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gal oya national park sri lanka

Wildlife safaris at the Gal Oya National Park Sri Lanka

PioneerLogoThe Gal Oya National Park is the only national park where it is possible to go on a boat safari in Sri Lanka. Wildlife viewing from the boat is for the various islands that dot the Senanayake Samudra (Reservoir).



History and Description of the Gal Oya National Park Sri Lanka

The Gal Oya National Park situated in Sri Lanka's South Eastern Province was established in 1954 by the Gal Oya Development Board. Its primary function is to protect the catchment area of the vast Senanayake Samudra. It was subsequently handed over to the Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1965. This Reservoir is the lake which holds the largest amount of water in Sri Lanka.

The Buddhangala Sanctuary which is one of the four protected areas that make up the Gal Oya National Park has ruins of a dagoba and other buildings dating back to the 2nd Century BC. It is believed that Lord Buddha visited here during his last time in Sri Lanka. In the hilly country to the West of the Park was one of the last strongholds of Sri Lanka's indigenous tribes, the Veddas.

Flora and fauna at the Gal Oya National Park

The Gal Oya National Park is rich in both flora and fauna. About 45 percent of the Park is covered by evergreen forest and a further 33 percent is taken up by savannah areas. The 25,900 hectare Park has about 32 species of mammals including the Common Langur, the endemic Toque Macaque, Sri Lankan leopards, Sri Lankan sloth bears, Sri Lankan elephants, wild boar, water buffalo and three species of deer.

The Park has just three distinct types of flora - forest, shrub and grasslands. There is a substantial area of both low lying savanna grasslands called Thalawa, and mountainous grasslands called Pathana. Three rare types of Ayurvedic plants can be found growing in Gal Oya. The Park has three mountains within its boundaries namely Danigala, Nilgala and Ulpotha - the highest peak reaching 900 metres.

Encompassing four protected areas, Gal Oya is Sri Lanka's only National Park where it is possible to experience a Boat Safari. The vast Senanayake Samudra is dotted with many small islands which are home to an incredible diversity of bird species; including Sri Lanka's largest bird the Lesser Adjutant and the Red Faced Malkoha.

There are 150 of Sri Lanka's 430 recorded bird species resident here."Kurulu Dupatha" or Birds Island is home to a great number of birds nesting in the forest and in the rocky outcrops on higher ground.

A highlight here is the elephants that can be seen swimming from one island to another. This 'crossing' has to be observed very carefully as elephants are very vulnerable when they are swimming and can even drown if boats come too close.


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Excellent photographer's package

"Amazing experience. We'd been on safaris before so was immensely happy that the photographer's package included our own jeep and a naturalist guide who's also a photographer!"
James - Sydney, Australia
January 2017

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