More than tee and Ayurveda!
Sri Lanka is shaped like an outstretched palm! I made up my mind to get to know the country by reading this palm. When I travel, I always want to combine enjoyment with adventure. This applies to the selection of the country I am going to visit, to the accommodation I choose right through to the means of transport and my activities. There should be a little bit of everything included. That is why I chose Sri Lanka as a destination to discover. The country is internationally famous for its cultivated tea plantations and purifying Ayurveda treatments, but the island to the southeast of India has so much more to offer and that is what I wanted to discover.
I booked my accommodation at Uga Escapes to be able to experience a broad cross section of the country in 12 days. This hotel group is owned by an industrial family that got into construction and infrastructure after producing safes and then security installations; they have been operating five beautiful hotels distributed over the entire island since 2012.
During the drive from the capital, Colombo, to the north central province Anuradhapura in the middle of the cultural triangle in Sri Lanka tiredness begins to take over after the long flight. However, the driver is so skilful at rocking the vehicle through the traffic that I soon sink into a dreamlike state and only blink cheerfully into the sunlight when I arrive at the oasis of Ulagalla.
I am taken to a beautiful 150-year-old manor and welcomed with a ceremony intended to bring me joy and happiness. 25 luxury villas, extending over approximately 23 hectares and covering 200 m2 respectively, entice you to go on a journey of discovery in this true haven. Each single house has its own pool and breath-taking flora and fauna on the doorstep, emphasising Uga Escapes‘ position as forerunner in sustainable luxury tourism on Sri Lanka. Electro carts and bicycles are the mode of transport on the grounds. I am enraptured as the colourful bird life in the harvested rice fields immediately diverts my thoughts from my stressful everyday life. Although WLAN and the mobile network still work in this natural paradise, I quickly put my telephone away to be able to enjoy all things unspoilt by human hand. In the high trees I spy flying foxes sleeping upside down; they will be going in search of insects at twilight. Iguanas, peacocks, turtles and a family of monkeys swinging through the trees bring a contented smile to my face. The 3 days I spend walking, cycling and reading in this idyll go by far too quickly. However, the next point on my agenda waits, as my holiday does not only consist of relaxation, but also activities to challenge my body.
UGA BAY RESORT
On the East coast of the island I check into the family friendly Uga Bay Resort. As the very new hotel has been constructed in a semi-circular shape, each studio has a view of the inner garden and of the ocean. There is a coral reef offshore from the bay. A dream for snorkelers and shell collectors. When walking on the beach I do not only see young people happily splashing about in the water trying to impress each other with their antics, but people of all age groups; the positive effect of the cooling water and the gentle waves is clearly tangible.
A collection of fishing boats attracts my attention and an old fisher addresses me and invites me to watch the sharing of the catch and the trading with the fresh fish the next morning. A magnificent spectacle that has to be experienced. In the afternoon the sky suddenly darkens above the palm grove, indicating that a storm is brewing, to such an extent that you could believe it is the end of the world. However, the storm changes course to the open sea and the backdrop of colours from the dark grey sky above the rough ocean in front of the yellow beach provides me with the best photo of my travels.
CHENA HUTS BY UGA ESCAPES
My next accommodation „Chena Huts“ (by Uga Escapes) in the southeast of the island makes me aware of the impressive wildlife Sri Lanka has to offer. Even on the drive there, a large bull elephant decides to stand in the middle of the road, blocking all traffic. Waving the flies from his sides with a broken off branch, he stands in the shade of a large tree and waits for the astonished drivers to throw fruit at his feet so he can grant them passage unscathed. The luxury bungalows at Chena Huts are situated adjacent to Yala National Park. Discreetly and sensitively interwoven into the bush and tree landscape, this area offers everything that good taste desires. On the terrace of the main house, I relish the excellent dishes, served by friendly and competent staff. My glance is drawn to a family of buffalos trotting by in front of the sea and two peacocks competing for the attention of the grey peahen. One more moment in which I simply want to press the „pause “button. This happens repeatedly during the next two days while we are on safari through the nature reserve with the jeep. For example, when we drive past the alligator mother, who is protecting her young in her mouth from the all-eating enemy, or when we park beside a bush in which a powerful eagle is observing his lunch that is hissing on the ground. These moments make one feel so small and grateful to be able to experience this natural spectacle.
I spend the final days of my 12-day Sri Lanka tour in the Uga Residence, at the centre of Colombo. While the city pulsates in chaos and numerous Tuk Tuks skilfully wind through the traffic like bees in their hive, I swim a few lengths in the elegant pool, bordered by arched walkways. The evening street food tour, which the hotel organised for me, again ignites my spirit for adventure. I am lead to parts of the city that I would never have dared to discover alone. I also sample specialities that were prepared at small, mobile burners on the street. The people are happy and show a huge level of affection if you are interested in their culture, their country and their life. However, the greatest joy above all these wonderful experiences on the hand-shaped island is mine. The welcome ceremony at my first accommodation did actually bring me joy and happiness!
More info on the street food tour under: www.pepper.life/experience/colombos-street-food/
Uga Escapes – five distinctive Boutique-Hotels on Sri Lanka: Ulagalla, Jungle Beach, Uga Bay, Residence and the latest member Chena Huts. From a Safari holiday in the jungle or the cultural treasures of past dynasties, snorkelling and spas on the tropical beach to exquisite days spent at the residence in the heart of Colombo – Uga Escapes opens the door to a very special trip through Sri Lanka. The carefully selected locations make the hotels the ideal starting point for discovering all the country has to offer. The lotus flower in the logo is the symbol for the philosophy of this very individual hideaway: Giving guests an authentic travel experience and at the same time contributing to the protection of the island’s rich heritage. Biological construction material, solar and water treatment plants, the use of clay and glass instead of plastic and biological vegetable cultivation are only a few of Uga Escapes’ standards.