Back to Nature. The Backwaters Wilpattu Sri Lanka
Inconspicuously hidden in a tangle of trees and marked pathways is The Backwaters Lodge. A short drive from the main Wilpattu National Park Hotel Road at Eluwankulama, google maps is spot on!
On arrival, friend and host, Tarique Omar is at hand, with his charming smile and inimitable manner to ensure cold towels and a fresh juice is served, check-in is smooth, breakfast is laid out, and all the visitors are well taken care of.
I feel privileged to be amongst a special gathering of friends who have come to The Backwaters to celebrate the second anniversary of this amazing place!
Woven into a tangle of jungle, six convertainers (converted shipping containers), each with ample space and privacy, dot this four acre plot of land. Numbered according to the original tag of the container, a short flight of steps made out of local timber leads to a private balcony and then into a comfortable room with an en-suite bath. The air-conditioner is not required as the cool breezes waft in, adding to nature’s soothing music from the orchestra of birds, and critters of the wild. The double mesh door allows me to sleep with the door open letting the breeze in to cool me adequately.
The Lodge is set on the banks of the Uppu Aru (salt river) which is the backwaters (that’s where the name came from!) of the Kala Oya that gently flows in to the estuary of the Dutch Bay.
Along the river bank, are perfectly placed seating that allows for privacy, great views, comfort, and solitude. There is a hammock swinging over the river, a swing seat that skims the water, a pier to launch the kayak from, and bathing spots to soothe the soul at the end of the day.
An evening of just gently drifting along the Uppu Aru is a must. Co-host Ajith, also an avid birder, points and identifies plenty of birds on either side of the river bank. The long shadows of the setting sun casts a yellow spell over the river and birds fly home to settle in for the night.
Amidst this tangle thrives over 64 species of birds. So birdwatchers find this place to be an open aviary of feathers and can spend hours listening and learning about the feathered kind.
On a lucky day, one can glimpse the lone elephant who wanders across the land in search of water.
Meanwhile troops of grey langur and torque monkeys make their presence felt by shaking down branches and creating a cacophony up in the treetops. Giant rock squirrel dart from tree to tree, a lizard monitor pops out of its hole in the tree to sunbathe, and life in the jungle carries on as usual.
Tarique lets me hop on to the back of his bike for a ride to the nearby lotus pond called the Nelum Weva. Country sides like this makes city living a sham. To smell the fragrance of the lotus, to feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and to acknowledge friendly locals as they smile and wave is truly a good feeling.
Meanwhile back at the lodge, we spend our time lounging about, eating local cuisine, traipsing the nature trails, reading in one of the many secluded spots, kayaking down the river or just ‘being’. What a wonderful place to do all of this!