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On The Go Tours / Sri Lanka / Tours / Colombo Caves And Kandy Festival 8 Days

Colombo Caves & Kandy Festival

8 days  |  Starts/Ends: Colombo  |  from USD $2,299  |   Guaranteed Departure 

See the best of central Sri Lanka on this all-encompassing tour and join in the festivities of the exhilarating Kandy Festival aka Esala Perahera or The Festival of the Sacred Tooth. Spanning ten days, the annual Buddhist celebration sees the easy-going hill city burst into a vibrant display of dance, music and colourful costumes, plus don’t forget the one hundred strong parade of lavishly decorated elephants.

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Day 1

Saturday 22nd August. Welcome to Sri Lanka! You will be met at Colombo airport and transferred to our centrally located hotel which has stunning Indian Ocean views. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight: Colombo

Day 2
Polonnaruwa & Dambulla Rock Temple

Colombo - Polonnaruwa - Giritale. Today we head inland to Polonnaruwa. On the way we stop a local Sunday market before arriving at one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive cave temples, the Dambulla Rock Temple. This stunning complex of 5 caves contains over 150 images of Buddha including an impressive 14 metre statue carved out of the cave rock. After exploring this ancient site we continue on to Polonnaruwa. This fascinating 11th century city is home to many interesting ruins and famous monuments including the Royal Palace and the Gal Vihara. Polonnaruwa was once the capital and is also the second most ancient city in Sri Lanka. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight: Giritale  |  Breakfast

Day 3
The Kandy Festival

Giritale - Sigiriya – Kandy. This morning we head to Sigiriya and the famous ‘Lion Rock’ fortress. Built over 1500 years ago, this beautiful citadel stands 200 meters high in the middle of verdant jungle and was an important stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. It can be viewed from miles around and is definitely one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic and famous sites. You’ll be able to view the world famous paintings of the Heavenly Maidens which stand in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway.

Once we’ve fully explored the rock we take a jeep ride and short canoe trip to the village of Kayanwala. Here, we try our hand at preparing a meal of curry, dahl, spiced rice, pickle and more in the mud brick home of a local family. Continuing onto Kandy we stop off a spice garden in Matale. Here we learn about some of Sri Lanka’s famous spices, how they are grown and what they are used in. You’ll also have the opportunity to buy some.

Onward to Kandy for the spectacular Kandy Festival. For ten consecutive days every year this laid back Sri Lankan hill city erupts into a whirlwind of colour and activity. Dancers in colourful silk costumes and over one hundred ornately decorated elephants parade through the streets backed by the rhythm of beating drums. There is also fire twirling, cracking of whips, cane dancing, fire walking and other cultural dances. The pageant commences at the golden Temple of the Tooth, alleged to house a tooth of Buddha, and in a public display that dates back to 310 AD a replica of the revered relic is paraded through the city in a golden casket by the chief elephant. Spend the evening joining in the revelry of this exhilarating Buddhist festival.
Overnight: Kandy  |  Breakfast

Day 4

This morning we visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where we meet some of the 78 elephants in their care. Some of these elephants were abandoned as babies, others born in the facility and unable to return to the wild and a few with disability - one elephant is blind. Today's highlight will be to watch the herd bathe uninhabited in the nearby river. Before returning to Kandy we stop at a working tea factory at Geragama. Geragama Tea Factory is located in close proximity to the city of Kandy was established in the year 1903, manufacturing 'Low Grown' and 'Long Leaf' tea. Once back in Kandy we take a Tuk Tuk ride and visit the city's highlights. Later on this evening we visit the world famous Temple of the Tooth, which plays an important role in the Kandy Festival that will be continuing its celebrations in the evening.
Overnight: Kandy  |  Breakfast

Day 5
Scenic Train trip & Tea Plantations

Kandy - Nuwara Eliya. This morning offers free time before transfering to the railway station for a scenic train trip. Passing kilometre upon kilometre of verdant tea plantations that hug the winding mountain passes, we'll see waterfalls, suspension bridges and tea pickers on our journey to Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka’s most popular hill resort. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country producing a significant share of the world’s best tea. Opt to sit outside, within the open viewing section of the carriage for uninterrupted views of the magnificent landscape.

This afternoon we take a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya on a beautiful drive through 'Little England'.
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya  |  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6
Udawalawe National Park

Nuwara Eliya - Udawalawe National Park. Today we head south to Embilipitiya, our base for exploring Udawalawe National Park. This national park is probably one of the best places to spot the famous Sri Lankan Elephant, the biggest of all the Asian Elephants. It is thought that there are around 400 elephants here. The park is also home to the elusive leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear and lots of types of deer. We take an afternoon game drive here before returning to the hotel for the night.
Overnight: Udawalawe N.P. and Embilipitiya  |  Breakfast

Day 7

Udawalawe National Park - Colombo. This morning with a visit to the Gem Mine and Museum at Ratnapura. Sri Lanka is famous for its gem industry and is home to 40 out of the 85 types of gems in the world.

