Treetops Jungle Lodge,
Sri Lanka, The Deep South
Info : Treetops Jungle Lodge
Tree Tops Jungle Lodge is a place we first visited way back in 2005, having heard stories of an incredible lodge in one of Sri Lanka’s wildest corners. On our first evening we watched elephants visit the camp with the owner Lars and the manager Kamal and we were completely blown away by what we learnt and the experiences we had during the rest of our stay. Many of our guests visited subsequently and we were very upset when we heard that Tree Tops Jungle Lodge had been forced to close when the war got too close for comfort.
Naturally we were delighted when we got the invitation to return and visit this amazing place for the re-opening in March 2013. It has changed a great deal, but the concept - a living with nature experience in the most responsible way possible - remains the same.
The main difference is that the accommodation is now in chalet tents, with a fixed Mud Hut for a dining area. The jungle has reclaimed the old, static mud huts which were the original guestrooms. This means that the lodge is able to respond to changes in the behaviour of the local wildlife and in particular the large elephant population in the vicinity.
The tents are what they call "simple living - in style": they are spacious and modern with flushing loos, excellent showers, comfy camp beds, sinks and a veranda area with good chairs. You won’t lack for comfort, though bear in mind that there is no electricity in the camp itself (the main ‘office’ a couple of kilometres away has a generator for limited charging and so on) so the experience is obviously basic in terms of general facilities.
What’s more, there are no more than 5 tents in the camp at any one time and usually just 3.
The staff are what made Tree Tops Jungle Lodge the unique and original experience it was and they remain its most important asset. They are local guys, highly experienced in the ways of the jungle, and it is their tracking ability which makes the experience so special, rather than their hotel school training (which, just to be clear, they don't have!). They lead the walks on an ad hoc basis – but generally they will suggest an early morning local birdwalk, a jungle walk after breakfast and then elephant watching in the late afternoon when the animals tend to head down to the lake for a drink. If you are lucky, you may see elephants right in the camp itself.
Tree Tops Jungle Lodge is an immersive natural experience and the walks are part of the package – as are the 3 cooked meals per day. Just being here is very special; we recommend that you need a 3-night stay to make the most of it. And although we don’t think of the lodge as simply a base for Yala, it is also possible to do a safari to Yala from here with the expert Tree Tops Jungle Lodge team. The journey takes about 1.5 hours to the gate of block 1 – the block with the leopards. It's also very easy to visit block 3 (for sloth bears), block 5 or areas further afield such as Uda Walawa, Gal Oya and Lunugamvehera. The Treetop’s team also offer basic camping safaris within Yala block 1 itself.
We think that the camp is lovely all year round and even without elephants the local wildlife spotting is fantastic. However, the dry season, from March through to mid-October is the best for spotting elephants and the absolute height of the dry season (July-September) is when the drought forces the elephants to come to just a few places to drink.
This is a genuinely remote location and a true wilderness experience. Guests should not expect high end, African-style safari service: but they will be very well looked after in a beautiful and fascinating region of Sri Lanka and they will get an experience that they will never forget. Which is all we want for our guests.
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!
- Elephant Walks
- Varied Local Excursions
- Walking / Trekking
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