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Though Ulpotha has come to be known as an eco friendly, vegetarian yoga retreat that offers Ayurveda, the founders would like to emphasize that it was not established to be anything in particular. The yoga, Ayurveda, and eco sensibilities are not central to its ethos - 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.
Bandaranaike International Colombo Airport (US$100 pro Person)
Accommodation in Ulpotha is in elegantly crafted traditional wattle and daub huts open to nature. Each bed is equipped with an excellent mosquito net. The huts can sleep either two or three people, so accommodation is on a shared basis.
All the huts at Ulpotha are allocated on a twin share basis. There are places for a maximum of 23 paying guests at any time and no single huts are available. All accommodations have shared showers and toilets, which are for the most part not en-suite.
Naturally, this is your holiday and none of the activities in Ulpotha are mandatory. However, to reap the full benefit of your stay you are encouraged to do both the yoga and, if you wish, also try one of the Ayurveda detox programs.
Mornings begin with a light tea and snack, your yoga class, breakfast, and then you are free to either have a massage, treat yourself to an Ayurveda detox swim in the lake or simply relax in a swing bed.
Lunch is served at noon, when it is time to catch up with your fellow travelers and play a game of chess or backgammon. After lunch, you are free to do as you please - go on a bike ride, explore the lakes by boat, read in a swing bed, sunbathe, snooze, etc.
Before the sun goes down, grab a snack and a tea, and go to the evening yoga session, which sometimes takes place out of the yoga shala, under the trees, or up a mountain. Dinner is served after the evening yoga session, and then you are free to linger and chat or head back to your hut for a full night's rest.
In order to benefit fully from what Ulpotha has to offer, it is recommended that you visit for a full two weeks. Please note the period over Christmas and New Year is a time for celebration at Ulpotha. For those of you looking for a quiet holiday, it is suggested you avoid this period.
You will enjoy two excursions to one of the nearby cultural heritage sites or the beach.
Ulpotha is run as a self-sustained village, where the vast majority of staff are from immediately surrounding local villages and who live in and largely run Ulpotha themselves.
The resident Ayurveda doctor provides training in Ayurvedic massage and therapies for the treatment centre staff, who are also from either within Ulpotha or from neighboring villages. Nearly all the food consumed in Ulpotha is grown on site. In addition to growing rice, fruits, vegetables, and timber trees, they have recently started growing medicinal plants and trees used for making Ayurvedic medicines.
Ulpotha sources many of their other supplies and building materials from the immediate locality. Similarly, all the Ayurvedic medicines used in the treatment center are made locally.
Ulpotha regularly invests in services and amenities for the local community (rebuilding and maintaining the reservoir that is central to local agriculture, creation of a free Ayurveda clinic for the surrounding villages, donations to the local hospitals and temples, all which are done in the lowest profile way possible - ie. without acknowledgements, notices, quid pro quo demands, plaques, etc).
The Ayurvedic treatment center within Ulpotha, which serves paying guests, is used to fund the year-round free clinic for the surrounding villages.
Only local products and services are made available to guests
Before their arrival, guests are given an introduction as to what to expect through information provided via the website and a guest information pack.
Once in Ulpotha, guests are encouraged to learn more about the local culture and customs through immersion and interaction with the local villagers.
Guest participation is encouraged in local ceremonies and traditional gatherings, while keeping them informed of locally acceptable behavior and appropriate dress code.
Guests are encourage to visit social projects within the community (such as the free clinic) or in surrounding villages (schools for handicapped children, etc.) and to support such projects.
Ulpotha regularly holds meetings with and seek feedback from local community leaders. Ulpotha is run by a committee of villagers with help from one of the owners, himself a local.
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The food at Ulpotha is simply delicious and very healthy. It is almost entirely vegan, naturally wheat free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice, and tropical fruit freshly picked largely from Ulpotha's gardens. 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. If there is anything that you feel that you simply can't do without (coffee, a gin tonic, chocolate, and the like) - Ulpotha suggests you bring it with you. As they have no electricity, all food is cooked fresh for each meal on open fires.
Breakfast is served from approximately 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and consists of herbal teas, fresh fruit, fresh coconut water, herbal rice porridge ,and a Sri Lankan breakfast cake.
Lunch served around midday is the main meal of the day and consists of a wide array of Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes, salads, Ulpotha heritage rice, fruits, curd, juice, and herbal tea.
Dinner is served after dusk and consists of an array of salads, Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes, juice, fruit, and herbal tea.
Following popular demand, Ulpotha has published a cookbook of some of the most favorite recipes of dishes served at Ulpotha - "A Kitchen in Paradise".
Ayurvedic treatments or massages are available at an additional price.
You can pre-book an Ayurveda package of either five days, a week, 10 or 12 days, or two, three, or four weeks. Prices range from 300 USD to 1,600 USD.Treatments will typically last for about two hours each day and can be scheduled either in the morning or in the afternoon. The rest of the day will be free for you to hang out and do other things, including yoga.
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. Please keep in mind that, if you are undergoing an Ayurveda program, the doctor may advise you not to have any massage therapies that may interfere with your treatment.
Please note all treatments are fully clothed. Wear your comfortable, loose clothing (your yoga clothes are perfect) bring a long sleeved top and socks if you have them.
You have to fly into Sri Lanka's primary international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) (also known as Katunayake International Airport, Negombo International Airport and Colombo 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 from Europe. Please be aware that departure from Europe tends to be the day before arrival and start of the holiday due to time difference and journey time.
Ulpotha will meet you at the airport and return you to the airport after your holiday. The cost per vehicle (maximum of two people) is 100 USD for one person and 115 USD for two people, each way. The transfer cost should be paid upon arrival in Ulpotha. Please inquire should you wish to be collected or dropped off at a location in Sri Lanka other than the airport.