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“Beautiful, magical place” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Galkadawala

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Galkadawala
Maillagahawatte, Galkadawala | Palugaswewa, Habarana, Sri Lanka   |  
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Galkadawala ii
Denver, Colorado
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Beautiful, magical place”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2013

Thank you so much to Maulie and her staff for a very wonderful, relaxing, peaceful, beautiful stay!

This small hotel is surrounded by nature, and built using sustainable practices. In addition, it is very clear that Maulie maintains a very strong relationship with the community, which made our stay even more special.

The staff are simply wonderful - it felt like you were visiting family, not staying at a hotel.
And the dinners they made for us, were just amazing.

Magnificent site seeing during the day, delicious dinners in the evening, relaxing evenings and lazy mornings - what more can you ask for. I really hope I will get to return one day!

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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61 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
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English first
Dehradun, India
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
53 hotel reviews
Reviews in 47 cities Reviews in 47 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2013

We experimented with all kinds of accommodations in Sri Lanka - homestays, guesthouses, budget hotels, luxury resorts - and Galkadawala Forest Lodge was the one that really touched us.

We loved it all - Maulie's heartwarming hospitality and the conviction with which she has nurtured this once barren region into a mini forest, our cosy room on the first floor, the thoughtful design and architecture of the lodge, the deck overlooking the village lake, the hammocks under the trees, the carved old doors... I could go on. We swam and kayaked in the village lake, hiked into the wilderness beyond, and spent 2 beautiful days hearing Maulie's stories on life in Sri Lanka.

We had delicious food all over Sri Lanka, but the food prepared here by Vir Singha was definitely the tastiest. The slow-cooked cucumber curry is a must try.

I'm definitely going back when I visit Sri Lanka again. Highly, highly recommended.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013 via mobile

We came to Galkadawala planning to stay one night, extended or stay to three nights and still didn't feel we stayed long enough! The lodge is beautiful and will make you feel like you are part of nature. The food is great, the staff very friendly, and the hikes around the facility great. Don't be surprised to see geckos in your room, or wild elephants in the side of the road as you drive in. We loved! our time here!

  • Stayed June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Fremantle
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2013

Habarana late last year and my tardiness on reviewing this place is definitely no reflection of my opinion of it! We stayed in so many great places through out Sri Lanka, but this would have to be my favourite.

The location feels like you have stepped back in time. The hotel is set in a sleepy village near the elephant safari reserve. Getting there was the only downside, as it is quite a way out along a very long and bumpy road. But, it is more than worth the effort! The building is nestled in amongst trees by the side of a massive lake and is made of mainly recycled materials. And not in that bitsy way, but stylish, simple and interesting. We like to think of it as a magical tree house. There are only 3 rooms and I think we had the best one (top right). Each room has a small bathroom, large bed (with mozzie net) and our room had a lovely bay window looking out into the forest. In fact, half the room opens up to the jungle! My husband and I sat here one afternoon and watched as a family of monkeys swung through the trees, feasted and played! On the top floor is an observation room with two long couches. This looks out into the tree canopy and is where we did yoga every afternoon!

Now the food! I love Sri Lankan food and as a vegetarian we were spoilt for choice. Here, the food was the best in all of Sri Lanka! Cooked especially for us - yummy breads, curries, sweets, fresh fruit and coffee. The staff cook all the food in a traditional outdoor kitchen over fires and this is worth a look.

The owner wasn't at the property for our entire stay, but we were looked after beautifully! The staff speak limited english, but communicated well enough to ensure we were very happy, more than comfortable and eating very well.

The owner was in touch by phone and arranged an elephant safari tour for us. We were picked up in a jeep and taken to the reserve. We didn't see a lot of elephants, but we were lucky enough to watch a mother and infant elephant for almost half an hour. And as we were heading home, an elephant crossed the road just a few minutes out from Galkawala.

I couldn't fault Galkawala . It is a truly special place!

