“…just being at Ulpotha is therapeutic”
The Guardian

The Ulpotha Experience
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Be Nurtured

If you are looking for an emotional, spiritual or physical reset, come stay at Ulpotha. You can walk barefoot in pristine nature and swim in the silky-smooth waters of our lotus ringed lake, far removed from stresses of the modern world. If a digital detox, the song of chirping birds and to sleep like a baby attract you, Ulpotha can offer you that and more.

Ulpotha exists in a world where it’s safe enough to live without fences or walls or doors or locks. You’ll be looked after by its gentle, traditional agricultural community, among whom you will be living in nature’s soft, age-old rhythms.

In what it offers, Ulpotha is both rare and real.

 

It is luxuriously posh, this lantern-lit retreat in the woods, and peaceful beyond expectation” – Huff Post

 




What's Included

First and foremost, what you get in Ulpotha is heartfelt and gracious hospitality from the Ulpotha community. As such, tipping is not accepted – though smiles are appreciated.

The all-inclusive price you pay also includes accommodation, all meals, snacks, drinks, two Yoga classes a day, a massage per week’s stay, guided forest walks, the organisation and transport for an excursion per week’s stay, all taxes as well as the use of bicycles, hot water bathing area and our laundry service.

Ayurveda treatments are optional and not included in the retreat price.



The Uniqueness of Ulpotha

There are very few places left in the world where you can feel safely ensconced in the bosom of nature, while removed from the many stresses and strains of modern life. Ulpotha is such a place. Located at the foot of the Galgiriyawa mountain, on the edge of a lotus ringed lake on one side and surrounded by emerald green paddy fields on the other, you encounter indescribable natural beauty and serenity.

By design there is no electricity in Ulpotha and life is lived by the rhythm of the day. Paths and accommodation are lit by lamps and lanterns, with the twinkling glow of firelight creating a captivating and romantic sense of times gone by.  

Flowing directly from the absence of electricity are the deep bonds frequently formed between guests, often like-minded and interesting individuals. This is perhaps because of a subconscious re-connection to humanity’s deeply rooted oral traditions  – when people gathered around a fire to exchange stories, histories and friendship. That Ulpotha has the atmosphere and feel of a welcoming home – rather than a hotel – with a slow-paced house party on the go, further enhances this very special experience.

Since the beautiful natural environment is present and immediate everywhere in Ulpotha, and in a form that is reassuringly safe and unthreatening, it allows guests the infinite pleasures and deep health benefits of reconnecting with nature. 

Ulpotha’s roots stretch far back in time and history and boast a rich tapestry of facts and myths, legend and lore. It has been variously the site of an eloping crown prince and an outcaste maiden, a pilgrimage site for travelling mendicants and buried treasures, lending it a special magical energy which you are invited to come and enjoy.



What Ulpotha is About

Ulpotha has no aspiration to be anything other than what it is – a lovely, playful but honouring folly. Ulpotha is there to be enjoyed as one wishes, and taken for what it is: an enchanting place that sprinkles its magic dust on those who pass through.

Ulpotha is in itself an integrated privately-run community that nurtures close ties to the surrounding villages. The best expression of how well integrated it is is demonstrated by the fact that it has safely existed for nearly 25 years without walls, gates, locks or security guards, protected as it is by the goodwill of everyone within and around it.

It is managed day to day by a committee of its own villagers which has six members, two of whom are permanent (one female and one male). The other four change annually with at least one being female. The founders, who are consulted by the committee as and when the committee requires, loosely oversee the big-picture building and investment decisions.

The free Ayurveda clinic run by Ulpotha for surrounding villagers is an example of giving back to the community. Apart from the clinic, Ulpotha supports local temples and shrines and engages in low-key community support to schools, hospitals, village-level charities, water management, etc.



What Others Say

The best way to get a sense of how you might experience Ulpotha is to read one or more of the following articles that offer diverse impressions from three different guests:


READ ALL REVIEWS


Your Food

The food in Ulpotha is almost entirely vegan, naturally gluten-free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice and tropical fruit. Based on traditional rice and curries from the area, no specific ‘Master Chef’ has had a hand in the cuisine. Instead the dishes served at Ulpotha have evolved over its 20 plus year existance by a simple process of elimination.

