Jungle Tide

Lotus Pool, Polonnaruwa

Lotus Pool, Polonnaruwa

Jungle Tide – the book

We named our business from a book published in 1930, written by John Still, an English eccentric, telling of his wanderings in Sri Lanka and his philosophy. The Jungle Tide of the title refers to the transience of humans who create magnificent cities and civilisations which eventually crumble and are overtaken by the relentless jungle. This is what happened to Anaradhapura, Polonnoruwa and other less well known places, which for centuries were known only to the Veddah, the original tribal inhabitants of the island a few of whom still live in the interior. The opening up of Sri Lanka by the British colonialists and the explosion in population and demand for land inevitably led to the rediscovery, sometimes by complete accident, of the remains of ancient cities deep in what was presumed to be virgin rainforest. He discovered the Lotus Pool at Polonnaruwa, pictured above, through falling into it by accident, it being at the time covered in dense jungle. What he thought was just a hole in the ground turned out to have regular patterned sides. As he raised his eyes he realised that many of what he had assumed were trees were the remains of colonnaded buildings. The jungle tide had taken over what had once been a vast city.

Jungle Tide was out of print for a long while but is now readily available both in Sri Lanka and from on-line booksellers.

Jungle Tide Credo

We’re not given to preaching or thrusting our opinions at anyone, and we’re certainly not role models for sustainability or anything else much. But at Jungle Tide we do want to minimise our and our guests’ negative impact on the environment and Sri Lanka and its people. This will take time and this is one section of the website which we hope will look very different and contain more detail in a few years. For now, a quick look at issues of sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka.

You will almost certainly be travelling to and from Sri Lanka by air, in the process perhaps doubling what would otherwise have been your carbon footprint for the year. There are, of course, various carbon offsetting schemes you can contribute to, some sounder than others. What we plan to do, though, is to link up with an environmental project in Sri Lanka, preferably fairly close to Kandy, and invite our guests to contribute to this project. This would be entirely voluntary. Those who chose to do this would, we hope, also have the option of visiting the project during their stay. The kind of scheme we have in mind might involve sustainable energy generation for a village – many rural areas have no mains electricity – and/or a local sustainable horticulture scheme. As yet, we have not researched the possibilities.

Closer to home, we want to play our part in supporting the people who live nearby, most of whom are tea estate workers and their families living on very low incomes. This may mean that from time to time you may find groups of local village children in and around the house – though not in the guest areas. If this prospect concerns you let us know in advance and we’ll ensure it doesn’t happen during your stay. We are also looking at making ‘twinning’ links between the local school and schools our as yet small grandchildren will attend in  the UK.

Finally, a word about the ownership of tourism in Sri Lanka. Although tourism is of significant economic benefit to the developing world, globally most of what tourists spend ends up in the pockets of multi-national businesses who own chains of hotels, restaurants and transport businesses. Sure, they are taxed by the Sri Lankan government, but the profit after tax goes somewhere else. If you choose to stay in smaller locally-owned places your money will go direct into the Sri Lankan economy, and we think you’ll probably enjoy it more than staying in an identikit multi-national chain hotel, however luxurious. Jungle Tide itself is a company registered and taxed in Sri Lanka and any profits we eventually make will be reinvested in Sri Lanka.