Have you ever sat and thought about what a safari really is? The history? The meaning? The whole point of its very existence?

The Swahili word safari means journey, originally from the Arabic (safari) also meaning a journey. Safari entered the English language at the end of the 1850s thanks to Richard Francis Burton the famous explorer. In the past a safari was a journey with real meaning. A voyage of self- discovery. Man engaging with nature. Observing new species. A test of endurance and learning. An exploration into the human condition. These days it can feel more like a tourist trap. Queues of jeeps, smart phones, merchandise. One could argue that the magic has been lost.

We understand what a safari really is. And we have created safari experiences that defy the ‘Sri Lanka Safari’ stereotype. Journeys that bring you back to the essence of life – the relationship between man and nature.

‘Sri Lanka Safari’ – back to the roots

When we say that we can provide a genuine safari experience we mean it. This is because Gal Oya National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s undiscovered natural treasures. It has quietly survived, for the most part, outside the influence of man. It stands as a reminder of how the world used to be. We believe that it is the perfect place to explore pure nature. Within the park herds of elephants, wild boar, four species of deer, jackals, sloth bears, marsh mugger crocodiles and an array of rare exotic birds co-exist in harmony. It’s a diverse ecosystem ready to explore.

Our boat safari reflects all the values that lie at the heart of a true safari. It is unique, something not many people have done, and an opportunity to witness the usually hidden behavior of certain animals – such as the swimming elephants. It is a real journey of discovery. We also offer jeep ride deep into the forgotten Nilgala section of the park. This area was protected by ancient royalty due to its abundant medicinal plants and endemic bird life. So it is one of the best places to observe nature’s autonomy, power and character.

Yes modern jeeps make the safari experience more practical and efficient. But to really connect with nature, we must touch it. Gravity planting us on the terra firma, pulling us back to the core. We need to feel the earth and dust underfoot, touch the leaves, smell the air. All of this can’t be done within the confines of a 4X4. Our more intrepid guests can couple the drive with a safari on foot. A hike through the park with our expert naturalists offers a chance to see wildlife closer than ever before and of course to forge your own way into the hidden corners of the park – just like the pioneers of old.

A Guided Safari in Sri Lanka should not just be limited to daylight. In fact, a whole world comes alive at night. Animals of all kinds emerging to hunt and socialise under the dark cloak of a blackened sky. Leaving the lodge at around 5:00pm, you drive out near the Watawanna Lake and visit some archaeological sites including ruins and an ancient water duct system. Then, once it gets dark we turn on the spotlights, keeping a lookout for eyes shining back through the darkness. Amongst other species, you can hope to see Jackals, Elephants, Nightjars, Wild Boars, Mouse Deers, Jungle Cats and Civets.

So now when you go online and search for Sri Lanka wildlife tours or Sri Lanka safari, ask yourself ‘Are these Sri Lanka wildlife tours really authentic? Have they been devised from a position of true understanding and knowledge?’

Trust us, forget what you’re being told about Sri Lanka wildlife tours. Come to Gal Oya Lodge and live the real thing.