explorer by mahoora maduru oya national park sri lanka

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Private Tented Safari Camp Experience in Maduru Oya


Living Experience

mahoora tented safari camps at maduru oya national park sri lanakaExplorer by Mahoora is a highly unique and immersive experience of living with untamed Sri Lankan wildlife inside National Parks and Nature Reserves across the country. Our Private Tented Safari Camp Experience in Maduru Oya National Park is on the banks of Maduru Oya Reservoir.  

The park designated in 1983 provides a sanctuary for elephants and protects the immediate catchments of five reservoirs.  Large herds of elephants roaming in the park tend to be hidden by the seven feet tall guinea grass. The reservoir that spreads seamlessly reflect the clear blue skies and by evening it simmers with hues of pinks and purples.   Our guests get a real-life experience; up close and personal with wildlife in this Park.

The Explorer by Mahoora campsite is situated in a one of the most breathtakingly, beautiful locations in the Park. A 40 minute drive coupled with  a mini safari from the park entrance takes you to this hidden gem of a place. An open savannah like space is hidden between the lush thick forest on one side, hemmed by the sprawling Maduru Oya reservoir on one side and protected by a unique set of boulders on the other side. 

It is impossible not to fall in love with this place; wildlife sightings are near and never too far. The afternoons are serene as you watch the world go by in silence, herds of elephants appear on the sides of the banks slowly pushing their weight through the thick forest into the open space. The calves play together and take an occasional dip in the clear waters. Without an exaggeration it is 360% view of wildlife. The banks get filled up with elephants simply sipping water or splashing mud to cool themselves. In fact, trumpeting becomes a familiar sound.

You may just sit back and enjoy a cup of tea and watch the “ safari that comes to you” or sit by the boulders and watch the endless herds of elephants until darkness forces you to get back to roaring campfire.


The Explorer by Mahoora Living Experience combines rustic with modern. Enjoy a spacious, tented accommodation (15.6’x 8’) which includes a cosy bedroom, en-suite bathroom with a flushable toilet and complimentary toiletries, as well as a private veranda/ porch outside the tent. Your stay with us will always be carbon neutral.

maduru oya tented camp accommodation


Dining Experience

magoora dining experience at maduru oya natonal parkDining too, is an adventure with Explorer by Mahoora at Maduru Oya . While you enjoy a quiet cup of tea at sunset or wait for a hot meal to cool under the stars, not too far away… the elephants, sloth bears, wild boars, water buffalos and leopards roam for their own supper.

At nightfall, we make your wild dinner experience a little extra special. Listen to the campsite come alive with nocturnal animal whispers carried by the wind, and follow the flaming torches to your private starlight supper by a crackling campfire.

Your wild dining is set up within the campsite, and meals are freshly prepared by our executive chef on-site. Menus are deliciously local and carefully designed for your palate, so your culinary journey sweetly complements the rest of your adventure. 

Dining under the stars is extra special. The visit to the fishing village during the morning safari will give you an opportunity to pick the day’s special.

Our chef will be only too happy to grill the freshwater prawns that will absolutely mesmerise your taste buds. It's a speciality,  of course! 


Game Drives 

game drives at maduru oya national parkGame drives let you explore your new home at the Maduru Oya National Park. Jeep safaris let you experience everything from an elephant roaming the tall grass to a range of bird life.

Maduru Oya has its unique features that you would come across in the game drive. The fishing village that is situated in the midst of the Park gives you the opportunity to get first hand experience the way this isolated  community lives in the Park. What’s more, you are one of the privileged guests - to take back to the campsite - the day’s catch; whether it be a freshwater prawns or lake fish, so that the chef on site can make a delicious dish for the night.

The game drive takes you through a historical journey as well. A stop over near 3000 year  old sluice gates built by ancient local tribes will astound you. Cherish the moment sitting by the side of these historic monuments and savouring a delicious picnic put together by our chef.

Journey further and it will take you to the Wildlife Museum set inside the Park. Numerous and seldom heard stories of the mammoths who roamed  the Park, are likely to be revealed.


History behind Maduru Oya National Park

history behind maduru oya national parkMaduru Oya National Park has a history that spans across thousands of years. History speaks for itself as you see many with your own eyes.

The remains of the brilliance of Nagha (Cobra) Tribe - 3000 years ago

Mahawamsa and Deepavamsa speak of the Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka, to settle a dispute between two Nagha kings. The Nagha tribe is said to have been skilled and possessed great expertise in the areas of agriculture and irrigation.

One of the most iconic features of Maduru Oya,  is the ancient earthen dam and sluice built there, during the reign of King Mahasena. This dam with a height of 30 feet and a width of 30 feet, is 219 feet long. The dam symbolises the marvelous skills and knowledge of ancient Sri Lankan engineers. Slabs, bricks and meticulous workmanship can be seen even today, at the site of the sluice gates,  built back in the 6th century - still standing strong against the test of time, in full grandeur.

The Mahaweli Development Programme, a national programme committed to the full development of Sri Lanka’s water resources for irrigation and hydropower, was implemented in 1975. This programme was to last 30 years. Under the Accelerated Mahaweli Programme (AMP) - a revision to the original scheme - 12 projects were undertaken to complete within 6 years, including Maduru Oya.

Maduru Oya was identified as a feasible location to provide irrigation water, in order to settle some 35,000 farming families. The soil was ideal for both paddy cultivation and crop cultivation such as: sugarcane, cotton, pulses, groundnuts, etc.

