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“A Beautiful Place in Kataragama”

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Gem River Edge - Eco Home and Safari
Certificate of Excellence
Philly
Level Contributor
47 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“A Beautiful Place in Kataragama”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 May 2014

We happened upon Gem River Edge by chance, knowing we wanted to stay somewhere near Yala National Park but not really sure where. We couldn't have been happier with our decision to stay there. Carla was quick to answer emails and had arranged accommodations for our driver and a safari jeep tour for us before our arrival. Once we were there, the grounds were lovely and the staff warm and friendly. We spent time on the rocks and in the river, borrowed bicycles to ride around the town, and had them call a tuk tuk for us when we wanted to go to the temple.

The kitchen they have on site served the best food we had during our time in Sri Lanka, and even if the food hadn't been excellent, it was easy and convenient to not worry about going off-site to find something. We stayed in the family room which had it's own bathroom, but others staying in the private rooms seemed surprised that they had a shared bathroom - know before you go.

Room Tip: Private rooms share a bathroom
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank jackie s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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189 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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London
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 April 2014

We stayed at the Gem River Lodge for 2 nights and absolutely loved the place and the people. It was a little tricky to find for drivers/tuk tuks but there is a star of David sign at the end of the little private road leading up to it which can help :)

The room was comfortable and cool thanks to a fan and air conditioner - this didn't deter a few guests (lizards, insects and frogs) but we became good friends!
Carla gave us such a warm welcome and quickly showed us around and down to the river that runs along the bottom of their beautiful home. We ate with them both nights and the food was amongst our favourite in Sri Lanka - even for my non-veggie partner, who liked everything they cooked for us.

Highlights: The safari was fantastic - we saw 2 leopards, lots of elephants (3 babies!), deer, crocodile, beautiful birds and water buffalo... the list goes on. From providing a lovely cup of tea at 5am when we had to get up, to the lovely breakfast of hoppers, and lunch of curry wrapped in banana leaves - we were spoilt again by Carla and her team. Make sure you go to the temple at the end of the safari, the view was incredible.

We borrowed their bikes on our second day and followed a map Carla gave us to explore the local area - beautiful rice fields and a lake filled with water lilies, we really enjoyed it.

It was easily a highlight of a 17 night adventure around Sri Lanka :o)

Room Tip: We had a the room next to the bathroom area which had a fan and the air conditioner. We made friend...
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank RKD87
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 April 2014

Not often one finds a place that has been build like this; slowly, patienly, with love, honesty and kindness to the landscape, the people, the animals and the culture. This qualities can be felt, seen and experienced throughout. It was such a pleasure to be there, to learn from Muna and Carla how to apply a buddhist philosophy to an enterprise that contributes to the wellbeing of many, respects the environment and enhances the soul with its beauty. I hope we can go back soon!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank alocubano00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris, France
Level Contributor
19 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 April 2014

The Gem River Edge is a peaceful place to stay. The place itself has huge garden close to the river and the owners are keen on offering bio vegetables cooked with respect. Further than the place and its peace, the hotel is very organized, atypical and clean. We arrived the same day at Mattala's airport and had everything arranged by the hotel: The transfer from the airport to the Yala Park entrance, a Luxury Jeep only for us and a total immersion in the Yala Park, a visit of the Temple of Yala and the trip back to the hotel. The whole tour was planned to perfection by the hotel. The visit of Yala with a SUPER Guide, the breakfast at the beach side of Yala, the lunch at the lake side in the forest, the afternoon nap, the sunset at the temple and the ride back to the hotel: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. The whole tour was super and we really enjoyed it. Maybe the only downside of our stay at this hotel was the room, it was clean but there was no hot water, the fan was not sufficient so the room was too hot, the bed was ok but not the most comfortable, no curtains and all this for rather a high price for Sri Lanka (80US$, when we paid a lot less for other accommodations with better facilities).

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Mimi J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oosterhout, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
Level Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 March 2014 via mobile

We kinda loved everything about this place, the Gem River, the lodge with its beautiful architecture, details and materials, the restaurant, what a place! As always, the people make the place, and at Gem River the warmth and service is just perfect. Carla, Ajith, Uncle, the "house-monk", genuine hospitality!! Even Boon the Dog attributes to your stay here. The food is great (together with Ranga from Talalla beach house, uncle provided us with the best food in Sri Lanka!).

Carla and Ajith have a keen focus on sustainability which is needed in Sri Lanka, they are working on a project on sustainable farming in Kataragama: hope it works out fine!

We went on the full day safari, which was another perfect day, perfectly organised, comfortable, and yes; we saw a leopard!! Yala has an abundant wildlife scene. Go for the temple at dawn for some extraordinary views over the national park.

Thanks Carla & crew at gem River for a perfect stay!

Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Obbie75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 March 2014

This is indeed, a gem of a place to stay. I felt like I was living in a glamorized version of the Jungle Book, . If you're into staying at humdrum, predictable, i-like-it-because-it's-what-i-know properties then this place may not be for you, BUT if you're into one of a kind experiences and are seeking an unforgettable nature retreat with impeccable service - this is it! We stayed there two nights, ate both dinners there, and went on the safari through the hotel (worth the money! don't even question it!) and were WOWed every step of the way. It was one of the few places I stayed on my month long trip in Sri Lanka that I reeeeally had wished I had more time at. And I don't mean Yala... I mean, at the hotel! I would have loved to cozy up in one of the many little comfy nooks with a cup of tea and a book and just take it all in. .. it's that good.

Thank you to Muna and Carla for the amazing experience, delicious food, and impeccable service. It was the perfect finale to my time in Sri Lanka!

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Sarah K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stafford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
256 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 March 2014

It was great to return after two years, and this time to meet Carla as well. This place really grows on you with its eco principals, the buildings are charming especially the eating area where Uncle provides you with vegetarian meals of distinction, using different rices grown on their own land . We were looked after by the attentive staff and took advantage of Carla's map to take a wonderful walk to the local lake to view the flora and fauna of the area. We were also given a preview of the new retreat project on the other side of the river which Muna is currently building.
We are planning to visit again in 2015.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Barbara M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Gem River Edge - Eco Home and Safari

Property: Gem River Edge - Eco Home and Safari
Address: Keselkoratuwa - Mailagama | Sella Road - Kataragama - Yala Park, Kataragama 91400, Sri Lanka
Region: Sri Lanka > Uva Province > Kataragama
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 21 Speciality Lodging in Kataragama
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are located on the border of Yala Nacional Park. It's an ecological place, built in a natural way for a responsible tourism and safari. Bordering the Gem Menik River where guests can enjoy the clean water and refresh body and mind. We organize responsible safaris in Yala NP, we go from Kataragama entrance which is more quiet and wild and we go far from the crowded and busy jeeps to observe the wild life and vegetation. We offer visits to the ancient temple - Situlpowa in the jungle. We have at one's disposal free bicycles for tours long the lakes and we help the guests to explore the local area. We guide the guests to a visit in the Kataragama multi-religious site and participate in the daily Pooja. We have 4 comfortable rooms (one is a large family suite) with terrace and sitting area all built in a rustic style using renewable and natural material. We serve Sri Lankan cuisine prepared daily and cooked on an open fire with terracotta pots. We share a comfortable and traditional atmosphere where everybody are welcome to join for a relaxing experience in harmony with nature and wildlife for an unforgettable stay and experience. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gem River Edge - Eco Home And Safari Sri Lanka/Kataragama

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