Ulpotha has been written about in culinary articles and is in the esteemed position of having a celebrated cookbook dedicated in its honour! A visit to Ulpotha is a good opportunity to detoxify your system without fuss.

Special diets cannot be catered for but it is fairly easy to pick and choose, depending on your taste, from the many dishes served at each meal. 

As we have no electricity, all food is freshly picked, un-refrigerated, and cooked in terracotta pots on open fires.



Your Shelter

There are 11 charming adobe guest huts in Ulpotha, all of which are built using traditional wattle and daub with comfortable beds, voluminous mosquito nets, cupboards, fresh water, towels and offer a sarong to wear and take home.

Open and airy by design, the huts offer you coziness and protection whilst being at one with nature. Each hut is hand painted twice a year using natural coloured clays. Much use has been made of clay, stone, wood, pottery and fabrics that reflect traditional village practices and aesthetics.

With one or two exceptions, Ulpotha adheres to the Sri Lankan village tradition of keeping toilet/loo spaces separate from living spaces. The enchanting showers are open to the stars and the toilets are comfortable and modern.

All the huts at Ulpotha are allocated on a twin share basis.



The Excursions

Ulpotha is situated in the oldest inhabited region of Sri Lanka, an area rich in archaeological attractions and natural beauty.

Each week either a half-day or full day excursion is organised for guests. Participation is optional and external costs are not included, though transportation is.

Guests are given a variety of options and one or two are chosen according to majority guest preference.



Nurturing Nature

The primary reason that Ulpotha is open for only part of the year is to protect its natural environment from excessive strain. For the same reason, guest numbers are restricted to 20 and our prices reflect the revenue needed to sustain this enchanting microcosm from year to year with the least possible environmental strain.

Ulpotha uses age-old organic and bio-dynamic farming methods to protect its flora and fauna and its spring-fed wells. No mechanised farming equipment is used. Everything is done by hand or with the help of buffaloes.

Almost all construction makes use of biodegradable materials. We are proud to say that, with the exception of stone works and the Walauwwa (the main house), the rest of Ulpotha will be seamlessly reclaimed by nature in a matter of months when Ulpotha comes to its inevitable end some day.



What's Included

First and foremost, what you get in Ulpotha is heartfelt and gracious hospitality from the Ulpotha community. As such, tipping is not accepted – though smiles are appreciated.

The all-inclusive price you pay also includes accommodation, all meals, snacks, drinks, two Yoga classes a day, a massage per week’s stay, guided forest walks, the organisation and transport for an excursion per week’s stay, all taxes as well as the use of bicycles, hot water bathing area and our laundry service.

Ayurveda treatments are optional and not included in the retreat price.



The Uniqueness of Ulpotha

There are very few places left in the world where you can feel safely ensconced in the bosom of nature, while removed from the many stresses and strains of modern life. Ulpotha is such a place. Located at the foot of the Galgiriyawa mountain, on the edge of a lotus ringed lake on one side and surrounded by emerald green paddy fields on the other, you encounter indescribable natural beauty and serenity.

By design there is no electricity in Ulpotha and life is lived by the rhythm of the day. Paths and accommodation are lit by lamps and lanterns, with the twinkling glow of firelight creating a captivating and romantic sense of times gone by.  

Flowing directly from the absence of electricity are the deep bonds frequently formed between guests, often like-minded and interesting individuals. This is perhaps because of a subconscious re-connection to humanity’s deeply rooted oral traditions  – when people gathered around a fire to exchange stories, histories and friendship. That Ulpotha has the atmosphere and feel of a welcoming home – rather than a hotel – with a slow-paced house party on the go, further enhances this very special experience.

Since the beautiful natural environment is present and immediate everywhere in Ulpotha, and in a form that is reassuringly safe and unthreatening, it allows guests the infinite pleasures and deep health benefits of reconnecting with nature. 

Ulpotha’s roots stretch far back in time and history and boast a rich tapestry of facts and myths, legend and lore. It has been variously the site of an eloping crown prince and an outcaste maiden, a pilgrimage site for travelling mendicants and buried treasures, lending it a special magical energy which you are invited to come and enjoy.



