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Gal Oya experience: boat safari on the Senanyake Samudra

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The Senanyake Reservoir – the largest body of water of its kind in Sri Lanka and home to huge herds of wild elephants – is incandescent with color at sunset. Sharp ribbons of shell-pink and king-coconut-orange shift seamlessly from sky to water. In the cooler hours before the sun goes down, Asia’s gentle giants are on the move and an onlooker passing by boat might chance a peak at them as they shuffle out of the shade of the trees and down towards the banks of the water. As evening descends over the tank, these elephants can sometimes be seen swimming gracefully between the archipelagos of islands that aggregate the Senanyake reservoir. The reservoir itself was commissioned to be built by its namesake DS Senanyake, Sri Lanka’s first prime minister following independence. Fringing the edges of the Gal Oya National Park, the area is home to a diverse range of birdlife, reptiles and mammals. A cruise across the tank’s placid waters is a unique and serene way to enjoy the rich biodiversity that this reservoir is known for.

Experience Overview

The naturalists at the lodge will give you a briefing on recent sightings on the Senanyake Reservoir and then leaving the lodge in a comfortable 4×4 jeep, you will make your way towards the reservoir. The drive takes around 45 minutes, but it’s a smooth drive offering beautiful views of the surrounding scenery and you may even see some wildlife on your way. Once you arrive at the pier you will climb into a small covered boat and set out onto the reservoir. The calm waters of the Senanyake Reservoir make for a very relaxing boat ride. You can expect to see plenty of birdlife, both migrant and endemic and for the most part you are unlikely to see any other tourists, giving you the ideal opportunity to be alone with nature. If you are really lucky you may even see elephants swimming from shore to shore or crocodiles bathing in the shallows. The boat ride will take approximately 3-4 hours and if you chose to visit in the afternoon, you’ll catch the sunset. Your naturalist will provide an in-depth and nuanced running commentary on the history of the area and the wildlife you’ll encounter. And to top it all off, you’ll stop half way through on a deserted island to enjoy a hot cup of masala tea served with delicious homemade shortbread – a tea break offering simply unbeatable surrounding views.

Includes:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Includes:

boat ride with an experienced naturalist, bottled water, entry tickets, refreshments.

Duration:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Duration:

6 hours

Difficulty:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Difficulty:

Easy.

Suitable for children:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Suitable for children:

Yes, children that love the outdoors and wildlife will love this experience.

Times:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Times:

Early Mornings and afternoons

What to wear or bring along:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
What to wear or bring along:

Cool, light clothing, caps, sunscreen and a camera

Important to know:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Important to know:

June to early December is the best time of year for elephant sightings within the reservoir area. That being said, this is a beautiful safari regardless and there is an abundance of other wildlife worth noting.

Private or not?  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style
Private or not?

This experience is private, that said there may be other people at the site.

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Managing Expectations

It is important to remember that, whilst they are experts in their field, the people who run or host our experiences are not necessarily used to working in the tourism industry and may not offer the level of service you would find at a five-star hotel. For example, instead of a formal lecture, you may get a relaxed conversation where open discussion is encouraged. All of our hosts are, however, extremely engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about educating visitors about their chosen subject and we have worked with them to ensure that they deliver worthwhile, fulfilling experiences. We welcome feedback, so please let us know what you thought and if you think any improvements could be made to the experiences we offer.

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