You need to stay at Jetwing Safari Camp Yala at least once in your life. Amidst the wild Sri Lankan jungle, there is a small collection of luxurious 5* tented villas, complete with ensuites and private deck. Offering an experience like no other. With an incredible all-inclusive package, you will receive a personal chef, butler as well as safari adventures with an experienced ranger. This is luxury at its finest.
Fronted by the shimmering Indian Ocean and bordering the world-famous Yala National park, the location is unbeatable. With no fences, you are totally amongst nature and it’s not uncommon for elephants to be found roaming around the grounds. And whilst you may feel totally remote, you have full access to the Jetwing Yala resort and all of its facilities a few hundred metres away. This wild retreat is a treat for the soul, and you will feel as if the staff are family, saying goodbye was heartbreaking! Jetwing Safari Camp Yala is a unique glamping experience not be missed.
Table of Contents
Jetwing Safari Camp Yala
Jetwing Safari Camp is located just moments away from the Yala National Park. This semi-arid region is full of exotic wildlife, thick jungle and glistening lagoons. The 979 km² national park is famous as being home to over 44 species of mammals including leopards, elephants, crocodiles sloth bears, water buffalo, loris and more! The Yala region sits on the tropical south-east corner of Sri Lanka, an isolated area with wild rugged coasts and unexplored wilderness. Thanks to a new expressway, Yala is now closer than ever, now taking roughly 4.5 hours drive from the international airport.
The Jetwing Yala complex including the camp sprawls out over 38 acres, blending in seamlessly with the environment. Wherever you go, you feel as if you are in the middle of the jungle. The camp itself is ultra-boutique, offering just 10 luxury tented villas. With its own reception, lounge, dining area and a full set of personalised staff, it feels truly intimate and everyone is made to feel special. If however, you wish to visit the main resort and access its facilities such as pool, gym and dining options, it is only a short stroll or buggy ride away.
Inside Our Luxurious Jungle Tent
Being walked to our home for the next two nights, we knew we were in for a treat. Walking down a windy red dirt path, flanked on either side by Sri Lankan jungle, birds calling from the trees. There in front of us stood our elegant white canvas tent covered by a thatch roof to keep it cool in the hot Sri Lankan sun. Yes, this was not the ordinary collapsible tent that you take camping. It was a decadent 79m² and with the additions of a deck and bathroom to bring true modern comfort to camping.
We turned towards a set of stairs and climbed up towards the entrance to our tent. At the top we were presented with our spacious wooden deck, with the edges roped off in a traditional style. The deck was complete with rustic green sun loungers and a dining table. This was the perfect vantage point to stare off into the wilderness and watch wildlife as it passes, whilst enjoying the sea breeze and sounds of nature. You have to choose to eat at least one of your meals here, such a perfect dining location!
Inside the Tent
A pair of solid double doors gave an inviting welcome to our large canvas tent. Inside was spacious whilst still feeling cosy and intimate. The rich dark wooden floor and the cream coloured tent were completed with the same green whitewashed furniture as outside. This was certainly no ordinary tent that’s for sure. For starters, there was power – power that was running both an air conditioning unit and a ceiling fan. A necessity in the Sri Lankan heat.
The king-sized bed was donned with luxurious pillows and linen and felt like sleeping in heaven! A huge wardrobe was able to easily accommodate your clothing and a safe your valuables. Then in the corner, there was a full minibar and coffee/tea making station, complete with a coffee machine! On the bedside table was a telephone gave you 24/7 contact with your personal butler.
During the night you’ll hear the soundtrack of the Sri Lankan jungle and coast. Waves crashing, deers barking, owls hooting and jackals howling.
The ensuite was through another pair of double doors on the other side of the tent. We were surprised when we walked into a fixed ultra-modern bathroom. The fully tiled bathroom was completed with floor to ceiling windows flooded the room with sunlight. The inside shower had great pressure and offered both hot and cold water. Yes, that’s right there was also an outside shower through another door. To finish it off the bathroom is full of eco-friendly amenities. You’ll also find a bathrobe and slippers in the wardrobe! We loved how the bathroom was semi-open-air and would have visits from some of the local frogs each night!
