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Galapita Eco Lodge, Sri Lanka

Posted by Richard Hammond at 09:01 on Saturday 23 December 2006

Two years on from the Boxing Day tsunami, and Sri Lanka is still getting back on its feet. You can help by staying in locally-run hotels. One of the most authentic is Galapita Eco Lodge, a small solar-powered lodge in jungle bordering the Yala National Park in the south-east. Getting there is best done the local way - take the bus, or drive down from Colombo, then jump in a tuk tuk at the village of Battala before crossing to the lodge over the precarious footbridge that hangs 40ft over the river Menik Ganga.

There are futon-style beds in two tree houses and five mud huts on the banks of the river, from where it's a short towel-covered hop to a soak in the natural outdoor spa. If the river conditions are right, take a tyre tube ride over the rapids through the forest to the village of Demodara. It's a bumpy two-hour trip, so worth booking yourself in for a late afternoon herbal bath or massage at the lodge before dining on locally caught fish or prawns cooked in clay pots on log fires. Just 15 minutes away is the new entrance to the national park, where local guides run safaris to see elephants.

· A night at Galapita costs US$80pp full board, including night safaris. Book through i-escape.com, 020 7652 4625.

This article, by Richard Hammond, was first published in the Guardian.

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