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Yala and Wilpattu are the big hitters in Sri Lanka’s National Park scene, meaning that the vast Gal Oya National Park in the heart of the island is often overlooked, but thanks to the beautiful Gal Oya Lodge, this is sure to change.
Gal Oya Lodge is located just outside of the National Park, sitting amid 20 acres of private forest for a wonderful nature experience. The lodge has just nine rooms one bedroom bungalows and a two bedroom villa, entirely constructed from locally sourced natural materials including teak and mara, while the tables and chairs have been lovingly crafted by local villagers.
Spacious guest bungalows are nestled within the forest canopy, and consist of bedrooms featuring four posters draped in cream linen and separate living areas, both with floor to ceiling windows to take full advantage of the wonderful views. Ensuite bathrooms offer his 'n' hers sinks, and both indoor and outdoor showers, whilst each bungalow also includes a private verandah with seating, on which to while away lazy afternoons with a good book and a chilled drink.
A single two bedroom villa sits uphill, with commanding views over Gal Oya lodge and the surrounding forest. Both bedrooms offer wraparound verandahs, and are connected by a spacious open plan living room. Lofty ceilings, open plan design and polished concrete floors mean that the lack of air conditioning isn't an issue, as rooms remain blissfully cool.
A swimming pool provides a little respite during warmer days, and for those who prefer a little shade, the bar makes a fine spot for a leisurely tipple. The Gal Oya restaurant serves all meals to guests, from an a la carte menu.
Guests at Gal Oya Lodge can explore the jungle by jeep safari, nature walks, mountain bikes and, what with Gal Oya being home to the largest lake in Sri Lanka, wildlife safaris are also conducted by boat, which offers the chance to spot swimming elephants - quite a sight!
The lodge are currently working on developing a fully equipped wildlife conservation research centre to gather valuable data on the leopard population as well as other animals that frequent the local area.