Far from the madding crowd, the Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka boasts beautiful scenery, an abundance of wildlife and the largest lake in the country. It’s the perfect spot to relax and unwind, get back to nature and experience authentic Sri Lanka, from the chance to see elephants, crocodiles, deer and all kinds of birds in their natural habitat to meeting the Veddas – the aboriginal people of the island. The Gal Oya Lodge offers luxury accommodation across 20 acres of private forest and prides itself on its high-end, environmentally responsible tourism. A stay here is guaranteed to make the everyday grind feel a million miles away! With regard to travelling here, there are a couple of options. You can fly direct from Heathrow to Colombo with Sri Lankan, and from there it’s a six to seven hour drive to Gal Oya Lodge. Alternatively, connecting flights to Mattala Rajapaksa are available, which is only a three hour drive away. The lodge also has its own helipad.
Consisting of 7 bungalows and a two room villa clustered around the main lodge, Gal Oya is peaceful, spacious and – being constructed from locally sourced materials – in total harmony with the nature that surrounds it. It was built with the aim to create a more intimate, personal safari experience, and the jeep and boat safaris are a definite highlight. However you can also enjoy time spent simply lounging by the pool, enjoying the tranquil and beautiful surroundings.
Carefully positioned within the forest canopy to make the most of the views from every angle, each bungalow has a living room and spacious bedroom, both with floor to ceiling windows. Bedrooms have king size beds and ensuite bathrooms with his and hers sinks and indoor and outdoor shower, with solar-powered hot water. Each bungalow has its own private veranda from which to enjoy the forest and/or mountain views, while you will also find a few useful items provided, such as torches, umbrellas, playing cards and fresh flowers, which is a lovely, thoughtful touch. Décor is simple, rustic and very calming, with the use of natural materials such as wood and stone prominent throughout. In addition to the 7 bungalows, there is also a larger, two bedroom villa at the highest point of Gal Oya lodge, with spectacular views and wraparound verandas where you can watch both the sunrise and sunset. Room Tip – It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the bungalows are located a fair distance away from the lodge on an unmade path, so if that’s something that could be an issue, make sure you request one that’s closer by.
Restaurant and Bar
Located in the central lodge, the spacious, airy restaurant with its high, shady roof offers an a la carte menu with the option to choose either western or traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. While the dinner menu offers just a few choices, the quality is excellent. Vegetarians and those with special dietary requirements will find that their needs are catered for, while there is also a children’s menu available and picnic meals can be provided. Between meals, guests can enjoy complimentary light snacks and hot drinks. The bar is well stocked with both old and new world wines as well as local liquor, and complimentary bar snacks are available to enjoy with evening drinks.
Pool and Activities
The highlight of any stay at Gal Oya Lodge is the safaris, particularly the boat safari, which is completely unique in Sri Lanka. The chance to see all manner of animals and birds, particularly elephants in their natural habitat, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed. You can also go on an excursion with a Vedda chief and gain a unique insight into the way of life of the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka, or simply enjoy the swimming pool and its beautiful surroundings.
While there is always something to see at Gal Oya, September and October are particularly good months to visit, as you have more chance of getting to see the elephants swimming from island to island. Don’t forget to bring practical clothing and in particular footwear for the safaris, and perhaps a pair of binoculars.
Gal Oya Lodge offers a beautiful and peaceful place to stay in one of Sri Lanka’s lesser known National Parks, as well as the opportunity to enjoy unique safari experiences.
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