Sri Lanka is a natural and cultural treasure-chest, spilling over with scenic landscapes, exotic wildlife, birds and flowers, colourful festivals and customs, delicious ethnic food and much more. At Uga Escapes, we offer a more intense, rewarding experience of this rich variety by making you a part of it all.
For this newsletter, we’re taking you to the fabled natural harbour, adventure playground and biodiversity hotspot of Trincomalee, where all the attractions of Sri Lanka’s eastern seaboard come to a focus. Here, a few kilometres up the coast from ‘Trinco’ itself, Jungle Beach nestles among the trees on a spit of land separating the sea from Kuchaveli Lagoon. Dozens of species of birds and wildlife inhabit the area; the lagoon and ocean teem with fish, shellfish, turtles and cetaceans. The hotel, with its luxurious cabaña style accommodation and airy open-plan design, was recently named ‘best beach resort in the Indian Ocean’ by World Luxury Hotel magazine and won a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence in 2014.
The beauties of Trinco are mostly natural, and guests at Jungle Beach get to enjoy them up close and interactive. Some like to work up an appetite for breakfast by selecting a mount from our stables and taking a gallop along the broad, mostly secluded beach. Others may prefer an early-morning snorkelling or diving visit to Pigeon Island, 1km offshore from nearby Nilaveli, where lush coral reefs harbour a profusion of brightly-coloured fish and marine life. The waters surrounding Trinco are home to sea turtles, rays and black-tipped reef sharks, as well as some spectacular World War II wrecks. They also offer the best whale-watching opportunities in Sri Lanka, featuring nearly two dozen species from acrobatic spinner dolphins to giant blue whales that swim here all the way from Antarctica. Trincomalee is a favourite haunt of sport-fishing enthusiasts, many of whom use Jungle Beach as their base. There are also many other aquatic sports to enjoy, including jet-skiing, kite-skiing, paddle boarding and windsurfing.
On land, too, there’s plenty to do from dawn to dusk. Places to go include Tiriyaya, a first-century-BC Buddhist shrine atop a high hilltop, where ancient monuments frame breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding forests; Kokilai, a bird-sanctuary, mostly lagoon and salt-marsh, that is home to the endangered black-necked stork; and Trincomalee itself, an ancient seaport and cultural centre where the sights include the old Dutch/Portuguese fort and the cliff top Hindu temple of Konneswaran, popularly known as Swami Rock, where visitors are welcome to participate respectfully in the ceremonies. Those who enjoy more bucolic diversions may opt instead for a mid-afternoon bicycle excursion to nearby Maduwankulam tank and be rewarded with a sighting of elephants or crocodiles, as well as a profusion of bird life. And for the incorrigible sophisticate, there’s always the lure of a round of golf at the Eagles’ Golf links the fine 18-hole course at China Bay.