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“Peaceful”

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Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela
Torquay, Victoria, Australia
2 reviews
“Peaceful”
Reviewed June 24, 2013

We stayed 3 nights in the tree house and it was the most wonderful and peaceful place. The surrounds are just amazing. The staff are very friendly and helpful. The food was the best we have had so far in Sri Lanka and every meal was prepared from scratch. Absolutely loved this place and look forward to returning again in the future.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Nikki M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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155 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    105
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed May 29, 2013

This place is only for those who truly love being surrounded by nature, and understand its sincerity. I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else!! Dehi Gaha Ela is a beautiful little Eco lodge hidden between the trees, very close to Sigiriya (The World’s 8th Wonder). I especially liked the broken yet exciting little path that led us to the lodge, as the trees on one side of the road were cordoned off by an electric fence, meant to keep wild elephants away. One portion of the fence was damaged by the elephants, and we also happened to come across fresh dung nearby. That was our 1st indication that this place was every inch the eco lodge it boasted to be.

We were greeted by the manager upon arrival late evening, and were soon ushered into a fully open reception area, which was tastefully put together by mud, brick, cement, mats and colorful cushions. I knew immediately, I had found my reading spot!!
We traveled in a group of 8, and booked 1 tree house, and 2 cottages, both equally beautiful, spacious, and overlooked a scenic view. I spent one night on a tree house and the other, in a cottage.. and I honestly don’t know which I prefer.. The cottage didn’t sound as exciting to me at first, however I was pleasantly surprised, as the cottage was built on an upper deck, incorporating a natural rock, and a thick branch or two crossed a portion of the room as well, so it did feel just as outdoorsy and open. I may however be a little biased towards the tree house, as I especially loved how it creaked in response to the strong wind at night.

The bathrooms were outdoorsy, modern and rustic at the same time, with trees growing though it etc..Ours even included a voyeur frog or two. The lodge does mention hot water facilities, however some of my friends did comment that the water didn’t really heat up as much. This could be due to the fact that the lodge is sola powered.

The food was excellent, we were served mostly traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, upon order. We literally could not move after each meal, as the lodge served us some of the best Sri Lankan we’ve ever had. You could take your own provisions such as sausages etc if you like, and request the staff to prepare it for you.

The staff were wonderful, and so very accommodating. They did everything to ensure we were comfortable and well looked after. Two of my friends set off on a bike ride late evening, which concerned the staff, as they cautioned and that wild elephants may be on the move (as 2 electric fences were damaged earlier that week etc). They immediately set out on motorbikes, found our friends and escorted them back safely to the lodge. The cook and staff were definitely a big part of making our trip that much more special.

I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this place, except that it maybe could be lit up a tad better at night. We didn’t feel quite safe walking around the lodge, in case we were to step on a snake etc… I must say however that is this element of uncertainty in the wild that draws us to it the most, so maybe dimly lit is not such a bad thing after all.

I loved Dehi Gaha Ela, and would recommend it to likeminded folk, who have an appreciation for the birds and bees, love the sound of crickets, the smell of the jungle and can tolerate frogs and other creatures of the night. This place is truly for those who’ve grown up loving the outdoors.

Tip – Try traveling with your partner, or only a small group of friends (3 or 4), as you don’t want to drown out the calm of the trees, or flow of the nearby steam. Dehi Gaha Ela is extremely serene, so make sure you leave your inner city monster behind!!

Prices extremely affordable – Book on full-board basis, as the town is quite some distance away.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Anushka D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed May 21, 2013

A fantastic place for the discerning nature lover. You will have an amazing experience staying on top of a Tree House and feel the sights, sounds & smell of the Jungle right to the bone. During the day you can dip in the clear water stream just by the resort for a very refreshing afternoon.
Nearby is the world heritage Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a 5th century edifice. You will travel a couple of Km interior on rustic roads to reach the place - that it self an experience. Once there you'll be taken back by the serenity of the place; compact & just about right for a blissful stay. While there don't forget to experience some authentic Sri Lankan dishes. Thumbs-up all round.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank ranilsss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
21 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed March 16, 2013

When we travelled along the track leading to Dehigaha Ela we couldn’t help but begin to get the sensation that we were literally treading into unknown territory. We could feel that surprise awaited us. As soon as Dehigaha Ela opened up passing over the ridge at its entrance, we were awe struck by what unfolded – a Shangri-la. We will leave the rest for the traveller to experience!
Staff led by manger Prasantha was caring and was there at our call all the time. The food was simple yet exquisite. The variation in accommodation from tree houses to cottages and their architecture was completely out of the ordinary. We felt that it is one of those places one does not want to leave. Alas, all good things have to come to an end and we parted with sweet memories. One has to appreciate the vision, innovation and sense of purpose of the creators of such a concept as the Back of Beyond range of unique and affordable accommodation spread across the country, of which Dehigaha Ela forms one.
“Give me Thy Harmony Oh Lord that I
May understand the beauty of the sky
The rhythm of the soft winds lullaby
The sun and shadow of the wood in spring
And Thy Great Love That is Everything.”
- From Jungle Journeys in Ceylon by Iris Darnton

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Lalith S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
40 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed March 13, 2013

We stayed in the tree house at back of beyond and loved it. The food was amazing. Just get the package that includes breakfast and the evening meal. You won't be going out for your evening meal! The little stream at Dehigala Ela is lovely to swim in and the fish give you a massage. Ask the staff to show you the natural swimming pool. We had a great lesson in cooking with Nihal in there fantastic basic and very functional kitchen. We spent three nights here and felt we were just getting to know the staff and really relax. It went very quick. If you like nature you will love this place but if you like the fine things in life then this may not be for you.

