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Dehigaha Ela - Facts in Brief
Dehigaha Ela - Accommodation
Dehigaha Ela - Dining
Dehigaha Ela - Things to Do

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Wild Haven Dehigaha Ela

“ Welcome to Paradise, a lovely, quiet resting space with a very welcoming staff. ”
- French girls, Lia, Nagali , January 2015

When we found the bubbling Dehigahaela bubbling its cold clear water into the warm slow moving KiriOya 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.

We have barely touched the 7 acre land, as we decided to build even more minimally than at our other retreats: tree top houses, boulder cottages, and a long house for families, everything that dreams are made of.

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 by thick forest on the sweeping curve of two streams. A small secret place for all forms of wildlife - elephants, sambhur, birds and butterflies - to visit.

It’s a nature lovers dream, and we give you a free, completely natural fish spa down in the rock pool of DehigahaEla stream.

“ Tip to the next visitor :
Be sure to look up at night. You won't be able to tell where the fireflies end and the stars begin! ”
- Sakina, Ireland, March 2015

“ Arriving unprepared for a tree house, we walked into this magical, magical place and I literally laughed and cried with happiness. Natural swimming pools, fish pedicure, little reading benches by the pond, outdoor showers – for me this is really heaven on earth! Nothing can compare to going to sleep, cozy in your mosquito net, to the sounds of jungle – then waking to the call of the birds at dawn – no need for an alarm clock! The staff were so sweet and helpful and knowledgeable, and I especially enjoyed exploring the kitchen and learning to make Sri Lanka’s famous String hoppers. I would recommend this place to anyone. ”
- Sheryl & Emmanuel, March 2012

Dehigaha Ela Location Map

Location :
DehigahaEla, 20 km from Dambulla on the Kandalama road and 8 km from Sigiriya rock.

Travelling from Colombo :
4 - 5 hr drive, 175 km on very good roads, 7 km on village earth roads.The last 3km is bumpy and will be fairly difficult for low clearance vehicles.

Accommodation:
7 lodges, accommodating up to 25 adults. Separate driver’s and tour guide’s rooms are available.In the tradition of Back of Beyond retreats, here too there is no air-conditioning or TV. There is access to free Wi-Fi in the main lobby. Mobile phone signals are weak.

Dining:
Custom prepared Sri Lankan and western meals will be served in the dining areas. Tea, coffee and drinking water is provided free of charge. Alcohol will not be provided in our premises but guests have the liberty to bring in their own.

Staff:
Includes manager/naturalist, house-keeper, guide and cook.

Activities and excursions:
Stream baths, upstream hikes, nature rambles, archeology explorations, bird watching and picnics in our neighborhood. Excursions to the well-known sites of Sigiriya, Pidurangala and the lessor known sites of KaludiyaPokuna, Nuwaragala, Wewala. Safaris to Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks.


FACILITIES AND SPECIAL NOTES

In brief, we offer :

- Lodges with attached modern toilets, and open format showers
- Hot and cold water
- Linen, towels, tissue rolls, soap and shampoo
- Mosquito nets and natural repellents
- Fan cooled rooms
- In-house cook and Sri Lankan and western menu options.
- Woodstove Sri Lankan style bakery for fresh oven bakes
- We do not serve alcohol but permit our guests to consume their own at the premises.

We care deeply for our natural and social environment, and DehigahaELa is a particularly sensitive environment. We try to our best to ‘touch gently’ (see our policy statement), so please bear with us as,

- Mobile signal strength is usually low as we have retained the luscious greenery around us.
- We do not sell bottled spring water
- Rooms do not have electric air conditioning
- Low lighting is used except in the bed rooms
- No TV and other noise generating entertainment
- No swimming pool
(but the two streams flowing around our property makes swimming in a pool tame by comparison!)

“ We will never forget the amazing stream, beautiful pond, relaxing tree house, superb food and brilliant hospitality. Getting engaged on the balcony of the tree house, surrounded by fireflies is something that will stay with us forever. A simple thank you does not convey just how thankful we are. ”
- Fransesca and Andrew, London, UK, April 2015

You are welcome to :
- Request for tea, coffee and safe drinking water - Use our home library - Use our Wi-fi in the lobby - Arrange nature rambles (including night time specialty of “frogging’ )with our in-house Naturalist. - Learn nature art from our naturalist. - Arrange for cooking lessons with our in-house cook

Speak to us if,
- You are on your honeymoon – we will make it extra special!
- You need to arrange a customised tour; around Sri Lanka or in the proximity of our lodges

“ We slept like babies and our baby slept like a log !! ”
- Scheulov family, Russia, August 2015

Enter via a slope through the forest and emerge into an open green of illuk grass and two small rain fed lakes encircled by forest. The lodges are placed along the edge of the grassland and are barely visible as they merge with the forest.

