The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Spend time in Gal Oya National Park, in the remote east of the island, and you are truly off the tourist trail. Savour the silence as you take a boat safari on the biggest reservoir in Sri Lanka, and picnic on Bird Island, or one of the other tiny scattered islands, while the solitude is interrupted only by the sound of birdsong. Gal Oya takes time to get to but the rewards for the nature lover can be considerable.
Jeep safaris are also possible on two tracks as you hope to catch the sight of elephants and leopards. Gal Oya National Park is particularly enticing after the north-east monsoon rains, from mid-February to early July when you are most likely to see the magical sight of elephants swimming between the islands at sunset in the great Senanayaka Samaudra reservoir. You can also explore the park by jeep, either in the early morning or late afternoon.
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. This mix of evergreen forests and grasslands house 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, including pelicans, cormorants and eagles, rare Ayurvedic plants used in traditional Sinhalese medicine, and a large elephant population.
*Another exhilarating activity at Gal Oya is the ascent to the summit of Monkey Mountain, a fairly tough two-hour hike that rewards climbers with mesmerising views of Gal Oya National Park from the top of the peak. Led by your naturalist, the climb begins gently enough, with twenty minutes along flat ground to the base of the rock. From here, you will climb to the top, sometimes having to clamber over boulders lying in your path. As you ascend through patches of forest, you may catch glimpses of wildlife flitting through the trees.
*This experience is only available to those staying at Gal Oya Lodge.
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