Explorer by Mahoora Camps - Dambana

Explorer by Mahoora Camps -

Welcome to the most authentic “roughing-it in great style” experience Sri Lanka has to offer. Your private camp in the wilderness of the borders of the Maduru Oya National Park, is a return to the simplicity and authenticity of safari life, save for a few 21st century comforts.

It’s camping but without having to let go of the creature comforts or attentive service that is intrinsic to a Mahoora Experience. Explorer by Mahoora is particularly appealing to those in search of an opportunity to connect up-close with the earth and wildlife in a way they have never done before, in wonderful seclusion.

Isolation lends itself to privacy for an intimate experience with nature, making it really just you and nature, with no traces of civilisation. Only 3 tents can be constructed for guests, with a maximum occupancy of 3 guests per campout.

With a private naturalist, chef, and camp staff, excursions can be arranged at any time, safaris may be as long or as short as you choose, and adventurous experiences await.

Map of dambana in sri lanka
the cultural dance performing by tribesmen at dambana in sri lanka

Return to real safari camping

Go off-the-grid and back in time to an age of bow and arrow hunts, wilderness exploration with tribesmen, and sleeping under the stars in ancient Sri Lanka. There is a forgotten romance for camping in a dry zone forest, home to all kinds of wildlife.

Spend a morning surrounded by ancient ruins while having breakfast and elephant-watching, go hunting for beehives with an ancient Vedda tribe, enjoy a dream-like high tea by the last beams of a sunset and a BBQ dinner by the bonfire with elephants hiding in the tall grass just a stone’s throw away.

living experience at dambana in sri lanka

Living Experience

Explorer by Mahoora is a highly unique and immersive experience of living with untamed Sri Lankan wildlife inside National Parks and Nature Reserves, or on its borders, across the country. Our Private Tented Safari Camp Experience in Dambana lets you escape from modern times to live amongst the traditions of the indigenous people of Sri Lanka.

The Explorer by Mahoora campsite is situated by the side of lake that is beautifully landscaped by nature itself. The evenings are breathtakingly beautiful where pink and purple hues adorn the soft skies. It is a place to lie down or sit back and relax, enjoy an afternoon cup of tea and simply watch the skies turn to dark blue as the birds fly back home.

accommodation at explorer by mahoora dambana in sri lanka

The Explorer by Mahoora Living Experience combines rustic with modern. Enjoy a spacious, safari camp tented accommodation which includes:

  • A fully-sealed tent (15.6”x 8”) with ventilation nets for added comfort

  • A cosy bedroom with mattresses and raised double beds

  • En-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries, showering facilities using pipe-borne cold running water, and a flushable toilet

  • Freshly laundered bed linens and towels

  • Private veranda / porch outside the tent

  • Flashlight / torch, slippers and an umbrella

  • A shoe rack, 2 foldable arm-chairs and a coffee table

  • Unlimited glass-bottled water

Due to the nature of the jungle environment, a standby generator is available for charging laptops and cameras on request. There is no electricity in the tent.

Your stay with us will always be eco-friendly and carbon neutral.

a table arrangement for dining at dambana in sri lanka
Dining Experience

Dining, too, is an adventure with Explorer by Mahoora at Dambana. At nightfall, we make your wild dinner experience a little extra special with the Kiri Koraha Dance by the indigenous community (Veddas). Listen to the campsite come alive with chanting and the beat of the dancers around the campfire, taking you back in time to an era that seems rather impossible to have existed.

Your wild dining is set up within the campsite, and meals are freshly prepared on-site by our executive chef using the freshest fruits and vegetables from the local community. Fish and meat items are purchased from local fishermen and a reputable food supplier respectively. A BBQ Dinner takes place on one night while à la carte meals – both Sri Lankan and Western – are served at other times.

The camp has a fully-equipped kitchen complete with modern cooling and freezing facilities. Special dietary requirements can be catered to upon prior notice. Menus are deliciously local and carefully designed for your palate, so your culinary journey complements the rest of your safari vacation adventure.

getting experience with veddah at dambana in sri lanka
Game Drives

There are 2 Sri Lanka Wildlife Safaris available each day. The early morning safari starts at 6am and ends at approximately 10am, whilst the late afternoon / sunset safari takes place from 3pm until approximately 6pm. Unlimited safaris can be arranged upon prior request for special photography / filming purposes. The aforementioned Sri Lanka safari tour times are the best viewing times for wildlife in the parks, as most animals retreat inside the forests from mid-morning until mid-afternoon.

We use special customised jeeps with front facing, cushioned seats on three different levels* for maximum animal viewing and photography opportunities. A complimentary picnic basket with sandwiches and hot & cold beverages is provided on the morning safari, and complimentary hot & cold beverages are provided on the afternoon safari.

