“Buried in the Weliara forests near Yala National Park, this isolated, no-frills eco-lodge is the place to go to escape civilisation. The concept is ‘simple living in the jungle’ – and simple it is. There’s no electricity. The dining room, with just three wooden tables and iron folding chairs, is constructed with mud and has a thatched roof. Each of the three canvas tents has a double-bed shrouded in a (rather holey) mosquito net, bedside tables with battery-run lamps, a bathroom with a miniscule shower, a basin and a loo (amusingly) on a raised platform, and a mud veranda with deckchairs, from which you can peer through the branches to the majestic Weliara Ridge beyond. You don’t come to this wilderness retreat to indulge, but instead to fall asleep beneath canvas, listening to the sounds of the jungle, and to spend hours swaying in a hammock with a book, keeping one ear open in case a wild (and I mean really wild) elephant lumbers past your tent. What’s more, the set-up may be minimalist but the service is spotless. Owner and ‘chief’ Lars Sorensen and his eager staffers go out of their way to make it special, from the G&Ts served with salted cucumber at sunset to the scrummy Sri Lankan dishes, made with local ingredients (freshwater fish, beetroot, banana flowers, jack nuts, buffalo yoghurt), proudly presented at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They’ll also take you on a jungle walk to the nearby lake, where you can sit and watch sinister crocs motionless on the banks and egrets dipping low over the glassy water, and imagine you’re the only one on Earth”
Written by Laura Griffith-Jones
“Why do people love staying at Tree Tops?
Through its jungle location and locally recruited staff team management concept Tree Tops Jungle Lodge creates a rare blend of wilderness and authencity. Our guests appreciate the atmosphere and feel of the place. Our staff are real people from the nearby area more than professionals educated at a hotel school. Our location is probably unique in Sri Lanka, surrounded by bush and forest, visitors get to live directly amidst an environment which is habitat for wild elephants.
What is there to do in the area?
Tree Tops Jungle Lodge is situated far away from everything and ‘what to do’ at such as place… ? The primary reason to come here should be to get away from the beaten track and enjoy and experience the small local world that is Tree Tops Jungle Lodge. How does that materialize as ‘to do action’ … The lodge team will usually take guests on small local walks in the morning and afternoon but this is dependent on the elephants and season. A number of old Buddhist temples and statues can be visited on half day tours in three wheeler taxi. The Maligawila Buddha statue is just about 12 km away.
What kind of breakfast do you offer?
Local style ‘rotty’ – flat bread similar to Indian nan. With ‘dhal curry’ – that is a kind of lentils soup served with spicy grinded coconut and eggs.
Tea, coffee, fruit juice.
Toasted sandwich bread, cheese, butter, jam as well so there is something well know to eat in the morning.
Do you offer other meals?
At Tree Tops Jungle Lodge all meals are included in the rates. There is nowhere to go out and eat so full board, all incl. is the only option. The menu concept is locally sourced raw materials, local style cooking and dominated by ingredients from the world of plants.
Which are your most popular room types, and why?
Our tented hut rooms are the only option and they give you the experience of sleeping under canvas in the really wild, remote South East Sri Lankan jungles.
What facilities do you have for children and can you fit extra beds in your rooms ?
We do fit extra beds / mattress in rooms for children.
We have no special children facilities aimed at targeting families and the lodge is probably more adult friendly.
What message would you like to give Hotel Guru readers?
We believe that the greatest quality of the wilderness living experience in our camp is to be there. We would like to take the opportunity to encourage guests to focus on the being more than doing factor and try the activity of doing nothing while staying with us. Follow the sounds and daily rhythms of the jungle. Why do we give such a message, doesn’t it sounds strange… While we do usually take guests on walks from the lodge, we feel that it isn’t the walking part that is most special but being in nature at the lodge. Our local on foot trips are interesting for the insight in the environment and particular lifestyle of people living on the edge of a wild forest. It is important, however, to understand that wildlife is generally very hard to observe when walking because people on foot always scare wild animals away. Please do not arrive with unrealistic hopes of observing wildlife; for that a safari in the most busy and hectic part of the national park is much better. What we do offer at the lodge is silence and the feeling of being far away from the crowds of tourist attractions as well as away from even local people. You are in the jungle. A wild elephant may pass by on our land, not sure but it might happen. And if so it’s for your eyes only and not shared with loads of spectators pushing each other’s jeeps to get the best glimpse…”