Service and Staff
We might have mentioned this before, but honestly the staff make this place. We thought of our butler Thilani as more of a friend! Everyone we came into contact with had the biggest smile on their face and putting you in a positive mood. We almost felt like royalty where nothing was too much to ask. Paige spilt red wine all over her white dress one night and the next morning it was laid out on the bed, gleaming white again. Check out the dining section below to see just how well we were treated by the chef, Kaushalya!
In order to avoid having run-ins with wildlife, somebody was always ready to chauffeur you to other parts of the resort. A necessity after dark. Everybody was so knowledgable and passionate about Yala and the surrounding nature. Thilani was a wealth of information, and Chamara, the chief ranger was clearly so passionate and in love with the work he does. We loved watching everybody work together so seamlessly and clearly as good friends. There’s no doubt about the Sri Lankan hospitality, it is brilliant!
Wildlife on the grounds
Being on the edge of the world-class Yala National Park, it’s no surprise there is plenty of wildlife that visits Jetwing Safari Camp. With over 215 species of bird here, it is a bird lovers paradise. But it wasn’t just birds that we saw up close and personal near our tent. Every day we would see wild boars running past and various reptiles.
However, the real surprise was early morning when Paige was walking to the reception for our safari journey. There in the moonlight stood a large elephant grazing on some of the nearby shrubbery! Both startled by each other it trumpeted its trunk. Who needs coffee when you have an elephant to wake you up!! Apparently one year there was even one in the main hotel’s reception! With the guidance of the excellent staff, we never felt unsafe. They always knew where both us and all of the animals on site were.
As part of the Jetwing Safari Camp all-inclusive package, you can take part in a morning and evening game drive through Yala national park. This included all park entry fees, a morning tea and a very talented animal tracker and driver. Of course, then you also have your own personal ranger in the vehicle with you. They share their expertise and passion of all things in the park, explaining all the small intricacies and helping you spot the animals.
As the animals days begin early, so did ours. Getting to enter the park at 6 am. Our ride for the morning was a luxury safari jeep with open windows to immerse you fully in the surroundings. The entire time Thilani was informative and helped us better understand the park. Now, one of the biggest drawcards of Yala National Park is to spot the elusive leopard. With around 25 leopards known to occupy the publicly open area of the park, it is one of the best places in the world to spot them!
Shortly after entering the park, we saw buffalos, peacocks, wild boards and a mongoose. All of a sudden we stopped and standing right there on the side of the track in the bushes was a large elephant. We sat there eye to eye, for a good while just watching it go about its morning breakfast routine. Ollie is an elephant lover and was in absolute heaven. However, this much excitement coupled with the early start meant that his tiredness got the better of him. Thilani being the amazing woman she is cradled him in her arms whilst he was napping! Now that’s service!
Unfortunately for Ollie, this meant he missed seeing the leopard that we sighted shortly after. We mean it when we say it, our driver is a god at finding animals. Listening to the sounds of nature we scooted forwards and backwards along this patch of the track. Suddenly a pack of wild boars ran through a clearing. Moments later, sure enough, a leopard slowly skulked along this large grassed area. Mission accomplished we headed back to the hotel to enjoy an afternoon by the pool.
The safari camp itself doesn’t have a pool, however, a few hundred metres away is the main Jetwing Yala resort. You can either walk or take a buggy. The pool is enormous, seemingly like an oasis in the desert. It is surrounded by sun-loungers and umbrellas the perfect place to relax after a big morning safari. A sunken pool bar offers up beverages from the comfort of the pool, or perhaps to enjoy some a-la-carte dining around it.
If the pool isn’t your thing, there is always the beach. A tiny walk over the dunes and you will be gobsmacked by the azure waters of the Indian ocean. This beach is patrolled by internationally trained lifeguards, so feel free to take a dip in the refreshing waters. Complementing the beach and in true Jetwing style, there is a sophisticated rustic styled beach bar and a variety of lounges and bean bags.
Jetwing Safari Camp Yala is big on sustainability, and helping to lessen the impact on the surroundings is a big part of what they do.
The property is home to a 1000 solar panels spread over 1.2 acres with a capacity of 300kw. This enormous solar park is one of the largest private solar systems in the entire country. It supplies roughly 80% of the hotel’s daytime electricity demand. Power usage is minimalised through 100% LED lighting systems and open-plan layouts making the most of natural lighting. Additionally, all hot water is generated through 100% renewable means. Hot water is produced through 90 flat plate collector type solar panels during the day, whilst the biomass boiler steam warms it at night.
