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Ulpotha

Deep in the jungle, in the rural centre of the island

Deep in the jungle, surrounded by the Galgiriyawa Mountains, Ulpotha is the land that time forgot. Full of traditions, mystery, and legend, it’s where nature is in full play.

Ulpotha (meaning ‘water spring’) is a small village built around a magical lake. Nestled amongst the sheltering coconut trees, a small group of huts are dotted around an old manor house. Ancient elephant paths criss-cross through the village and the area has a history dating back over 2,500 years. The villagers welcome guests six months a year to do yoga, eat nourishing food and have Ayurvedic treatments.

Almost totally off the grid and free of modern comforts, including electricity, air conditioning, hot water, plastic or internet, the philosophy here is one of almost total self-sustainability. Every little detail offers a natural approach to living. Buffaloes are used to thresh heritage red rice and all meals are cooked over an open fire from produce grown organically on the premises. It’s a true retreat into nature.

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The Rooms

Eleven charming thatched open-air huts constructed from mud, clay, sticks, and twigs are sprinkled between the grounds, ten of which are for two guests and one for three.

There are no doors, windows, or walls in the huts, leaving nothing between you and nature. It’s as rustic as it sounds but also truly wonderful and facilitates the sense of being one with nature. Sharing a room is highly recommended to truly embrace the communal vibe of Ulpotha and to feel comfortable in the jungle surrounds.

You’ll sleep in a beautiful bed wrapped in swaths of mosquito netting, with colourful cushions at the foot. A wardrobe with a safe, incense, bottles of water, a torch, towels, and a sarong are provided. Bathrooms are a short walk away from sleeping huts and provide flushing toilets and shower stalls open to the sky.

For the adventurous, the Lake Hut awaits—a magnificent structure on the lake that can only be reached by a rowboat. For those who don’t have a fear of heights, the Tree House is exactly as it sounds, a hut perched high up within the trees that can be reached by climbing a ladder.

What’s to do

Free from the glare of screens, beeping of devices and whirr of electricity, Ulpotha is the place for embracing a profound feeling of calm. A full two week stay is recommended in order to benefit fully from the experience.

Ulpotha hosts some of the world’s top yoga teachers on two-week rotating stints and your stay would ideally correspond with these teacher rotations. The 90 minute morning yoga sessions are energising and hard work while the evening sessions are calmer and more focussed on breath and relaxation.

A one-on-one consultation with the resident Ayurveda doctor and a massage per week is included in the holiday package. Additional treatments can be pre-booked and are highly recommended in order to balance the body’s energies and restore one’s health and vitality. Ulpotha is a particularly suitable place for this, as the food and the environment complement the therapies. Forget pampering as you know it. This is real back to basics stuff of the best kind.

When not engaged in yoga or treatments, the surrounding magical lake – lovingly referred to as “The Tank” – is the place to bathe and swim, or for simply lying in a hammock gazing out onto the shimmering fresh water.

Dambulla and Sigiriya, two of Sri Lanka’s most iconic sites are within easy reach of Ulpotha and one excursion per week is included in the holiday package. Ulpotha is also in an area of rarely visited archaeological sites and temples, such as Ras Vehera, a 40ft-high standing Buddha, and Aukana, its better known and slightly taller cousin.

Location

Ulpotha is very much off the beaten track in the heart of Sri Lanka by a lakeside at the foot of the Galgiriyawa mountains. Geographically, it’s literally in the middle of the country on a North-South axis and slightly to the West on an East-West one. In travel time it’s about 1 hour’s drive North from Kurunegala, or 2 hours Northwest from Kandy, and 3 hours Northeast from the airport.

Food & Drink

Meal are communal, and the exquisitely presented food is served in clay pots laid out on rattan floor mats in the ambalama, the open-sided dining area. In the evening, you will be dining surrounded by candles and oil lanterns.

The lack of fridges – dismissed by one founder as a means of “keeping unfresh food” – means everything is made from scratch. It is simply delicious and very healthy. It is almost entirely vegan, naturally wheat free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice and tropical fruit freshly picked largely from the gardens. A visit to Ulpotha is a good opportunity to detoxify your system without fuss while experiencing banquets fit for royalty.

To and From

Properties to head to before or after your stay
at Ulpotha…

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