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“nice stay and great safari”

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Gem River Edge - Eco Home and Safari
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 25 January 2015

We stayed here for two nights in January 15 and did a full day safari. The setting of the lodge is absolutely beautiful, with a large garden and access to the river. The rooms are quite basic but clean and they have mosquito nets. Toilet and shower are shared but the maximal number of guests is eight so no queues there. Wifi is available and sufficient for email and facebook.
The food is home cooked vegetarian food mainly provided by their own farm and at 6USD for dinner reasonably priced. If you can't do without alcohol while you are there buy something beforehand.
The safari starts with a wake-up call at 5am and coffee or tea are served on the veranda. Our driver spoke basic but sufficient English, was a good off-road driver and very knowledgeable about the wildlife. The early start was justified as we had seen a wide variety of animals by breakfast time at 8:30 at the beach. For breakfast and lunch the driver sets up a folding table and chairs and serves a nice packed breakfast and lunch in the shade of some trees. If your driver is on a mobile phone a lot he is most likely not ignorant but talking to other drivers about where animals were spotted. If there are particular animals you would like to observe tell the driver and he will do his best to accommodate. We preferred to see more elephants to spending a long time trying to get a glimpse of the elusive leopard
Don't plan anything for the evening after the safari, it is a great day out but utterly exhausting and we went to bed directly after dinner.

  • Stayed: January 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Andreas D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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65 - 69 of 195 reviews

Reviewed 24 January 2015 via mobile

We have been in GemRiverEdge the third time now and it's amazing how it developed. A beautiful space and attentive hospitality created by Muna & Carla and the careful stuff made us feel home & relaxing. And the intense experiance of the wonderful nature around made us wish to come back. The healthy & tasty food made from local grown organic & ayurveda ingredients is my favourite vegetarian kitchen. And inbetween all that nature (Monkeys, monitors, squirrels, insects, butterflies ...) they clean it up constantly, so we always felt very comfortable, especially with the shared bathroom, which was always very clean. And a compliment to your Safari, well organised, and Suranga & Suresh are super guides. The lunch in your organic farm, Ackara Vissa, with the cool breeze & view over the paddy fields was a Highlight. Thank you all for an unforgettable experiance by sharing your home, heart & knowledge.

Stayed: January 2015, travelled as a couple
1  Thank spirit-of-jazz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 January 2015

Like one of the previous reviewers, I can appreciate that others might enjoy staying here. The location is definitely lovely, they provide you with maps for walking in the nearby paddy fields and seeing the evening puja at the temple was wonderful. However, the hotel itself wasn't perfect. I should clarify that as travellers we are happy staying in places in natural settings that inevitably sometimes lose power and have similar issues. That wasn't the problem for us at all, although there were several small things that really ought to have been better - for instance all the water for showers was cold, our and the door to our loo didn't shut properly. They were also building on site, so we were woken by hammering in the morning. Our bedroom was very nicely furnished, but only had a very thin piece of material which was too small for the window, so staff at the quarters just behind the room could see in which wasn't ideal.

Mainly however it was the defensive attitude of the woman who runs the hotel that marred the stay for us. The major issue was that our bed had bedbugs. There was no doubt over this, as we were bitten badly at night time, on areas with contact with the bed, with the bugs leaving their characteristic three bites in a row. When we informed the owner, she basically told us this wasn't true, and that it must be a food allergy! We said that perhaps a previous guest had brought the bugs, and that we weren't blaming her, just letting her know as she ought to fumigate the mattress. She continued to deny responsibility, and I'm sure she won't have done anything about it.

This attitude mirrored what happened when we arrived, when she told us our room had a shared bathroom, which hadn't been in the confirmation email we received (despite her claiming this was the case). I explained that hadn't been our expectation, and if she had simply apologised for us not being informed of this in advance, that would have been that. However, she became very defensive, and insisted on showing me the hidden small print on the booking website which states shared bathroom. I said I hadn't seen this, and wished the information had been clearly communicated. She responded "I'm sorry if you can't read". I felt this was extremely rude and totally unnecessary.

I'm sure she will reply to this review saying we were difficult or something similar. I don't feel that we were, and we enjoyed staying in much more basic places in sri lanka. If she had had a more positive attitude, the minor issue over the shared bathroom really wouldn't have bothered us. However, her rudeness was really upsetting, and in addition to the bedbugs would really make me suggest people look to book elsewhere.

