Luxury Rainforest & Tea Plantation Getaway in Sri Lanka
My Rainforest Eco Lodge Experience
September 10-13, 2012 - Deniyaya, Sri Lanka
First, I went through a dirt road with a vista of lush greenery and some tea plantations. In the distance, I saw towering trees crowding at the top of the mountains. I was driven through the road at the edge of the Sinharaja Rainforest, past more tea plantations, and finally, up to Rainforest Eco Lodge, where the warm housekeeping head Dammika and the cool highland air greet me.
I had a welcome drink of some of their excellent milk tea. What better place to have tea than at a tea plantation?
My days would usually be filled with leisurely walks through the tea plantations and rainforest for bird-watching and tea plantation/rainforest/waterfall-admiring with my very congenial and engaging guide Kumara.
I had missed out on doing a tea plantation tour during my visit to Nuwara Eliya, so I was glad to have had that here with Kumara who answered all my questions and provided extra information. He also shared his knowledge about the rainforest’s various animal and plant inhabitants. We also talked a lot about his country Sri Lanka, my country the Philippines, work, Buddhism, and probably more. Conversing with Kumara was like a featured activity in itself. :)
[Thanking the universe for my lucky stars]
I would usually come back from my walks with Sri Lankan feasts prepared by Chef Chamikka, which was always instantly replenished by the hardworking and attentive restaurant staff Kusumsiri, who I really hope gets promoted later on for being such an excellent waiter.
[Kusumsiri on the far left, Chef Chamikka in the black shirt, second from right/beside me]
Wishful, I also asked if I might be able to help out in the kitchen, and lo and behold, Chamikka said yes! So I was able to harvest some of my own vegetables, make soup (albeit too peppery), cook dinner, garnish dessert (albeit unprofessionally), and make my own bread!
[I think you can guess which weralu mousse dessert is the one I garnished]
When the days came to a close, I spent my nights at one of the most luxurious accommodations one can find this close to a rainforest. I have no words, just stifled squeals, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
See more pictures of Rainforest Eco Lodge here.
Or watch the video I created below. :)
How green is it in this Rainforest?
Rainforest Eco Lodge was also built with green principles in mind, enough to garner them a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide building owners/operators with guidelines for practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions*.
I also had the unique privilege of meeting the CEO, Krishan, and talking to him about the development and his thoughts on what some may call sustainable tourism or eco-tourism.
Since green’s not black and white*, one might question how green it really is to build new structures in the first place, to have to transport all those building materials, supplies, and guests from lowland to highland each time, and just what the overall impact of having people inhabit a place that used to be uninhabited is.
But then, one would also have to consider some of the green measures they took:
- In construction
• Use of recycled steel, glass, and reclaimed railroad wood
• Use of steel stilts to be able to pack away leaving little trace and using minimal concrete
• Built to maximize natural cooling/ventilation systems
- In maintenance
• Use of solar water heaters
• Use of glass water bottles in the room
• Laundry of towels and linens only upon request
Their presence also provides employment opportunities for people from the Deniyaya province, supports childcare in the community, and protects the Sinharaja Rainforest from potential illegal loggers, since they are now like a watch post at the periphery of the rainforest.
When I realize that new tourist accommodations will continuously be developed (especially in countries where tourism is booming), I feel that, right now, in this debatable issue, Rainforest Eco Lodge serves as another standard (like Jetwing Vil Uyana), for hoteliers and similar companies to emulate in terms of minimizing impact on the environment while maximizing impact on the community.
The Perennial Challenge
The challenge to greenify is always there for us all, even for already LEED-certified developments, to constantly find new ways to lessen carbon footprints and plant seeds where we have tread.
And again the next time you go on a trip, even when you stay at a place that you know you’re paying a huge price for, please consider conserve all resources possible (don’t leave the power on when you leave the room, don’t have towels and linens washed everyday, and don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth – this practice can waste nearly 19 litres of water)*.
Travel with a heart,