Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taragala Place Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary Sri Lanka Hotel - Review and Video - Mati Gederas Kalamatiya

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(Youtube video at end of this post)
Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary Sri Lanka Hotel Review and Video - Taragala Place Mati Gederas
The Taragala Place Matti Gedaras (mati gedara means clay house in Sinhala) are located right beside the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, 214km from Colombo. The name comes from Taragala Rock (not pronounced thaaraa as in duck but thaara as in tar) inside the sanctuary, which you can see from the chalets’ verandahs. Kalametiya, one corner of the RUK (Rekawa Ussangoda Kalamatiya) triangle of biodiversity, is about halfway between Tangalle and Hambantota.

Owned and run by a British Sri Lankan couple, Becky and Saman, Taragala Place has 2 chalets, each of which can accomodate two (three at a push) people. Clay is used as a building material for the chalets but they don't have the rough clay look that the Mud House in Anamaduwa does: it's as if they built a normal house using clay instead of brick.

The chalets aren't airconditioned but we found that the fan and the strong wind kept the house pretty cool. The wind is quite constant because of the wetlands in the sanctuary.

Wetlands means that, at night, there are insects - mostly the harmless little critters who cluster around lightbulbs - but the mosquito net kept them away and we didn't notice them.

The slightly claustrophobic bathrooms are basic but clean and new. There is an outdoor shower but it is unusable unless you get friends from your nudist colony to rent out the other chalet - you can then watch each other showering from the verandahs.

We ate the catered food - basic Sri Lankan seafood rice and curry at around LKR 450 per person per meal - on the first day. On the second, as the chalets each have full kitchens with a fridge, a gas cooker, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery - all of which felt brand new - we shopped at Hungama town and cooked for ourselves.

Ok, fine, my wife cooked and I washed. Ok, fine, I washed until she got tired of my incompetence and washed the dishes, too.

Becky and Saman, are very pleasant. Saman never said no to anything we asked for and Becky kept plying us with fruits, desserts and various bites and juices. But our favourite staff member and, in our opinion, the real owner, is Amiran, an awfully cute general manager-type who wanders all around his hotel, making sure everything is ok.

Activities wise, you can walk to the sanctuary through the gate and climb Taragala, you can borrow bicycles and cycle - there's almost no vehicular traffic on the interior roads - to the lagoon for a swim or an outing on a fishing boat. But the best thing to do is to bring a stack of books from one of our many used bookstores and read them on the porch.

Travel is about escape, getting away from the pressures of life, and, at Taragala, we felt like we had. For the three days we spent there, we felt like we were living another life, a simpler, more relaxed one.

Hotel Name: Taragala Place Matti Gedaras
Address: Kalamatiya, Sri Lanka
Phone: +94 771 955414.
Rates: LKR 3,500 for the chalet only - meals LKR 900 per meal per couple - or LKR 6,000 full board.
Directions: Kalametiya is 214km down the Galle Road from Colombo right smack dab between Hambantota and Tangalle and takes about 4 hours if you leave at 5am. You turn right at the Kalamatiya sign, continue until you pass a Shell gas store. You turn left after that and continue until you come to a T junction. You turn left again and continue until you see the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary and the entrance to Taragala Place.
More Photos: See slideshow above or visit Taragala Place Kalametiya Sri Lanka on Picasaweb

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