Makare

MapCrew : 8

Transportation : Double Cabs

Duration : 2 Days

 

Visiting the famous “Makare – මකරේ” or the “Dragon Mouth” was in my mind for a long time but couldn’t find a time and a gang to visit there. Suddenly the idea of camping in the “Gal Oya” national park was suggested by my friend and luckily, there were many friends looking to join for the trip. We fixed a date on a weekend and reserved the Wild Life Department Nilgala Circuit Bungalow two weeks Prior. (Click here to Reserve Bungalows Operated by Department of Wild Life Conservation, Sri Lanka)

Seven of us departed Inginiyagala around 1.30 pm in two vehicles and pick another friend at the turning point for Nilgala Wild Life Department bungalow on Inginiyagala – Bliba Road. Access road is more of a dirt path with bushes creeping in, where we saw few households up to the border of the Galoya Forest Reserve. We reached there and settled in Nilgala wildlife bungalow around 4 pm and prepared for the BBQ. The staff supported us to marinate the chicken (There are no super markets or even large scale boutiques nearer, so better to bring all supplies from the nearest town. We bought our supplies from Ampara). The hardest part was to light up the charcoal in the BBQ grill which we brought with us.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02366DSC02374…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02368…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02373DSC02370…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02372DSC02382…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02384…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Then we went for a bath in the Gal Oya, which is few meters away from the place where we stayed. The environment was clam and warm, urging us to take a dip in the cold water. The water flow looked slow, but was strong and deep in some sections. The caretakers made us a delicious dinner to enjoy with the BBQ and we enjoyed it before going to sleep a bit  late.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02383DSC02387…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02399…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02397DSC02403…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02411

DSC02408

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02415…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
We woke up in the morning and our plan was to visit Makare and do a small hike on a wild trail. So we decided to visit makare before the breakfast and started our journey for the day. The road was not that difficult but it is recommended to use a vehicle with a good ground clearance, Four wheel drive is not a must. It took us a considerable time to drive up to makare as we were going below 10kmph all the time. After reaching a small hill like dead-end, we had to walk down to Gal oya. We took some time to capture the beauty of the stream running over the rocky surface. There were signs of a very high water level marked on nearby cliffs which was around 10-15 ft higher than the water level at that time.

Our guide took us on a footpath along the left bank of Gal oya and reached the famous “Makare” after few minutes walk. I imagined that it is a one giant rock and the water is flowing under it. But actually it is a collection of countless big rocks and the water is flowing through that rock filter. So we can’t see water flow unless Gal Oya is over flowing (Which is a seasonal thing if the top end of Gal Oya gets enough rain).
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02429DSC02434…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02437-001DSC02441…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02442DSC02451…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02448…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02472…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
After clicking few photos there, we decided to head back to our vehicles and go to one of the nearest campsites. We brought a small tent hoping to use it in case we needed, but it wasn’t. So we used it as a backdrop for some group photos!
😀
We were really hungry and missing the breakfast at that time, so we decided to cancel the hike we planned and return to the wildlife bungalow as soon as possible. It took around another 45 minutes drive for us to reach there, and a delicious breakfast was on the table as we arrived.

Since we didn’t had much time to plan and due to the last minutes participation, the food we brought finished with that breakfast. So we decided to head back to Mahaoya for Lunch and to have another dip in the nearby section of Gal Oya before the return trip.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02475DSC02488…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02491DSC02494…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….DSC02496DSC02499…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
On the way we saw some fresh elephant dung, indicating that there was at least one elephant nearby. It made us cautious and one of us spotted a small foot prints running towards the stream!
We heard a noise amid the discussion to guess who owns those foot prints. A wild boar appeared out of nowhere and it was coming towards us. Our immediate thoughts were to run for our lives, but we didn’t except making room for the boar to pass the group of us. The boar wasn’t a fully grown one and neither of us could see the Incisors that we were heard of. The boar decided to come towards us anyway and the time seemed passing in slow motion. The boar stopped near a puddle and rolled over resting up side down like a dog. It made us bit relieved and I tried to click some photos.

