Chitral’s take on Chaaya Wild and the wild

- www.ft.lk

In an exclusive interview with the Daily FT, Keells Hotel Management Services Head of Eco Tourism and Special Projects Chitral Jayatilake said that over the years, Yala has progressed from being a great place to go on safari to a great place to see leopards.

According to Jayatilake, the transition took place over the last 10 years from the time ‘Leopard Hunters’ was made by BBC, to all the leopard studies done by very passionate naturalists and individuals.
He revealed that a couple of dedicated wildlife tours and safaris run over the last two years brought in some specialised people, like Paul Goldstein from the UK and Jonathon and Angela Scott, who came here and said this is probably the best place for leopard safaris in the world.
“All this reinforced the feeling created 10 years back, the momentum of which was lost due to the danger in coming here because of the war,” Jayatilake asserted.
Jayatilake emphasised that Sri Lanka was very lucky last year when Nat Geo Wild and Ammonite came here – a golden opportunity to reposition Yala as the top place for leopards.
“What we achieved in 47 days of filming was unprecedented. The crew ran short of hard drives and they bought 20 units of hard drives from here to pack up their footage. It was such a pleasant coincidence that the launch of Chaaya Wild was scheduled for November, as if it was manipulated. Last week the film came out in the UK and next week it comes out in the US and here we are launching the hotel from where it was done.”
Jayatilake revealed that during Roger Hooper’s visit here three weeks back, he had said, ‘look, I’ve seen leopard everywhere in Africa but Yala is special,’ and as Jayatilake asserts, it is very clear now that Yala is certainly by far the best place to see leopards which are totally free and wild.
“We have our own problems – there’s a bit of overcrowding and a bit of bad behaviour in the presence of a leopard sighting – but the good thing I see is that all this happens from the track. You’re not off the road or the vehicle so as much you’re sitting on a goldmine and there are some weaknesses in the system, I think we are well within our control to correct it,” he explained.
Commenting on Chaaya Wild, he said that given its location, just three km from Yala, and through the renovation, the company wants to position it as comparable to any top African lodge.
“We have no doubts in our mind that we want this to be the best jungle lodge in the country – that’s the starting point. But as our Deputy Chairman said, it’s got to go beyond and be one of the best in Asia, comparable with any in the world. To do that, you now got the infrastructure but my team has worked for the last three years conducting guided leopard safaris here and I would want to believe that we are among the best in the country doing that.”
On top of that, Jayatilake said certain other excursions have been designed to make guests’ stay enjoyable and exciting. “Here the vast majority comes for the wild. We want to create experiences outside of the park as well, including wader watching and bird watching, done with trained bird watching naturalists.
“We are also designing a separate chena visit, where we take guests into remote chenas run with the basics of existence. It’s a situation where during the peak of the season the guests can pluck fruits and vegetables and bring it back to the hotel and have it prepared for them.”
Another very exciting thing which is being done for the first time in Sri Lanka is the infrared night safari experience, outside the park and within the compound, said Jayatilake, explaining that this night safari will be done totally in the dark – the vehicle will drive with infrared head beams and you will be wearing infrared goggles and seeing in absolute darkness, converted with technology. Plans are also underway to equip these teams with infrared cameras.
“It’s a different experience created in appreciation of smaller beings – the civet cat, the porcupine and small mammals. Seeing them while driving in absolute darkness is your experience. If you do see a leopard or elephant, that’s the bonus. I am confident that we will have the service up and running by 1 December,” said Jayatilake.

You may also like

- island.lk

SJB, SLPP rebels to boycott opening of new parliamentary session By Saman Indrajith The main Opposition party, the SJB, and the dissident SLPP MPs have decided to boycott the ceremonial opening of the Fourth session of the Ninth Parliament by President Ranil Wickremessinghe today. President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared, on January 26, that he would brief Parliament […]

- island.lk

Softlogic Life recorded a superior full year performance in a crisis-affected business landscape, posting Gross Written Premium (GWP) of Rs. 23,083 million for the year ended 31 December 2022 with an increase in top-line growth of 15% compared to the corresponding period of last year. The Company has stood firmly with its policyholders in the […]

- island.lk

Wednesday 8th February, 2023 The Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe regime is all out to derail the local government (LG) elections scheduled for 09 March. The Election Commission (EC) is determined to ensure that the country goes to the polls as scheduled, and the Opposition is bragging that the government’s plan to delay the mini polls has gone pear-shaped, […]

- island.lk

by Neville Ladduwahetty (This is an updated version of an article which first appeared in The Island on 16 March 2009. It is republished because of its relevance to the intention of the current government to implement the13th Amendment fully. The defeat of the LTTE is not expected to bring a closure to Sri Lanka’s […]

- island.lk

Church governance and Anglicanism By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole In our Universities Act, there is provision for a University Council to forward three names for the post of Vice Chancellor and for the President to pick any one of the three. It is a necessary check and balance since a Council tends to favour its […]

- island.lk

By Harim Peiris The United States, under-secretary of state for political affairs Victoria Nuland was visiting Sri Lanka last week and dominating her agenda with the government has been the core issue of restructuring the Sri Lankan government’s foreign debt, on which it has defaulted, which stands at the heart of our recovery from bankruptcy. […]

Entertainment:View All

Technology:View All

Local News

Local News

Sri Lanka News

@2022 - All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Rev-Creations, Inc