Explorer by Mahoora Camps - Maduru Oya

Explorer by Mahoora Camps -
Maduru Oya

Welcome to the most authentic “roughing-it in great style” experience Sri Lanka has to offer. Your private camp in the wilderness 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, unique excursions can be arranged at any time, safaris may be as long or as short as you choose, and adventurous experiences await.

map of explorer by mahoora maduru oya sri lanka
a tent at explorer by mahoora maduru oya in sri lanka

Return to real safari camping

This is no ordinary campout; live in a 58,800 hectare dry zone forest with deep sunsets reflected in water amidst tired elephants, explore an isolated fishing village within the Park and pick the ‘catch of the day’ for dinner, meet an indigenous tribe and learn of Sri Lanka’s forgotten ways, enjoy a historical game drive and picnic by the 3000 year old sluice gates built by ancient tribes during the reign of King Mahasena, and make a historic memory of your own.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Maduru Oya; 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 exaggeration, it is a 360% view of Sri Lankan 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 come to you, or sit by the boulders and watch the endless herds of elephants until darkness forces you to retire to a roaring campfire.

living experience at explorer by mahoora camps maduru oya 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 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 5 reservoirs. Large herds of elephants roaming in the Park tend to be hidden by the 7 ft. 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 of Sri Lanka in this National Park.

The Explorer by Mahoora campsite is situated in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful locations of the Park. A 40-minute drive coupled with a mini safari from the National Park entrance takes you to this hidden gem of a place. An open savannah-like space is hidden between the lush thick forests 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.

accommodation at explorer by mahoora maduru oya 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.

dinning experience at explorer by mahoora maduru oya in sri lanka
Dining Experience

Dining, too, is an adventure with Explorer by Mahoora at Maduru Oya. Your visit to the fishing village during the morning safari will give you an opportunity to pick the day’s special. Our chef will then marinate and grill your selection of either lake fish or freshwater prawns for dinner!

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.

game drives at explorer by mahoora camps maduru oya  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 Mahoora 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 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 birdlife.

Maduru Oya has unique features that you would only experience on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. The fishing village that is situated in the midst of the Park gives you first-hand opportunity in experiencing the way this isolated community lives. What’s more, you will be one of the privileged guests to return back to camp with the day’s catch. Whether it be freshwater prawns or lake fish, our chef on-site will make a delicious dish out of it for dinner!

Your Sri Lanka Wildlife Safari takes you through a historical journey as well. A stop over near the 3000 year old sluice gates, built by ancient local tribes, will astound you. You will love simply sitting by the side of these historical monuments to savour the moment, as well as a delicious picnic put together by our chef!

On journeying further, you will arrive at the Wildlife Museum set inside the National Park. Numerous and seldom heard stories of the mammoths which once roamed the Park, are likely to be revealed. After all, Maduru Oya National Park has a history that spans across thousands of years.

* 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.

nagha (cobra) tribe at explorer by mahoora maduru oya in sri lanka
The 3000 year ago remains of the Nagha (Cobra) Tribe

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

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.

Further study of the locality led to the discovery of 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.

Adivasi - Veddhas of Henanigala  in sri lanka
The changing lives of Adivasi - Veddhas of Henanigala

Henanigala is the home for the relocated veddha (Adivasi) community which 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 Adivasi community from Dambana was relocated to Henanigala. The community today engages in farming and leads a simple life. You can catch a glimpse of their lifestyle with us as they take you through a forest patch to showcase some of their skills. Or, you may just get the opportunity to spend more time and understand their culture as we invite them to spend a night with us at the Explorer by Mahoora campsite.

Old Maduru Oya Fishing Village

What you can see, hear, smell and touch is endless at the isolated fishing village inside the Park. Its home to a small community of fishing families rising before dawn to fish at the Maduru Oya Reservoir. Pastel sail boats and canoes steadily anchored on the shore after the morning voyage greets you at the entrance. The relaxed atmosphere in celebrating the day’s catch is truly unforgettable, as you walk around the shore to get the catch of the day. It’s been noted that some lake fish and freshwater prawns are as big as lobsters! It’s really something of a fairytale to discover an isolated fishing village in the Sri Lankan wilderness, getting the catch of the day, and cooking it up back at camp!

Old Maduru Oya Fishing Village
a man carrying a fish at maduru oya
Old Maduru Oya Fishing Village
fishing at maduru oya in sri lanka
Old Maduru Oya Fishing Village

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.

tourist experience at explorer by mahoora maduru oya national park in sri lanka

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.

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.

Starting from USD 490 per person

per night (minimum 2 persons.Need to book for 2 nights minimum )

All- inclusive with 4 safaris. Special rates are available for 3 to 6 persons.

Distance from cities - by road:

Kandy - 128 km - travel time: 3 hrs 40 min

Mahiyanganaya - 55 km - travel time: - 1 hr 25min

Ella - 125 km - travel time: 3 hrs 15 min

Nuwara Eliya - 144 km - travel time: 3 hrs 50 min

Belihuloya - 171 km - travel time: 4 hrs 30 min

Udawalawe - 227 km - travel time: 4 hrs 50 min

Passikudah - 86 km - travel time: -2hrs

Arugumbay - 170 km - travel time: - 3 hrs

Polonnaruwa - 51.6 km - travel time: 1 hr 25 min

Best Rates Guaranteed

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.