One of the hottest destinations of 2019, thankfully Sri Lanka has plenty of inspirational destinations for ecotourism. Rich in biodiversity, rainforest, jungles and grasslands, Sri Lanka also benefits from different micro-climates, making it rich in wildlife and the perfect place to immerse yourself in (and respect) nature: Here are some of our favourite eco lodges in Sri Lanka to help you do just that!
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The Best Ecolodges in Sri Lanka
Many travel to Sri Lanka for the beautiful nature, abundance of wildlife, and the chance to slow down a notch – after all Sri Lanka is far more than just its beaches! You’ll find eco lodges in Sri Lanka all around the country, from the south cast the the mountain ranges around Kandy, and particularly around the cultural triangle are surrounding Sigiriya and Dambulla.
With tourism to Sri Lanka increasing, it’s even more important to choose sustainable travel options and keep your travel impact in mind – one of the easiest ways to do that is to stay somewhere that is mindful of its footprint – and actively trying to make a positive difference on its local surroundings and communities. We know it can be hard to find the best sustainable places to stay sometimes, so we’ve put together a guide to some of the best eco lodges in Sri Lanka – with the help of some fellow blogging friends!
These eco resorts, lodges and yoga retreats listed here are all committed to sustainable travel and preserving ecotourism in Sri Lanka. Leaving you happy in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit to preserve Sri Lanka.
Jetwing Lagoon (Negombo)
Part of the Sri Lankan Sustainability-pioneering group Jetwing hotels, Jetwing Lagoon is the first institute in Sri Lanka to feature 100% LED lighting. LED bulbs are used across the property, including the garden and swimming pool, and around three quarters of the total energy used by the hotel come from renewable sources.
Like at all Jetwing hotels, there’s a focus on reducing carbon footprint, and this hotel manages to do so by around 43% compared to if it used conventional technologies. 100% of wastewater is treated and re-used for gardens on site, and food and garden waste is composted as well. The hotel also supports community measures and is involved in working with street dog charities in Negombo, too.
Check rates and availability for Jetwing Lagoon Negombo here!
Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela (Sigiriya, Cultural Triangle)
Contributed by Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World
Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela is located at a stone’s throw from Sigiriya, one of the nicest places to visit in Sri Lanka, and completely immersed in the jungle. It’s the kind of place where guests can completely disconnect from the rest of the world. It’s a small eco-friendly resort, with just a few rooms – 3 of which are tree houses and the rest boulder cottages. Each of them is built to embrace the surrounding environment, rather than to dominate it. The tree houses are completely open, and it’s not uncommon to have visitors – squirrels and monkeys.
At Back of Beyond nature is queen. The management strives to involve the local community in its work, whether it is for running the resort or in projects of re-forestation. It also works to educate people living in the nearby villages about animal and environmental protection, so that they don’t hunt and poach animals such as elephants that roam freely in the area.
The resort has its own vegetable garden, though what guests find is strictly dependent on seasons. There even is a natural fish spa, at a small rock pool in the river that flows right by the resort.
Check rates and availability for Back of Beyond here!
Jetwing Lake, Dambulla (Cultural Triangle)
Contributed by Ann Marie of Eco Conscious Traveller
I absolutely loved Jetwing Dambulla. Dambulla is the perfect place from which you can organise an elephant safari or a trip to Sigiriya rock where you can experience an incredible sunset. And why not do all that while experiencing sustainable luxury.
Jetwing is a great chain of eco conscious hotels with various options throughout Sri Lanka who are committed to sustainability. Their Sustainability strategy focuses on energy and carbon, water conservation, waste and biodiversity. A lot of their electricity is generated by solar energy and they have an on-site farm that grows a good amount of their food to reduce the associated carbon footprint.
The bedrooms at Jetwing Dambulla are luxurious and mine had a beautiful view looking over their incredible swimming pool and the surrounding natural beauty. On the note of the swimming pool, it’s huge! Eating Sri Lankan food for Dinner at The Viewing Gallery is oh so good and well worth it.
The staff are friendly and will go out of their way to ensure you experience a home away from home.
Check rates and availability for Jetwing Lake Dambulla here!
Ulpotha (near Dambulla, Cultural Triangle)
“The Best Yoga Retreat in the World”; Ulpotha sets high expectations. Ulpotha is a Buddhist agricultural community in the jungle heartland of Sri Lanka, offering its guests world class yoga and traditional Ayurveda healing in an incredible setting.
The aim at Ulpotha is to be as close to nature as is humanly possible. There is no electricity at Ulpotha and life is lived by the rhythm of the day and night. Perhaps the best way to describe Ulpotha is as a healing village – it’s directly run with and by local villagers, and is open for seven months of the year. For the other five months of the year, Ulpotha is allowed to rest, restore, and protect itself from any strain from outside visitors. As part of Ulpotha’s philosophy, Ayurveda is provided to local villagers free of charge at the Ayurveda clinic year-round.