After having a minute of mud bath the bar again started following us. Then we realized that it must be used to humans and looking for something to eat in the bags we were carrying our towels and stuff. No one had anything to offer to the boar, but he followed us to the stream anyway.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….DSC02506DSC02581…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

DSC02518DSC02513

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
We jumped from the bank on to the rocks coming out of the stream and started to walk toward the usual spot we bathed the day before. We though then the boar will get back to the jungle as he can’t follow us. But we were wrong and the boar tried to test its swimming skills! But the water flow was high and it seemed that the boar is drowning. We were hopeless and the only thing we could do is to run towards a shallow bank and call it to swim there. After few minutes of rigorous swimming the boar made it to the bank we were on. It was tired from the fight with the mighty currents of Gal oya and let us even pet it.
😛

After a while a dog who lives in the Nilgala wild life bungalow came to the stream and the boar disappeared in to the jungle. So we too went on to have a bath and spent a quality time dipped in cold water. Afterwards it took only few minutes for us to pack our things and start the journey back. We went to Bibila town for the lunch and dropped one of our friends there. Drive back to Ampara took around another two hours and we finished the journey around 5 pm with a whole lot of unforgettable memories.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….DSC02525DSC02531…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….DSC02544DSC02555…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….IMG-78b297589312277801d65de5c1dec1bc-V…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Advertisements

Galoya National Park

MapCrew : 5

Tranportation : Double Cab (Up to Inginiyagala Dam), Boat

Duration : Half day

Gal Oya National Park is located in  the boundary of Uva and Eastern Provinces surrounding Inginiyagala reservoir AKA Senanayaka Samudraya, the largest reservoir in Sri Lanka. Senanayaka Samudraya is created by constructing a dam across the water stream called “Gala Oya” which later became “Gal oya” under Galoya project to distribute water to Uva and eastern provinces for irrigation purposes. The Dam, which power up the 11.25 MW Hydro electric generators in Inginiyagala Power Station was started in 1949 and completed in 1953.

This was the area which King Saddhatissa, Brother and successor of King Dutugemunu used as his hiding place during the war between his brother. After he throned, King Saddhatissa has build many temples in this area which later covered by dense forest with the establishment of the Kingdoms in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa areas. Later the villagers in Uva – Wellassa, in the times of the famous “Wellasse satana” had been fled to Digamadulla (Now Ampara-Inginiyagala-Hingurana-Damana area) which was a dense jungle at that time and established villages. After few centuries of isolation from the rest of the country, Galoya project made people from all over the country to settle down in Digamadulla.

The Galoya National park was established in 1954 as the main catchment area of the senanayaka samudraya and controlled under the Galoya development board until 1965, when the department of wildlife conservation took over. 63000 ha land of this national park is the home for 32 species of terrestrial mammals including Sri Lankan Elephant, Deer, Water Buffalo, Leopard, Wild Boar and Monkeys. It is rare to see mammals in this park other than elephants, buffaloes and monkeys through the untouched, thick walls of gigantic tress. Therefore this national park still remains unpopular, keeping its residents safe and sound.

I had an idea of visiting the park someday as i heard it is the only national park in Sri Lanka, where visitors can go on a boat safari. One fine day of July in 2016 me and another four of my friends went to the Gal oya National Park. As I have been contacted Galoya wild life department office few weeks earlier and reserved the afternoon (3.00 PM) boat session, we only had to pay the fees and jump in to the boat. There are two boats which you can reserve, one with 10 and another with 7 passenger capacity. You only have to make a call to Department of Wildlife Office in Galoya (0632242002 / +94632242002) to make a reservation, which they will be confirming your participation by contacting you in the morning of your date of reservation and payments can be made just before the boat safari.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………DSCF0466DSCF0463……………………………………………………………………..………………………..…………………………………..

DSCF0469

DSCF0465

…………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….
I was already in Ampara, so i went from a personal vehicle to the Inginiyagala dam. One who is travelling from Kandy to Galoya national park have three routes as options.

Option 1: Kandy to Andaulpotha – B492 (Randenigala Road) & B36 > Andaulpotha to Inginiyagala Via Bibile (178 km) : Haven’t used this route in a while, heard B492 (Randenigala) road in not in perfect condition as rest of the road. But can’t say the road condition is bad.

