Wilpattu National Park is located 25km north of Puttalam or 30km west of Anurdhapura. The park that lies on the northwest coast spans the border between North Central Province and North Western Province of Sri Lanka. To the south of Wilpattu National Park is River Modergam Aru; to the north is River Kalay oya.
Reaching Wilpattu National Park Colombo-Puttalam A3 highway leads to the city of Puttalama. 42 km along the A12 Puttalama- Anuradhapura highway is a large sign board that reads Willpattu National Park. 7km along the road that turns to the left at the sign board takes you to the entrance of the park at Hunuwilagama.
Wilpattu was declared a wildlife sanctuary on the year 1905. On 25th February 1938, the sanctuary was elevated to the status of National Wildlife Park. On 7th November 1947, the northern area of Wilpattu was declared as Wilpattu North Sanctuary.
Wilpattu National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka span an area of no less than 131,693 hectares with altitude ranging between the sea-level and 152 meters.
Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry zone, and is unlike any other wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. A unique complex of over 50 wetlands called “Villu” is the most prominent topographical feature of the national park. ‘Villu’ are shallow natural lakes filled with rainwater surrounded by open grassy plains amidst the dense scrub jungle. The presence of these Villus with an abundance of water can best be explained in the weather patterns that prevail over the park: while the period of drought is only during the months of May to early September, the main rainy season is during September to December with the heavy downpours of north eastern monsoon; inter monsoon season visits the park March and April. Annual temperature in the Park is around 27.2 Celsius and its annual rainfall is approximately 1000 mm.
The best time to visit Wilpattu National Park is during the months of February and October. Wilpattu National Park has a good network of gravel roads, particularly between the water holes.
Wilpattu National Park consists of three types of vegetation: littoral vegetation including salt grass and low scrub immediately adjacent to the beach; a 5-10 km coastal belt of monsoon scrub of very low stature; and further inland, the wooded forest with tall emergents, such as Palu (Manilkara hexandra) and Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Milla (Vitex altissima), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Ebony (Disopyros ebenum) and Wewarna (Alseodaphne semecapriflolia). Some 73% of the park is dense forest or scrub and the rest is more open habitat.
Wilpattu National Park’s varying natural habitats; coastal belt, natural lakes (villus), rocky outcrops, scrublands, open grasslands and dense forest provide for numerous species of animals. Among the species are 31 mammals. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus). Apart from those two mammals are Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, jackals, sambhur, barking deer, mouse deer Wild Pig, Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and Mugger Crocodiles.