By Lankika de Livera, Pix by S. Srikumar
The Ginisapu trees and the different varieties of mango were all in fruit in the garden. The Ginisapu berries hung in bunches and clusters – a gorgeous sight not only for us but also for the other creatures that feast on them.
As we sat on garden chairs on the sprawling lawn, sipping coffee around five in the evening, the Sapu tree was engulfed by screeching raucous flocks of Alexandrine parakeets.
The majestic Green Imperial pigeons were also feeding on the tree, as were the Orange-breasted Green pigeons and the Pompadour Pigeons. It was a gorgeous sight, a joyous experience to hear this orchestra of bird calls.
Next to the Sapu tree was a vilad mango tree, with bunches of luscious ripe fruit and this was simultaneously taken over by the Lorikeets (The Ceylon Hanging Parrots). Adding to the symphony was the distinct calls of the peacocks flying on to the trees just close by.
In the other mango trees the Iora was singing, alongside the rich warbling sounds of the White Browed Bulbul. Soon another visitor alighted on the magical Sapu tree. It was the Grey Horn Bill. On another part of the tree was a furry chocolate brown and tan Giant Squirrel dangling from a branch.
We were at Beragama, three km from Mulatiyana in a remote area of Matara, at the Eco Jungle Hideout. This holiday home has several bedrooms and a dormitory for bigger groups. It sits atop a hill with a commanding view of the surrounding forest, the property bordering the Mulatiyana forest reserve.
At the back are about open-air six showers, so one can have a bath looking out on the forest. The toilets, facing another direction of the forest have no doors.
In two of the open toilets on the cement ceiling, we photographed the nests of the “Wehi Lihiniya” – the Common Swallow. These birds do not build nests with strands of straw and grass or sticks. They make little mud pellets and their nests resemble little mud igloos.
Cut off from civilization, the bird calls and faint trickling sounds of the faraway stream are the only sounds here. There was a television, but no one wanted to watch it.
In the night, from garden chairs we watched the awe-inspiring display of the galaxy. In the stillness of the night, the stars blinked and winked and once in a while an owl would hoot, breaking the silence.
The wind rustled the leaves on the trees to fan our faces. This is truly a place for those who love nature, to unwind, away from the cares of city life.
The Mulatiyana Forest Reserve covering some 2,562 hectares, has in addition to its abundant bird life -barking deer, mouse deer, pangolins, porcupines, sambhur, rusty spotted cats, wild boar, etc., according to K.K. Nanayakkara, Assistant District Forest Officer from the Matara Office of the Forest Department.
How to get there
The Eco Jungle Hideout – Mulatiyana, about 178 km from Colombo is best reached via Matara (a much better road than from Galle).
From Matara, get to Akuressa, then to Makandura. Turn left before Mulatiyana and come to Raneweerage Watte Estate.
Website – www.ecojunglehideout.com