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Adventures / Epic Treks

Safari Adventure in Wilpattu and Kalawewa National Park

Explore two of Sri Lanka’s most peaceful parks by jeep and kayak.

  • Sri Lanka
  • Year round
  • Bandaranaike International Colombo Airport, Colombo. Check flights

Experience the lakes of Wilpattu National Park and see the famous ‘tusker’ elephants on the grassy banks in Kalawewa National Park. Your experienced safari guide will help you track leopards and spot deer by jeep and then take to the water by kayak and witness an elephant drink from a unique perspective.

Your hassle-free adventure includes

  • 2 nights half board glamping accommodation
  • 2 nights full board lodge accommodation
  • 3 safaris in Willpattu National Park
  • 1 safari in Kalawewa National Park
  • 1 kayak safari
  • Qualified English-speaking naturalist guide
  • Park entrance fees

Perfect for

Nature loving adventurers looking to explore Sri Lanka’s stunning national parks. No previous experience or particular fitness level is required.

The kayaks are single seaters so it is best if you are able to paddle on your own steam. There will be a support boat during the kayaking and there will be life jackets provided.

Need To Know

One of the main aims of the safari is to seek out the Sri Lankan leopard. Of course, while the chances are good, a sighting of these elusive big cats is never guaranteed. As well as leopards, there is a whole host of other fantastic creatures to be found in the park including peacocks, Sloth bears, Elephants, Buffalos, Langur monkeys, Spotted deer, Sambar deer and a wide range of exotic birds.

On your adventure, you will be guided by a fully qualified English speaking naturalist. Your guide is an invaluable part of your experience helping to unlock the treasures of the park through their skill as a tracker, excellent wildlife knowledge and local knowledge.

This adventure differs from many other Sri Lankan experiences that only provide a tracker who, due to language barriers, is often unable to answer your questions..

The jeep rides are a great part of the adventure. Safari drives usually take between 3 to 4 hours and can cover some rough terrain, particularly during the rainy season. While no particular fitness is required, you should be able to sit in a bumpy vehicle for 4 hours..

In Wilpattu your local host uses 4x4 Toyota Hilux single cabs that have been fitted with proper comfortable seats with seat belts. Most jeeps can fit 6 adults with a few being able to carry 7.

The safari is for everyone. However they should be able to spend some time in the jeep looking out for animals, and tracking leopards takes a lot of patients.

The kayaks are single seaters so it is best if you are able to paddle on your own steam. There will be a support boat during the kayaking and there will be life jackets provided.

You do not need to be an expert, but a little experience will help as its single seater kayaks. It’s on slow flowing water and there are no rapids so no expert skills are required.

Your local host cares deeply about the environment and in particular the national park. They use a fleet of carbon-neutral jeeps to minimize environmental impact and ensure that all guides are fully trained to ensure that the wildlife and habitat is not disturbed.

Groups run from a single person upwards. If there is only one person booked on a trip then a single supplement will apply. Safaris are normally arranged in groups of 6.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips for your guides (optional)

Yes, children from the age of 2 are welcome to join this trip, if you’re booking as a private group.

Your host recommends to pack:

  • Comfortable clothing, ideally in earthy colours (Green/brown/tan)
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat
  • Cameras with plenty of space and batteries

You are free to book any flights that fit with the start and end point of the trip.

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Location

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This adventure takes place in the Wilpattu and Kalawewa National Parks. At 1,317 square kilometres, Wilpattu is one of the largest and also one of the oldest national parks in Sri Lanka. The park is most famous for its natural lakes known as ‘Willus’. The willus are formed by natural limestone depressions that are then filled with rainwater. These sand rimmed lakes are found throughout the park.

Wilpattu is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. As in many Sri Lankan parks, Asian elephants are Sri Lankan leopards are no doubt the star of the show, but sightings are far from guaranteed. The park has many other furred, feathered and scaled inhabitants likely to make an appearance including crocodiles, peacocks, spotted deer, water buffalo and sloth bears. Due to the dense forest cover, the park’s wildlife is more elusive than Sri Lanka’s most popular parks, but as a consequence, the park is also enjoyably quiet. For the safari connoisseur willing to work for their sightings Wilpattu offers a very enjoyable wilderness experience.