Almost all of the construction at Ulpotha is from biodegradable materials, and non-mechanised, organic and bio-dynamic farming methods are used. Ulpotha is a retreat for the soul as much as anything, a truly magical experience.
Mahagedara Wellness Retreat, Sigiriya (Cultural Triangle)
Contributed by Jenn and Ed Coleman of Coleman Concierge
Mahagedara Wellness Retreat feels like it grew out of the Sri Lankan jungle that surrounds it by design. Its owner and designer, Lakmali, searched for an unspoiled corner of the forest with Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. What she found was a patch of old growth jungle a stone’s throw away from Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla Cave Temples, and Kaudulla National Park.
Each structure was built in unison with the land to preserve as much tree cover as possible. Three thousand species of organically grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs are harvested for use in their traditional ayurvedic meals. These crops are fertilized from the retreats compost bins. They even purify their water to remain in balance with the nature that surrounds them and return the grey water to the surrounding jungles.
Mahagedara’s sustainability goes beyond protecting the environment. It works towards sustaining local culture, traditions, and the community as well. They teach authentic ayurvedic healing including visits from local monks and ayurvedic doctors. The serve traditional meals on locally sourced earthenware. Most of all, their staff comes from the surrounding villages. The result is ecotourism helping the people and the planet.
Our visit to Mahagedara felt like we had traveled across the world to return home. Everything was foreign and familiar at the same time. The peace, harmony, and connection to the land and culture of Sri Lanka made me feel good all over.
Check rates and availability for Mahagedara Wellness Retreat here!
Vil Uyana, Sigiriya (Cultural Traingle)
Contributed by Mariellen Ward of Breathe Dream Go.
I had just slipped into the infinity pool and was swimming happily when I spied the crocodile. He was also swimming happily in the pond that was down a short, grassy slope from the pool. For a second, I was alarmed when I realized he could easily traverse the short distance between us. But then I settled in, and enjoyed the spectacular moment of being truly immersed in wild nature. And realized this is what is so unique and special about Vil Uyana.
With Vil Uyana, Jetwing had a very big, ambitious vision: To build a man-made wetland and eco-resort together as a single, harmonious experience. You don’t so much stay at Vil Uyana… you experience it.
The Vil Uyana vision was successfully manifest, in my opinion. It’s a graceful resort, spread out on 28 acres that encompasses various terrains including wetlands, forests, rice paddies, and meadows. The villas are spread out so that each has a feeling of privacy, and offers different vistas of nature. Mine was completely immersed in a wetland, and the bird life outside my windows was off the charts.
Everything about Vil Uyana celebrates nature. When you go on a nature walk with an in-house guide, they point out the many endangered species that have found a home there, such as the slender grey loris. In fact, Vil Uyana is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to spot this elusive creature, and as a consequence, they have set up a dedicated Loris Conservation Area and Loris Information Center to contribute to the preservation of this nocturnal primate. Even when you go for a spa treatment, your room is open on one side to the wetland, and you watch nature at play as you soak in the stone tub.
Vil Uyana was built from the ground up with environmentally-responsible and energy efficient architecture, rain water harvesting, a bio-gas plant, and a remarkable commitment to establishing biodiversity on the grounds of the resort. In the end, though, it’s the magnificent experiences you have immersed in the natural habitats of Vil Uyana that provide evidence of its commitment to sustainability.
Check rates and availability for Vil Uyana here!
Polwaththa Ecolodge (Kandy)
Contributed by Jazzmine Raine of Sunshine and Raine
Polwaththa Ecolodge, translating to Coconut Estate, is a rustic, family-owned ecolodge among the trees in Digana, a small town 30-minutes away from Kandy. Their 10 lodges and 2 homestays offer a homey setting backed by true Sri Lankan hospitality.
The property offers a mix of comfort, immersion and privacy perfect for families, couples and explorers looking to get out of the city. The ecolodge is run by a Sri Lankan and Dutch couple and embodies their passion for environmental action and community empowerment.
Their kitchen serves up Sri Lankan dishes made from local produce. Breakfast is accompanied by organic “wild” coffee grown around the property. The staff team is from the surrounding communities and thrilled to show travelers around the area with their day tour offerings, including safaris and boat tours.
Polwaththa co-owner, Nihal, uses his spare time to teach housewives in the surrounding villages how to make hats and accessories from hemp, providing the women with an independent economic opportunity. The products are sold onsite at the ecolodge in a small shop outside the dining area. He is also very dedicated to doing his part in conserving the jungle surrounding his property. Aside from their multiple initiatives to keep their cabins green, including solar powered water heaters, their reforestation project features planting ayurvedic plants, trees, fruits and herbs with their neighbours and the community.
Check rates and availability for Polwaththa Ecolodge here!
Santani Wellness Resort (Kandy)
Situated on the former Aratenna Tea Estate outside of Kandy, Santani is a unique wellness retreat which promotes digital detox, a chance to reconnect with nature, and celebrate the incredible views and surroundings of central Sri Lanka. The design of Santani is modern, sleek, and created to blend perfectly with its surroundings.
