No amount of meditation could have prepared me for the blazing car honks and intense humidity of Sri Lanka as our jeep trailed the windy roads from Tissamaharama to the edge of Yala National Park deep in the South. But the quiet oasis that is Chena Huts, smartly camouflaged by jungle scrubs, makes for a quick mood fix. Home to wild boars and exotic birds, our unpretentious palm-thatched pavilion is designed to echo its natural surroundings.
Every room opens up to a patio, where the occasional elephant is spotted, and waves of the Indian Ocean wash up to the pristine sand on the rugged coast. The food selection here is equally stunning – fragrant Sri Lankan curries, spicy coconut sambol, and unmistakably delicious hoppers. Outside this bubble of modern luxury and unparalleled tranquility, the wild and the wicked await.
The experts at Chena Huts are true lovers of nature, equipped with the know-how of spotting the majestic leopard and other predators. After hours of circling a leopard kill and zooming through my iPhone screen (amid a throng of 30 other jeeps), we were disappointed with our luck. But not before we watched baby elephants frolic with each other, the beautiful spotted deer grazing in the forest, and the unique black-necked stork wade through water, all of which appeased this amateur safari-goer, for now.