Nestled in Sri Lanka’s famed Yala National Park, Wild Coast Tented Lodge offers a luxury camping experience, in specially designed cocoon tents.
Sometimes you find a hotel that screams out to you from the moment you first see pictures of it. Wild Coast Tented Lodge is one of those places. The website dazzles you with images of verdant jungle dropping right down to a beautiful but wild coastline (I can’t think of a better way to describe it than the phrase the hotel chose itself). Architecturally intriguing buildings which look like massive boulders - and blend in perfectly with their surroundings, and unique canvas cabins, surrounded by the wild of Yala National Park. From the moment I saw the pictures of this property, I knew that we had to visit! I wanted to be surrounded by the jungle and the thought of elephants, leopards and other wild animals roaming freely around us, motivated me to start planning our trip!
After a long flight to the capital – Colombo – it’s a bumpy six and a half hour drive to get to Wild Coast. It is worth the effort however, and the last portion of the journey takes you through the pristine Yala National Park – in the middle of which sits the hotel. This is not one of those places where after a morning on the beach you stroll into town - your nearest neighbours are elephants, wild boar and leopards. Being isolated is all part of what makes it so special, and you can rest assured that they have everything you need within the hotel grounds.
Those sprawling grounds consist largely of thick tropical foliage. Hidden away behind the trees are the cabins, while the dirt paths connecting them lead down to the pool and communal area situated in front of the beach. This gives a sense of peaceful isolation, and it's possible to spend your days with hardly a glimpse of the other guests. The hotel was almost full during our stay but we would never have known that, unless we asked.
The rooms are spectacular. They are referred to as ‘cocoons’ and it really is an apt description. They have a cosy look to them that is at once modern and also somehow natural. I imagine that this is how caterpillars must feel comfortably wrapped up in their cocoons. They are technically tents as the roof and walls are made from canvas, however much of the structure is made from more permanent materials such as wood and glass. Unlike many other tents, each one comes with Wifi, air conditioning and a Sonos sound system...yeah we weren’t really roughing it :)
Inside, each tent is beautifully furnished with a keen attention to detail. There was a copper bath tub in our cabin, accompanied by a quirky copper pipe sink. There was the ‘suitcase’ which doubled as a mini bar, and the wooden colonial style furniture. The king sized bed gave us plenty of room to spread out and the huge glass front enhanced the camping theme and connected us to nature outside at all times. On the other side of the glass was a wooden deck to relax on, and some of these have views of the ocean. Some also have plunge pools and next time we will have to choose one of these, so that we can animal watch while cooling down.
The communal areas are equally well designed, and besides the need to eat and visit the beach, they are enough to draw you out every now and again. The roofs of the main structures are two or three stories high and are designed to look beautifully natural. On the inside they are wooden and reminiscent of the open air huts you find all over the tropics, while on the outside they are are clad in tiles which help give them the rock like appearance. Attached to them are smaller adobe like structures which look a bit like the mud mosques of Mali or the traditional buildings of New Mexico.
It is within these that meals are served, so we would venture down to fill up by the pool. Meals are included which is great, and the food was excellent. We feasted on local dishes which is very similar to Southern Indian cuisine, so there are lots of vegetables and curries. They make them mild enough for the tourist’s palette however, so even if you struggle with spicy food you will be well catered for.
If you want to linger in the common areas a little longer, adjoining the dining area is a bar which serves cocktails and all the other usual drinks. This is also where the main swimming pool can be found, in fact part of it actually encroaches under the canopy of the bar structure itself. Just beyond this you have the beach, and plenty of space to take a walk through the forest if that is something you enjoy...just watch out for wild animals. Seriously! The hotel also has a spa if you prefer a less active activity. Drawing on the traditions of the country, as well as its native flora, Sri Lankan techniques are used and locally grown tea and cinnamon are used in their oils.
While it can be tempting to wrap up in your cocoon, you can’t come here and miss out on the outstanding natural wonder that is the Yala National Park. There are so many exotic animals in the area and they all roam free. The hotel offers guided tours in open air jeeps, so that you can see some of it for yourself. These are trained naturalists who are able to give you plenty of information about what makes the local plants and wildlife so special (and they know how to keep you safe from the more dangerous animals). They are also familiar with the best spots to ensure that you have the best chance of seeing elephants, cougars and deer. We were lucky enough to see all of these on our tour.
Wild Coast is the perfect place to get away from it all and spend some time in luxurious isolation. It setting is a tropical paradise, and the hotel is cleverly set up to allow you to get the most out of its location. Whether you are there as a family or looking for a romantic honeymoon, this will provide you with a vacation to remember.
For more information about this hotel please follow the link below: