The first obvious and most noticeable detail when arriving in Sri Lanka is the richness and depth of the country. The place is vibrant with colour, food, smells and sounds. There seems to be something happening wherever you look, an abundance of energy going about their day. As a wildlife enthusiast, initially seeing this spirited setting full of life is a fantastic indication of what is to come.
I had flown into Colombo to travel the country by road and had particular interest in the fauna and flora of Gal Oya national park, a national park off the beaten track with a newly built property, Gal Oya lodge.
Gal Oya lodge is an approx 4hrs trip (flight + drive) from Colombo and sits on the west edge of the park. The national park is 259 km2 and host to an array of wildlife. Little is known about the fauna and flora of Gal Oya, it’s the only safari destination that offers to take clients out on boats to spot the various animals, the park has a picture perfect lake sitting on its southern tip which is ideal for this activity. I had arrived at night and in the rain so by the time I had showered, changed, found the restaurant and then the bar my
bearings of the premises were out of sync. However, the piece, serenity and tranquillity of the property were definitely of note. The bungalows were neatly tucked away with stunning views (I only realised in the morning), open loos and showers under the stars and high wooden ceilings added to the natural feel. From the moment I arrived at Gal Oya lodge I felt totally at one in the jungle!
Over the next few days I was straight into the deep end and experienced a different special activity on a daily basis. On our first day, we boated for a full day with a delicious picnic lunch and saw elephants swimming from one side of Gal Oya Lake to the other. On day 2, we were out on a jeep excursion spotting countless endemic birds and keeping our eyes peeled for the elusive Leopard. But my most memorable moment at Gal Oya lodge was on our final day, the
operations closest neighbours are the indigenous Veddha tribe (the aboriginal people of Sri Lanka), I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with the tribe learning about their survival skills in the jungle and how they live off the forest. The whole experience was truly fascinating, blessed to see how life can be so simple. It was an amazing way to depart from the lodge and I felt inspired, wanting to go back to the basics in life.
I left Gal Oya lodge feeling wholesome, rejuvenated and extremely relaxed. To be so close to nature, yet spoilt with such comfort is very hard to find in this developing age. The next steps of my Sri Lankan journey took me through magnificent tea plantations, pristine surfing beaches and swimming with blue whales in crystal clear water. The richness of the island is something to be admired, every corner you turn there is a new lively habitat to explore.The island is blessed with life, culture and character, elements that will draw me back year after year.
Tears for Tigers Travel