Our journey kicks off in Colombo, where we’re picked up by Thilak, our driver for the duration of the trip. Thilak has an unwavering smile and boundless energy, drawn from his experience as a guide for 30 years. He knows the roads of this country inside out, and we are, he tells us, doing a three-hour drive to Wilpattu that evening, straight to the big game camp where we’re staying the night and setting off at the crack of dawn on safari.
The road from Colombo passes through a part of the country the locals call Little Rome, thanks to the Italian influence, most visible in a series of gorgeous churches that line the road. Located on the border of Wilpattu National Park, Big Game Camp Wilpattu is glamping personified. Think candlelit dinner with G&T’s, roomy canvas tents that have separate bedroom and sitting rooms, fully functioning loos and sinks, and proper plugged-in lamps. After a long day spent sitting on planes and in cars, gin and tonics were welcome, before we fell into our super-comfortable beds to the sound of raindrops on canvas.