The 3 tree houses are designed to be very open to nature, with coconut thatch roofing, folding bamboo tats in place of walls, and wooden floors. The two boulder and family cottages have been made more secure keeping in mind the needs of young families as well as elderly guests.

In keeping with our Back of Beyond tradition all lodges maintain standards of comfort by providing comfortable beds, mosquito nets, linen and modern toilets.

Solar panels have been installed to meet all 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 Houses :

Built into spreading Damba trees, and fairly close to each other, the two Damba tree houses can accommodate 3 and 5 persons respectively. The upper floor of each tree house consists of a large sleeping area supported by the main branches of the tree, and a comfortable living space to look out at the distant Nuwaragala mountains or to gaze at the birds ... in the adjoining trees and large ponds. A modern open-plan toilet with hot and cold water showers and an additional living area are at the base of each tree, for a relaxed evening lounge.

“ Thank you so much for a wonderful stay and unique experience. Staying in a tree house with the sounds of the forest was like nowhere else. ”
- Jonathan and Marine, London, UK, September 2015


Kon Tree House :

Our first ‘sleeping space’ on this property. High up on the branches of the Kon tree was the deck that acted as the watch hut when the clearing was used for cultivation. Now it consists of two contrasting spaces – a sleeping space high up on the branches of the Kon tree for the nimble and adventurous.A spacious cottage at the base of the tree along with our trade mark open plan shower and modern toiletis available with a hot water shower.

To sleep up on the tree house is to literally sleep among the stars. The Kon tree is so tall, the sleeping deck almost clears the tree canopy. The golden sun rises over the tree tops and pours through the branches right on to the bed.Wake up to find the birds – and the butterflies if the tree is flowering –not only all around you but below you!.

Down below, the cottage accommodates three, making this cottage unit ideal for a group of 5 adults of mixed ages – and energy!



Seru and Sepalika Boulder cottages :

These two adjoining multi-storey cottages are built incorporating large granite boulders that are embedded into the forest slope. The sleeping areas are on a large wooden platform that makes up the upper floor, whereas the lower living areas are set around granite boulders. The modern toilets and hot and cold showers lead off from the upper deck and are built into the side of boulders.

The beauty of these cottages is being just across the lotus pond from the lobby area and that they are almost invisible to the outside! So well hidden among the trees, you disappear into your own paradise.

Seru is able to accommodate 3 adults and Sepalika 2 adults, so make sure to book your cottage as per your requirement.

Mayila Family Long House :

We discovered that children love our retreat as much – or more! – than adults. But not all parents can relax when the kids are running up and down a tree house!! The grandmas and grandpas also find the tree houses and boulder cottages a little bit difficult to handle. So we built a family friendly unit which is a little bit more secure than our other lodges.Two triple rooms accommodate 3 adults per cottage, and share a common space which includes a boulder garden at the back and a little lawn in front of the cottage provide a nature-bound holiday home ambience.

Each room is attached to a modern toilet where you are able to enjoy hot/cold showers under the open skies.

FACILITIES AND SPECIAL NOTES

In brief, we offer :

- Lodges with attached modern toilets, and open format showers
- Hot and cold water
- Linen, towels, tissue rolls, soap and shampoo
- Mosquito nets and natural repellents
- Fan cooled rooms
- In-house cook and Sri Lankan and western menu options.
- Woodstove Sri Lankan style bakery for fresh oven bakes
- We do not serve alcohol but permit our guests to consume their own at the premises.

We care deeply for our natural and social environment, and DehigahaELa is a particularly sensitive environment. We try to our best to ‘touch gently’ (see our policy statement), so please bear with us as,

- Mobile signal strength is usually low as we have retained the luscious greenery around us.
- We do not sell bottled spring water
- Rooms do not have electric air conditioning
- Low lighting is used except in the bed rooms
- No TV and other noise generating entertainment
- No swimming pool
(but the two streams flowing around our property makes swimming in a pool tame by comparison!)

“ We will never forget the amazing stream, beautiful pond, relaxing tree house, superb food and brilliant hospitality. Getting engaged on the balcony of the tree house, surrounded by fireflies is something that will stay with us forever. A simple thank you does not convey just how thankful we are. ”
- Fransesca and Andrew, London, UK, April 2015

You are welcome to :
- Request for tea, coffee and safe drinking water - Use our home library - Use our Wi-fi in the lobby - Arrange nature rambles (including night time specialty of “frogging’ )with our in-house Naturalist. - Learn nature art from our naturalist. - Arrange for cooking lessons with our in-house cook

Speak to us if,
- You are on your honeymoon – we will make it extra special!
- You need to arrange a customised tour; around Sri Lanka or in the proximity of our lodges



We have set the living and dining halls on the far side of the lake, in a small clearing that is now surrounded with regenerated forest. In keeping with the tradition of our Back of Beyond retreats, our cook will prepare a wide variety of Sri Lankan as well as western dishes which you can pick from our menu.

