Gal Oya National Park was established in 1954, serving as the main catchment area for the Senanayake Samudraya, Sri Lanka’s largest reservoir in the island. This wildlife park is comprised of four separate protected areas scattered around the reservoir, which cover 63,000 hectares of land, and houses a vast range of Sri Lankan wildlife including axis deer, sambar, muntjac, water buffalo, wild boar, toque macaque, mugger crocodile and the rare star tortoise, as well as the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. The park is also home to over 150 species of bird, rare Ayurvedic plants used in traditional Sinhalese medicine, and a large elephant population.
One of the best things to do in Gal Oya is to take a boat safari across the Senanayake Samudraya and sail between the small islands that are dotted across the water. This serene experience is made more magical by the sight of lone elephants swimming between the islands at sunset, one of the most enchanting things you will witness in Sri Lanka.* You can also go on jeep drives into the park, either in the early morning or late evening.
*This experience is only available to those staying at Gal Oya Lodge