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Staying at Gal Oya Lodge, Sri Lanka

Louisa

Louisa specialises in New Zealand - See more from Louisa

Escorted Tour organiser and leader Louisa Thompson tells us about her stay at Gal Oya Lodge, Sri Lanka.

'Unmarked and down a discreet dirt track is where you’ll find Gal Oya Lodge. A simple yet luxurious eco-lodge surrounded by lush green vegetation and a cacophony of jungle sounds.'

The lodge has just 10 charming straw thatched bungalows, each tastefully designed to blend into its natural surroundings. All are spaced out away from one another, giving you total privacy and a homely feel. The bathrooms are most certainly the best bit - you must see it to know what I’m talking about. The rooms themselves are made from sustainable and local materials, with handmade soap and hot water supplied by solar panels. Fruit and vegetables are grown in the large vegetable patch, whilst most of the lodge’s staff are from the surrounding villages.

Sadly, we’ve all adopted the habit of constantly being in contact with the outside world. Whether you’re checking emails, updating your social media, or reading the news; we never actually switch off. Here, you have to switch off! There’s no WI-FI and not one bar of signal - it’s heavenly, and personally, I think this is a great asset to the lodge, allowing you to really immerse yourself in the wilds around you. Fret not though, as there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Whether you’re venturing out on a jeep or boat safari, climbing Monkey Mountain before breakfast, cycling around the village or simply relaxing by the pool and taking in the breathtaking views, you’ll never be bored.

 

The lodge itself sits in the heart of the jungle and just on the border of Gal Oya National Park, a remote park not widely known by tourists but hosting many species of wildlife, big and small. You’ll practically feel as though you have the park to yourself when on safari. Gal Oya is particularly famed for its boat safaris, which, with a bit of luck, enables you to see majestic elephants swimming from island to island in the country’s largest inland lake, Senanayake Samudraya. It truly is an unforgettable experience.

 

After supper, enjoy a walk around the 20-acre property with one of the lodge’s knowledgeable naturalists. This is a great way of spotting weird and wonderful birds and creepy crawlies at night, and maybe even getting a very rare glimpse of the endangered pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world. With a research centre on the grounds, the lodge takes pride in the conservancy of its wild inhabitants. With camera traps set up around the grounds, don’t miss the opportunity to see what animals have been crossing your paths at night!

Food is another big talking point about this property, with guests treated to a delightful, ever-changing menu. Even if you opt for a picnic breakfast or lunch whilst out on safari, you will be wowed by the presentation and taste. Opt for a cooking lesson when here. A local villager will take you through the steps of making different, but tasty foods, unique to their village.

In the middle of nowhere, isolated from the rest of the world, I couldn’t recommend this place enough. This is what Sri Lanka should be like - total magic.