Stayed: December 2014, travelled as a couple
4  Thank some1605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 January 2015

We were lucky enough to stay at Gem River for 2 nights including Christmas Day.
Carla and her husband are the perfect hosts and we found the vegetarian food to be exceptional, even my husband who loves his meat really enjoyed the vegetarian meals.
The pumpkin curry was exceptional!
Unfortunately for us we were there during the floods and Christmas night it poured and we woke to a very flooded resort. We had to cancel our plans to do a safari but to be honest I felt really sad for the whole community and how they were suffering through a natural disaster. We were the lucky ones as we could just leave.
We were also fortunate enough to meet another lovely Australian couple whilst we were sitting out on the veranda enjoying a drink, which we took ourselves, and had a wonderful night sharing our adventure stories of Sri Lanka. Something which you probably wouldn't do in a big resort.
The wifi wasn't great but other than when we stayed in a big hotel in Sri Lanka it never was. Adds to the charm of being away from home. The kids actually have to talk to you.
Every place in Sri Lanka is what you make of it. Cold water showers....didn't think I could do it but another one of things that make you feel like you are experiencing the real Sri Lanka. Really not so bad in the heat.
To us, including our 3 kids, Gem River was a lovely place and we would stay again if we went back to Sri Lanka.

  • Stayed: December 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
3  Thank APRIL P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 January 2015

Reviews can often say more about the reviewer than the accommodation - and this might be the case here. I don't dispute that others have enjoyed their stay here - but it just wasn't for us. A few things to be aware of before you choose to stay here. Gem River Edge is very peaceful and is just outside the town of Kataragama. For us it was a little too peaceful - there is nothing to do here in your down time - which for some may not be an issue. But while it is nice to have the choice to do nothing, when it is forced upon you, it doesn't have the same appeal. (Forget about the swimming in the river as per the website- crocs are not far away and the bikes were not in good enough condition to ride around the area). The place is very clean and well kept - but if it is busy, because of the set-up of the rooms, you will be sharing your verandah with other guests so it starts to all feel a little too cosy. Apparently it is quite common for the place to lose electricity - we didn't have electricity for a 6 hour spell at one stage. Wi-Fi never worked and the showers are cold. The vegetarian dinner is served at 8pm - it is nice enough for one night but meat eaters may struggle. (Strictly no alcohol here or anywhere in Kataragama). The other aspect I would also like to clarify is the proximity to Yala. I had confused myself thinking this place was very nearby - in fact to take one of their safaris you leave at 5.30am and it will be almost 7.00am by the time you get into the park (travel time and messing around getting tickets). Yala is a mess in it's own right at the moment - see my separate review. So if this is starting to sound like something that isn't for you, my advice is either to avoid Yala or splurge on a more expensive accommodation option for one night in the area. (You really don't need to stay any longer).

  • Stayed: December 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank clanciegirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
gemriveredge, Owner at Gem River Edge - Eco Home and Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2015

Gem River Edge - Eco home and safari is an eco friendly lodge for a responsible tourism on the border of Yala National Park.
Unfortunately this guest was traveling in Sri Lanka during a natural disaster due to the high rain and floods everywhere.
Obviously it gave them a demotivated and upset attitude during their tour and on their stay.
We informed our guests that all area could be roads blocked and mud everywhere and blackout due to this natural disaster. (not just here but unfortunately in all Sri lanka).
All our rooms are provided of solar lamps (as an ecological place and also in case of no electricity).
The problem of the blackout, driving bicycles in the mud roads, or the time that they accidentally took that day to arrive to Yala were in fact because of the natural disaster.
We are about 10km from the Yala alternative entrance far from the crowded jeeps and massive tourism, (there’s nothing to confuse about this). There was an alarm in all country about the strong rains/ floods and the Yala was in fact also affected.
Our meals (vegetarian) are cooked fresh everyday in a srilankan traditional method, cooked on an open fire (which is very rare nowadays) we want to offer a complete, healthy and organic food. Currently we don’t serve alcoholic drinks but anyone can take it from outside. We are just 3km from Kataragama town where, in case our guests can go for dinner and have another type of food.
In the area there’s several attractive, important cultural, natural and spiritual sides to visit all depends in the motivation and the behavior of each person.
We try to promote a responsible travel to this natural area to conserves our natural environment and this involves education and responsibility to the landscape, the people, the animals and the culture.
We want to offer to our guests a different stay, far from a conventional /massive tourism, where everybody is welcome to enjoy the tranquility and kindness of the hospitality in a natural heritage.

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Additional Information about 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
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 54 Speciality Lodging in Kataragama
Price Range: RM142 - RM284 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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