What Ulpotha is About

Ulpotha has no aspiration to be anything other than what it is – a lovely, playful but honouring folly. Ulpotha is there to be enjoyed as one wishes, and taken for what it is: an enchanting place that sprinkles its magic dust on those who pass through.

Ulpotha is in itself an integrated privately-run community that nurtures close ties to the surrounding villages. The best expression of how well integrated it is is demonstrated by the fact that it has safely existed for nearly 25 years without walls, gates, locks or security guards, protected as it is by the goodwill of everyone within and around it.

It is managed day to day by a committee of its own villagers which has six members, two of whom are permanent (one female and one male). The other four change annually with at least one being female. The founders, who are consulted by the committee as and when the committee requires, loosely oversee the big-picture building and investment decisions.

The free Ayurveda clinic run by Ulpotha for surrounding villagers is an example of giving back to the community. Apart from the clinic, Ulpotha supports local temples and shrines and engages in low-key community support to schools, hospitals, village-level charities, water management, etc.



What Others Say

The best way to get a sense of how you might experience Ulpotha is to read one or more of the following articles that offer diverse impressions from three different guests:


READ ALL REVIEWS


Your Food

The food in Ulpotha is almost entirely vegan, naturally gluten-free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice and tropical fruit. Based on traditional rice and curries from the area, no specific ‘Master Chef’ has had a hand in the cuisine. Instead the dishes served at Ulpotha have evolved over its 20 plus year existance by a simple process of elimination.

Ulpotha has been written about in culinary articles and is in the esteemed position of having a celebrated cookbook dedicated in its honour! A visit to Ulpotha is a good opportunity to detoxify your system without fuss.

Special diets cannot be catered for but it is fairly easy to pick and choose, depending on your taste, from the many dishes served at each meal. 

As we have no electricity, all food is freshly picked, un-refrigerated, and cooked in terracotta pots on open fires.



Your Shelter

There are 11 charming adobe guest huts in Ulpotha, all of which are built using traditional wattle and daub with comfortable beds, voluminous mosquito nets, cupboards, fresh water, towels and offer a sarong to wear and take home.

Open and airy by design, the huts offer you coziness and protection whilst being at one with nature. Each hut is hand painted twice a year using natural coloured clays. Much use has been made of clay, stone, wood, pottery and fabrics that reflect traditional village practices and aesthetics.

With one or two exceptions, Ulpotha adheres to the Sri Lankan village tradition of keeping toilet/loo spaces separate from living spaces. The enchanting showers are open to the stars and the toilets are comfortable and modern.

All the huts at Ulpotha are allocated on a twin share basis.



The Excursions

Ulpotha is situated in the oldest inhabited region of Sri Lanka, an area rich in archaeological attractions and natural beauty.

Each week either a half-day or full day excursion is organised for guests. Participation is optional and external costs are not included, though transportation is.

Guests are given a variety of options and one or two are chosen according to majority guest preference.



Nurturing Nature

The primary reason that Ulpotha is open for only part of the year is to protect its natural environment from excessive strain. For the same reason, guest numbers are restricted to 20 and our prices reflect the revenue needed to sustain this enchanting microcosm from year to year with the least possible environmental strain.

Ulpotha uses age-old organic and bio-dynamic farming methods to protect its flora and fauna and its spring-fed wells. No mechanised farming equipment is used. Everything is done by hand or with the help of buffaloes.

Almost all construction makes use of biodegradable materials. We are proud to say that, with the exception of stone works and the Walauwwa (the main house), the rest of Ulpotha will be seamlessly reclaimed by nature in a matter of months when Ulpotha comes to its inevitable end some day.




Frequently Asked Questions

How To Book
Online

Our preferred method of registration is online, which is very simple. Just click on the “Book Now” button and follow the instructions.

Is Ulpotha open all year?

Ulpotha is open 7 months in the year. The rest of the year we are closed to visitors as it goes back to being a self sustaining village.

What is the ideal length of time to spend at Ulpotha?

Ulpotha is very much a traveller’s experience rather than a tourist’s, in the sense it’s a place to immerse one’s self in to allow its charms to slowly seep in. In other words, the longer the stay, the greater the benefit. Generally two weeks is best – coinciding with a particular Yoga teacher for example, though a week will confer many of the benefits of a longer stay.

