Our next stop was Wilpattu National Park. The biggest national park in Sri Lanka and touted as one of the quietest in regards to jeep numbers, so we were pretty excited. Our guest house owner organized a jeep for us and a few hours after arrival we were off on safari.
The national park has many natural lakes and it’s much more densely wooded that any of the other parks we have been to. Once in the park you drive start down a main thoroughfare through thick forest which means it is very hard to see anything. We did manage to spot several deer and a few birds. One of which was the Sri Lankan national bird, the jungle fowl which looks like a pretty rooster.
Our driver was doing the token stop and chat to the other drivers going the other way and we thought something must have been spotted as we seemed to be driving through really quickly. On the way, there were a few little water holes and open areas where we would briefly stop and we managed to see water buffalo and a crocodile but we still felt that our driver was impatient. He wasn’t even turning his engine off when spotting something and several times we asked to stop as we had spotted something. At one stage Tim even asked him to slow down as we weren’t seeing anything.
About two hours in we came to a really lovely and big lagoon and grass land area where Tim spotted a Jackal. She was just lounging around in the open and slowly walked off when we arrived. Her coloring meant that she quickly blended into the grassland and I can imagine they would use the camouflage to their advantage when hunting. I must admit at first I thought we had come across the very illusive Leopard which is the apex predictor of this park but alas no.
The area was really picturesque with deer and wild boars drinking from the water hole on the far side. We even got to stop and walk around a little of the lake before setting off again. We had a suspicion that the reason why our driver was going so quickly was to get us to this point and our fears were confirmed when we started to drive back down the main road.
I mentioned that this park was supposed to have the fewest number of jeeps which it probably did but due to the fact that everyone was driving up and down the one road and there was not enough side roads to get off the main road we ended up following everyone else. Don’t get me wrong the nature side of it was lovely but we didn’t feel we were on a safari more just driving along a track towards a lake and than back.
We were also a little disappointed to see man made drinking pools that had been built along the main road to, we assume, lure the animals closer to the road. In all the other parks there have been little side roads branching off so you can get away from everyone and the main road. But maybe they can’t do that as well here because the trees are much thicker. I don’t know but we were a little disappointed with the experience. We had read in trip advisor to do the full day and not the half and we think we realize why as you get further away from the road on the full day and you probably get to a number of big water holes not just the one. But none the less we were still glad we took the time to go.
Our spirits were lifted by the amazing meal we had which was cooked by Champa the lovely lady who worked at the guesthouse. We got into a conversation with her and she was telling us how she longed to move to Australia to earn better money so she could better support her family. Her wage was only 750 rupees per day which is roughly $7 Australian. This is not the first time we have heard this as many Sri Lankans made the move to Australia during the war when our immigration policy was a little more friendly. Unfortunately now it is very difficult for a Sri Lankan to even come on holiday to Australia as the visa requirements are so strict. We did try to explain to her that the cost of living in Australia is a lot higher but it is hard to imagine it being as bad as being in Sri Lanka and earning $7 a day.
The guest house itself was also made the trip worthwhile as it was a little mud hut with concrete floors and a basic cemented washroom. The hut was separate from the main house were we ate via a walkway through the scrub. We were the only guests and after dinner Champa and her helper went home so we felt completely secluded in the middle of the Sri Lankan countryside. It was made even more special by the torrential rain that pelted down on our tin roof just as we went to bed. The scorpion we found on a ledge very near Tims pillow was not so great! S
Our little bungalow in the bush.
The main road we went in and out of the park from. As you can see it it is pretty dense either side.
The jungle fowl. Unfortunately every time we went to take a picture of one it turned around!
The deer are obviously know we are not the predators as they let us get right up close to them in our jeep.
Some of the amazing scenery in the park.
The jackal. Such a perfect colouring for the surrounds.
This little guy is called a mouse deer. Apparently quite reclusive so we were very lucky to see him. I honestly didn’t know you could get a deer this small.
These trees lined the water hole where we got out for a walk. Crocs in the water, monkeys in the trees, deer and wild pigs drinking on the other side. All we needed was a leapard to come out and hunt a deer and the scene would have been complete.
No wonder the leopards love it here. Herds of spotted deer everywhere.
Found this guy casually crossing the road. Such a beautiful shell design.
Another epic meal.