Ready for the best safari in Sri Lanka? Game drives let you explore the Maduru Oya National Park, where jeep safaris let you experience everything from an elephant roaming the tall grass to a range of birdlife and other wildlife in Sri Lanka.

Maduru Oya National Park has its unique features that you would only come across on the game drives. The abundance of tall grasses hide at times the most gigantic elephants! The National Park is untamed, but bears evidence of an old way of life that existed; dilapidated schools and remnants of buildings can be seen in some places, making you wonder about life prior to the implementation of the Mahaweli Programme.

* A range of Mahoora Jeeps, both 2WD and 4WD are available. Depending on the National Park / Reserve and the safari routes used, the appropriate vehicle is chosen; it is not always necessary to use a 4WD vehicle. If guests require certain kinds of jeeps on special occasions such as a honeymoon safari or photography safari, prior notice must be given before confirmation of booking.

The Mahaweli Development Programme

This 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 then 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.

Experiences with Adivasi – ‘the ancient people

Experiences with the ‘Adivasi’, also known as Veddas, is not confined to observing their lives. In fact, you get to play a role. These activities will take you back to a time where your imagination will be filled with how people lived amidst nature. Walk the forests looking for beehives and yams, and try your hand at using some of their traditional equipment like the bow and arrow. You’ll also learn to ignite a fire the old fashioned way.

The changing lives of Adivasi - Veddas of Dambana

Recent research shows that Dambana indigenous people have the genetic disposition of the early settlers in the world, dating back to ancient times and connecting with the African and European continents. Such a remarkable insight places much historic importance on the Adivasi / Vedda community - making it a definite privilege to meet, associate and to witness their lives.

This programme is targeted at those who would like to experience the real Sri Lanka by going back in history, by way of interacting and experiencing the life of the indigenous people of Sri Lanka, commonly referred to as Veddas, also described as "Adivasi - the ancient people".

‘Vadi’ means ‘one who roams the forest’ and their rather nomadic lifestyle meant that there were extensive Vedda settlements in ancient Sri Lanka.

Yet, due to economic policies in the 20th century and the Mahaweli Scheme aimed at improving Sri Lanka’s irrigation system and promoting agriculture, many steps were taken - including the relocation of the Veddas.

The Rathugala Adivasi who were relocated due to the Gal Oya scheme, have, over time, retained their close-knit sense of community and adherence to their language, traditional ways and norms. Their closeness to nature is something they revere; still resistant to wholesale modernisation and assimilating into the larger population.

At Dambana, the Adivasi, while nurturing their unique identity, have benefited from educatioln and turned to chena cultivation to sustain their livelihood. Picking yams and collecting honey while showing skillmanship with bow and arrow, the Dambana Adivasi perpetuate their unique knowledge and display of traditions. Despite the hard changes they have faced due to relocation, leaving their ancestral lands and having to forsake livelihoods - they have survived and pride themselves as the indigenous people of Sri Lanka.

Included in your package:

  • A personal chef and naturalist.

  • All meals; breakfast, lunch, high tea, and dinner. This includes snacks and juices.

  • Experienced, uniformed, professional and discreet staff.

  • A wealth of knowledge backed by over 20 years of experience as pioneers in the field of operating mobile camping.

  • All National Park / Nature Reserve fees, tracker's fees, taxes and service charges.

  • A unique lunch and dinner setting within the camp area i.e. beside a river or lake, under a canopy of jungle trees, on sand islands with floating candles etc.

  • Atmospheric lighting with a campfire, traditional oil lamps, and hurricane lamps.

Maduru Oya National Park

Just 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 – and wildlife tours lets you get closer. 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, 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.

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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 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 Park is a drive of about 300 kilometres from Colombo, but it is a ride that will take you to an enduring wildlife experience and ultimate safari vacation.

maduru oya national park in sri lanka
Distance from cities - by road

Kandy - 94 km - travel time: 1 hr 45 min

Mahiyanganaya - 19 km - travel time: 20 min

Ella - 88 km - travel time: 2 hrs

Nuwara Eliya - 108 km - travel time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Udawalawe - 198 km - travel time: 4 hrs 20 mins

Pasikudah - 123 km - travel time: 2 hrs 50 mins

Arugam Bay - 161 km - travel time: 3 hrs 20 mins

Polonnaruwa - 112 km - travel time: 2 hrs 15 mins

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Mahoora Mobile Tented Safari Camps offer you the chance to experience an adventure which will dazzle, inspire and astonish.Choose from many locations and enjoy them with a team of individuals who set the benchmark for safari camping in Sri Lanka.