We can also pack you a picnic lunch should you be spending the day exploring.

We grow some of our fruits and vegetables, but these are generously shared among our wild visitors including elephants, wild boar and monkeys! Hence we also source a lot of our fresh fruits and vegetables from the adjoining chena farms. Ask for our seasonal specialty dishes and let our in-house chef surprise you!

As the closest market is many miles away, we recommend and greatly appreciate a prior notice to our staff should you have any specific requests which would require a visit to the town.

We have recently added a Sri Lankan style wood-fired oven to give you the experience of freshly baked goodies such as roast paan (roasted bread); simply divine with a tantalizing dhal curry and coconut sambol to dip in…a favorite among Sri Lankans!

“ Our stay was incredible. Everyone was amazingly kind and helpful and the food was delicious.
On our last night we had a candlelit dinner by the stream that was by far and away the tastiest and the most romantic meal of our whole two week honeymoon !
Thank you so much, it couldn't have been better !

- Matilda and Scott, UK, June 2015

“ To the wonderful, kind and helpful staff at Back of Beyond
Well, what can we say - we heard many lovely comments about this place but it was better than we could have ever expected. We stayed in a tree house- what a wonderful surprise. And then we had 2 days of exploring the wilderness and the wonderful nature of Sri Lanka... a nature trek around the area, a hike up Sigiriya rock and a trip to Minneriya National Park to see a MILLION elephants in the wild. What more can you ask for. Amazing food? Well we got that too ! Top Chefs !
Thank you everyone for such a memorable stay in such an amazing part of the world. We'll be back. ”
- Osian and Jennifer, UK, September 2015

Even the most confirmed ‘site’ goers have been known to abandon their schedule and simply in the magical place. It is impossible to describe the experience. You can call it back to nature, peace, wilderness, Robinson Crusoe…but none of it even scratches the surface. Everything you need is here. We will try to list some of it out:

On our premises:

Nature watch::

“ Congratulations and thank you to Yohan, Channa and the crew for creating a masterpiece ! Foot massage by the fish, swimming in the Olympic rock pool, slithering into the bat cave, bird watching on the highest rock, passing the elephant scratching rock, harvesting tomatoes and snake gourd from the chena, climbing into the watch hut, swinging from the ‘pus wel’, enjoying a Jacuzzi on the ‘Kirioya’, enjoying Nihal’s delicious cooking, looking at Channa’s beautiful paintings, reading novels in the boulder room …..
We will be Back (of Beyond) soon ”
- Enoka, Chris and family, Colombo, August 2011

Our staff is especially trained to help you identify the fauna and flora inand around the retreat and can help guide you around our nature trail. If you are very lucky you will see elephants, sambhur, deer and other small mammals as they cross the grassland or come down to the stream and lakes. The most exciting ‘large’visitors to our little grassland aretheelephants. Warning: Never approach any wildlife. Always inform the staff and heed their advice when viewing.



Bird Watching :
At Dehigahaela, the challenge would be not to see any birds! The forested hill, the heavily wooded stream, the open grassland and the little flower filled lakes seem to attract more than its fair share of birds. Just sit in the lobby or your cottage and…watch, using our birds books for identification. Our naturalist will also take you on the birding trail at dawn and help you spot and identify a range of birds. Check out our naturalist’s diary to really feel the joys and sorrows of a bird’s life cycle.



Frogging :
At the end of the day, you don’t need to go far to participate in this rather off-beat activity. Our little lakes are the home to a variety of common and not so common amphibians. If you haven’t done it before – try it! All you need is a torch and our naturalist to guide you.

“ Thank you for teaching me about Sri Lankan amphibians!! Also thank you for showing me how to hold a frog and snake AND how to use my camera. Really hope to be back again, such an amazing place and experience! ”
- Fiona, September 2015

Nature trails :
Forest walks, boulder scrambles, a spot of caving and …the loveliest of it all – stream hikes. For those who love nature, with all its wonders and discomforts the days here are full to the brim. Talk to our naturalist about your particular area of interest, and he will customize the trail and accompany you.



Stream baths and fish spa :
This, without doubt, is the favourite activity of visitors to our retreat. The cold and sparkling DehigahaEla falls into the murky warm KiriOya at the edge of our retreat. Let the tumbling water massage you, allow the cheeky fish nibble at your toes, or just disappear in to the cool pools of water.

