Situated at the tip of the national forest home to the most wondrous fauna and flora, Gal Oya Lodge is an eco wonderland. Encased within 25 acres of forest land, it blends in with its natural surroundings andboasts a breathtaking vantage point of the hills and valleys of the Gal OyaNational Park. Built completely with natural elements from its cement floors to the timbre walls to the thatched roofs, the Lodge has a very appealing raw and natural charm about it. Even the furniture and decor have a certain ‘rustic’ quality whilst not depriving us of any comforts within. Access is via the less used roadways, but we still arrived at this eco lodge, very happy to find ourselves secluded from the hustle bustle of city life and ready for indulgence of being at one with nature.
Catering to lovers of nature, wildlife and most importantly to those keen on preserving nature and its wildlife, Gal Oya Lodge has gone to great lengths to maintain the region’s natural habitat while giving their guests the time of their life- we saw, we touched and we experienced nature.
Ten separate bungalows furnished and equipped with comforts, solar powered hot water, natural spring water filtered for drinking, organic herb and vegetable garden, tours, safaris and picnics arrangements, all at your fingertips. A tranquilpool and strategically placed viewing benches are just some of the things that await., Truly ecological, Gal Oya Lodge used all of nature and nothing artificial to serve us.
The Gal Oya Natural Park is a wonderland of wildlife and nature which can be explored in many ways. Gal Oya Lodge facilitates the way you would want to: by foot, bike, boat, jeep, you name it. From sun rises till sunset, depending on the type of excursion one prefers, they will ensure the best wildlife sightings are captured. In addition to safaris and excursions, meet with the Sri Lankan ‘locals’ (referred to as “Veddah”s) who live deep within the forests, Guests may also participate with the animal monitoring crew who through theircameras are continually reviewing and studying the behavior of the wildlife surrounding them.
Gal Oya Lodge truly believes in preserving and blending with the natural habitat. The nine one-roomed bungalows and one two-roomed villa are all designed, built, furnished, equipped and run with extractions from all natural sources. Whilst going all natural, the comforts were pleasantly present too. The spacious bathrooms and king sized beds adorned with vibrant spreads and cool Sri Lankan décor, refreshingly off-set the natural ambiance..
The high thatched roofs, raw wooden paneled walls, wooden furniture, raw cement floor, created a rustic atmosphere giving us the feeling of being within the wilderness. The views of the forest, mountains and valleys surrounding us gave us the feeling of seclusion tempting us with binoculars and a whistle – our very own outbound safari. It was a dream come true. We caught sight of manyexotic birds from our rooms.
Room service isnot available as it compromises the safety and wellbeing of forest life- a testament to the management’s passion for the local environment.
The bungalows and villa were very spacious with large sleeping areas, living/lounge areas and outdoor bathroom andopen showers. With all the openness and spaciousness, privacy is maintained with each of them separated enough not to be in the view of the other.
All the meals served are a la carte with western and Sri Lankan options in the menu. Seated overlooking the green earth and blue sky; fresh juices, fresh herbs and vegetables right from their own organic garden and some locally sourced, are served deliciously cooked to order. The variety of local and western flavors were impressive with eye pleasing presentation.
Apart from the main 3 meals, the kitchen is open for ad hoc requirements such as picnic baskets and special requirements such as kids menus. Complementary selection of beverages and snacks are available throughout the day as well. The bar is well equipped with a selection of local liquor and international wines. The kitchen and bar staff catered to our timings as we went on treks and safaris and still wanted to indulge in their food and drink to get the best of both worlds.
Cooking demonstrations and lessons can be arranged with the hotel and it was an interesting experience which we enjoyed thoroughly. We selected the vegetables and herbs with the crew from their gardens and learnt how to make some of their signature Sri Lankan dishes. Best part is we get to taste them too.
The hotel is situated in the tip of the Gal Oya National Park, and therefore by default one would go there to indulge in the exhibits of the park itself. Wild life in the form of deer, wild boars, elephants, leopards, tortoise and crocodiles, over 150 species of birds such as types of eagles, duck, pelicans and herons, important herbs to the Ayurvedic stream of medicine, and the large lake giving life to the forest and its inhabitants are some of the main points of interest to the visitors of Gal Oya.
The hotel caters to the nature enthusiast with jeeps, bicycles, boats, naturalist guides, a wildlife monitoring crew amongst other things to ensure the best experience you would wish for, is made possible. Treks, walks, bike rides, jeep safaris, boat rides are all made available and bookings can be made with the hotel with their guides at their recommended options of times, be it morning or evening as per your preference.
Picnics can be arranged and the hotel will guide the safe places, water ways for baths in natural ponds, with food packed by the hotel. For those who do not want to venture far from the hotel, a dip in the pool and a pair of binoculars will give a chance for participation in nature remotely.
One of the best experiences that the hotel offer is to meet with the indigenous people of Sri Lanka. Their lifestyle can be witnessed and somewhat experienced by going on this tour and seeing it firsthand.
With so many experiences to be had and comforts to experience it within, Gal Oya Lodge is a must visit for wild life enthusiasts, and can be reached by road or air. The hours of travel will all be worth it when you land there, and after a few days of eco living, returning to your city life will surely be a difficult task to wrap your head around.