On safari at Chena Huts, Sri Lanka

This Island Life on safari at Chena Huts, Sri Lanka - a boutique luxury resort on the fringe of Yala National Park.

Nestled between dunes, trees and the ocean’s edge on the fringe of Yala National Park in Sri Lanka, lies Chena Huts by Uga Escapes. Made up of 14 luxurious safari-style huts built on seven aces of lush jungle that borders the rough sea, Chena Huts is as close to nature as you can get.

Sponsored by Chena Huts by Uga Escapes.

THE RESORT

If you want to safari at Yala National Park in luxury, Chena Huts is your place. Designed to harmonise with the jungle environment, each hut plays to the safari theme while offering all the modern comforts you’d expect from a luxury hotel.

Each of the 14 safari-style huts are a spacious 71 square metres, and all give you a true sense of the wild and rugged landscape. The rooms are open plan, with an incredible log bed as the centre piece complete with hanging lanterns on either side. The bathroom boasts a double vanity and when you’re ready to relax and get clean after a dusty safari session, there’s a freestanding bath with lush jungle views.

The private plunge pools outside each hut are just as much a necessary as they are a luxury. While Chena Huts fringes the coastline, the ocean is too dangerous for swimming due to currents and rips. Plus, wild animals visit the beach so there’s no romantic strolls on the sand unless you want the ranger third wheeling.

Chena Huts by Uga Escapes is an all-inclusive resort, which means that all your meals and safaris are included in your stay. The beachfront restaurant is fine dining, but while the dress code is casual, the cuisine is anything but. The menu changes daily and is a mix of local favourites, and international dishes using some of the finest produce from around the world. Make sure to visit the restaurants alfresco bar for an aperitif before dinner so you can debrief on safari adventures with your fellow guests and the rangers.

While staying at Chena Huts we discovered that you don’t need to travel far to see wild animals. On our first night at the resort, a wild elephant visited our hut and then turned up for dinner at the restaurant. After a few dips in the plunge pool next door to ours and the main resort pool, the mischievous elephant headed back down to the beach towards Yala National Park. And that’s why you don’t take long walks on the beach at Chena Huts.

We put our sun umbrella up before sending the drone up so our hut would stand out in this shot – can you spot it?

THE SAFARI

One of the best things about staying at the luxurious Chena Huts is that your safaris are included in your stay – you get two game drives a day, and access to the best jeeps and the best guides. You also get a delicious platter of safari snacks to feast on in between animal sightings. We had Damian as our guide who is basically a Sri Lankan David Attenborough. We could have cruised around the park in the jeep listening to his stories, not seen any animals and still have had the best afternoon.

When we set out on safari in Yala National Park all I wanted to see was a leopard and a baby elephant. While we didn’t spot the elusive Sri Lankan leopard, we did see lots of elephants and their super cute baby elephants. This was my first time seeing an elephant in the wild, so the safari was a special experience for me. We were able to get so close to the elephants, I didn’t even need to put my long lens on the camera – I shot everything using my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit. As we headed out of the park after our first safari, we were treated to an incredible sunset where the sun melted into the horizon.

We stayed in a luxurious safari-style hut – prices start at around AUD$1,349 and includes three meals and two game drives per day. Details here.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Sri Lanka’s Bandaranike International Airport is located in Colombo which is a six-hour drive from Yala National Park. Details here.

Sri Lanka camera kit courtesy of Canon AustraliaGoPro Australia and KNEKT Australia:

  • Cameras: Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EOS 70D.
  • Lenses: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM.
  • Underwater housing: GoPro HERO4 Silver with KNEKT Dome Port and Trigger Pole. 

 

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