Walking upstream along the DehigahaEla is highly recommended.It will take a while as you are tempted to dip in the innumerable pools created by the low calcium terraces. If you make it all the way, you get to the marshy pool fed by the clear bubbling springs where it all starts. For the more energetic, KiriOya is also waiting.



“ A nature lovers paradise. Wonderful food and people, the tree houses are a brilliant idea and perfectly situated to catch the breeze. We enjoyed the river pool and the cleaner fish immensely - better than a London spa!! Thank you. ”
- Tina, Adrian and 3 active boys, UK, July 2015

Cycling :
For those staying long enough to be tempted out of this magical space, cycling is the way to explore. Cycling along the red earth roads will enable you to stop for photographs and chat with the villagers. Cycling north will take you to the Sigiriya rock. Cycling south will take you through lovely farmlands and flower filled village ‘tanks’ (lakes). Make sure you take some snacks and adequate drinking water as the nearest town is a quite a long cycle ride.



Relaxed reading :
Reading up on what we see has always added to the pleasure of exploring this island. We have started a little library at each of our Back of Beyond retreats. In addition to some of our favourite books on Sri Lanka - its history, nature, wildlife, folk tales and culture - we have thrown in a few pulp fiction. After all what is a holiday without a little bit of mindless reading.

Our library will also help you to identify the mammals, birds, butterflies (we are currently developing our 'butterfly garden' so this is a special interest area for us), reptiles, amphibians, and trees around you. Traditional healing methods, health of the mind and body is the special focus of our collection.

EXCURSIONS

There are a number of high outcrops that provide excellent hiking options. Not only are you hiking up forested areas, you also get to explore the ruins of ancient monasteries and palaces. Day safaris to the National Parks provide excellent opportunities for elephant watching.

National Parks

Drive one hour from DehiGahaEla to reach Minneriya National Park and HuruluWewa Sanctuary, and 1.25 hours to reach Kaudulla National Park.

Minneriya and Kaudulla are famous for the ‘Gathering’ when herds of over 200 elephants move to the open grass lands. The recently opened HuruluWewa Park is also waiting to be explored.



Archeological Reserves

The ancient Sri Lankan excelled in the art of combining nature with human habitation. To explore an archeological site is in fact to marvel at how human construction can enhance rather than destroy nature. Sigiriya, Pidurangala, Nuwaragala, KaludiyaPokuna, are all worth the effort of climbing if only to prove it is possible for us to live as one with nature. You can also visit the famous caves of Dambulla.

Kalu Diya Pokuna - Less than 30 min. drive from DehiGahaEla.

Less well known than its famous namesake in Mihintale, this too is an ancient abode of meditating monks. Dozens of caves carved with drip ledges, and thousands of year old Brahmi inscriptions are scatted up the hill side. But it is gnarled old trees and creepers that really makes exploring this site an exceptional experience.



Nuwaragala - 30 min.drive from DehiGahaEla

If you are in search of solitary exploration, head towards Nuwaragala. Not even the villagers of Wewala are too familiar with the site. KiriOya which joins DehiGahaEla at the edge of our property starts from a small ancient tank built on one of the peaks of Nuwaragala. Follow the rocky stream bed up to emerge on to cluster of trees as ancient and the ruins. In addition, there is also plenty to substantiate the theory that King Mahasen had a palace here. From this point he is said to have supervised the construction of the irrigation systems of Minneriya.



Sigiriya - Less than 30 min drive from DehiGahaEla.

“An enormous crag, soaring above the plains of the North Central Province, for a brief period in the 5th century Sigiriya was one of the most beautiful and splendid of royal cities; at once a fortress, palace and citadel…A combination of rock, boulders, water, stone and brick, Sigiriya is a carefully thought out city where the natural elements are interwoven with the man-made environment.” - Eloquence in Stone



Pidurangala - Less than 30 min drive from DehiGahaEla.

‘Above the drip ledge of this cave is an inscription and from this point to the summit is a flight of steps made of rubble. A long cave on the east side of the summit has been divided into three sections by walls. In one image house in this cave is a large recumbent Buddha statue made of brick and stucco probably 10th century …’ – Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller



Dambulla - 30 minute drive from DehiGahaEla.

‘From time immemorial the people of Sri Lanka have taken to rocks and caves with as much alacrity the ducks to water. To torment a cliché – we’ve hardly left a stone unturned. It is then hardly possible that Dambulla’s enormous rock and cavern would have been given a miss…There is no doubt that the painting in the caves of Dambulla have been touched and retouched by succeeding monarchs and patrons and it is not too fanciful to imagine that underneath it all might lie the first artistic efforts of the Lankan cavemen’ - Handbook for the Ceylon Traveller, Chapter 31



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