Wild. This place definitely is! And not because of loud, unruly guests drinking and dancing on the tabletops in the bar until the wee hours of the morning. No, no, no, no. This hotel is situated in the wild; yup, in the middle of the jungle.
Views of Kirinda Beach, several nearby lakes inhabited by dozens of huge and young crocodiles, and monkeys which jump so high from the treetops that they are quite literally flying, set the mood for the hotel purposely designed and built in the jungle. It was unbelievable, and these experiences are only the tip of the iceberg. Thankfully, human noise (mostly overall noise from hotel grounds) keeps creatures such as elephants, sloth bears and leopards away.
I snapped this photo of the bellhop on the way to our bungalow. The monkeys were bouncing an arm’s length away from us and making monkey noises (whatever those are) upon our arrival. I’d like to think they were happy to see us check in. Whatever the case, I was a bit startled, so I covered my head, still snapping pics with my free hand of course…
Take a look at this monkey chillin’ right outside our room. Just another day at the office…
Yala Jeep Safari
The following morning started before the break of dawn for us, along with other hotel guests who were eager to immerse themselves in the wild. It was time to get deep into the jungle. Jeep safari time!!
The Stately Tusker
As if this trip could not get any better the first imposing, yet graceful, creature we encountered was the Sri Lankan tusker elephant, revered for its royal roots, elegant gait, and distinctive bone structure which only tuskers possess. Here in Sri Lanka, the elephant is categorized by hierarchy and is part of a caste system among other Asian elephants.
For example, the tusker has been an integral part of the Perahera ceremony in Kandy, where the parade features several highly-decorated tuskers and a replica of tooth of Buddha is carried on the top of a tusker’s head. It is a royal celebration, starting from the royal families of long ago. Suffice to say, the tusker elephant has always been prevalent in Sri Lankan tradition and remains so today.
Rick FaceTiming my parents from the jungle… Pretty awesome, until the signal cut out!
Here are some other colorful and wild creatures we were able to spot!
The safari lasted a solid 4.5 hours, leaving us with slight headaches and motion sickness. This is a rough ride, so I don’t recommend this adventure if you are susceptible to motion sickness. The dirt trails have endless dips, waving and rippled from all sides, which get redundant to put it nicely. We met two brothers (who happened to be from Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve University – Rick’s alma mater – a seriously mind-blowing coincidence in Sri Lanka of all places!!) who elected to go for an all-day safari (approx. 12 hours), only to return at 2pm and not the nightfall. They remarked that, although a riveting experience, it is hard to be in a Jeep for that long.
Fortunately, a good note, we had a Jeep to ourselves which allowed me to move freely and take pictures from every angle.
The safari took every ounce of energy we had and an afternoon shower and nap was necessary to shake the heat of the jungle, smell of the wild and our headaches.
Later that day, it was more wildlife by the pool and bar. A sambar deer pranced around the pool announcing to us all that, in fact, we occupied his territory. This is my turf people!
It was a wild day at Yala National Park. A glass of wine, the lighting from the Vesak lanterns, and a sweet adorable, short-haired kitten under my chair made me happy…
Despite the elusive leopard and sloth bear that evaded my camera, it was another glorious day in Sri Lanka…