#TRAVEL
Unplugged and untamed

Gal Oya Lodge in Sri Lanka redefines the idea of a holiday resort with eco bungalows and a national park next door.

By YK Lam       20 March 2019

Crouching behind boulders, he pointed to what looked like a boulder some 500m away. It was actually a lone elephant. The large mammal suddenly stopped feeding and lifted his head to look in our direction. “He is downwind and can smell us,’’ explained Anuradha. Meanwhile, brahminy kites glided lazily overhead. A white-bellied eagle had settled on a stump, as egrets, grey herons and cormorants nested peacefully on a grassy slope. But there was more excitement when freshwater crocodiles were spotted. Fortunately, they were too far – or lazy – to bother with us.

Jungle Drive

On land, in the forest in the opposite direction from the lodge, there are more species of birds to be discovered during the jeep safari (if you can spot them). While you can hear them, it’s unlikely you can see them – unless your guide is eagle-eyed Anuradha. From the back of the open jeep, he pointed out various birds hiding in the trees, like the jungle owlet, a rare owl that ventures out during the day; the black hooded oriole, the same mellifluous yellow bird found in Singapore but with a flash of orange on its nape; and the Layard’s parakeet, a screeching parrot endemic to Sri Lanka.

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