August-September 2018

Sideto ADifferent

Sri Lanka

#1 Safari

There’s more to Sri Lanka than sweeping sands. Here, JO UPCRAFT of Lightfoot Travel reveals three of the island’s most diverse landscapes

I’m not the kind of person who gets out of bed easily or happily at 5.30am, but rising early is an entirely enjoyable experience in Sri Lanka. Here, my early morning call sees me practically springing out of luxurious bedsheets in preparation for my first-ever safari, due to leave at sunrise for the best chance of wildlife spotting. My location is Yala National Park , located on the island’s southeast coast. It’s Sri Lanka’s oldest nature reserve, and four-fifths of the park is a strictly designated Natural Reserve. For this reason, safari is the name of the game, and all the camps camouflaged within the region arrange daily nature drives into a landscape of bleached white trees, lush jungle, rocky outcrops and brackish lagoons. Armed with a camera, binoculars and a trusty personal guide, we set off in our private jeep. It’s bumpy and dusty but fascinating. Along with peacocks, monkeys, exotic birds and lizards, we spy water buffalo taking shade under the trees, watchful crocs eyeing us from waterholes, a sloth bear crossing the tracks in search of breakfast and – bingo! – an elusive leopard basking on a tree branch, its tail slowly curling as it sleeps. After a picnic we return to our accommodation, the space-age cocoon-like lodgings at the latest Relais & Chateaux property, Wild Coast Tented Lodge . Remote and glamorous, the tents are designed to resemble boulders on the beach and feature teak floors, leather chairs, freestanding copper bath tubs and – in some – private plunge pools. There’s also a super-cool kids’ tent for those with older children. An open-air restaurant overlooks the infinity swimming pool and the coastline that is rugged and

that promise a unique holiday experience with every visit.



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