earth Trail Map of the trip – Blue Track).
It was a beautiful morning at Wilpattu. The sky was clear and deep blue in colour. Water bodies were filled to the brim with reeds rising from water at most places. Surrounding was green and alive after rains in the previous night. All in all where ever we looked it was full of heavenly sights. It was an absolute pleasure to drive around in this magical world.
We saw a number of bird species including a fish owl seen at a fairly close range.
We continued to drive around one water body after another. Each one with its own unique character and color. Even at 9 a.m. photo opportunities were plenty.
We returned to the bungalow by 10.30 a.m. and relaxed for couple of hours. Plan for the afternoon was a visit to Kudiramale point (K-Point).
As it was a some what of a long drive, we left the bungalow soon after lunch.
We drove through think forest mostly and occasionally around water bodies (See Google Earth Trail Map of the trip – Yellow Track). As it was early afternoon, there weren’t many sightings or photo opportunities. However we came across couple of bee eaters having a sand bath and were able to get couple of good shot.
Passing Kali Willu and Marawila we reached Mannar road at a point close to Maila wila where there was a navy camp and a check point. The track beyond this point was appeared to be a newly cleared one on the right hand bank of the Mailawila where as the old road was on the other side.
The area around the track, all the way up to K-point, appeared to be disturbed by various road clearing activities. Finally we crossed the contorvertial “coastal Raod” and reached the parking area newly designated by Navy.
I have visited K-point couple of times before and undoubtedly the place and the last part of the road towards it from Mailawila has lost is “wildness” characteristics. For me it was a sad sight to see. 🙁 I hope these unwarranted development activities will stop and the forest and the beach will recover to its former beauty over time.
While at Kudiramale we were lucky to witness an acrobatic display by two sea eagles. There were several sea eagles roaming in the sky and two of them would regualary chase each other, or fly in a synchorous fashion. Not sure wheher this was a mating behavior. It was certainly not a fight.
Eagles also provided some great opprtuntties for flying shots. We kept on clicking and below are some reasonable frames we managed to capture.
Leaving the sea eagles behind, we started the return journey around 4.30 p.m. About 30 minutes later were stopped by a pair of mating mongoose.
On our way we came across three elephants (තුන්පත් රෑන) leisurely feeding in a lake at a fair distance from the jeep track. However as soon as they heard us coming they got out of water and ran straight in to the cover reminding us how untouched and wild wilpattu still is. You will never see such a response from elephants in Yala Block 1
By the time we reached Marawila we could see the beautiful sight of late afternoon sun beginning to set over the lake.
Passing Marawila we reached Kali willu where we took a short detour to see the place of Kuweni. When we came back to the jeep track we were lucky to witness a perfect sunset over Kali willu.
That was pretty much the last frame of the day. We hurried up a bit since we were a little late to reach the bungalow so there was no stopping there after.
It was the last day of the trip. We woke up early and as usual set out just before the sun rise . The route we took was very similar to the circuit we did on the very first day (See Google Earth Trail Map of the trip – Green Track).
Undoubtedly the early morning drive brought a lot of photo opportunities!
We found four bee eaters perched on a stick in an interesting formation. They were hunting from that, taking turns in flying out and returning with the catch. It was an interesting sight to see. We watched them for some time, until the bunch dispersed and only two were remaining.
…and that was pretty much it. We returned to the bungalow and left after breakfast. On our way to the main entrance we met the same serpent eagle we saw on the first day, perched on a branch and an elephant who was in an extended feeding session in the lake in front.