A gentle, polite introduction to nature

The Yala Adventure is the first hotel I have stayed in that, instead of in- room television, offers a private butterfly garden, toddy rope walking and abseiling as entertainment. Not only that, its most expensive rooms are canvas tents with grand teak beds.

Open dining hallThis extraordinary hotel is set in the tamed wilderness beside the Yoda Wewa ( lake) not far from the borders of the Yala National Park. Unlike other hotels in the area, it does not only offer accommodation to tourists who want to stay overnight before a dawn jeep safari around Yala. It offers a complete “wild” experience, based on its slogan “explore the possibilities” and is fun for spending a few nights close to nature.

I demurred at the idea of sleeping in a tent. For me hotel accommodation should be a spacious, well designed room of reasonable luxury, with a comfortable bed and a good bathroom, even in the wilderness. To my surprise The Yala Adventure was that and more. It was with trepidation that I followed the steward to my tent, passing what I was told was the common toilet, built like a small keep with battlements.

I needn’t have worried; my tent (one of three on the property) had its own bathroom and toilet with a thoughtfully planned vanity counter and a super rain shower with granite stone floor. Towels were soft and fluffy; there were organic toiletries. The bedroom was a surprise. The entrance had to be unzipped to enter a 200 square feet cocoon with patterned fabric ceiling canopy and walls.

It was cold, because there was an independent air-conditioning unit by the side of the bed. I think I disappointed the creator of this modern tent as I immediately switched off the a/c unit and rolled up one of the window flaps to let the breeze flow through. Each window flap had mosquito netting and the tent also had a verandah enclosed with a wall of mosquito netting.

The bed was king- size, hand built of Sri Lankan teak by a village carpenter. It was solid, raised two feet from the ground, and had an eightinch mattress and luxury cotton sheets. There was a canvas luggage stand and two canvas chairs, as well as power points for charging phones, cameras and lap tops. Amazingly, in this wooded wilderness, there was WiFi connectivity ( free of charge).

My doubts about staying in a tent dissolved when I spent a dreamless night to be awoken by the soft patter of rain drops on the canvas roof while being serenaded by a joyful dawn chorus of birds. Had I stayed in one of the hotel’s conventional rooms (there are two deluxe rooms and two other bedrooms with pairs of single beds in the water tower structure) I wouldn’t have felt part of nature.

The concept of The Yala Adventure is to introduce guests gently and politely to natural Sri Lanka. The reception and restaurant is a 60 feet long open- sided hall made of timber posts and beams with an intricately thatched roof. It overlooks the organic garden, where guests are invited to pick their own fruit and vegetables for dinner. Breakfast and dinner consist of country- style curries with gardengrown vegetables and fish fresh from the lake. Any items that have to be purchased come from local farmers and fishermen. ( Westernstyle dishes are also available but guests prefer to try the authentic Sri Lanka cuisine.)

While guests can dash off on a jeep safari, they are also encouraged to discover other wildlife. There are nature walks with 165 species of birds listed in the hotel’s booklet as frequenting the vicinity. A Butterfly Garden has been especially created through the introduction of the plants that butterflies thrive on. As I entered the garden I glimpsed a flash of electric blue as a peacock scurried into the undergrowth with a startled mewl. Butterflies danced around my head.

Guests more active, and younger, than me can abseil down the hotel’s water tower, try to walk along the toddy tapper’s tightrope cable slung between two trees, learn archery, target shoot with an air rifle, go mountain bicycling, kayaking on the lake, help fishermen haul in their catch, and even camp in mobile tents on an island in the lake. There’s also a trek to a village to drink herbal tea with jaggery in a typical clay- walled and palmthatched hut.

The Yala Adventure Hotel is placed conveniently for exploring several nearby wildlife sanctuaries and historical temples. The management’s philosophy is not only to give guests a great experience off the beaten track, but also to assist the local farming community with better market and employment opportunities. It seems a welcome trend for tourism diversification, and I was content with my stay in a tent!

Source : http://www.roystonellis.com/blog

Source : http://epaper.dailymirror.lk/epaper/viewer.aspx

One response to this post.

  1. I’m delighted you are circulating my article about The Yala Adventure retreat – however, it would have been nice if you had given me a byline! Please use anything that appeals to you from my weekly newsletter http://www.roystonellis.com/blog. Best wishes


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