Randenigala is one of Sri Lanka's largest reservoirs in the valley of the island's mightiest river Mahaweli Ganga. Randenigala dam measures 94 m in height and 485 m in length. The power station has a capacity of 126 MW and generates 428 GWh annually. The surface area of the reservoir is 1,350 hectare. The lake is picturesquely located and spotted with small islands. The northern shores are a National Park area which remained untouristed. Near Randenigala dam is a camp for visitors. It is a perfect location for exploring the fauna and flora of Randenigala National Park at the edge of the hill country and a good starting point for day excursions by car, for example to Sri Lanka's most isolated national parks or to some remote cultural attractions. A special highlight for visitors is a nighttime boat excursion.
Sinharaja rain forest
Kanneliya small rain forest
Pinnawela elephant orphanage
Dry zone south
Yala NP camping-safari
Bundala NP bird watching
Kumana NP birds and wildlife
Okanda village life and beach
Rufus Kulam remote lake
Lahugala NP with heritage site
Gal Oya NP lakeside wildlife
Udawalawe NP wild elephants
Ussangoda serpentine rock
Dry zone north
Minneriya NP elephant gathering
Kaudulla NP elephant gathering
Habarana oxcart excursions
Nelumpure authentic village life
Mihintale ancient sanctuary
Namal Uyana ironwood sanctuary
Rasvehera monastery and wildlife
Tabbowe lake near Wilpattu NP
Horton Plains trekking hotspot
Bambarakanda 240 m waterfall
Adam's Peak pilgrim mountain
Hakgala Botanical Garden
Kitulgala white water and birds
Peradeniya Botanical Garden
Meemure village life and trekking
Knuckles Range trekking highlight
Randenigala NP alternative camp
You can find a similar linklist with images further below:
Not far from the dam of the Randenigala reservoir, there is a camp run by the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department. It is cheaper and quieter than other camps in better-known national parks. Nevertheless, it is an ideal base camp for a variety of activities. There is a reason why this perfect place for camping and trekking activities and day excursions is not at all crowded:
Due to its location far away from the island's single north-south main road the Randenigala camp is not suitable for bus groups, and since it is run by Sri Lanka's authorities instead of being operated by the private sector, there is not much promotion for this very distinctive expedition camp, simply because of a lack of demand.
But just the "secret" character of Randenigala makes it an attraction for those who like to enjoy impressions of Sri Lanka's varied nature in utmost tranquility.
To take all the opportunities at the Randenigala camp you should stay here at least five nights. Thus, we recommend altogether four full-day programms with Randenigala as the base.
Randenigala lies in the rain shadow of the mountains and is therefore comparatively dry during the main monsoon season, but then it can be very hot and windy. Best times for a stay in Randenigale are March and April, touristic high season in Sri Lanka, because of climate conditions at the southwest coast and European Easter holidays. However, climatic conditions in Sri lanka are not reliably predictable any more. Showers and storms can occur in the Randenigala national park during any season.
Apart from the usual camping pleasures as campfires and barbecues, a stay at Randenigala offers an integration into a local community. Thus, a Randenigala holiday is inexpensive as well, because the meals can be prepared using the same reasonably priced products from the immediate vicinity which are preferred by locals, too. The food here is fresh and hygienic and authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, but can be served less spicy on our guests' request.
At Randenigala camp there is an "elephant observation guarantee". But that has its drawbacks. The half-hour walk to Rantambe Lake is not possible at dusk or at night, it would be too dangerous because of the roaming wild elephants.
Therefore one item of our program could be climbing to one of the many tree houses built on agricultural land in the surrounds of the national park. They are great for bird-watching, but they are built as refuges for local farmers, in the event they have to flee from the roaming elephants to a safe shelter. On request you can experience an overnight stay in such a tree house, too.
nighttime boat safari
A special feature of Randenigala is a nighttime boat safari. Only the Wildlife Department is authorized to perform boat trips on this reservoir. The man-made lake has become a habitat of crocodiles, they occasionally even attack boats by ramming them. Therefore an armed ranger must be on board for safety reasons. This night safaris necessarily require prior reservation. In the nights around a full moon you can, from a safe distance, watch elephants on the shore of Randenigala lake.
