In Sri Lanka’s deep south, the rustic farming villages round Tissamaharama are divided from the teeming animal and bird life of Yala, Sri Lanka’s oldest and second-largest natural reserve
By a belt of semi-protected jungle running down to the sea. For centuries, people here have farmed small clearings in the jungle called chena, sleeping beside their crops in modest huts to protect them from hungry elephants. Here today, nestling among dunes and trees at the ocean’s edge, you will find Chena Huts, the latest addition to Uga Escapes’ world-renowned portfolio of luxury boutique hotels. Overlooking a beach where sea-turtles come to lay eggs by moonlight and elephants wander down from the nearby jungle to play in the surf, Chena Huts is fringed on one landward side by tropical jungle and on the other by a saline lake where ibises, painted storks and even flamingos may be seen, wading in the shallows.