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Gal Oya experience: jeep safari and a picnic lunch in Gal Oya national park

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Hidden away on the East Coast, the Gal Oya National Park lies well off-the-beaten-path and is somewhat mysterious even to the locals. 30 years of civil war on this side of the island stopped tourism in its tracks and Gal Oya is only now emerging as a major wildlife destination. In fact, we would argue that this unique national park is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets! Made up of mostly dry-zone forest and grassland, the park is a biodiversity hub, with some flora dating back to the Jurassic period. Sloth bear and leopard have been occasionally spotted within the park, but sightings are rare. You are more likely to come across the park’s larger residents: the Asian elephant. It is also a fantastic spot for bird watching. Take a jeep safari through Gal Oya to the banks of the Makara river for a picnic lunch with a stellar view and hopefully some great wildlife sightings en route!

Experience Overview

A well-kitted out jeep will pick you up from the Lodge and take you on a short drive towards the national park. Your naturalist will brief you on the wildlife commonly spotted in the area and keep you informed on what to look out for. Once in the park, you’ll drive through the forest towards the Makara River, where bubbling fresh water streams down over a boulder garden towards the Senanyake Reservoir. This is the ideal spot for a picnic. Take a dip in one of the rock pools, stretch out and sunbathe on a rock, sip on a cool beer or take a walk to explore your surroundings whilst your personal chef whips you up a feast. Expect a decadent picnic lunch with dips and nibbles to start and freshly barbequed chicken as a main course. Following lunch, ease your digestion by taking a twenty minute hike down to the river mouth for stunning views out onto the ethereal banks of the Senanyake Reservoir. You will then head back through the park by jeep, taking time to stop and view any wildlife that you may encounter along the way.

Includes:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style

jeep ride with an experienced naturalist, bottled water, one beer per person, lunch, entry tickets, refreshments.

Duration:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style

6 hours

Difficulty:  - Experience - Sri Lanka In Style


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

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:

The best time to spot elephants in the park is from June to early December, however, there is plenty of other interesting wildlife to look at if an elephant sighting isn’t possible. The thick forest in this area is home to a wealth of birdlife.

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.




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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