Sri Lanka's natural wonderland from a boat

Boat safaris in Sri Lanka's Gal Oya National Park (above) offer scenic views of the country's unspoilt beauty and untamed wildlife.
Boat safaris in Sri Lanka's Gal Oya National Park (above) offer scenic views of the country's unspoilt beauty and untamed wildlife. PHOTOS: GAL OYA LODGE, RACHEL LEES
Boat safaris (above) in Sri Lanka's Gal Oya National Park offer scenic views of the country's unspoilt beauty and untamed wildlife.
Boat safaris (above) in Sri Lanka's Gal Oya National Park offer scenic views of the country's unspoilt beauty and untamed wildlife.PHOTOS: GAL OYA LODGE, RACHEL LEES
Sudhawaninila (centre), chief of the local Vedda tribe, with his second in command Poromala and his granddaughter.
Sudhawaninila (centre), chief of the local Vedda tribe, with his second in command Poromala and his granddaughter.PHOTOS: GAL OYA LODGE, RACHEL LEES
The swimming pool at Gal Oya Lodge.
The swimming pool at Gal Oya Lodge.PHOTOS: GAL OYA LODGE, RACHEL LEES
The abundant and myriad wildlife includes elephants, birds (both above) and crocodiles.
The abundant and myriad wildlife includes elephants, birds (both above) and crocodiles.PHOTOS: GAL OYA LODGE, RACHEL LEES
The abundant and myriad wildlife includes elephants, birds and crocodiles (above).
The abundant and myriad wildlife includes elephants, birds and crocodiles (above).PHOTOS: GAL OYA LODGE, RACHEL LEES

Spread over 25,900ha, Sri Lanka's Gal Oya National Park houses the Senanayake Samudra reservoir - the only place in the country where you can see elephants, and other wildlife, on a boat safari

The wind skims across our skin in the back seat of the open-air Bolero as we hurtle along the asphalt roads on the outskirts of the national park.

At 6.30am, everything is bathed in the glow of a milky golden light.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 20, 2019, with the headline 'Sri Lanka's natural wonderland from a boat'. Print Edition | Subscribe