Top 10 scenic journeys
22nd November 2019
Sri Lanka is one of the most vibrant and biodiverse nations on the planet: teeming with wildlife and sweeping jungles. It is a stronghold of national parks which are ready to be explored by curious visitors. There is such variety that the choice can seem overwhelming but Viraj, our man in Sri Lanka, recommends one above all others.
Wilpattu National Park, which is tucked in the North-West of the country, is his destination of choice. Similar in scenery and wildlife diversity to Yala National Park, its southern brother, Wilpattu is not on the average tourist’s itinerary. Far from the crowds, even in high season, this Sri Lankan wilderness is sure to inspire and impress.
The best way to experience Wilpattu is with an overnight safari experience. Arriving in the afternoon, private jeep tours take you into the heart of the park. The park has been a settlement since at least 500BC and remains of a tribal palace, believed to have belonged to Princess Kuweni, can be found near the centre. The uniqueness of Wilpattu is its many natural lakes, around 50 in total, which interlink and nourish the park’s biodiversity. It is home to 31 species of mammal as well as visitor favourites like soft shelled turtles and painted storks.Local guides, who know the reserve better than anyone, are ideal partners in seeking out wildlife. Photography tours are also on offer to help you get the perfect shot to commemorate your experience.
As night draws in, the second chapter of your safari adventure can begin. On the outskirts of the park, one site offers luxury tented accommodation for an unforgettable night under the stars. Emphasis falls on providing comfort with minimal environmental impact, so the camp offers a sustainable alternative to hotel-hopping. The following morning, an early start pays off for wildlife enthusiasts. The cool, peaceful early hours are the perfect time for observing elephants, bears, deer and perhaps even elusive leopards. The surroundings are alive with vibrancy: taking you back to nature in an authentic and immersive way.