Yathra Sri Lanka’s first natural houseboat | Sunday Observer

Yathra Sri Lanka’s first natural houseboat

The two-room houseboat is cosy, compact and can house up to a maximum of half-a-dozen people on board at-a-time, enjoying a different exposure, altogether.

The compact cabins designed and furnished in true naval style offer comfort and relaxation and sleeping in a houseboat gently swaying on the water was an incredible experience.

This country’s rich resources are generally so unused, underrated and underappreciated, many of us are unaware of the times that these precious resources have been put to good use. Yathra by Jetwing is a good example of the productive use of our natural resources.

This one and only Sri Lankan houseboat is built from natural materials and rides the waves of the Dedduwa River at Bentota. For that matter, good experiences take time; great experiences are mainly once-in-a-lifetime. Even the, meticulously planned foreign vacations does not fall into place at once. It was the same with my exclusive stay at Sri Lanka’s only boathouse for Youth Observer. Much flipping of dates, travel plans and such like took place over a few weeks before a visit to suit everyone could be fixed.

When I reached the location, the 72-foot houseboat, was floating on the calm waters of the gently meandering Dedduwa River. The luxurious attraction is a dream location for a romantic getaway or even for just a holiday.

The two-room houseboat is cosy, compact and can house up to a maximum of half-a-dozen people on board at-a-time, enjoying a different exposure, altogether.

The compact cabins designed and furnished in true naval style offer comfort and relaxation and sleeping in a houseboat, gently swaying on the water, was an incredible experience.

Yathra even consists of a rooftop; designed and developed for candle light dining, and if lucky enough, for moon light, too.

Yathra by Jetwing rides the waves or skims them as the occasion demands, a lure for locals and foreignersoptingto spend a day or two, on a houseboat away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Leel Koralage, Captain of Yathra and a former navy officer has been captaining, the houseboat since its inception.

He has spent much of his lifetime over the waves, 22 years with the navy and on course for another eight-years with Yathra and counting.

Sailing timings are twice-a-day- 180 minutes in the morning and evening 120 minutes, in different directions.

When I finally set sail on the much awaited journey on the Dedduwa River, it was amazing and thrilling.

The waters were mostly motionless, reflecting greenery on both banks. The three-hour morning sail was soothing and time went by unnoticed as we sailed down a placid river.

However, the crew and I were not alone on the river. The five of us were in the company of ten-to-twelve-foot-long, larger-than-life, crocodiles lazily lounging or swimming in the water.

After sailing for a few more kilometres, Gayan, a butler, spotted and showed more of them discreetly observing us.

“They range from 10-12-feet. Some are even, 15-feet,” said Gayan.

They were moving and monitoring Yathra and those on board.

When asked if they will become violent, if wemove d closer, he responded, “It would swiftly go under water”.

The river is an isolated and peaceful paradisewhere It ultimately comes down to just nature and you with the natural environment inviting you to blend and bond with it.

It is unique for part of its right bank belongs to the Southern Province and part of the left bank belongs to the Western Province. Horowala Thotupala is where the two provinces come in close to each other separated by a narrow expanse of water.

The crew is expecting busy days ahead with the lull in bookings, in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday Bombings ending. The rates have various packages; honeymoonand the normal stay; to name a few. Customised packages can be had on request.

Privacy is key at Yathra by Jetwing as is good food and service.’

In the New Year new and varied plans areafoot for this amazing houseboat built locally with natural materials.

Additional pix: Jetwing Hotels.

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