GAL OYA NATIONAL PARK SRI LANKA
Gal Oya National Park- lies in the southeast of Sri Lanka beyond the island’s central hills. The Park was established in 1954 to protect the main catchment area of Sri Lanka’s largest reservoir, the vast Senanayake Samudra. Inside the boundaries of Gal Oya National Park are 3 mountains, the highest peak of which reaches 900 metres.
Encompassing four protected areas, Gal Oya National Park is the only of the country’s Parks where it is possible to take to water and experience a boat safari. The Reservoir is dotted with small islands, and it if often possible to see elephants swimming from island to island.
Three main types of vegetation thrive in the Park, namely evergreen forest, shrub and grasslands. Approximately 45% of the Park is taken over by lush evergreen forest, and the Park is now recognized as being a major eco-tourism venue due to it’s richness and diversity of it’s flora and faunal species.
Covering an expanse of approximately 26,000 hectares, Gal Oya National Park is home to 32 species of terrestrial mammals including herds of Asian elephants, Sri Lankan leopards, water buffalo and sambar deer. The slow, yet elusive sloth bear inhabits the Park alongside the many langur and endemic toque macaque monkeys.
Sri Lanka’s largest bird, the very recognizable Lesser Adjutant is a resident of the Gal Oya National Park, as are several raptor varieties including White-bellied Eagles and Grey-headed Eagles. One of the small islands in the Park is appropriately called ‘Bird Island’ due to the sheer numbers of birds nesting both on the rock formations and in the forest.
Rare and endemic plants of great Ayurvedic medicinal value grow in the Park.
The Digavapi Stupa, which is found closeby to Gal Oya Park, was built in the 2nd Century BC, and is said to have been where Lord Buddha meditated on his third visit to Sri Lanka. To the west of the Park, in the many hills was the last stronghold of Sri Lanka’s indigenous tribes, The Veddhas.
With options of either a jeep safari or exploring areas of the Park by boat, Gal Oya National Park is an area of outstanding beauty with it’s hills, enormous lake, numerous islands and unique and diverse wildlife.