Further study of the locality led to the stumbling upon the sluice gates; a site that had already been identified as a source of invaluable irrigation - way back in the 6th century and a marvelous engineering feat which still serves the habitat in a profound manner.


vedda at maduru oyaThe changing lives of Aadivasi - Veddhas of Henanigala

Henanigala is the home for the relocated veddha (Aadivasi) community that originally hailed from Dambana, a nearby village. As the Mahaweli development project spread to Maduru Oya in 1983, with the objective of irrigating most parts of Sri Lanka, part of the Aadivasi community from Dambana was relocated to Henanigala. The community today engages in farming and lead a simple life. You can catch a glimpse of their lives with us as they take you through a forest’s patch and showcase some of their skills. Or you may just get the opportunity to spend time and understand their culture as we invite them to spend a night with us at Explorer by Mahoora campsite.



Communities Around

What you can see, hear smell and touch is endless. Another very exciting and interesting part of the journey you take with us is, we take you to the isolated fishing village inside the Park; Maduru Oya fishing village. It's the home to a small community of fishing families who embark upon early morning fishing trips hours in the Maduru Oya reservoir. Pastel shade sail boats and canoes steadily anchored on the shore after the morning voyage is eye candy indeed. The relaxed atmosphere in celebrating the day’s catch is unforgettable, You may walk around the shore and have a look at the fresh catch from fish to freshwater prawns -  that are as big as lobsters.

What’s more,  we may just fulfill your culinary fantasy by taking some to be grilled on the BBQ for dinner.

 fishing villagers at maduru oya


The Maduru Oya National Park

Maduru oya national parkJust beyond the Wasgamuwa National Park, lies a jewel not quite caught in the limelight; the Maduru Oya National Park. Situated in the eastern province of Sri Lanka, it is a formidable expanse of over 58,800 hectares and home to wildlife, ruins and engineering feats.

While the Park finds itself in the dry zone, water systems here make up about 15% of the land area, including the five reservoirs of:  Maduru Oya, Ulhitiya, Rathkinda, NDK, and Henanigala reservoirs, in addition to tributaries of the Mahaweli and Maduru Oya rivers.

What is significant about this Park is not just its biodiversity but its richness in being home to numerous endemic and endangered species, in particular. Elephants are a visible feature in the Park, and herds can be sighted quite frequently. Among the other residents are: the sloth bear, leopard, water buffalo, toque monkey, spotted deer, sambar, porcupine, Indian muntjac, jackal, fishing cat, wild boar, and several other smaller animals. This Park is one of the recorded habitats of the grey slender loris while the European otter has also been reported here.

Not to be outshone, the avifauna is also very varied and stunning to behold.  The white-bellied sea eagle, great cormorant, the painted stork, the black-hooded oriole, woodpecker, and Sri Lanka’s national bird, the jungle fowl, and the malkoha, amongst others, make their presence evident - if not very audible. Interestingly, around the reservoirs, the Asian openbill, spot-billed pelican and the Oriental darter take centre stage, along with the black-headed ibis and the Eurasian spoonbill.   

Moving around in an inconspicuous manner, are the water and common monitor, estuarine and mugger crocodile, the introverted Indian star turtle, and snakes such as the common cobra and black-tailed python. Giant gourami, catfish and snakeheads are just some of the fish found in the reservoirs.

The Park boasts of abundant dry zone vegetation.  Weera, palu, buruta, kaluwara welang, ehela, kumbuk, milla, kone and fruits like beli and woodapple are all found here.

Amidst the sweeping landscape of Maduru Oya, you will suddenly encounter ruins, in places such as: Henanigala, Werapokuna, Gurukumbura and Uluketangoda - just to name a few. As in some of of Sri Lanka’s other national parks, constructs built in different eras of the island’s ancient past - still stand and evoke a majestic and imperial past. Foregone temples, statues, dagobas and hermitages will have you in wonderment.  Dating from the 3rd century AD Brahmi inscriptions can also be seen at Kandegamakanda.

The Maduru Oya National is a drive of about 300 kilometres from Colombo, but it is a ride that will take you to an enduring wildlife experience… and don’t be surprised if you yearn for more...  


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Explorer by Mahoora

Private Tented Safari Camp Experience in Maduru Oya National Park

2 Nights /3 Days

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B E S T   R A T E S   G U A R A N T E E D !


Much more than just a great place to stay

"Thanks to our guide Avinka we had five great safaris staying four nights just after reopening this February. The staff made us feel so very welcome during the entire stay.

The safaries are just wonderful, and having a great guide in your vehicle makes a big difference. Avinka can spot animals you would never see and we were even lucky enough to sight leopards on the trees, close to our vehicle, and also running through the field. The wildlife is so exciting that you will have a great experience even if you don‘t see any leopards. We also had a great driver, which is essential if you drive through difficult territory. You are being taken care of the entire time, so even for those who do safaris for the first time, you will always feel safe.

The camp itself is very comfortable, you get everything you can think of, and on top of the great food being served with so much attention and friendliness. You also get wonderful vegetarian and vegan options. They put on bonfires at night, which makes it unforgettable.
When booking and making plans, you get great support from the headquarters, even if it gets difficult since you have to change your plans.
The best thing what can happen to you at the end of a vacation is when you are a bit sad to leave the place, having experienced something to remember forever, and the team does everything for this to happen. Thank you so much"

Axel S wrote, Traveled with family
January 2021

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