  • Stayed March 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank happycampers2908
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
40 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed February 17, 2013

We stayed at Back of Beyond for three nights last week. Generally an amazing place to enjoy Sri Lanka's beautiful nature and wildlife. The staff was very friendly, helpful and with a great knowledge about Sri Lanka. The manager even joined us for the near-by elephant safari to make sure we had a good time. You can relax and just do nothing, the BoB team tries to take care of everything.

We had our lunches and dinners here as well, partly because the food was so incredibly tasty (if basic) but also because trips to the "civilised world" seemed too much effort. If you think the portions are not big enough and you are still hungry, just ask for more, no problem. The difference between half-board and full-board felt a bit unreasonable, compared to the food we had at other places in Sri Lanka we were not quite sure if the food is really worth 10USD per person.

BoB does not have a license to sell alcohol but they are happy to bring you anthing you want on their shopping trips in the village.

Hanging out was great, the rock pools are very clean, refreshing, a real pleasure. In case you get bored you can go and see the Sigirya rock fortress or hire a 4&4 to do the elephant safari I mentioned above. Both trips absolutely blew our minds.

Yes, the bed sheets and your clothes can become a bit damp but what do people expect? You are in tropical environment in the middle of nowhere, live with it! And yes, the only way to go online is to use the computer at the front desk which is outdated and slow but wasting time on the internet in such a peaceful spot feels sacrilegious anyway.

Just bring a few good books, enough mosquito spray and you will have a great and peaceful time.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank DistUrban
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
64 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed February 13, 2013

The Good:

This was the first hotel we stayed at in Sri Lanka. It is breathtaking. Gorgeous in the morning with the sunlight pouring in through the trees. You are greeted by the sounds of monkeys and other jungle creatures chattering away. Sleep might come with a bit of difficulty if you are afraid of monkeys as they play on the roof! Bats flew through the restaurant as we ate dinner. Fireflies lit up the darkness like twinkling stars.

The hotel is totally isolated and takes a while to get to - but really the location is only a problem if you don't have transportation.

The food was fantastic. We only ate one dinner and one breakfast there and both meals were tasty - best coconut sambol we had our entire stay.

The grounds looked beautiful although we didn't have much chance to explore.

The BAD:
If you are still reading this please be aware that I considered giving this place a 3/5 rating. It teeters on the very edge for one reason - very very musty beds and pillows. The mustiness was so bad that I made my children sleep in their clothes so that the pajamas we brought wouldn't get soiled with the musty smell. There were mildew/mold spots all over the mattresses and beds. Even the sheets and pillow cases smelled badly, when theoretically washing should have bettered the smell a bit. Being in a room that is open to the jungle, I have no idea how they can solve the mildew/mold smell. I forced myself to sleep on my back all night because the moldy smell was giving me a head ache. We ended up only staying one night instead of two because of this. If they could somehow fix this problem I wouldn't hesitate to give this a 5/5.

Another disturbing thing we saw was a disabled dog with two barely functioning back legs. The staff kept trying to shoo it away by throwing rocks towards it. My children are animal and nature lovers and were heartbroken to see a starving dog being treated this way. We fed it a sandwich we had left over from the plane trip and some breakfast that had fallen on the floor. The staff need to either humanely euthanize the animal or care for it because it is distressing for younger guests who've been raised with the idea that being cruel to animals is wrong to see people throwing rocks at an injured animal.

The value isn't that great either. 150$ per night is pretty steep.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Gummydani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela

Property: Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela
Address: Dehigaha Ela, Sigiriya 21120, Sri Lanka
Location: Sri Lanka > Central Province > Sigiriya
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 83 Specialty Lodging in Sigiriya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Back of Beyond - Dehigaha Ela 3*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the Cultural Triangle in Sri Lanka and within 30 minutes from Sigiriya World Heritage Site, Back of Beyond Dehigaha ela is situated in a circular clearing at the base of a hill, ringed in by the thick forest on the sweeping curve of the two streams. It is a small secret place for all forms of wildlife - elephants, sambhur, deer, birds, butterflies - to visit. It is an ideal location for those who dream of sleeping under the stars, of exploring the jungle and streams on foot with all its joys and little discomforts. We have of course, added the comforts and care. The entire retreat is powered by solar energy. A backup generator is also provided. All hot water is also supplied via solar energy. A biogas generator has been installed to convert kitchen waste to bio gas for cooking. All tree houses and boulder cottages in this retreat are designed to be very open to nature, with coconut thatch roofing, wooden floors, and folding bamboo tats. Each lodge maintains standards of comfort by providing fans, mosquito nets, and modern toilets. The eco-retreat consists of a 2 tree houses and 4 boulder cottages. Each of the tastefully furnished units, is designed to maximise the impact of the surrounding environment. The reception, living and dining areas are separate, and the staff and drivers quarters are also housed separately to allow maximum privacy to guests. The surrounding forest is a haven for birds, smaller mammals and larger mammals such as deer, sambhur and even elephants. Guests enjoy bathing in the two streams that meet at the border to our property. One stream starts closeby hence has icy cold water, whereas the larger stream has warmer water. The crystal clear water of the nearby stream is full of small fish that provide a natural, free foot spa to the delight of our guests. A nature trail is also available in the property. The property also boasts of a large man-made pond that is full of lotuses and water lilies. This too attracts a wide variety of bird life and small fishes. A butterfly garden has also recently been started at Dehigaha ela. The retreat offers many activities including bird watching, hiking, cycling and excursions to Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Kaludiya Pokuna, Wewela tank etc ... more   less 
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