Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya
Family Tree House
About Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya
Most of us who love the outdoors have a common passion - to soak in cool clear natural water-ways, to totally immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of nature. When we found the bubbling Dehigaha Ela tumbling its cold clear water into the warm slow moving Kiri Oya 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.
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 in by the thick forest on the sweeping curve of the two streams. A small secret place for all forms of wildlife - elephants, sambhur, birds, butterflies - to visit.
We have barely touched the 7 acre land, as we decided to build even more minimally than at our two previous retreats. For a few years we did no construction at all. We took our time getting to know the land, getting to know the ways of the wildlife that frequented it during different seasons, the natural corridors and pathways they used to access the illuk clearing, the streams, and our new cultivation! We watched the flow of rain water off the hill side down to the streams... and where the birds nested.
What we offer here is for those who dream of sleeping under the stars, of exploring the jungle and streams on foot with all its joys and little discomforts. We have of course, added the comforts and care that has become the Back of Beyond tradition.
Location of Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya
Alakolawawe village, 6 km interior from Sigiriya village. Closest town is Dambulla 20 km away.
Travelling from Colombo :
4 hour drive, 170 km on good tarred road, 10 km village earth roads.
Accommodation at Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya
4 lodges, accommodating up to 10 adults. Separate driver's and tour guide's quarters are available.
Damba tree House:
Built into a spreading Damba tree, this follows the pale structure in many ways, except the toilet and shower! A modern open plan toilet and hot cold shower has been built at the base of the tree. The large sleeping area is on a double layer platform supported by the main branches of the Damba tree. The upper platform easily accommodates three adults or a family. Sit on the lower platform and look out to the distant Nuwaragala mountains or keep watch for elephants in the night.
Kon tree House:
This is based on the watch hut we built on the high branches of the Kon tree when the clearing was used for cultivation. It is the smallest and most basic of our lodges and accommodates three twin mattresses. We have added a space for relaxing at ground level as well as modern toilet and shower facilities. We have not yet installed the hot water system to this unit. Due to the height of the sleeping deck, we think it is best if only adults - with a good head for heights! use this lodge.
Boulder Cottage 1:
Built incorporating two huge granite boulders that are embedded in the forest slope, this lodge is barely visible from the open green. The large wooden platform that makes up the upper floor can accommodate three adults, and is ideal for a family. The modern toilet and hot cold shower leads off from the upper deck and is built into the side of the granite boulder. For idling your time away, a huge flat granite slab acts as the mezzanine floor, with the trees and stars as the roof. At the ground level we have designed a living area…curving itself around another giant boulder.
Boulder Cottage 2:
A gal debokka (space to climb in between boulders) and a gal ande (stone bed) provided the inspiration for this cottage. Red brick steps lead between the boulders to the upper deck which can accommodate up to two adults or a small family. The lower living area is set around the broad gal ande curving around a boulder. The modern attached toilet and hot cold shower is set into hill side leading directly from the sleeping deck.
Facilities at Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya
We have set the living and dining huts on the far side of the small lake and open space. In the tradition of our Back of Beyond retreats, our cook will prepare a wide variety of Sri Lankan as well as western dishes.
We can also pack you a picnic lunch should you be spending the day exploring. As the closest market is many miles away, we would greatly appreciate your discussing early with our staff should you like to have any specials which have to be bought in town.
All the lodges are offered on Bed and Breakfast, Half Board or Full Board basis.
Excursions and Day Tours from Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya
Bird watching and nature walks:
At Dehigaha Ela, the challenge would be not to see any birds! The forested hill, the heavily wooded stream and the open grassland seem to attract more than its fair share of little creatures. Our staff is specially trained to help you identify birds, butterflies and trees in the forest and will guide you along the nature trails. If you are lucky, you will see elephants, sambhur, deer and other small mammals as they wonder by feeding or come down to the stream.
Cycling and walking:
Walking is the best and only! way to really explore the wonders of Dehigaha Ela. The forest throws up unexpected rock outcrops, the stream hides itself among the trees and the village farm lands are just beyond. Cycling along the red earth roads will enable you to stop for photographs and chat with the villagers. A particularly lovely ride is to Kaludiya Pokuna and Kandalama Lake.
Stream baths, up-stream hiking:
How often do you get the chance of hiking the entire length of a stream? The cold clear waters of Dehigaha Ela merge with the Kiri Oya at the bottom of our land. Pack a snack and wade upstream to the little pool fed by clear bubbling springs where it all starts. For the more energetic, Kiri Oya is also waiting.