Elephant herds are a great sight for the lucky visitor to Gal Oya National Park !
Gal Oya lies between Kandy and the east coast. If you want to see wild elephants bathe, then this is the place to go. Located west of Ampara, the park covers an area of 64,000 hectares and includes several lakes including the huge Senanayake Samudra tank, which in itself is a photographer’s dream.
Gal Oya is located in a dry zone, mainly under the influence of the northeast monsoon. Around 45% of the park is evergreen forest and a further 33% is savannah. The combination allows the visitor to see a variety of animals and birds. The most interesting part of the visit to the park is the boat ride that allows you to observe pachyderms in water. Elephants here can be spotted in herds of up to 150 individuals.
The Gal Oya Valley is very important in Sri Lankan history as it is said to have been the seat of Sinhalese kings in three different periods: King Tissa in the 2nd century, King Buvanekabahu in the 13th century and to King Dore Swamy in the 19th century. The Digha Vapi Dagoba dating back to the 2nd century BC is believed to be the last place where the Buddha was seated during his last trip to Sri Lanka. Henebedde Cave, further east, has several interesting relics. The mountainous region to the west is one of the last dwellings of the Veddas.
What can you expect to spot?
Easily: Butterflies, Lesser Adjutant, Spot-billed Pelican,, Indian Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lesser Whistling Duck, Langur, Toque Macaque, Elephant, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Water Buffalo.
If you use your senses: Red-faced Malkoha, Oriental Darter, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle.
If you are lucky: Leopard and Sloth Bear.