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“Worth a visit”
Review of Popham's Arboretum

Popham's Arboretum
Ranked #6 of 18 things to do in Dambulla
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: The IFS-Popham Arboretum, Sri Lanka's only dry zone arboretum was established over five decades ago on 7.5 acres of thorny scrub jungle and abandoned 'Chena' land in Dambulla which is in the geographical center of our island, where history and culture merge amidst a natural landscape of water and mountains. The arboretum is not only about trees. There and many species of Birds, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Spiders and Mammals including Bats that can be seen within the premises.
Reviewed 16 March 2014

There are numerous paths through this arboretum and the plants and trees here are labeled. Unfortunately, we did not allow enough time for this visit and hope that others can give better reports.

Thank gsrs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (76)
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56 - 60 of 76 reviews

Reviewed 26 February 2014

We arrived unannounced and were given a generous welcome. Mr Jayantha Amarasinghe took us on a tour of these amazing woods. He has dedicated himself entirely to continue the work that Sam Popham began and is thus restoring this important forest, one tree at a time. It is not without pain: Mr Amarasinghe showed us a snare poachers had left and we witnessed two suspicious men scaling the wire fence. It takes courage to protect this land but the property is under his watchful eye and he most knowledge about all of Sri Lanka's trees. Note the house on the property: it's by architect Geoffrey Bawa and has a wonderful feel. Later he brought us tea and we share pastries we had brought. One of my best memory of that trip.

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4  Thank Traveller32648
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2014

Our small group of 11 students and two teachers enjoyed our night walk at the Arboretum. We were well guided and the path is a very easy walk. My only regret is that we didn't have a chance to return in the daytime to appreciate the trees in daylight.

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Thank Ian_lockwood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 February 2014

The history is already provided by others. What struck me was the demonstration of the ease and simplicity with which indigenous dry-zone tropical forest can be regenerated with minimal interference from man. Popham's techniques could be widely adopted at minimal cost. This place deserves wide recognition and support. If money is not forthcoming from somewhere it is likely to disappear for ever.

1  Thank John W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 February 2014

We visited Pophams arboretum for an afternoon before going to the Dambulla caves. It was set up in the 1960s by Sam Popham, ex Navy and ex tea planter. He was concerned over the disappearance of indigenous forest in the dry zone of Sri Lanka so bought a patch of scrub jungle and set about returning it to its natural state. It was clearly a labour of love and he became famous in Sri Lanka, well before environmentalism was mainstream. He lived on the site for over 40 years and saw the native flora thrive with his unique methods. Sadly he had to return to UK due to ill health in the early 2000s and now lives in a care home in Sussex and is in his 90s. The arboretum is a haven for birds and animals including lorises and mouse deer. The current guardian is a lovely and very enthusiastic man who was a disciple of Mr Popham and has worked there for 16 years. Many of the trees are endangered and it is increasingly realised that they have medicinal value and this arboretum needs more support. I entirely agree with the previous reviewers. It is a haven of peace and tranquility . The best time to go for birds is in the early morning and late afternoon.

2  Thank GlynisD_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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