Gal Oya National Park

Sri Lanka’s superb wildlife and National Parks are a significant draw, offering unspoilt natural beauty, stunning landscapes and close up animal encounters. Gal Oya National Park is home to Sri Lanka’s Vedda tribe, its largest reservoir, a small count of elephants, and also offers the only boat safari in Sri Lanka.

What to expect in Gal Oya National Park...

Gal Oya National Park was established in the 1950s to protect the area around the Senanayake Samudraya Reservoir, the largest in Sri Lanka, and is home to a mixture of forest and savannah areas. Expect expanses of relatively untouched wilderness, rich in flora and fauna and home to a huge number of birds, animals and medicinal plants – a real paradise for nature lovers.

What makes Gal Oya unique, though, is the way in which you are able to move around it. The Park's watery landscape contains many small islands, each home to numerous plant and animal species, most famously the elephants that can, if you're very lucky, be seen swimming from island to island. Take to the park’s large stretches of water on a boat for a safari like no other.

Elephants aren’t the only inspiring sight; if you’re a keen birdwatcher - even if you’re not - ‘Bird Island’ or ‘Kurulu Dupatha’ is an absolute delight. Step onto the island from your boat and walk up through the forest to the island’s outcrop and you’ll see countless birds’ nests, some with eggs and some with baby birds still waiting to learn to fly. Many different types of birds make this island their home, so as you explore you’ll be surrounded by colour and song.

There will also be the opportunity for you to meet the Veddha – the indigenous people of Sri Lanka – for a fascinating glimpse into a completely different way of life. Traditionally hunter gatherers, the Veddha population has been threatened over recent decades by the development of the forests, and by civil war.

Accommodation at the Gal Oya Lodge is stunning; simple elegance that instils a true sense of tranquillity, relaxation and of being at one with nature. Individual bungalows are nestled in the forest canopy and come complete with wooden tables and chairs sculpted by local craftspeople, private verandas and stunning full length glass windows and doors, maximising on the breath-taking views.

Location: Gal Oya, eastern Sri Lanka

Duration: as long as you want

Accommodation: Gal Oya Lodge; understated luxury against a beautiful backdrop of low lying mountains.

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Anna says...

'This area has only been on the radar again for a few years, and is providing ample reward to the few that have been paying attention - so much wildlife, beautiful landscape, and fascinating ancient cultures that are still going strong.'

Important to note...

We love the boat safari, but don’t worry if the water isn’t for you - Gal Oya National Park offers more traditional Jeep safaris too.

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