Wilderness safaris are life changing experiences but they do have their draw backs; dusty roads, grinding gears, and whining jeep engines. These are minor inconviences to see some spectaclur scenery and wildlife, but what if you could have this experience without those inconviences? Imagine gliding over the glassy waters of Senanayake Samudra Lake to spot wildlife from the safety of your boat. Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka is known for its elephant herds that can be seen throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled on the shore and in the water because elephants love to swim! Crocodiles can also be spotted lazing along the banks and sliding silently into the water. Instead of engines and dust, all around are the sounds of the echoing forest; home to exotic birds, monkeys and other curious creatures.
In Sri Lanka's eastern region lies Gal Oya National Park, a stunning mountainous wilderness that is also home to the iconic Gal Oya Dam and Senanayake Samudra, the largest reservoir in the country. Established as a park in 1954, Gal Oya National Park protects this large watershed which provides sanctuary for 32 species of terrestrial mammals. The most common are crocodiles, langur and macaque monkeys, leopards, sloth bears, deer, and wild elephants. Birdlife is exceptional on the lake and you can be sure to glimpse white-bellied sea eagles, grey and purple herons, and several species of cormorant.
The safari starts before dawn with a soft knock at the door of your cabin. Take in the crisp morning air as you take a short drive to the lake. Arrive at the shores of the lake just as sun is starting to bathe the tops of the surrounding mountains in an orange glow. Board the boat with your naturalist guide and set out to cruise the placid waters of the lake, weaving between the variety of islands rising from the depths.
Glide effortlessly to one of these islands for breakfast atop a rocky perch overlooking the lake. Continue cruising the lake in search of wildlife and adventure.
The best time to visit Gal Oya is from March to July when herds of elephants take to the lake to swim from one island to another. Migratory birds are prevalent during the months of December to April. Gal Oya is one of the best preserved and least visited of all of Sri Lanka's national parks. It's incredibly rich in biodiversity and aquatic life on the lake and yet remains off the radar as a tourist attraction, despite its captivating beauty.
Your friendly SE Asia expert,