Arriving to Colombo, we commence a city tour seeing the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We explore the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We'll see the stunning Gangarama Temple and take a stroll along Galle Face Green, a popular spot for kite flying and games of cricket.
Overnight: Colombo  |  Breakfast

Day 8

Saturday 29th August. Today offers free time for you to independently explore, before included departure transfer to the airport.

Kandy Festival Images courtesy of Sri Lanka Tourism

Buddha & Beach

Extend your stay at the beach! If you want to extend your holiday and enjoy some rest and relaxation on Sri Lanka's beautiful coast, take a look at our 12 day Buddha and Beach itinerary.

The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.

Accommodation on Tour

For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.

Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.

Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.

Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.

Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.

Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!

OZO Colombo Sri Lanka, Colombo
Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

OZO Colombo is a modern and stylish hotel, with sweeping Indian Ocean views from its rooftop infinity pool and many of its rooms. There's free WIFI access throughout the hotel and the guestrooms are bright and airy with all modern amenities. OZO is centrally located on Marine Drive, near Galle Road and just a 10 minute drive from the city centre.

Deer Park, Giritale
Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The Deer Park Hotel is a luxurious collection of cottages in a gorgeous setting. All rooms are traditionally furnished with comfortable beds and also offer air conditioning, mini bar and beautiful en-suite facilities. Some rooms even come with a splendid open air bathroom.

Hotel Topaz, Kandy
Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Hotel Topaz is a charming hotel with a stunning roof top view. The elegant rooms are spacious with private balconies and good facilities.

Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya
Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Once the residence of the former Governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes, the Grand Hotel is a colonial style property set amongst very picturesque grounds. Guest rooms are large, traditionally designed with very comfortable beds. Free Wi-fi is available in the lobby and restaurants and the underground bar serves up a superb array of cocktails. Be sure to try the traditional Sri Lankan hoppers as part of the breakfast buffet. Well located in the high elms of Nuwara Eliya just a short walk from town.

Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, Udawalawe N.P. and Embilipitiya
Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Situated on 7 acres of land, the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort is the only hotel of it's class in the area. Rooms are spacious with beautiful hard wood flooring and artwork depicting the wildlife of Udawalawe. Food here is delicious and plentiful with an extensive breakfast menu. The outdoor pool is a great place to relax by and enjoy a refreshing splash in after a good day on safari. Well located just a few minutes drive from Udawalawe National Park.

Trip Highlights

Kandy Festival - vibrant Buddhist celebration with a one hundred strong parade of ornately decorated elephants and traditional dancers
Polonnaruwa - the ancient capital city of Ceylon
Kayanwala village visit & cookery demonstration
Matale - spice gardens
Pinnawala - Elephant Orphanage
Scenic train ride through waterfalls and tea plantations from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and drive though Nuwara Eliya's 'Little England'.
Ratnapura - home to the nation gem mining industry
Colombo - The Fort area, Galle Face Green and Gamgarama Temple
Sigiriya - 5th century fortress ruins
Dambulla - Rock Temple
Kandy - city tour including Tuk Tuk ride, Temple of the Tooth and cultural performance
Giragama Tea Factory - a working tea factory with a long history
Udawalawe National Park - home to the nation's largest herd of Asian Elephants


7 breakfasts and 1 lunch
Touring of Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Pinnawala, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe, Gem Mine and Colombo
Scenic train trip Kandy - Nuwara Eliya, canoe and Tuk Tuk trips
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles.
Kandy Festival parade including entrance fee
5 nights 4 star and heritage properties, 2 nights 3 star Kandy
Jeep safari/ game drive in Udawalawe National park
Escorted by an English speaking national guide for group 6 or more (professional chauffeur guide for groups of 5 or less)
Airport arrival and departure transfers on day 1 and day 8

Not Included

Tip for your tour guide. We recommend you allow $3 - 6 USD per day per traveller. Tipping your guide is an entirely personal gesture
Entrance Fees: USD $140-$160
International flights and visas
Tipping Kitty: USD $50-$60

Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged provided there is another single traveller booked on the tour date of your choosing.

Single Supp.
USD $2299
USD $899

Supplementary Prices

Single Supp.
Private Tour Supplement
USD $700
Tour Details
22 Aug 2015
Hotel Rating
4 star & heritage hotels
Local Payment
Tour Guide
Yes - escorted by a tour guide
Breakfast: 7, Lunch: 1
Guaranteed Departures
This tour is 100% guaranteed to depart with 2 travellers.
Guaranteed Departures
This tour is 100% guaranteed to depart with 2 travellers.