Bambiya Peak trekking
Well suitable for bird watching is the Bambiya-height. From here you can enjoy a nice view of the Randenigala lake and of the central higlands behind it. The viewpoint Bambiya peak is a destination for a short hike through a wilderness that is interesting because of both fauna and flora, its variety of tree species in particular.
This area is a habitat for Asian porcupines, which, however, significantly differ from the better-known Australian porcupines. Bears live in this area, too. Certainly you will observe the two common species of deer, sambar and axis, as well as giant squirrels and mongoose.
There are other trekking routes starting from the camp taking four hours walking approximately, so you really need some time to get to know this region more precisely.
For a change, day trips can be organized, for example, to the temple and the banks of Mahaweli river in Mahiyangana and to the Veddah village Dambana. Since sightseeinglanka has good contacts with the Veddah leadership, the team members can prevent incidents of pushy begging that otherwise occur in Dambana notoriously.
Maduru Oya National Park
Who is ready to get up very early even can enjoy a jeep safari in Sri Lanka's third largest national park. The Maduru Oya National Park is far off the beaten tourist track, you will rarely meet other foreign visitors in this area.
By the way, Maduru Oya offers cultural attractions too, Vedda tribes live here. Some rocks served as hermitages of forest monks in ancient time.
Wasgomuwa National Park
Overnight stays in the Randenigala camp also allow an excursion to the Wasgamuwa National Park, which is less crowded than the neighbouring parks Minneriya and Kaudulla. As in the case of those two more popular safari destinations, there can be a giant flock of elephants in Wasgomuwa, too, numbers of gathering elephants one can hardly observe anywhere else in South Asia. But the Sri Lankan elephant gathering is a seasonal event only.
You can spend another day with a tour to the three most important Maheweli dams, viz. Victoria, Randenigala, and Rantambe.
At the Victoria embankment there is a small but very interesting documentation centre, giving detailed maps and descriptions of Sri Lanka's modern irrigation projects, some of which are even used for reactivation of ancient irrigation systems in the historic cultural triangle area.
The tour could include a visit of the unusually designed Hanguranketa temple.
Mini World's End
Halfway between Randenigala camp and Victoria dam we cross Hunnasgirya. We could take the road to Corbett's gap starting here, for a short hike from Deanston to the so-called "Mini World's End", not to be confused with "Little World's End" at Horton Plains. The "Mini World's End" is not less specatular, its 270-degree panorama of Knuckles Range is unforgettable.
Sita Kotuwa area
But even a shorter trip to the northeast edge of the Knuckles Range are worth considering. Near Hasalaka there is an opportunity for a trekking to ancient ruins in the jungle and waterfalls at Gurulopota. The ruins of an ancient forest monastery are interpreted as a location of the Ramayana epic called Sta Koruwa. Be aware, this thicket is a bit difficult to traverse.
On a trip to this area or to Mahiyangana (mentioned above) the sightseeinglanka team leader could show another small but interesting feature, namely the natural rock weirs of Sorabora at the lake of the same name.
Sora means "concealment" and Bora "lie." This name is explained by one of the legends typical for Sri Lanka: A second name of the lake and weir is "Bulata", this was the name the Bethel Nut supplier of king Dutthagamani. On his way to the capital Anuradhapura, Bulata discovered this natural weir, with which the damming of water and its diversion for land cultivation was possible esily. But Bulata instead of sharing this information with the king he irrigated new paddy land here on his own initiative. The king forgave it since he recognized the success, so he transferred the cultivated land to Bulate. However, the name "Sorabora" now recalls Bulata's attempt to deceive the king.
Much more time is required for tours to some of the hot water springs that are found in Sri Lanka's eastern plains. Two of them are situated in the Maha Oya region northeast of Randenigala, another one towards Gal Oya at Bibile could be a one-day program combined with a visit to Badulla and the nearby Dunhinda waterfalls.
Sightseeinglanka is a tour operator based in Sri Lanka and 100% owned by Sri Lankans, specialized on organizing eco-friendly and extraordinary safari and authentic Sri Lanka village-life experiences - truly no tourism industry fake! Kapila, founder and leader of Team Sightseeinglanka, is a biologist. Please read more...
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