The catamaran bobs gently in the sea. The sky is overcast, the wind is dying down and the evening is pleasantly cooling.

We are anchored out at sea, at the foot of the Koneshwaran temple in Trincomalee. I am onboard the Emerald CeyCat 53, a custom built, six-cabin catamaran belonging to Sail Lanka. This is just day one of our three day cruise along Sri Lanka’s renowned east coast.

This afternoon, having traveled from Colombo, we arrive at the Dutch Bay Trincomalee by 3:45 p.m.

Three Sail Lanka vessels are anchored off site waiting for their next passengers.

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Within the boundaries of the Kumana National Park are many ancient archeological sites that date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. In fact, the Kumana area has been the site of an ancient civilisation dating back to the 3rd century BC.

During my recent camping trip with Xtreme Nature Tours, we visit Bovattagala, one of the many ancient sites located in the middle of the park.

There is a cobbled path that leads through the thick jungle to the base of what was once a massive monastic complex. We climb a short distance, scaling the hot rocky façade until we reach the main cave.

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It’s not authentic camping and neither does it have the trimmings of glamping. But it has got all the coolness of tented accommodation, the buzzing of insects, the sounds of guttural sawing of a lurking leopard, the caressing of warm breezes that waft across the riverbed and the thrill of burying my toes in the sand while eating my meals under the open canopied tent.

Having driven almost seven hours from Colombo (along the newly opened expressway), we reach the entrance of the Kumana National Park by 11 a.m. to be met by Chris, the man behind the Xtreme Nature Tours and Marlon, his “grounded” sidekick and a business partner.

We transfer our luggage into the two waiting safari jeeps and off we go on a bumpy, dusty ride to the campsite at Eda Kumbukkana Two.

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A short drive up the road right next to the Belihuloya Rest House is a waterfall and natural pool that has been a must-see attraction on my bucket list for too long. I have managed to coax the rest to visit this site and we are finally en route. We park the vehicles at a nearby car park for a small fee.

Hat in hand I walk down a short distance from the car park to the entrance post where a solitary chap issues tickets and warns us of the dangers of bathing at this waterfall. A plaque, erected by a bereaved parent in memory of his young son who had lost his life here is a stark warning. “This waterfall has taken many lives. Stay out of the water!” the gatekeeper cautions us. I am also thankful that there is no one else here, except us, and glad to explore on our own.

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Gammaduwa is a village located about 1h20m from the Matale town in the central province of Sri Lanka. The temperature today is a cool 24c probably because of the elevation of 930m above sea level.

Off the beaten track that even Google Maps could not quite navigate, we finally reach our destination, the Kudaoya Villa.

Originally built (probably in the early 1900’s) as a hospital, this building has been transformed into a delightful villa comprising five large bedrooms with en-suite baths, a large sitting area with a fireplace and an equally large dining area. A long open veranda, a perfect place to sit and watch the mist come rolling in every evening or sip a coffee while enjoying the dawn break over the Knuckles Mountain range, is reminiscent of an old hospital waiting area. For anyone who enjoys cold water, (not me!) there is a pool located at the end of the garden.

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