There are few things quite as magical as encountering nature in its wildest form, from the elephants of the Okavango Delta to the majestic lions prowling the Masai Mara. Not that safari experiences are limited to Africa: you can watch humpback whales frolicking along Australia’s east coast, sea lions skipping through the Galapageño surf or polar bears chilling in the frozen tundra of Churchill, Canada.
Sri Lanka, long known for its golden sands and intoxicating culture, is rapidly gaining a reputation as a global wildlife hotspot. Home to endemic Sri Lankan leopards and elephants, the island nation is also a twitcher’s dream with a huge diversity of wild and wonderful birdlife. Most nature lovers head straight to renowned Yala National Park, but other areas of the country are quietly revealing their wildlife credentials…
This month, Tea Trails – the world’s first tea bungalow resort and renowned for its beautiful position in the mist-draped hills of the tea country – is introducing the region’s first ever night safari.
Heading out from their secluded bungalows, guests will weave across the verdant slopes via the resort’s namesake trails. Along the way, they can get up, close and personal with the nation’s mountain-dwelling critters, chancing peeks of sleeping lizards, snakes, wild boar, jungle cats and rusty spotted cats, as dancing fire flies light the way ahead. The lucky few might even capture a glimpse of the region’s most illusive resident, the Sri Lankan leopard, as it slinks into the darkness…
Is your inner David Attenborough crying out for more? Never fear – the resort has also announced the creation of a dedicated leopard conservation station in partnership with the Wilderness and Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT). Conservation experts will monitor and track local leopard populations, protecting and learning from these rare and mysterious big cats. Guests can get involved themselves, aiding the conservation team in their efforts to safeguard the spectacular creatures.
It’s not all khakis and binoculars though: fresh from the trails, guests can return to the luxurious surrounds of their bungalows each night – or continue the trail to stay at a different one – arriving to a freshly-drawn bubble bath, a roaring fire and a delectable tea-inspired feast.
Fancy yourself a wildlife nut? Stays at Tea Trails start from $648 per room per night on an all-inclusive basis, including a tour of the conservation station. Night safaris start from $30 per person.