Gal Oya National Park
The 25,900 hectare Park has about 32 species of mammals residing there; including the common Langur, the endemic Toque Macaque, Sri Lankan Leopards, Sri Lankan Sloth Bears, Sri Lankan Elephants, wild boar, water buffaloes and 3 species of deer. The bird life at the Park will not disappoint the birders with its 150 species of birds.
Boat safaris and swimming elephants at the Gal Oya National Park
The Gal Oya National Park is the only National Park in Sri Lanka where it is possible to take a boat safari. As it borders a reservoir, there are many little islands which can be seen. A highlight is the frequent sighting of elephants swimming from one island to another. Sri Lankan Elephants are strong swimmers and they use their trunks as snorkels. They can also travel long distances in the water. In fact, it is believed that the first elephants to inhabit Sri Lanka actually swam all the way from India and took up residence on the island.
Big Game and Mammal encounters at the Gal Oya National Park
Galoya wildlife national park safarisThe 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 buffaloes and 3 species of deer. The large elephant population in the Gal Oya National Park has made many of these islands its own. Mugger crocodiles and the Lesser Albatross Butterfly can also be seen in Gal Oya while on either jeep or boat safaris.
Bird life at the Gal Oya National Park
The Senanayake Samudra Reservoir 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. Bird enthusiasts will not be disappointed in Gal Oya since 150 of Sri Lanka's 430 recorded bird species reside in the Park. "Kurulu Dupatha" or Bird Island is home to an immense number of birds nesting in the forest and in the elevated rocky outcrops.
Reptiles and Amphibians at the Gal Oya National Park
The mugger crocodile and star tortoise have been recorded at the Gal Oya National Park
Flora at the Gal Oya National Park
The Park has just three distinct flora types - 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 Gal Oya National Park - History and Geography
Gal Oya national park Sri Lanka located in the Uva Province which is situated in the south-east of Sri Lanka, the Gal Oya National Park was established in 1954 by the Gal Oya Development Board, primarily to protect the catchment area of the vast 'Senanayake Samudra' Reservoir which is the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. It was subsequently handed over to the Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1965.
The Gal Oya National Park is rich in both fauna and flora and about 45 percent of the Park is covered by evergreen forest while a further 33 percent is taken up by savanna areas. The Park spans over 25,000 hectares in total and has three mountains within its boundaries vis-à-vis Danigala, Nilgala and Ulpotha with the highest peak reaching 900 metres.
The Buddhangala Sanctuary, one of the four protected areas which make up the Gal Oya National Park, has ruins of a Stupa 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.
Getting the most out of your Gal Oya National Park safari
Any safari would not be complete without an expert naturalist guide who can correctly point out bird, plant and animal species. All the guides at Mahoora are experienced and familiar with the movements of the animals. Do not forget your binoculars, and if you have not got one of your own, then we can provide that for you as well.
Climate at the Gal Oya National Park
The elevation of the Park varies from 30 m to about 900 m. Rain is received during the North-East monsoon with an average annual rainfall of 1,700 millimetres.
The best times to visit the Gal Oya National Park
The Gal Oya National Park can be visited throughout the year but the period from March to July is recommended as this is when the elephants gather around the waterholes to drink and socialize.
How to get to the Gal Oya National Park
The Gal Oya National Park lies in the District of Badulla, to the south-east of Sri Lanka and to the west of Ampara. The route from Colombo (300 km) is via Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Udawalawe, Thanamalwila, Wellawaya, Moneragala and then north from Siyambalanduwa to Inginiyagala. If you opt to travel by helicopter then you can take off either from the Bandaranaike Airport or from Ratmalana and land in Gal Oya and from there reach the Park by road. The Air taxi service is not available.
Read more about Mahoora Gal Oya National Park