A Herd of Elephants in a forest at the Maduru Oya National Park
A Herd of Elephants at the Maduru Oya National Park

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located in a unique location amidst the blue waves of the Indian ocean. Every year, Sri Lanka tops the list of favorite tourist attractions in the world. That is simply because Sri Lanka is an all-in-one package with beautiful sceneries, wonderful weather, delicious local food, friendly people, great history and culture, and facilities. Above all, if you are a wildlife enthusiast, Sri Lanka is a country that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. This paradise island is home to 22 national parks enriched with biodiversity. Therefore, Sri Lanka is the perfect place to get back in touch with nature. Among these parks, Maduru Oya national park is just the place to have a more peaceful experience of wanderlust. Keep reading to get all the information you need before arranging your trip to Maduru Oya national park.

History of Maduru Oya National Park

The Mahaweli organization is one of the biggest development projects in Sri Lanka. Besides, there are four national parks that came up under the Mahaweli development project. They are Wasgamuwa, Flood Plains, Somawathiya and Maduru Oya national park.

The history of Maduru Oya National Park goes back centuries. In fact, there is a belief that the history of the ancient sluice here dates back to the 6th century BC. The renowned historian, professor Senarath Paranavithana has stated that the sluice was constructed by King Kutakanna Tissa during the time period of 42-20 BC. As per records, the authorities identified that ancient sluice in the 1980s. And yes, people consider it to be a significant, historical structure.

Furthermore, there are ancient Buddhist ruins such as shrines, temples, dagobas, and Brahmi inscriptions within the premises of the park. Certain areas of the park were early settlements of the Sri Lankan indigenous people and are still lands belonging to the Vedda community. Hence, Maduru Oya national park is a land with much historical value.

Under the accelerated Mahaweli development project, the park is considered to be a security ring for its five reservoirs. However, the authorities designated Maduru Oya national park as a national park of Sri Lanka on 9th November 1983. At the moment, the park is operated under the Department of Wildlife Conservation. This park contains a wide variety of flora and fauna. The Maduru Oya national park is open for the public to enjoy nature at its best.

Physical Characteristics of the Park

Maduru Oya national park is situated in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and it consists of physical features significant to that area. To the southwest side of the park, there’s a long-range of rocky mountains. These mountains are spread within an area of 8 kilometers. The major soil type found in the park is red earth which is quite fertile and promotes the growth of plants and vegetation specific to the dry zone of Sri Lanka. In fact, the red soil covers the 58580-hectare area of the park. To the northeastern side of the park, there’s a plantation of teak trees.

A considerable land area of this premise is freshwater bodies. It is calculated to be 15% of the whole land area of the park. The five reservoirs inside this park are Maduru Oya, Ulhitiya, Rathkinda, NDK, and Henanigala. In addition, the tributaries of the Mahaweli river and Maduru Oya also flow through the park. With these physical features, Maduru Oya national park is identified to be a dry evergreen forest located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.

Why should You Visit Maduru Oya National Park?

Maduru Oya national park is not a very popular park among the 22 other national parks. Yet, we believe that it is a must-visit.

So, here are some good reasons why you should consider visiting this wonderful land of greenery during your Sri Lankan tour.

  • A pleasant environment
  • A wide array of flora and fauna
  • Opportunities for jeep safaris
  • Wonderful photography opportunities
  • Camping sites
  • Maduru Oya reservoir
  • Historic ruins

Continue reading to get to know more about the above delights.

A Pleasant Environment

Maduru Oya national park, being a less popular national park, is not usually crowded with tourists. As a result, the surroundings are so peaceful and the nature of the park remains to be an untouched beauty. Even though the park is situated in the dry zone, the evergreen forests show the opposite and create a natural wonderland to explore in Sri Lanka. The landscape is filled with huge trees and grasslands which allows the tourists to witness the forest under different lights within the same trip. The freshwater bodies inside the park add breathtaking sceneries to the beauty of the park. The raw beauty of the park ensures a relaxing trip blessed with spectacular sights. The environment of the Maduru Oya national park is not similar to the other national parks in Sri Lanka and it is the best place to explore the real wild.

Wide Array of Flora and Fauna

Another interesting feature of the Maduru Oya national park is its dynamic array of flora and fauna. The flora inside the park is unique to the dry zone of the country. So there are huge trees as well as open grasslands. Then, there are some rare and endemic plants that can be found only in the Maduru Oya national park.

Besides, this park is famous for its large herds of wild elephants. The park is also home to a huge variety of wild animals. You will be able to spot mammals like leopards, sloth bears, deers, wild boars, monkeys, and fishing cats inside the park. The water bodies in the park are abundant with birdlife like sea eagles, grey pelicans, and then tailor-bird, shama, black hooded oriole in the forest. There’s even a wildlife museum inside the park. As such, there are plenty of opportunities for you to watch various kinds of flora and fauna inside the park.

Opportunities for Jeep Safaris

A safari in the wild is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. It is the easiest way to get an up-close and personal view of the undomesticated wildlife. Then, starting in a jeep through the scenic routes in the forest will give you an adrenaline boost for sure. However, jeep safaris in the Maduru Oya park are the best to watch large herds of wild elephants. The national park is a large landscape, so you can have an amazing safari for some good hours watching the park’s flora and fauna.

Safaris are conducted by professional tour guides and you can obtain a friendly service from them. They will also provide information about the things you see on your trip. Therefore, this wonderful national park is ideal to book an enjoyable and educational safari for an affordable price.

