A journey through Sri Lanka to visit the Wilpattu National Park in search of the elusive Leopard - Panthera pardus kotiya
Travelling through the concrete jungle
My journey begins from Colombo - The metropolitan heart of Sri Lanka, a true concrete jungle to most, I departed at 8am hoping to have a relaxed journey through the country, enjoying the sights and aiming to reach my destination by noon.
Travel time to Wilpattu would average 4.5 Hrs. including a few refreshment breaks however Google maps would suggest an unhealthy 3.5Hrs - only to be pursued if you have any intentions of receiving speeding tickets from the traffic police who are more than willing to write a speeding fine.
Along the way was a lady preparing and selling corn on the cob - mouthwatering and a must have snack!
Corn on the Cob at its finest!
A Desert of Salterns - Puttalam
En route to Wilpattu, approx. 45 minutes away we passed through the town of Puttalam.
Home to countless Salterns as far as the eye can see, an awe inspiring sight of glistening water bodies shaped in squares stretching along the coastline.
These Salterns are operated by locals and are one of the main sources of income within the area - the sun might not be welcoming for most but the sight is not one to miss!
A vast desert of Salterns
Puttalam Wind Farms
Not far off from the Salterns are a series of Windmills setup, standing tall and magnificent along the coastline, the wind at Puttalam is favorable for Wind farming.
After a few minutes spent gawking at the beauty of the little coastal town we proceed to our accommodations for some much needed rest and relaxation, a good detox!
5AM Wake up call
Heading to the park at 6.30am is vital to get in front of the other travelers planning to visit the park, being ahead would ensure you get a glimpse of the wildlife before they retreat to the cover of the dense forest - is what our park ranger informed us, by no means did we have any intensions of missing out!
With packed breakfast and hazy eyes we entered the Wilpattu National Park eager and excited!
The national bird of Sri Lanka - A Junglefowl rustles through the forest scavaging for food.
A Hawk takes cover on top of a tree as it scouts for prey.
We came across a majestic Peacock
Wilpattu is alive with an abundance of wildlife of all shapes and sizes.
During the drought season most wildlife are forced out of the jungle into the open in search of water.
Monkey Business - Playful and brave, this young monkey sat across the road and let us photograph him without hesitation
Toward 10am the sun started to show through the trees and most animals began to retreat back to the cover of the forest to escape the heat, which meant we had missed our chance to spot any Leopards.
As eager as we were to spot a stealthy Leopard the vast majority of animals we saw and the sheer breathtaking beauty of the park and its surroundings compensated well
And end's my quick getaway, from a concrete jungle to an actual jungle (The puns are strong with this one) a good detox from the hustle and bustle of work, the quiet and calm surroundings of Wilpattu was one that I would pick without a second guess.
The hunt for the elusive Wilpattu Leopard continues...
Note: The complete lack of cell signal at our accommodation was a good refresher with the thrill of the unknown at night because we were within the vicinity of the park, electric fences and the occasional patrol of the property caretakers was highly assuring.