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Nature Walk to the Jungle Beach

The hotel land extends right up to the summit of the Rumassala Mountain and as the name Nature Trails implies, guests staying in our hotel can embark on a nature walk through the mountain to reach the picturesque Jungle Beach of Unawatuna. This natural, undeveloped beach is the perfect place to sit at the dusk to see the sun disappearing into the horizon across the mighty Indian Ocean. Jungle beach is also perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling.

VISIT TO THE WHITE TEA FACTORY

15 minutes by car from our hotel lies the Handunugoda Tea Estate, perhaps the closest tea plantation in the world to the sea. However, this is not the only thing that makes the Handunugoda Tea Estate special. The estate is known as the Virgin White Tea Factory - it produces a white tea completely untouched by human hands. The process of tea plucking follows an ancient Chinese Ritual where the choicest of teas were cut by virgins who never touched the tea with their bare skin and offered the resulting produce up as a tribute to the Emperor. Handunugoda mimics this tradition, although these days the 'virgin' concept only applies to the tea, not the tea pluckers! This white tea is rich in anti-oxidants and is said to be the healthiest tea in the world. According to the latest testing Virgin White has an anti-oxidant content of 10.11 percent, which is said to be the highest naturally occurring content of anti-oxidants in any beverage. Marriage Freres which is perhaps one of the world's most exclusive Tea Salons situated at Faubourg Saint Honore in Central Paris offers its exquisite client Handunugoda's virgin White tea.

A resident tea planter will meet you and take you around tea plantation. The plantation, which lies at sea-level, is the famed Handunugoda Tea Factory founded by Herman Gunaratne. Herman (or a team member) will take you on a private tour of his Virgin White Tea Estate plantations, where you will learn how the famous white tea is plucked and made into one of the best teas in the world. The visit ends with a tasting session and a piece of chocolate cake! There is also a small shop where you can buy Virgin White Tea - and other less expensive options as well.

16th Century Dutch Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Galle is the country's oldest living city and is sure to capture your interest, with its historic sites and its unique fusion of European and Arabic cultural and architectural influences. Galle rose to prominence as a port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders, later followed by Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists, all leaving their indelible mark on this enchanting seaside town. According to James Emerson Tennent, Galle was the ancient seaport of Tarshish, from which King Solomon drew ivory, peacocks and other valuables. Cinnamon was exported from Sri Lanka as early as 1400 BC and the root of the word itself is Hebrew, so Galle may have been a main entrepot for the spice. Galle had been a prominent seaport long before western rule in the country. Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians, and Chinese were doing business through Galle port. The 'modern' history of Galle starts in 1505, when the first Portuguese ship, under Lourenso de Almeida was driven there by a storm. However, the people of the city refused to let the Portuguese enter it, so the Portuguese took it by force. In 1640, the Portuguese had to surrender to the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch built the present Fort in the year 1663. They built a fortified wall, using solid granite, and built three bastions, known as 'Sun', 'Moon' and 'Star'. After the British took over the country from the Dutch in the year 1796, they preserved the Fort unchanged, and used it as the administrative centre of Galle.

HIYARE AND KOTTAWA RAINFORESTS

The Hiyare bio Diversity Reserve is 30 minutes Nature Trails, so if you haven't time for Sinharaja-the UNESCO King of Lankan rainforests further inland - the Hiyare is 600 acres of virgin lowland rainforest around a very picturesque lake; run by informative and helpful research fellows. Heading inland on the Udugama road (20 minutes from hotel) there are 37 acres of primeval rainforest at Kottawa with sheets of moss, hanging creepers, orchids, astonishing butterflies, endemic birds as well as an Arboretum.

WELIGAMA BAY

Driving along the road that travers in front of Nature Trails about 20 minutes, you begin to notice the famous Stilt fishermen all the way towards Weligama. At one end of the sleepy town, stands a megalith to the memory of Kustaraja- the Leper king- who became miraculously cured of his dreaded disease by consuming copious amounts of King Coconut water.

The catamarans are a good way to grab a ride round this picturesque bay, and fishermen are most obliging in between fishing trips. At the prettiest end of the bay, you can wade out at low tide to She-devil Island or Taprobane, which appears like an islet out of a James Bond movie. It was built in the 30's by Count de Mauny, a French landscape architect who created this legendary folly on a piece of land which was originally a cobra dump. The American writer Paul Bowles lived on Taprobane Island for four years. During this time he wrote the novel Spider's House.

MIRISSA WHALE WATCHING

Just a couple of kilometers from Weligama is Mirissa, an ideal destination for those who wish to catch a rare glimpse of Whales. Situated at the southern coast of Sri Lanka from beyond Mirissa coast lies the Indian Ocean its vast majesty right upto the Antartic land mass. It comes as no surprise that these amazing marine mammals migrate through the vast and fertile stretch from December to April during the annual breeding season. Mirissa itself is a quiet and peaceful coastal town boasting unspoiled beaches.

Setting off from Mirissa there is upto 90% opportunity to come across Sperm whales and good pretty chance of sighting the Blue whale as well. There are believed to be around 26 different species of whales traversing this region and this includes the well loved dolphin.

It is an exhilarating, enlightening and life-changing experience to see these miracles of the ocean face-to-face.