Does my holiday need to coincide with one of the Yoga holidays?

Ideally your holiday should coincide with one of the Yoga holidays but this is not at all compulsory.

Prices & Payment
How do I pay and when?

You can either pay by bank transfer, which is what we most prefer, or by Paypal, though the latter carries a 5% premium. You can ask us for further payment details by email.

What will the holiday cost?

US $2,940 for each two week programme throughout the time Ulpotha is open during the year, with the exception of Christmas and New Year when it costs US $3,500 for two weeks

What does the cost include?

It includes accommodation, all meals, snacks, drinks, two Yoga classes a day, one excursion per week’s stay, a massage per week’s stay, laundry service and the use of bicycles, hot water bathing area and taxes.

Since gracious and priceless hospitality is what Ulpotha offers, tipping is not accepted and there are no additional service charges.

What other costs might I incur that are not included?

Not included are travel costs to and from Ulpotha, insurance, Ayurveda treatments that are not pre-booked, entrance fees to cultural sites, outside meals during excursions, single hut supplements, or any additional massages guests may wish to book with the respective therapists over and above the one that is included per week’s stay – these cost US $80 per hour, subject to availability.

Are children welcome?

Yes, they are, though we would like parents to be mindful of other guests, given that Ulpotha is a place where people come to relax. There are no special facilities for children and they cannot be catered to separately.

What are the rates for children?

Children under 12 years old can come at 50% of the usual rate. However they do not qualify for the complimentary massage, nor can they attend the yoga classes. All other facilities in Ulpotha are available to them though please note that there are no special facilities for children. Babies are discouraged simply because of issues of practicality.

What are the different accommodation options and prices?

All the huts at Ulpotha are allocated on a twin share basis and the price of accommodation is included in the Holiday cost.

I’m not sure I want to share – can I pay to have my own hut?

Though there are no purpose-built single huts, you can pay a supplementary fee of $125 per night ($1,750 for two weeks) to have a hut to yourself. However this is subject to availability and not offered during Christmas and New Year times.

How much does transportation between Ulpotha and the airport cost?

We will meet you at the airport and take you back to the airport after your holiday. The cost per vehicle (maximum of 2 people) is $90 for one person and $100 for two people, each way.

Please email us should you wish to be collected or dropped off at a location in Sri Lanka other than the airport.

How much do meals cost?

All meals, snacks and teas are included in the price of the Holiday.

The Yoga
What kind of Yoga is offered at Ulpotha?

There’s a wide variety on offer throughout each of the seasons. Please refer to the Retreats to find out what is on offer during the time you hope to visit. Alternatively, if you are after a particular kind of Yoga, check out our schedule and plan your holiday accordingly.

I've never done any Yoga before. Is this OK?

The teachers at Ulpotha are teaching all levels of experience and ability. Just go at your own pace and remember that it’s a holiday after all! If you don’t feel like going to Yoga classes, that’s absolutely fine. Everything is optional and you do as much or as little as YOU like!

How many Yoga classes are there a day?

Generally there are two classes – a longer one of about one and a half to two hours in the morning and a lighter one in the afternoon. The times of the classes vary and are set according the wishes of those practising.

Do I need to bring my own Yoga mat?

Though a limited number of Yoga mats are available, it’s recommended that you bring your own. Ulpotha provides wooden blocks, belts, small flat cushions bolsters in the Yoga shala.

The Ayurveda
What are the Ayurveda options?

You can pre-book a programme of either 5 days, a week, 10 or 12 days, or 2, 3 or 4 weeks. Prices range from $300 to $1,600. Our Ayurveda page is very informative, but if you any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What does the day look like for someone who takes the Ayurveda package?

Treatments will typically last for about two hours each day and could be scheduled either in the morning or in the afternoon. They will have the rest of the day to hang out and do other things, including Yoga.

What choices can I make - would it be extreme? Can the treatment be adjusted to my preferences?

The healthier a guest is, the greater the opportunity for flexibility. However, if there is a specific ailment, then the options for flexibility are less if a meaningful result is what is required.

