Founder of Gal Oya Lodge, Sangjay, shares his tips for travelling like an ‘insider’ in Gal Oya National Park – home to herds of elephants, crocodiles and various bird life. From joining local naturalists on wildlife research missions, to walking with a Vedha Chief through ancient forests, to enjoying boat safaris spotting elephants – he explains how to make the most of your visit.
Personalised experiential travel is at the core of Gal Oya Lodge and an insider’s experience is what we try and create for all our guests.
Our activities are all curated and accompanied by local naturalists who live in the area and conduct ongoing research into the flora and fauna, through the in-house wildlife research centre (Jim Edwards Wildlife Research Centre).
In essence, when you go out with our naturalists, as well as sharing insights on the local area, you are involved in and are part of the ongoing research and conservation efforts in the area, which is a part of an island-wide study led by the Wilderness and Wildlife Trust’s Leopard Project and Biodiversity initiatives.
Another insider aspect of the lodge is being involved with the local aboriginal tribe called the Vedhas, helping the community in preserving their traditions and in-depth knowledge of the forest.
We adamantly avoid ‘people-watching’ or asking the Vedhas to stray from their usual lifestyle so we don’t ask them to put on shows or dances. Instead we try to create an authentic experience by inviting the chief to take guests on a walk through his forest, during which they can learn from him about all the different medicinal herbs the tribe use, their hunting techniques and about their ways of life.
We also offer fantastic safaris by boat through the national park. If you’re really lucky, you can sometimes see elephants swimming through the water using their trunks like a snorkel. It’s quite a sight!