Most of us who love the outdoors have a common passion – to soak in cool clear natural water-ways, to totally immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of nature. When we found the bubbling Dehigaha Ela tumbling its cold clear water into the warm slow moving Kiri Oya in what looked like a corridor of rain forest in the middle of the dry zone, we knew we had found a Back of Beyond retreat.
A network of red earth roads takes you deep into isolation as chena cultivation blends with high grass and thick forests. It is here that we discovered an abandoned paddy field that had become a delicate green of illuk grass; a circular clearing at the base of a hill, ringed in by the thick forest on the sweeping curve of the two streams. A small secret place for all forms of wildlife – elephants, sambhur, birds, butterflies - to visit.
We have barely touched the 7 acre land, as we decided to build even more minimally than at our two previous retreats. For a few years we did no construction at all. We took our time getting to know the land, getting to know the ways of the wildlife that frequented it during different seasons, the natural corridors and pathways they used to access the illuk clearing, the streams, and our new cultivation! We watched the flow of rain water off the hill side down to the streams… and where the birds nested.
What we offer here is for those who dream of sleeping under the stars, of exploring the jungle and streams on foot with all its joys and little discomforts. We have of course, added the comforts and care that has become the Back of Beyond tradition.Accommodation
Park your vehicle under the trees and walk down a slope through the forest. You emerge into an open green of illuk grass and a small rain fed wawe (lake) encircled by the forest. The lodges are placed along the edge of the grassland and are barely visible as they merge with the forest.
The four lodges are inspired by the famer’s pale – watch huts built on trees to protect crops from wild animals – and the ancient Sri Lankan method of incorporating granite boulders into buildings. All four lodges are designed to be very open to nature, with coconut thatch roofing, folding bamboo tats in place of walls, and wooden floors. In keeping with our Back of Beyond tradition, each lodge maintains standards of comfort by providing fans, mosquito nets, and modern toilets.
Solar energy is used to meet all our electricity needs at the retreat. Low lighting is used throughout to minimize night time disturbance to the environment as well as to conserve energy.Damba tree House
Built into a spreading Damba tree, this follows the pale structure in many ways, except the toilet and shower! A modern open plan toilet and hot & cold shower has been built at the base of the tree. The large sleeping area is on a double layer platform supported by the main branches of the Damba tree. The upper platform easily accommodates three adults or a family. Sit on the lower platform and look out to the distant Nuwaragala mountains or keep watch for elephants in the night…
Kon tree House
This is based on the watch hut we built on the high branches of the Kon tree when the clearing was used for cultivation. It is the smallest and most basic of our lodges and accommodates three twin mattresses. We have added a space for relaxing at ground level as well as modern toilet and shower facilities. We have not yet installed the hot water system to this unit. Due to the height of the sleeping deck, we think it is best if only adults – with a good head for heights! - use this lodge.Boulder Cottage 1
Built incorporating two huge granite boulders that are embedded in the forest slope, this lodge is barely visible from the open green. The large wooden platform that makes up the upper floor can accommodate three adults, and is ideal for a family. The modern toilet and hot & cold shower leads off from the upper deck and is built into the side of the granite boulder. For idling your time away, a huge flat granite slab acts as the mezzanine floor, with the trees and stars as the roof. At the ground level we have designed a living area…curving itself around another giant boulder.
Boulder Cottage 2
A gal debokka (space to climb in between boulders) and a gal ande (stone bed) provided the inspiration for this cottage. Red brick steps lead between the boulders to the upper deck which can accommodate up to two adults or a small family. The lower living area is set around the broad gal ande curving around a boulder. The modern attached toilet and hot & cold shower is set into hill side leading directly from the sleeping deck.
We have set the living and dining huts on the far side of the small lake and open space. In the tradition of our Back of Beyond retreats, we have a wide variety of Sri Lankan as well as western dishes.
We can also pack you a picnic lunch should you be spending the day exploring.
As the closest market is many miles away, we would greatly appreciate your discussing early with our staff should you like to have any specials which have to be bought in town.
All the lodges are offered on Bed and Breakfast, Half Board or Full Board basis.