The SpaceLeopard’s Lodge, Mahatenne has been my Sri Lankan home for over 20 years and has developed from a basic field camp to a simple but comfortable retreat. The Lodge is run by Karu who will take care of all arrangements and can act as local guide.
There are three rooms - a double, a small double with an adjoining single. It best suits a couple or a family of four but there are extra camp beds so that up to six people can stay. There is a good supply of bed linen, towels and thicker bedcovers for cool nights. All beds have mosquito nets. The bedrooms have locks for security and there is always someone at the property. The bathroom is located 25m away and is reached by a flight of steps. The bathroom has a shower but no hot water at present. The kitchen is local style and meals are prepared by Karu's sister, Manjula but guests have access to the refrigerator. Manjula's meals are delicious!
There is parking space for 1-2 vehicles and drivers can be offered basic accommodation, with an additional small charge to cover food. It is also possible to arrive by public transport. A pick-up from Colombo or elsewhere can be arranged.
The booking fee covers bed and breakfast. Other local meals can be arranged with Karu at a reasonable charge. Extra nights can also be arranged with Karu. Guest AccessWhether you are a lone traveller looking for peace and quiet or a party of six, you will have the use of the entire property. You are free to roam the 5 acres, although basic field sense applies - canvas shoes and thorn-proof clothing advisable, use torches and stay on paths especially at night. There are footpaths to explore the land.
The property is managed by Karu, who has looked after it and visitors for the last 20 years with the help of family members. Karu will greet guests and will be the main point of contact throughout your stay. Interaction with GuestsKaru will manage your stay. His English is basic but sufficient for most needs and he is able to access a translator if needed. I am based in UK but will be in regular contact with Karu. During day times there is usually one or more people in the kitchen and Karu will stay at the property overnight. The NeighborhoodAt an elevation of 2000ft, the area has a pleasant climate with warm days and cool mornings and evenings, and sometimes chilly nights. Leopard’s Lodge is situated on its own secluded hilltop and is an oasis of peace and quiet. However, close by is the busy village of Pambahinna so there is a short walk to find many small shops, bus routes and tuk-tuks. There is a weekly market (pola) on Wednesdays with a range of local produce. There are many popular local river bathing spots as well as a number of 'secret' bathing places that Karu can take guests to. Karu is also an expert guide for trekking to more remote villages and through untouched forests.
Further afield, Leopard’s Lodge lies at the foot of the steep southern rise of the central Hill Country. From Leopard’s Lodge there is a clear view World's End and it is possible for the fittest (or those with a good 4WD vehicle) to make the long climb up through tea estates to World's End and Horton Plains beyond.
Close by, on the main road from Ratnapura to Bandarawela and the hill country, is the popular village of Belihul Oya with its old Resthouse on the banks of the Belihul Oya river, a well-known stopping off point for those travelling from Colombo to the Hills. If a night on the town is your thing, a beer and fried chicken at the Resthouse or one of several other restaurants that have developed in recent years is entertaining. Getting AroundLeopard’s Lodge, Mahatenne is easily reached by vehicle from the main Ratnapura- Bandarawela road via the junction at Pambahinna. It lies on a well-travelled route between the south coast and the hill country and makes a good halfway point for those travelling on to Ella or further East to Arugam Bay. For those travelling by public transport there are regular long distance bus routes that pass through Pambahinna and from there it is a short tuk-tuk ride (2km) to Leopard’s Lodge, Mahatenne. As everywhere in Sri Lanka today, it is relatively simple to arrange local tuk-tuk transport. For those wanting to travel by train, Mahatenne is an hour by bus or tuk-tuk from the station at Haputale and the glorious train journey across the Hill Country to Kandy. Other Things to NoteThere is WiFi router and the password is on the welcome document.
There is a common water filter on the verandah that is kept supplied with boiled water. Guests can store personal drinks, including alcohol, in the refrigerator.
Personal torches are advisable as is suitable footwear and clothing (long trousers and sleeves if venturing into bush).
The vegetation at Mahatenne includes many trees and plants that Karunasena can identify for visitors, including the distinctive and attractive marang tree, which the area is known for and was once the source of the charcoal fuel that powered medieval iron smelting furnaces which I have been studying for many years.
We share Mahatenne with all the wildlife that lives here, including all manner of moths and butterflies, frogs, occasional snakes (very rare), a resident pair of giant squirrels, passing monkeys, porcupine, miniature deer and a friendly visiting dog. On the whole, humans and wildlife rarely interact (except for the ever-present insects!) but meeting any of these local characters is part of the richness of staying at Leopard’s Lodge.