Essentially, Ayurveda tries to either increase the healthiness and balance of someone who is healthy and has no specific health issue (prevention), or tries to relieve a specific health problem (cure). If someone is healthy, then the treatments will be more as described above. If someone has a specific health problem, then the chances are greater that their treatment may be different. It may consist of more oral remedies or focus on particular types of therapies (for example, if you have a back ache, your treatments will use more specific types of oleation therapies, where oil applications and body rubs of different kinds will be used to deliver localized relief together with appropriate oral medicines).

A wide variety of therapies are available at Ulpotha through the seasons, though the ones on offer at any particular time depend on the therapists visiting Ulpotha at a given time (stays range anywhere from a month to three months). There are always two therapists present – refer to the Retreats to see who will be there when you hope to visit. Please keep in mind that, if you are undergoing an Ayurveda programme, the doctor may advise you not to have any massage therapies that may interfere with your treatment.

How many massages can I have?

You get one free massage for each week’s stay. If you want more, these can be arranged with the individual therapists at the rate of $80 per hour.

Travel
How much money will I need?

Very little! Once you are in Ulpotha everything is included. Around $100 would be plenty for fees at ancient sites and donations at temples. Bring more if you intend on buying souvenirs, etc. Sri Lankan Rupees are best bought at Colombo airport and they are open at all times of the day and night – at the time of writing the exchange rate is roughly Rs 175 to the US dollar, Rs 197 to an Euro and Rs 230 to a British Pound.

Where is Ulpotha located?

It’s very much off the beaten track in the heart of Sri Lanka by a lakeside at the foot of the Galgiriyawa mountains. Geographically, it’s literally in the middle of country on a North-South axis and slightly to the West on an East-West one. In travel time it’s about 1 hour’s drive North from Kurunegala, or 2 hours Northwest from Kandy, and 3 hours Northeast from the airport.

Where do I fly to?

You fly into Sri Lanka’s primary international airport, which is an hour North of the main city of Colombo and three hours to the Southwest of Ulpotha. Direct flights with Sri Lankan Airlines take about 10 hours. Please be aware that departure tends to be the day before arrival and start of the holiday due to time difference and journey time.

How do I get to Ulpotha from the airport?

We will meet you at the airport and return you to the airport after your holiday. The cost per vehicle (maximum of 4 people) is approximately $100 each way. The transfer cost should be paid to the driver. Please enquire should you wish to be collected or dropped off at a location in Sri Lanka other than the airport.

What medical precautions do I need to take?

Recommended injections are a Tetanus booster and Hepatitis A. Your GP or travel centre may also recommend Malaria tablets. However Ulpotha is not a known malarial zone and if you intend to only visit Ulpotha and its surrounding regions then Malaria tablets are not absolutely necessary. This is however a very personal choice and it is up to the individual to make their own decisions on this matter. Please note that the East Pole Foundation can not be held responsible for medical decisions or conditions.

For those wishing to choose alternative ways Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy are a good quality supplier of Homeopathic remedies including anti malarial remedy available by mail order, tel 020 7935 5330 or from their London shop.

Will I need a Visa?

As of January 1st 2012 all Foreign nationals arriving in Sri lanka for holiday or business will need a visa on arrival. This can be obtained through your travel agent when booking your ticket or online at www.eta.gov.lk

What do I need to take?

Very little indeed. Repeat guests leave valuables and smart clothes at home. The sarong you’re given on arrival makes a wonderfully cool and comfortable dress, or a kilt for either sex. Ulpotha also sells other sarongs in stunning colours. So people wear little else. Women need something arm-covering and leg-covering, for occasional cool evenings, and preferably in white or light colours, for visiting temples. You might also need uphill shoes and clothes for walks or cycling. Flip flops are useful as shoes are not worn in any of the huts or main house, and they are easier to slip on and off than lace ups. Rain is rare but, when it comes, it deluges. Ulpotha has umbrellas but shoes that tolerate drowning are useful. Ulpotha provides towels but a beach towel is useful too.

Other useful things are: a good torch, a spare bulb and plenty of batteries, at least one bath towel, sunscreen, bathing costume and insect repellent, binoculars if you like to watch birds, of course any regular medication. There are also some good books at Ulpotha to borrow if you want to travel light.

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