Day 22 – Unawatuna to Sinharaja rainforest 🇱🇰

After a memorable couple of days at Unawatuna, we are moving on again, this time to the Sinharaja Rainforest region.

Lisa didn’t sleep too well last night worrying about our transport this morning, we’d not had confirmation from our next host that our taxi was booked, and knowing we were going somewhere remote Lisa was worried we might not make it. But alas in true Sri Lankan laid back style we got a message over breakfast to say our taxi was on it’s way and would be with us at 11am.

Our taxi driver was on time, and we said our goodbyes and headed off on our journey. First around two hours by road towards the town of Kalawana.  Our friendly driver stops at a road side stall and buys us both a coconut, not to sound ungrateful, but these coconuts are full of about 1 litre of liquid, and so almost immediately after drinking them you’re going to need to stop for a wee! Lisa managed to hold hers in but Ryan was pretty desperate, so asked the driver if he could stop. Being a man, Ryan expected him to just pull in to a hedgerow but instead he proceeded to drive to a village, and asked the locals if we could use their loo. Ryan kept trying to say that he only needed a wee and could do it by the side of the road, but this seemed to get lost in translation. All very entertaining for Lisa as Ryan embarrassingly gets escorted into a locals shop to use their loo.

We arrive in Kalawana, where we’re told a jeep will be coming to collect us from a small lay-by on the road, we wait around 5 minutes and it arrives. We climb on and off we go, our taxi driver waves us off and says ‘make sure you hold on’. Off the main road we head up a smaller windy road, which then leads to a rather bumpy, steep and narrow track.  Passing local houses, the children are very entertained by us shouting and waving, they especially like Ryan, it’s not often they see a white, ginger, tatooed man with holes in his ears, but they seem to like it.

We climb higher in the jeep and the views open up to endless green, tea plantations and a large tea factory. When we finally arrive Nestwood, our home for the next 4 nights.

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This was the first accommodation we booked for our holiday, and planned our trip around staying here. From the photos and reviews on airbnb we were fully expecting a spectacular location. And we weren’t disappointed.

As we jump off the jeep, we’re greeted by our host Nadintha, who is full of smiles and welcomes. He shows us around and we’re astounded by the view, our photos do not do this place justice, but we we’re both speechless.

Nestwood is located in the middle of a tea plantation, and enjoys almost 360 degree views of the surrounding natural area. As we explore the terrace, we see tea pickers working around the property, this makes us feel a little uneasy as we know how little these people earn and how hard they work, and here we are indulging in a holiday. But their smiles and waves made us feel more at ease. Inside Nestwood is quite rustic, and probably the most basic standard of accommodation we’ve stayed in, but the views and location more than make up for this.

We also learn that Nadintha, accompanied by two other young men, would be our live-in private chef for the 4 nights. They stay in a small out building near the main bungalow, although we never get to see inside we’re told this is where the kitchen and living quarters are for them. Both of us again feel uneasy that we’re being looked after in this way, we’re strangers to such personal service, but Nadintha’s kindness and polite charm puts us at ease as he prepares a pot of tea for us to enjoy.

As the sun starts to go down, the sky is beautiful and we enjoy our first dip in the pool. Nadintha tells us that they empty and refill the pool after each guest, and that it is filled with water from the uphill stream, with no chemicals. We experience our first sunset which is magical.

We’re then seated for our first dinner. Nadintha brings out a large plate of rice, and along with it around eight different curry dishes. Each was delicious followed by a local style tapioca pudding with palm treacle which was lovely. We’re then served another cup of tea. We’re astounded by the quality of the food and the lovely service and enjoy chatting to Nadintha before heading upstairs for our first nights sleep.