Ahas Pokuna Bush Walks Camp, Belihuloya Sri Lanka, Hill Country
Deep in the jungles of the southern hill country lies ‘Ahas Pokuna’ or ‘Sky-Pool’ – a rain fed lake high in the mountains and surrounded by lush Sri Lankan jungle. The history is interesting. Two hundred years ago the lake supported a settlement here; a secret closely guarded by the denizens of the Kandyan Kingdom who rose up against their British rulers before fleeing and hiding out here, deep in the jungle.
Today the land is still owned by a descendent of one of the families but the jungle has long since grown over the remains of any human settlement, leaving the area free for elephants, wildcats and birds of every hue and colour. This descendent, Anuruddaha, is now prominent in alternative sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka and Ahas Pokuna is the result of a long-held dream to introduce a completely immersive bushwalking experience to Sri Lanka whilst bringing Ahas Pokuna back to life to celebrate the almost forgotten history of his ancestors.
The bush walking safari is a new concept to Sri Lanka as most safaris are done in enclosed national parks, where it is essential to keep visitors in their jeeps. Yet several areas of the island, unaffected by human settlement, are an absolute feast for the senses and with a sense of wildlife all around. This is one such area. The wide-ranging habitats provide a home for an array of wildlife and are perfect for unobtrusive watching. There are wide grasslands and cave systems, hidden waterfalls and streams and thick jungle with an astonishing variety of plants and herbs. As well as elephants, the area is home to leopards and sloth bears, although the walks themselves focus more on the local birdlife and animal habitats than on tracking these elusive large animals.
You’ll be guided by expert naturalists who will ensure that you not only get the best and most immersive experience but also do so in such a way as to minimise your impact on the local ecosystem. Bush walks vary in length in accordance with your fitness levels and requirements, but even short walks are enough for guests to experience a fair amount of wildlife.
Accommodation is in spacious and air-conditioned, luxury tents, each permanently pitched on a large wooden veranda and with an en-suite bathroom and bath tub. This is your private space –it even includes your own 1000sqm of forest - fenced off to protect you from wildlife which is otherwise allowed to roam the area freely. Every unit also has a 4-poster outdoor ‘star bed’ in which guests can look up and enjoy the clear night sky and the sounds of the surrounding forest. Dining areas are communal and close to the central watering hole, which is also a great spot for a cooling dip after a bush walk. All meals and drinks are included in the price and the food is top quality hearty fare, usually vegetarian and often grown locally.
This is an experience which you will struggle to replicate elsewhere in the world. The privacy and luxury, coupled with the proximity to nature in all its many forms in this part of Sri Lanka make it a real one-off.
Eco/Adventure - This category covers gorgeous lodges in the jungle, comfortable safari camps and dreamy, but simple, beach cabanas. These places defy conventional categorisation: what is communing with nature to one person may be terrifying bugs to another! Many of these places are very comfortable and the service generally of a very high level - but please read the website review carefully and/or talk to us and be sure to have understood what you are letting yourselves in for!
- Attached WC
- Elephant Walks
- Naturalist Guides
- Walking / Trekking
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The accommodation arranged for us was truly fantastic and we had to pinch ourselves sometimes - especially at the plantation, Villa Rosa and The Dutch House - WOW! The food and service everywhere were top quality.