Gal Oya Lodge, Sri Lanka
Far from the madding crowds of better known Sri Lankan safari hot spots, a bird lover’s paradise and elephant enclave awaits all those who choose to stay at the ecocentic Gal Oya Lodge. As the only accommodation option within Gal Oya National Park, the journey here might take longer than most, but trust us when we say – it’s worth it. The brainchild of Tim and Sangjay, founders of the infamous Tiger Tops in Nepal, Gal Oya offers a truly unique experience, fit for lovers of the outdoors, nurturers of nature and ambassadors of sustainable living.
From the ‘illuk’ grass roofed guest bungalows, to the handmade teak dining tables, nothing and no-one has journeyed too far to be part of the Gal Oya furniture. The team of staff who bring the lodge to life are almost wholly from the surrounding communities and throughout the lodge guests will enjoy beautiful trinkets created by local craftsmen, whose skills and traditional techniques have been passed down through countless generations.
Gal Oya Lodge
Nine one-bedroom bungalows hide within the jungle surrounds, each positioned with love and care to frame the best views, whilst having minimal impact on the surrounding landscape, flora and fauna. As you will find throughout Gal Oya, the rooms have been designed to ensure nature is right there with you at all times… delivered by floor to ceiling glass windows, sweeping verandah’s, inside/outside bathrooms and simple, yet extremely comfortable and spacious living spaces. The most recent addition to the property is a two-bedroom villa, located in on the highest part of the Gal Oya grounds, boasting jaw dropping views and peaceful privacy. A perfect option for families or groups traveling together. It is important to note that although children are more than welcome at Gal Oya, there are no specific children’s facilities and therefore we suggest that it is best suited to children who are old enough to take part in all the normal activities on offer. This is a place for families to share time and create memories together.
As you might expect, the environmental footprint of Gal Oya is almost non-existent and the menu follows suit with every meal being locally sourced and lovingly prepared. All ingredients are fresher than fresh, grown in the lodge’s own vegetable gardens or bought in from neighbouring villages. Although western dishes are available and mouth- watering to say the least, don’t shy away the vibrant curries, sambol’s and roti’s to get those taste buds tingling. Once you’re hooked, book a cookery lesson with one of the chefs so you can take the taste of Sri Lanka home with you.
With over 100 National Parks in Sri Lanka, it is hard to know which one to choose. Gal Oya National Park is one of the largest and yet in comparison to its southern neighbour Yala, completely untouched by tourism. One of the reasons for this is that the wildlife isn’t as dense and therefore you are less guaranteed to see leopard. However, you are almost 100% guaranteed to see elephant (amongst a whole host of other animals and birdlife), and it is the only park in Sri Lanka where you can go on a boat safari! Visit between March and July for the best chance of experiencing the magnificent Asian elephant swimming or bathing in the great Senanayaka Samudra Reservoir.
On top of the safari experience, guests of Gal Oya can enjoy a whole host of activities from hiking and biking to picnics on the banks of the Nigala River. The lack of visitors means that Gal Oya National Park has an extremely rich and healthy biodiversity, which the superb naturalists from the lodge can guide you through during your stay. Finally, the villages which surround Gal Oya are home to some of the last remaining Vedda communities in Sri Lanka. Spend a day with the local chief and understand the history of this serendipitous isles indigenous peoples. Be guided through the forest, exploring the Vedda forest dwellings and hunting grounds, whilst listening to tales of ancient herbal medicines, cave dwellings and fascinating ancestry.
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