The property also has its own desalination plant capable of turning seawater into potable water. This plant caters to 100% of the water needs of the property. In addition, there is an onsite glass bottling plant for all of the hotel’s operations. Minimising plastic waste and carbon footprint transporting water.
Then there is the state of the art wastewater treatment plants and organic waste composting processes. These processes allow for the reusing of products for other tasks such as fertiliser and generating biogas.
Finally, they are big on growing their own food as well as sourcing local products. This, in turn, is helping the nearby communities and building strong relationships with nearby farmers. Amazingly all produce is sourced from within a 21km radius of the property!
Dining at Jetwing Safari Camp
Jetwing is proudly Sri Lankan, and as such their renowned hospitality and cuisine are a highlight of Jetwing Safari Camp. As mentioned before, all of the ingredients are sourced within 21km of the property. This ensures not only the freshest of fresh produce but also helps out the surrounding community and reduces carbon footprint.
Personalised Luxury Dining
This is the first hotel we have stayed at to have this option available to us and all we can say is “wow”! Imagine the chef personally greeting you on arrival to learn about all of your individual tastes, preferences and desires. You can then see the cogs working in their brain, planning all number of extravagant dishes for your stay.
Before each meal, we would be consulted on what we felt like for the next meal. Seriously, whatever your heart desired. We preferred to let chef Kaushalya have free reign and whip up local Sri Lankan flavours for us. Having heard about two different curries before arriving in Sri Lanka, Pumpkin & Pineapple, we asked if these could be arranged. Of course, come dinner time, there was a banquet of curries produced. Two of which were Pumpkin and Pineapple, and the other ones catered specifically to what we would probably like! And let us tell you now, they were all delicious!
This went on for breakfast, lunch and three-course dinners on both days that we were there. And if you didn’t feel like Asian food, western food could just as easily be prepared. We did however try out the buffet breakfast in the resort one morning and there was an impressive selection of yummy food.
Special Dining Locations
As a guest of Jetwing Safari Camp Yala, you have access to the resorts restaurant offerings. However, we prefered the safari camp dining. Being only accessible to guests of the camp, the open-air restaurant The Thicket is small and intimate. You feel like a celebrity dining there, especially with your personal chef! There are however plenty of other special dining locations and options should you so desire.
Why not escape to the retreat of your tent and enjoy your carefully curated meals on your own private deck? Or dine on the rooftop of the thicket, overlooking the jungle and out to sea! Or go all out and enjoy dinner under the stars dining on the sand dunes. Whatever you choose, you’ll be spoilt with serene views, unmatched privacy and indulgent gourmet cuisine.
How Kid-Friendly Is Jetwing Safari Camp?
Whilst there is no kids club or other kid-specific activities, the property still catered well to kids. After all what kid doesn’t enjoy looking for animals on safari or swimming in a pool?? And of course, the staff all love kids and do whatever they can to ensure they are always smiling. For example, Ollie loves golf buggies, like obsessed with them. So one day when he was having a slight tantrum to ride one, a smiling staff member took him for multiple laps of the property!
Amenities & Facilities
High chairs and cribs can be used upon request, so no need to carry these around with you.
The swimming pool is ideal for children. Firstly it is enormous. Secondly, at both ends, there are large shallow portions. These were suitable enough depth for Ollie to run around in and practice his swim technique. The ocean is patrolled, however, little kids are much more suited to the pool.
Our personal chef benefits also extended to our 17-month-old. Each dish was curated to what we hoped he would feel like, and if he didn’t like it, could try again! Ollie can be a fussy eater but devoured everything that was put in front of him. When visiting the main resort there is a kids menu available with several child-friendly options.
Book Your Stay at Jetwing Safari Camp Yala
Address: Palatupana, Yala 82000, Sri Lanka
Hopefully this blog has inspired you to visit Sri Lanka for a safari! If you have any questions or comments about our stay at Jetwing Safari Camp Yala? Let us know in the comments below…
If you happen to be looking into travelling to Sri Lanka with a child, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to travelling Sri Lanka with a toddler!
LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT FOR LATER
Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Jetwing Safari Camp Yala. As always, all the reviews and opinions expressed are based on our personal view and experience.