Shangri-Lanka Village in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka

John Elk III / Getty Images

Picture this… you’ve been on safari all day, being knocked around in the jeep on the rough terrain, trying to shade yourself from the midday heat. All the while trying to spot the elusive leopard in Yala National Park. At the end of the day all you want is a refreshing ice-cold drink, maybe a dip in the pool to cool down, and a comfy bed to rest your body. What if we told you hidden away down a dirt track in the town of Tissamamarha is the relaxing paradise you are looking for.

Shangri-Lanka Village is your home away home. Consisting of three luxurious bungalows each one set in perfectly maintained grounds with the inviting pool as the centerpiece. Due to the fact, there are only three bungalows, at times you feel like you have the entire place to yourself with your own private staff, who we must say catered to our every need, efficiently and most importantly, with a smile.

Each air-conditioned bungalow provides unobstructed views of the garden and pool area. With an outside terrace and dining area, you can sit, relax, and enjoy the peaceful tranquillity while sipping on an ice-cold refreshment. Inside the bungalow, you are greeted with a grand open living area which includes a comfortable super king-size bed, flat-screen TV with satellite and DVD player, a minibar with reasonably priced snacks and drinks, and a cozy lounge area. There is also plenty of space to unpack and hang clothes and a safe, not that you honestly need that at all. This has been, without a doubt, one of the most secure and trustworthy places we have stayed at.

The adjoining bathroom is huge, honestly, we’ve seen smaller houses! The shower is open plan with a natural stone floor which gives it that ‘outdoorsy’ feel. You will also find a selection of hair and body products, a drying rack, which was a nice inclusion, and a hairdryer.

Each bungalow is tastefully decorated throughout with pictures and ornaments associated with the nearby Yala safari park, making it look and feel like a safari lodge. In fact, the whole place, grounds, and accommodation included feel like your on safari before you even step in the park. There are even peacocks roaming around the gardens.

Once you’ve relaxed and had a swim in the pool, head over to open a planned restaurant and enjoy some of the delicious, fresh food served from the onsite kitchen. Breakfast is included in the room rate and you can pay extra for half board. The food served was some of the nicest we tasted in Sri Lanka, like the rest of Sri Lanka the food took a while to arrive after ordering but this is due to the fact everything is cooked from fresh, and not pre-packaged. It’s definitely worth the extra weight in our eyes, and if you don’t want to wait you can place your food order earlier on in the day. For us, the food highlight was the chicken curry, consisting of four or five different dishes it was a feast. The flavors of the food were amazing and with good size portions, it made for a fantastic last meal of our stay.

The main reason visitors stay in Tissamaharama is to go on safari in Yala National Park. Shangri-Lanka Village can arrange a private jeep and driver for you at a reasonable rate, we took this option and thoroughly enjoyed it. The driver/guide was very knowledgeable and it was worth paying slightly extra after seeing plenty of jeeps in the park full of Chinese scrambling over each other to get a photo.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a lot of wildlife and upon our return, Rohan the owner seemed quite disappointed the safari was not a success. He was determined we saw at least an elephant so later that day arranged a jeep to take us to a road that went through the northern part of the park where elephants are known to roam. We saw a total of three elephants and even fed watermelon to one, this was a unique experience and we were very grateful to Rohan. He went out of his way to make sure we saw an elephant and he even refused payment. This act of kindness was just one of many we experienced across the whole of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan’s are one of the friendliest people in the world and always go out of their way to help.

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