“Adventurous but comfortable camping safaris in Yala National Park: get set to spot leopards, elephants, wild buffalo and giant porcupines”
Safaris are 2-4 days in length, but can be tailor-made for a maximum of 8 people. You’ll be picked up in a Toyota Landcruiser and taken to the camp, which is set beside a watering hole that's swarmed by wildlife. From the moment you arrive, you'll be extremely well looked after by the brilliant staff - their knowledge is invaluable and really enhances the experience. Game drives take place in the early morning and at dusk; lunch is served by a tree-shaded lake, and at night the camp is lit by flaming torches. Take a walk on the wild side: it’s an unforgettable adventure.
Why we chose this partner
- Kulu Safaris are the pioneer operators of tented safaris in Sri Lanka, and have a fantastic reputation
- Their trackers are astonishingly good, so these safaris offer some of the best wildlife-spotting in the world; you can also ask for a specialist guide
- The drivers are fully trained and experienced in all possible terrains, with client safety their ultimate concern. Drivers are responsible, friendly, helpful and they all speak excellent English
- Kulu don't cut corners; we slept very soundly in our luxury tents with proper beds
- Staff are very mindful of their impact on the environment
Please be aware
- Yala is a popular safari destination and does attract lots of jeeps, but the extremely knowledgeable guides go out of their way to ensure you avoid the crowds and have the best viewing opportunities
- There are 2 game drives per day, so if you're staying for 3 days or more you might find you've already spotted all there is to see (especially if you're lucky enough to see a leopard on the first safari)!
Best time to go
Our top tips
The tents are within 10 acres of actively regenerating forest on the border of Yala National Park, overlooking a lake that is packed with wildlife. These large safari tents are all the same in design, with verandas, comfortable queensize double or twin beds, and mineral water and towels provided on a bedside table. The Family tents have a large porch/living area at the front, with 2 chairs, a mirror, chest of drawers and a table. This area needs to be zipped up if you’re not there to prevent monkeys coming in – and we had some painted tree frogs visiting too; harmless and very pretty. The Family Tent can sleep 2 adults and 3 children, and the other tents can each fit an extra bed for a child.
In addition, there's a hot and cold water shower – the water is heated when you’re out on a drive, ready for your return – and a chemical toilet per tent. Special biodegradable shampoo/shower gel is provided for the shower. At night the camp is lit by flaming torches and you also have your own torch and lamp in the tent. For a 5.30am drive, you’ll be woken up with biscuits and tea on your veranda.
Astonishingly, given the tiny camp kitchen and limited provisions, the food at Kulu was incredibly varied, making the most of local Sri Lankan specialities. Dine alfresco, in the private diving pavilion, or in the large open tent that's used as a living room/dining room in the event of rain. We arrived at lunchtime to see the table heaving with delights like curry, daal, brinjal and sambal. Dessert was fresh fruit or banana pancakes.
Dinner was again a huge meal, and they do a different dinner for each night of your trip. We had a delicious barbecue with more meat than we could possibly eat - lamb, chicken, sausages, burgers and baked potatoes. We sipped pre-dinner G&Ts then delicious red and white wine or Lion beer to accompany the meal. Dining under the stars, among flaming torches and crackling fires, while chatting with fellow travellers was quite an experience...
A Sri Lankan breakfast is served after the first drive of the day: fresh papaya, banana, pineapple, plus passion fruit juice, tea or coffee, toast, pancakes, omelettes, and optional daal, sambal and rice. During the day on the long game drives, we were given ginger biscuits – good for travel sickness on the bumpy roads – and water was provided in the jeeps.
If you have any dietary requirements, you will need to mention them at time of booking. All food is included.
Things we loved...
- Plantlife / flora
This is a great adventure for older children, but Kulu are not too keen on taking younger kids. Bear in mind that there are no cots for babies - usually parents sleep with their baby in their bed - or extra beds. There is a 10% discount on prices for children aged 14 and under.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms
Children's meals: Although the camp specialises in Sri Lankan food, they cater for guests' dietary requirements and any special requests (with a little notice)
Kids Activities on site:
Families Should Know: Note that this is best for older kids; the camp's close proximity to the lake could be dangerous for younger ones. There are no babysitting facilities if you want to go off on a drive without them, and sitting in a jeep being quiet for 3 hours isn’t fun with a bored child!
Your safari will take place in Yala National Park, on Sri Lanka's southeast coast.
Fly into Colombo International Airport. Here, you could transfer onto a SriLankan Airlines Air Taxi, which flies to various destinations in Sri Lanka daily, and will cut down on your journey time. However, it's such a fascinating country that we'd definitely recommend travelling overland if you have time (Yala is approx 7 hrs drive from Colombo). The best way to do this is by hiring a driver; see below. Kulu Safari can arrange airport transfers on request, for an additional charge.
Travelling by rail is wonderfully scenic but the trains are slow and unreliable, so if you're in a hurry we wouldn't recommend it. If you have a few days though, consider making your way from Colombo by train - see Seat 61 for details. You can then get a taxi for the final leg of your journey.
If you want to hire a car, bear in mind that Sri Lanka’s roads are in bad condition and speed limits are low, so even short distances take a long time. It can take up to 3 hours to cross Colombo at rush hour! We highly recommend hiring a driver and car if you’re planning to travel around Sri Lanka. Mal-key Rent-a-car, the country’s largest firm (58 Pamankada Rd, Off Havelock Rd, Colombo 6), are excellent. They can drop you at the gate of the national park you're visiting and collect you 3 days later.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
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