During the trip you will also take a safari in Kalawewa National Park. Kalawewa is a young park officially designated in 2015 to cover the dense forests and grassy planes surrounding the Kalawewa and Balalu reservoirs which were built by King Datusena in the 5th century. The park is famous for its elephants which can be seen in large herds on the reservoir’s shores, a sight not found in Wilpattu. The elephants of Kalawewa are notable for their large tusks, a feature absent in many of elephants found elsewhere in Sri Lanka.

Start point

Your adventure begins at Big Game Camp Lodge Wilpattu. Your local host can arrange transfers to the lodge at extra cost if required.

Finish point

The trip ends at Willpattu Nature Resort. Your local host can arrange onward transfers at extra cost if required.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrival and Safari

Your adventure begins at the Big Game Camp Lodge where you will be staying for the first half of your trip. Take a moment to settle into your safari tent before meeting your guide at 14:00. Then, it’s time to hop aboard your jeep for your first safari.

Your qualified naturalist guide will help you discover the wonders of this spectacular park. Their expert knowledge and experience are invaluable in tracking down elusive forest creatures. After the drive, it’s back to the camp for a delicious dinner and roaring campfire.

Day 2: Wilpattu and Kalawewa Safari

It’s an early 05:30 start to get into the park for daybreak, prime game viewing time. You’ll explore the sandy tracks and verdant lakes of the park searching for magnificent leopards and graceful deer overlooked by chittering monkeys in the trees.

After lunch, it’s an hour and a half drive over to Kalawewa National Park. At Kalawewa you will find large herds of Asian elephants roaming on the open grass plains alongside the reservoir, a memorable sight! Then, it’s back to the lodge for dinner at 19:00.

Day 3: Searching for Leopards

In the morning, you will continue exploring Willpattu National Park focussing on areas that you have not yet covered to try and spot one of Sri Lanka’s majestic leopards. During the drive, there is a pause for a scenic outdoor breakfast in the park.

In the middle of the day, you’ll return to the lodge for lunch a brief moment to relax. Then, it’s time to bid the friendly lodge staff a fond farewell as you head over to your next accommodation an hour and a half away on the western border of the park.

Day 4: Kayak Safari

Today it’s a safari with a twist. You’ll be taking to the waters of the Kala Oya River on the parks southern boundary to explore the mangrove swamps. You’ll see water wading storks, flitting fish and watch an elephant quench its thirst from a unique perspective.

Back at the resort, you’ll have lunch waiting for you. Kick-back and relax in the Sri Lankan sun. If your safari appetite hasn’t been filled yet, you can head out on a final optional safari focussing on the parks many historical sites.

Day 5: Departure

Awaking in the peace of the Nature Resort on your last morning, take a moment to a relax and listen to the birdsong outside your window. Breakfast is a great chance to swop contact details and photos with your fellow travellers before you head on to your next adventure.

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, and weather conditions and forecasts.

Accommodation

For the first two nights of the trip, you will be staying in the Wilpattu Big Game Camp Lodge on a half board basis. The lodge offers glamping accommodation in canvas safari tents offering basic but comfortable accommodation complete with double or twin beds, en-suite bathroom facilities and mosquito nets.

In between your safari drives, there will be the opportunity to take lunch either in the lodge or in one of the nearby restaurants. Your included lodge dinners are eaten al fresco and lit by paraffin lanterns. After dinner, pull your chair around the roaring campfire and while away the evening trading stories and gazing at the stars.

For the rest of your trip, you will be staying in the tranquil surroundings of Nature Resort Lodge built in a beautiful setting nestled between the Puttalam Lagoon and the Kala Oya River. The rooms are bright, clean and comfortable and come with en-suite bathrooms. The main lodge building with its wide veranda and attractive views is the perfect place to hang out and relax between drives. .

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Dates & Prices

Prices include

  • Accommodation
  • Equipment
  • Guide
  • Local Transport
  • Meals As Described

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

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Your host will confirm your booking subject to availability. There may be a minimum number of guests required to guarantee that a trip will go ahead.

Large group? Make a private booking
Special requirements? Get a quote for a custom trip

If you can't find a private trip that suits you, try a group trip or ask for a quote.

Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Single Occupancy Supplement (Wilpattu) Payable Before Departure
Single Occupancy Supplement $175.00 Per Person
Transfer from Colombo to Willpattu National Park Payable Before Departure
Transfer for 4-5 participants $62.00
Transfer for 1-3 participants $59.00

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