Wonderful Photography Opportunities

The nature and sceneries of Maduru Oya national park are just flawless. The best way to collect memories is to take good photographs and the Maduru Oya park will provide you with an amazing backdrop for that. You can take great photographs of the original wild, that will look great on your traveling memory book. Needless to say, photographs of hidden and beautiful travel locations can give an extra boost to your social media accounts. There are many such places in the Maduru Oya park for you to capture the perfect shot. Then, if you are a wildlife photographer, you shouldn’t miss visiting this wonderful land as it might give you the photographic opportunity that you have been waiting for for so long.

Camping Sites

Do you like to spend a night away from your usual hectic life and indulge in a faraway wild? Take it easy, because, in Maduru Oya national park, you can hire a tent and get the perfect camping experience in the middle of the woods.

You can connect with nature with a beautiful natural surrounding and see some wild animals in your neighborhood too. But, camping doesn’t have to be always hard and uncomfortable. There are service providers from which you can obtain comfortable tents and even delicious meals to enjoy your camping experience in this national park to the fullest. This would be an out-and-out opportunity to be back in nature, lost in your own thoughts.

Maduru Oya Reservoir

Maduru Oya reservoir is one of the largest freshwater bodies in the country. It is also a wonderful creation that proves the advancement of ancient irrigation technology. The reservoir is a natural habitat for a wide variety of avifauna. In addition, most of the time, there are groups of elephants drinking water from the reservoir. The large reservoir is an impressive creation and it is so picturesque. However, this is not recommended for water activities. If you want to see the reservoir, you have to take permission from the engineers’ office prior to your visit and you have to visit before 4 p.m.

Historic Ruins

Sri Lanka is a country with a unique history and an impressive culture. If you visit Maduru Oya national park, you will be able to witness this delight, as you would be able to visit some historical ruins in the midst of the jungle. Besides, there’s historical importance behind the Maduru Oya park as well.

Firstly, the ancient sluice is probably the most famous historical creation in the park. The hydrological technology behind the sluice is marvelous. In areas like Henanigala, Kudawella, Gurukumbura, Uluketangoda, Weerapokuna, etc. there are ruins related to Buddhist sites. Then in Kandegama Kanda, there are Brahmi inscriptions and as per records, they are from the 3rd century BC. These ruins prove that the history of the landscape goes back thousands of years ago. On your trip to the wild, don’t forget to pay a visit to these historical ruins to take a journey through Sri Lankan history.

Where is Maduru Oya National Park Located?

Maduru Oya national park is situated in the Eastern and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka. Its whole land area consists of 58,850 square kilometers. The park’s official address is Manampitiya, Aralaganwila, Maduru Oya road. The nearest city to the Maduru Oya park is Polonnaruwa. The distance from Colombo to Maduru Oya Park is 288 kilometers. Other tourist attractions in the neighborhood of the Maduru Oya park are Kuda Sigiriya and Wasgamuwa national park.

How do you Get to Maduru Oya National Park?

There are several routes that one can take from Colombo to reach the Maduru Oya national park. The most popular route is through Matale and Hettipola. But there’s another way through Dehiattakandiya either from Polonnaruwa or from Mahiyangana. Make sure you choose the route beforehand considering factors like your accommodation and other places that you plan to visit. Also, don’t hesitate to discuss with your travel guide for the relevant information if you have hired one. If not, you can always refer to google maps and make an informative decision.

From the Katunayake international airport, there are various methods to reach Maduru Oya park. If you are looking for a cheaper way, you can always try public transportation. But since its location is far away from Colombo, it can get tiring and uncomfortable. Then also, you can arrange private transportation to have a more comfortable journey. Anyhow, remember that a proper plan prior to your trip will save you from a lot of trouble.

Is there any Entrance Fee to Visit the Park?

Yes, all the tourists have to pay an entrance fee before entering the park. The entry fee of the Maduru Oya national park is as follows,

  • Entry fees for Sri Lankans: LKR 40 + LKR 300 group fee + 15% VAT
  • Entry fees for Foreign Nationals : USD 10 + USD 8 group fee +15% VAT

However, children between the ages of 6-12 can get the ticket for half price, and children below the age of 6 can enter the park free of charge. All kids must be accompanied by guardians. You have to make the payment either with LKR or USD.

What is the Best Time to Visit Maduru Oya National Park?

The main reason for tourists to visit Maduru Oya national park is to enjoy the wildlife. The best time period for this is March to September. That is because it is the dry season for Sri Lanka.

During this time period, wild animals come out of the thick forest in search of water. Safari trips are available focusing on these water bodies so that tourists can see the maximum amount of wildlife. Since the park is in a dry zone, the heat in the afternoon can get quite unbearable. Therefore, make sure to organize your tour either in the morning or evening to have the most benefits.

Things to Remember when Planning this Trip

There are various hotels in the area for you to stay. Also, there are some holiday bungalows even inside the park. Remember to book your accommodation in advance. Then, keep in mind that you are stepping into the dry zone. So, dress appropriately and keep yourself hydrated to avoid any inconveniences. With the above information, you will be able to plan your trip to Maduru Oya national park in an educated manner.

The Bottom Line

Maduru Oya national park is a little gem hidden in the lush forests of Sri Lanka. Unlike the other national parks, Maduru Oya park is not that crowded. So the park will ensure you a peaceful and relaxing wanderlust experience. Hope you will love exploring the evergreen forests of Maduru Oya national park which will definitely be an experience of a lifetime. Hence, never postpone your visit to this wonderful land of greenery. Happy and Safe Travelling!