Chaaya Wild Yala

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This wonderful Sri Lankan hotel deserves a blog of its very own.  We arrived extremely late at night, having flown in to Colombo overnight and arriving at 1.30pm local time.  After a bit of messing about at the airport we were finally driven in the staff van as far as the new Expressway, about 4 hours through a very busy and rush houry Colombo, to be picked up by Roni, our allocated driver, for the rest of the long car journey.  We therefore arrived at 10 pm, at Chaaya Wild and in the dark so missed most of the fantastic scenery and extremely tired. We were awake enough to be aware of the last 10k or so along unmade up road, and the elephant who wandered slowly across the track just ahead of us.  We were in time for a delicious buffet dinner, all sorts of yummy curries and various dishes to go with.  Our Jungle Room was perfect, wonderfully rustic but still very comfortable.  Extremely effective air conditioning, mini bar, and really good shower. All the staff were delightful, charming and helpful. The food was delicious, breakfasts particularly good, lots of fresh fruit and wonderful selection of both Sri Lankan style brekkies and English/continental type ones. We drank Mohitos in the bar at lunchtime, swum in the pool, well I did, fab husband doesn’t do swimming, and enjoyed the warmth of the Sri Lankan sun!  You can’t swim in the sea because of the currents or in the lake because of the crocodiles.  I spent quite a while watching these fascinating creatures either half lying on the edge basking in the sunshine, or completely submerged just a pair of eyes peering out at the top of the water checking out passing food supplies.  I expect after all those Mohitos, curries and puds, I looked particularly scrummy, but there is no huge fence or wired off area saying to keep off or get eaten.  I loved that! Our safari was a definite highlight, and our wonderful tracker just so determined we should see a leopard.  And we did, a magnificent animal and so much bigger than I had imagined. I loved the way the trackers shared info with each other on their mobiles, but obviously only with selected mates.  When we found our leopard there were three other land rovers there too, all helping everyone get a good view.  We were out for over three hours and returned back to Chaaya Wild extremely dusty but so excited for having seen such a fabulous collection of animals, hyenas, water buffalo, wild boar, different types of deer, monkeys, several elephants including a baby one, and our leopard.  As for the birds, they are extraordinary, so many different types, an ornithologist’s paradise!  I liked the green bee catcher the best.  Lots of photos on our camera but not got the right technology here to add them right now.  Will do so from UK.  We can’t wait to go back to Chaaya Wild, an unforgettable place. Thanks so much Times newspapers for making it possible.

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