Gal Oya National Park , Sri Lanka

Set in more than 25,000 hectares of unspoilt evergreen forests and open savannahs, Gal Oya National Park is the only place in Sri Lanka where you can take a water safari. Board a boat on the banks of Senanayake Samudra lake, binoculars in hand, and keep your eyes peeled for animals drinking, or diving into, the water. From big beasts like leopards, wild boars and water buffalo, to smaller species such as sloths, and langur and toque macaque monkeys, Gal Oya is home to 150 types of bird and 32 species of mammal. However, one attracts attention more than any other, and not just because of its size; people journey here from all over the world to join a water safari and witness Asian elephants swimming between the islands.

When to go

To avoid the worst of the monsoon season, visit between July and March; although there are a few light showers between July and September. Temperatures remain constant throughout the year at around 26 to 30 degrees; the hottest months being April to May. Tourists tend not to visit between September and December, which makes this period one of the best times to view elephants in their undisturbed environment.

  • Best-price guarantee

    Found your stay cheaper elsewhere? We’ll match the price and give you a $75 voucher.

  • Smith Extra on arrival

    Enjoy extras such as a picnic lunch, champagne or spa treatments, on the house

Getting there

  • Planes

    The closest international airport is Bandaranaike International in Colombo, a seven-to-eight-hour drive away. Fly direct from across Europe or catch a connecting flight in Dubai from America, and Kuala Lumpur from Australia.
  • Automobiles

    Driving in Sri Lanka can be testing for the most experienced of drivers, on the easiest of roads; and you won’t need your own car to get around the National Park, so simply arrange an airport transfer with our Smith24 team (03334 143 546).