For those who want to experience living close to nature, Galkadawala is an enriching place. This tranquil and rustic nature retreat, close to Habarana in Sri Lanka's cultural triangle, offers an authentic back-to-nature experience where you can sleep in comfortable but simple surroundings to the light of the stars and hum of the animals and birds. Galkadawala is the creation of its Sri Lankan architect/owner Vijitha Basnayake who has used traditional architectural methods and strict eco-friendly ideology. This once-ravaged four acres has been transformed into an appealing tropical wilderness with more than 300 trees – Kumbuk, Tamarind and fruit trees; and over 80 species of medicinal plants. A great triumph that can now be enjoyed by all.
This eco-retreat consists of the Main House which has three bedrooms; and a separate two-bedroom rustic dwelling that was added in 2013. Both these simple dwellings are constructed entirely out of bricks, clay and recycled wood from old demolished houses; and designed with half walls and verandahs. As Galakadawala is situated in the dry zone, the lake fronting the property tends to dry up during the dry season from July to September. However, during this time birding is utterly rewarding: more than 100 species of birds and 45 species of butterflies can be spotted here.
Galkadawala is an enriching experience for those actively seeking an experience of simple rural living. Those looking for a/c, cable TV and internet will need to look elsewhere. Galkadawala can be booked as a whole or by the room. The small village road to Galkadawala through the wilderness is rustic and is best attempted by day time.
Note: Only vegetarian meals are served at Galkadawala prepared with fresh village vegetables. Also, the bedrooms on the upper floor of the Main House are reached via a steep staircase and hence, not recommended for very young children or adults with mobility difficulties.
Fan-cooled rooms come with a mosquito net, wardrobe and seating area. All rooms include an attached bathroom equipped with shower.
The Main House: Living and dining is in the ground floor verandah that merges with the surrounding gardens. The second floor has a covered terrace with built-in seating overlooking the lake and is ideal for bird watching. Most might even prefer to sleep up here where it is cooler.
Dwelling: Situated close to the Main House across a man-made marsh and waterways, this rustic dwelling is on stilts and at the level of the tree canopy which is ideal for bird watching. Sitting and dining is on the terrace surrounded by nature. Indulge in a candle lit dinner under the stars.
Galkadawala offers traditional Sri Lankan vegetarian meals prepared with fresh vegetables from home gardens. The cook is happy to share his recipes with guests. There is an Ayurvedic Spa offering various traditional massages, body wraps and therapies. Other activities include bird watching, nature trails and guided village walks such as a two-hour stroll to Horivila Lake with the Ritigala Mountains in the background. Depending on the season (dry season from July – September; rainy season from November – February),the landscape surrounding Galkadawala can be transformed. Guests can kayak on the tranquil lake that flows right by the house during the rainy season.
The staff at Galkadawala includes a cook, house keepers and caretaker. The owner, who is an ardent nature lover, is also based at Galkadawala and is happy to share her knowledge on the surrounding wilderness and ancient heritage.
Why we like it
A sustainable jungle lodge that could hardly be more attuned to nature, blessed with rich bird life and kayaking on the lake.
Galkadawala is a rustic eco-retreat set on four acres of wilderness overlooking a tranquil lake in the remote village of Galkadawala, 20 minutes from Habarana, in the Cultural Triangle. The ancient heritage sites of Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are all within reach. The National Parks in Minneriya, Kaudulla and Wilpattu can also be accessed from here.
Location: Galkadawala, Sri Lanka
Style: Eco Retreat
No. of Rooms: 5
Key Features: Beautiful gardens; birdwatching; vegetarian cuisine; no a/c