Santani realises the belief that sustainable wellness begins by bringing oneself into balance with nature and by allowing ourselves to receive from ourselves as well as from others. Wellness programs here include Ayurveda, yoga, stress management, detox and even “de-addiction” programs. Santani is a place to truly de-clutter, de-connect from our lives of busyness and (re)establish a profound connection to oneself and to the earth.
Gal Oya (Eastern Sri Lanka)
Eco lodges in Sri Lanka don’t get much better than Gal Oya. Gal Oya Eco Lodge is a unique Sri Lanka ecolodge spread across 20 acres of private jungle; the Gal Oya National Park. Given the tourist crowds that have developed at some of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks in recent years, a stay at Gal Oya is a chance to experience the Sri Lankan wilderness (and its wildlife) without the masses.
Gal Oya has built in harmony with the surrounding landscape; sustainable and local materials have been used wherever possible, and their nine bungalows have been built to take advantage of the surrounding forest for both privacy and spectacular views from each bungalow.
Gal Oya works in partnership with one of Sri Lanka’s last remaining indigenous communities: the forest-dwelling Vedda people. You can learn more about the traditional Vedda way of life by meeting villagers (including the Vedda Chief) during a stay at Gal Oya. The Veddas have inhabited Sri Lanka for centuries and possess a rich knowledge of nature, natural medicines, and living in harmony with the local environment.
One of the main draws of Gal Oya is the wildlife: Gal Oya offers unique, guided experiences to introduce you to some of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful inhabitants. Gal Oya is the only place in Sri Lanka to offer a boat safari, where (if you’re lucky) you may be able to see elephants swimming in their natural habitat. It’s also an excellent spot for birding and the more traditional jeep safari.
Gal Oya is located away from Sri Lanka’s hotspots to the East of Kandy, but is easily accessible from Ella, Arugam bay and Kandy (around 3 hours).
Check rates and availability for Gal Oya here!
Living Heritage Koslanda (Haputale, near Ella)
Nestled between Ella and the Horton Plains, Living Heritage Koslanda is a unique luxury boutique hotel set in the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country. The hotel is a peaceful retreat in nature, set amid 80 acres of private land and forests.
Reforestation is a priority at Living Heritage Koslanda: The land in which the property stands was originally virgin rainforest, but during colonial times trees were felled to make way for tea plantations and other crops. Since the tea plantations were abandoned in the 1950s, nature began to re-claim its course, and today the forest has an intriguing mix of plants as the resort has focused on helping to re-introduce some of the crops and plants that would have once grown here.
In addition to the forest, Koslanda also has their own Organic Gardens on-site where much of the salad and vegetables consumed at the hotel on grown. The Living Heritage Koslanda organic pepper is said to be some of the best around, and guests can learn all about the pepper and organic farming principles during their stay. The hotel also puts a focus on hiring directly from the local women – especially local women – who are under-represented in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
Check rates and availability for Living Heritage Koslanda here!
Tri Lanka, Koggala (near Galle)
Set on the banks of Koggala Lake, Tri Lanka is southern Sri Lanka with a difference.
Their philosophy is to create more, consume less; embrace every opportunity to learn and improve; be innovative and committed; inspire others to positive change; and always look to nature. With living walls, 100% recycled wood and locally sourced materials, Tri Lanka has been designed to make a difference.
Their water tower rooms (which are covered in cinnamon wood from the outisde) offer amazing views of the surrounding area, have east-west views, and are a great example of the vision at Tri. The area is rich in birdlife and other wildlife, and part of Tri’s mission is to help reverse habitat degradation. A mangrove planing and shoreline protection programme is currently underway, as well as planting more indigenous trees and shrubs.
Check rates and availability for Tri Lanka here!
Jetwing Lighthouse (Galle)
Contributed by Noel of Travel Photo Discovery
Jetwing’s gorgeous resort property at Galle Lighthouse also features a lot of the eco friendly features that do not compromise on quality, location and a wonderful stay at their properties. Many of the typical eco friendly mandates are included in this property without compromising on luxury and a fantastic stay.
I had a tour of the various eco features done at this resort and it is an amazing endeavor. It includes These sustainability commitments:
- Glass bottles of purified water with an onsite bottling plant provided for guests and also used throughout the resort
- Effluent treatment at the hotel, treating 100 percent of wastewater
- A biomass boiler which is utilized for hot water and laundry needs
- An on site cetacean informatio center that concentrates on awareness to guests of marine wildlife in the area
- An organic garden that supplies the main kitchen
- Use of energy efficient LED and CFL lighting, solar paneling for the hotel grid system and automating light sensing devices in each room.
Jetwing Lighthouse Galle educates their guests on their sustainability features to their guests and looks to spread awareness of how the resort is trying their best to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on service and luxury service to their guests.
Check rates and availability for Jetwing Lighthouse Galle here!
Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Read more articles on Soul Travel:
Have you stayed at any inspiring eco lodges in Sri Lanka? Which one of these would be your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
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