Option 2: Kandy to Mahiyanganaya – A26 (18 Hair pin road) > Mahiyanganaya to Inginiyagala Via Andaulpotha  and Bibile (178 km) : A26 (18 Hair pin) Road is one of the most scenic routes in Sri Lanka and the road lies through Galoya national park during the Bibile – Inginiyagala part

Option 3: Kandy to Mahaoya (69 junction) – A26 (18 Hair pin road) & Mahaoya (69 junction to Ampara – A5 > Ampara to Inginiyagala – AB1 (209 km) : A26 (18 Hair pin) Road is one of the most scenic routes in Sri Lanka but there is around 60km length after Padiyathalawa in  route

My favorite is Option 2, But you have to always keep an eye on the road as there is a high chance of wild animals crossing the road in the Bibile – Inginiyagala part. Also i have observed that dogs love sleeping on the road just after a drizzle which is rare to this area in latter part of the year.

We went to the Galoya national park, wild life department office around 2.30 pm and then paid for the boat ride. You have to pay for 5 people to reserve the boat and if there are more poeple, it is 650LKR per head, small amount as the boat operator cost and Taxes. For five of us, it was around 840 LKR per head alltogether. (*Please note that these charges are for local visitors, Charges for Foreigners may be different). Then we went to the far end of Inginiyagala dam, where the Wildlife department holiday bungalow is located. The boat operator gave us life jackets and prepared the boat while we were struggling to put on them.

Then the ride began. It was too sunny so that we all wore hats and i was wondering will there be any animal sightings with this hot climate.  Initially we saw many birds who has been residing the small islands emerged from water. There were only few species of birds though the count was numerous. As we got to know afterwards it is better to go morning boat safari to see birds and afternoon session for elephants. Then we saw one elephant on a island far away and traveled there, the operator shut the boat engine as we came nearby and let it float without any sound. The giant was searching for food and was too busy not to notice us (or may be he knew there is no treat to them inside their home).
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSCF0478
DSCF0488
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSCF0511DSCF0522

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSCF0502DSCF0510

…………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………….
DSCF0526……………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………………DSCF0536DSCF0538

……………………………………………………………………..……………………………………………………………DSCF0551DSCF0545

………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………..DSCF0567DSCF0564

………………………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………….DSCF0498
DSCF0579
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..………………………DSCF0575………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………DSCF0605DSCF0602

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………DSCF0615
DSCF0613
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSCF0616DSCF0630

………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………………..DSCF0652DSCF0648

……………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………..DSCF0656DSCF0657
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSCF0659………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………DSCF0661
DSCF0636……………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………………….
We started the ride once again as the elephant disappeared behind the rocky center of the island. As it is an island the elephant must have swam to it, but it is a rare to witness  that event. Then we saw few deer, Monkeys, alligator and another elephant in the mainland. All the mammals were there for water, while the alligator was spying on them. Then we saw the event we were looking forward, one of my friends pointed out an elephant walking towards the reservoir from the mainland far away. It was nearly 4.30pm where the sun was on the background making it hard for us to watch the elephant. So the operator took the boat around an island . When we were looking there was no sign of the elephant. Then the wild life department boat operator shut the engine and pointed out a small rock like thing around 8 inches over the water surface, that turned out to be the one we were looking for. It was a majestic scene to witness. The elephant was swimming!!! the thing we saw was the top of her head and she gently rise her eyes above the water once in a while to see the direction. As she could breath through her trunk, which was slightly over the water surface the swim seemed pretty easy even though the body is large.
……………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………….DSCF0676…………………………………………………………………………………………….……………………………………..DSCF0677
DSCF0680
………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………………………..DSCF0684

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..DSCF0685-001DSCF0685

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Suddenly our boat, which was floating with the engines turned off hit a decayed tree trunk under the water. That made a large noise and got the swimmers’ attention. She quickly swam the rest of the distance and challenged us as soon as she could feel the ground underwater. But as we kept clam and she realized it is safe, she gently walked out of the water and had a snack before disappearing in to the tree curtain of that island. On the way we saw another couple of elephants having their wet bodies covering with dust and enjoying the sunset. Finally we headed back to the dam to realize that we were on the boat for around 3 hours and 30 minutes.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………DSCF0717……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………..DSCF0716
DSCF0712
…………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………….DSCF0711DSCF0700

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….……….DSCF0701……………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………….………DSCF0722DSCF0724

…………………………………………………………………………………….……………………….……………………DSCF0723…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..………DSCF0728DSCF0732

……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………….……………………DSCF0746
………………………………………………………………………………………………………….……….……………….