An easy drive from Colombo you’ll find Borderlands, an all-inclusive Sri Lankan adventure camp in Kitulgala, the adrenalin-sports capital of the country. We normally recoil at the word ‘all-inclusive’ when it comes to our travels but not this time! Read on to find out why Borderlands should be a must-see on your visit to Sri Lanka…
It’s an amazing thing to leave a place feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of practicing gratitude—how it can boost your mood, help you treat others better, improve physical health, and keep stress and fear at bay. Now, here’s a little trick for how to automatically infuse more gratitude into your life: Spend more money on experiences, and less on material objects.
Gazing through the shroud of netting out into the Sri Lankan jungle, you just can’t help but feel appreciative. If experiences are where it’s at, then this one would be hard to top.
Layer after layer of a jungle, from the closest painted in hues of vibrant green, to the last few trees silhouetted against the sky, sitting high on the misty mountain – all laid out in front of us without having to leave our bed. The call of countless birds and lizards, the buzz of insects waking up, the river racing along below us.
How fortunate were we to have spent even a few nights in paradise like this?
Borderlands is about as far from a typical all-inclusive holiday destination as it gets. Yes, for a set rate you’ll get a roof over your head (and a million dollar view to boot!) and all of your meals included. Also included are two adventure activities a day with fully trained guides and free WiFi. Unlike your average all-inclusive resort though, Borderlands has an overwhelming sense of character and a jungle outlook that just can’t be beaten.
Lounging in the chill-out area, we spotted a chameleon in the first five minutes of being there and throughout the day, magnificent eagles soared back and forth. Even if you’re not on the hunt for adventure, Borderlands is a great choice in Kitulgala – it’s the ultimate in back-to-nature adventure in the true spirit of Sri Lanka.
Our room obviously wasn’t your standard hotel room but it was perfect for the location. With plenty of ventilation and a fan, we didn’t get too hot and there was a partial sunshade to stop the morning daylight from streaming in – we went with it though, leaving it open so we could see the fireflies and birds out in the jungle.
Attached to our room was a partially outdoors ensuite (with a hot-water shower and toilet) and his and hers hand basins. We also had a couple of tables, beanbags, fresh drinking water, electrical outlets and lights in our room – though it wasn’t fancy, it was more than adequate.
We’ve sometimes stayed in luxurious hotels and have come away less impressed than we did from Borderlands which says a lot about our experience there. If you’ve got a good sense of adventure, this place is for you!
Food, Glorious Food!
We arrived at Borderlands a little unsure of what to expect when it came to meals but the food on offer was absolutely delicious! Hearty and varied, every meal was one to look forward to and served up buffet style, there was plenty to go around.
Adventure is Calling
Though you can stay at Borderlands just to take advantage of the facilities and delicious food, we recommend you book in the full package including activities. The team is known as being the most safety-conscious in the area (they were also one of the founding companies on the Kelani river) and their care and professionalism really shone through – if there’s one company you want to be pushing your personal boundaries with, it’s these guys.
White Water Kayaking
Our first activity started very quickly with a dunk in the water! After jumping back in the kayak (and then falling out a few more times) we started to get the hang of keeping our balance in the whitewater. The whole experience was a blast and with a river that’s currently a grade 2, it was the perfect introduction to kayaking in this environment – the right balance of challenge and security.
Having been on an amazing canyoning trip once in the past we had high expectations from this activity! Did it stack up?
We started with a hike down to the canyon though gorgeous tea plantations and farmland, our guides stopping to show us a range of local produce (with a few tastings thrown in too). Once we made it to the river, we received a full safety briefing and made our way to the first obstacle, as double rock slide into the cool water below. After slipping and sliding down a few rocks we approached the first of our cliff jumps… at approximately 12m high, we decided to save it for the braver souls amongst us and scrambled down the rocks instead. With another smaller jump (which was much more to our liking) and an abseil our canyoning adventure was almost over.
We had a great time up the canyon with our two guides (we weren’t kidding when we said Borderlands was safety conscious) but wished the experience was a little longer. Considering they’re making use of the natural environment only 10 minutes from the campsite though, it’s a fantastic introduction to canyoning.
From a fitness point of view, mountain biking made the other two activities feel like a walk in the park.
I can’t even recall the number of times I mentally chanted this saying back to myself as we kept pedalling up that mountain…
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”
– Nietzsche, 1888
Fortunately, our lovely instructor foresaw what was to come and had the Borderlands truck follow not too far behind us up the hill. We made it about half way before stopping and hitching a ride with him!
At the top, we stopped for a while in an ancient cave, tried to spot the local bats and admired one of the region’s waterfalls – a gorgeous spot and a great chance to catch our breath!
With the choice of going off-road or following the path we took up, we elected to stick to the ‘road’ – better safe than sorry we decided. With spectacular views and a comfortable pace headed back downhill, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we made the right choice.
Was it physically hard? Yes.
Were we pleased we did it? For sure!
Borderlands is about as close to the perfect jungle experience as it gets. Tropical and wild whilst retaining a touch of comfort and calm, we really couldn’t recommend it enough to those adventurous spirits amongst us.
Leave your hair dryer at home, come with a can-do attitude and get stuck in – you won’t regret it!
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Thank you to Red Dot Tours for recommending and organising our stay at Borderlands. As always, all thoughts are our own.