#srilanka #indianocean #responsibletourism #discover madurawala
Sri Lanka is often named Pearl of Indian Ocean.
We did not need more to get excited and curious. With many national parks and an abundant fauna, Sri Lanka is a perfect step for all nature lovers wishing to discover as many things as they can in a short period of time. It is also without any surprise that ecotourism took place on the island and developed rapidly.
Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation: a pioneer
Mr Palitha Gurusinghe, president of Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation, accepted to meet us and share his experience. Working in the tourism industry for more than 30 years, Mr Palitha has seen how tourism developed on the island. In 1998, he saw the necessity and he wanted to start this foundation. The goal was ambitious but simple: be the temple keeper of the tourism development on the island in front of the growth of mass tourism (like in any other paradise actually).
In almost 20 years, SLEF has supported several community based tourism projects especially with training sessions. Foundation also created a network of small and medium tourism companies in order to handle ecotourism business. Finally, Mr Palitha and his team strived to create a certification system giving an additional value for all companies committed in sustainable and responsible tourism. For the SLEF, it is also a way to fight against green washing, this trend which is (too?) often present on the island. As everywhere, unscrupulous people want to surf the green wave without making any efforts nor positive impacts…
«Ecotourism in Sri Lanka has to be used as a tool to conserve environment, maintain maximum economic benefit for local hosts, preserve old cultural heritage, provide in-depth information about Sri Lanka and of course satisfy national and international tourists needs visiting eco sites on the island ».
Discover Madurawala: Ecotourism project
Very receptive to the Hopineo story and approach, Mr Palitha invited us to visit one project ongoing in the central region (40km south east from Colombo): Madurawala village; close to Horona.
This project supported by the foundation aims to help the village to build their responsible and sustainable touristic offer. It means to look for the resources which will bring a new experience to the visitors while benefiting to the local communities around the village. The SLEF also supports villagers to host tourists, to prepare homestays, to train English speaking guide. In addition to that, the SLEF acts also as a platform providing international volunteers which support the community with some communication actions (social medial, website, leaflet, etc…) for instance.
In Madurawala, we have been amazed by this Sri Lanka off-beaten way. We loved the hospitality of villagers. We lived few days around a united Buddhist community; preparing the poya day (full moon) and the Tamil New Year…. so many events that offered us a unique and authentic experience. The region is virgin from tourism; young people are keen to meet new people, happy to share their daily life. We honestly invite you to go away from the mainstream roads, too often busy and look for these pieces of travel which finally leave lifelong memories.
Want to know more: http://discovermadurawala.net/
Pahiyangala caves lies in Yatagampitiya, which is about10 km away from Madurawala. Excavation has proved that these caves were inhabited by prehistoric cave men some 37,000 years ago.
This cave is supposed to be the largest natural rock in Asia and this is also known to be the most ancient pre-historic human settlement in Asia.