Gal Oya LodgeGal Oya National Park / Sri Lanka
With quaint thatch-roofed bungalows made from local woods, Gal Oya Lodge strives to exist at one with the Sri Lankan wilderness that surrounds it. Home to a regionally-inspired restaurant and mountain-backed swimming pool, the eco-friendly resort is the perfect launch pad to explore one of Sri Lanka’s more remote areas, where elephants can be spotted swimming in the country’s largest lake and water buffalo roam the open savannahs.
What to love
- The hotel supports the Jim Edwards Widlife Research Centre, which works with local and international conservation trusts.
- The resort’s nine spacious bungalows and family villa have all been designed from locally-sourced materials and are inspired by Sri Lankan architecture.
- Guests can arrange for a guided walk with a member from the neighbouring Vedda village, one of the last remaining indigenous communities in Sri Lanka.
What to know
- Visitors have the rare opportunity of a boat safari along the Senanayake Samudraya lake, Sri Lanka’s largest inland body of water.
- The resort follows strict recycling policies and numerous green initiatives.
- The hotel’s mezzanine restaurant cooks up a stomach-rumbling mix of international and local dishes, with all ingredients sourced on-site or locally.
Gal Oya Lodge is a shining example of how a resort can be sustainably minded without sacrificing any sense of luxury. Made from local recycled woods, its nine spacious bungalows and one family villa are carefully woven into the beautiful forestry that surrounds them. Inside, guests are greeted with an elegant Sri Lankan-inspired décor with a king-sized bed and al fresco bathroom, while brilliant floor-to-ceiling windows lead out on to a peaceful garden veranda.
The resort takes its eco-friendly measures seriously: wastewater is recycled, solar panels are used for heating, and staff even use environmentally kind cleaning products. All of the produce for the hotel’s internationally-inspired restaurant is either grown on-site (eggs even come from their own free-range chickens) or from local farmers and fishermen. The resort also supports the Jim Edwards Wildlife Research Centre, which is responsible for numerous conservation projects in this part of the world.
For days when you’re not lounging by the outdoor pool under the gaze of the mountains, the Gal Oya National Park has 25,000 hectares of evergreen jungle and wide-open savannah plains to explore. The area is home to a wealth of captivating indigenous wildlife such as elephants, leopards, langur monkeys and eagles, and the resort can arrange tailored safaris by jeep or boat (the park encompasses Sri Lanka’s largest lake, the Senanayake Samudraya), mountain treks or bird-watching walks through the forest. For a truly one-of-a-kind perspective on the region, you can take a walk with a member of the Vedda community, one of the last remaining native communities of Sri Lanka.
When to Travel
Gal Oya National Park is worth a visit at any time of year but the highlight tends to be the spectacle of seeing the elephants swim between the islands and this tends to be between March when the rains easy off and July, in mid dry season.
Gal Oya Lodge is usually incorporated within a tour of Sri Lanka and access is therefore by road. As an indication, the Lodge is approx 3.5 hours from Kandy/Sirigiya and approx 3 hours from Yala depending on where you are heading.
Families are most welcome at Gal Oya Lodge. The accommodation includes a two bedroom Family Villa.