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

After 4 weeks in Sri Lanka this place stands head and shoulders above every hotel or guesthouse I have stayed in. The location itself is beautiful just tucked away in the forest which borders farming area and a natural small lake with beautiful water lillies. The first evening we sat looking out onto the lake as many species of birds flew close by with the tiny bats before a huge electrical storm came in looting down then the sky was lit up by thousands of fire flies. It was one of the most beautiful evenings I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Add to this the food which was outstanding (subtle, beautiful flavours from basic but exceptionally high quality ingredients) and invigorating as well as the truly beautiful gentlemen that looked after us it was an experience that I will not soon forget. It may not be for everyone as privacy is minimal but what you loose in privacy you gain by having your space shared with the beautiful environment. We left feeling the kindness of this beautiful country condensed into 3 wonderful days.

Room Tip: Try and book in off season where you will likely have the place to yourselves
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Port Macquarie, Australia
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 10, 2013

Without doubt the best food i have had in sri lanka (by a mile). Seriously good and fresh. I am no veggo, but left here feeling revitalised and alot healthier on the inside. The service was great and very personal. The rooms are open, so the fireflies at night were lovely to fall asleep to. It is jungli and a little hard to get to, but an awesome place to breathe for a few days and just, like...dig ya know? Heartily recommend. A great place for couples...i was with a mate and it was nice but not like that. Also a great place from which to base oneself for a bit of elephant stuff and heaps of birdlife and giant squirrels etc etc.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

We (group of 5 friends) reserved the full lodge for 5 nights in July 2012. Our stay was more than we had expected, the place is clean, the staff is wonderful and great cooks. Communication with Maulie (owner) was excellent. The Sri Lankan breakfast (Hoppers, rice and curry) was outstanding and the cooks accommodated one of our friends food preferences. Keep in mind that you'll make some creepy-crawly 'friends' in the evening... ;) I truly recommend a stay at Galkadawala Forest Lodge if you're looking for a different experience. Very comfortable, quaint, cozy & special place!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Galkadawala

Address: Maillagahawatte, Galkadawala | Palugaswewa, Habarana, Sri Lanka
Phone Number:
Location: Sri Lanka > North Central Province > Habarana
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 11 Specialty lodging in Habarana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
“Galkadawala” an ancient agro based village is situated in the centre of the Cultural Triangle 10.5 km from Habarana.It has also over the years developed into a stronghold of bio-diversity with rich vegetation and water-courses transforming the once barren landscape into chequered patterns of verdant paddy fields and pockets of jungle glades.Since it is in close proximity to the main cultural/historical sites and wild-life parks, tours have been arranged to these sites with the help of the local community in their safari jeeps and motor cycles.The distances to the sites are approximately :-Ritigala forest monastery (15 mins)Manakanda forest monastery (25 mins)Dambulla Temple cave paintings, Sigiriya Rock Fortress (30 MINS)Kaudulla or Minneriya National Parks (30 mins)Polonnaruwa, Huruluwewa, Awkana Buddha statue or Kalawewa (45 mins)Anuradhapura or Mihintale (50 mins)Wilpattu National Park via Anuradhapura (1.5 hours)Trincomalee (1.5 hours)Batticaloa or Kandy (2.5 hours).Trekking and walking. The characteristic bio-diversity of these parts give ample opportunities for personal exploration. The area abounds with endemic creatures of all types, including 133 of the 453 avian species and 50 of the 230 species of butterflies of Sri Lanka which are recorded at Galkadawala .The network of tanks (lakes), with the special emphasis to the lake by which the lodge is sited, irrigation canals, village roads and foot-paths are “veins” along which you may stroll at leisure or trek with purpose, and so enjoy the natural habitat where species of all kinds interact with each other.In such surroundings eating becomes a special pleasure to be indulged and remembered . To sit down under torch-light to homely village fare with vegetables and ingredients gathered from neighborhood gardens at the end of an eventful day, is a memory indeed to carry home. In addition to enjoying the food, guests are also welcome to try their hand at preparing dishes of their choice. ... more   less 
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