Explore Dambulla Rock Temple and ancient Polonnaruwa and visit iconic Sigiriya Rock. Sip on refreshing Ceylon tea and take a jeep ride into Udawalawe National Park before heading to the idylic beaches of Bentota for some sun, sea, rest and relaxation.
Saturday. Welcome to Sri Lanka! Airport arrival transfer and remainder of the day at leisure. Our hotel located on the seafront is a short walk from Galle Road and many of the city highlights. Choose to head out and explore, take a dip in the pool or enjoy a cocktail whilst you watch the perfect sunset over the Laccodive Sea.
Colombo - Dambulla - Polonnaruwa - Dambulla. Bidding farewell to Colombo this morning we drive inland to Dambulla, stopping en route at a fruit and vegetable market in Naramwela Town. Dambulla Rock Temple is an incredible ancient complex of caves which date back to the 1st Century BC. The five caves contain over 150 images of Buddha including an impressive 14 metre carved statue.
After exploring this ancient site we continue 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. This evening return to Dambulla for an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Dambulla | Breakfast
Dambulla - Sigiriya - Kandy. This morning we explore 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.
From Sigiriya we take a bullock cart ride and short canoe trip to the village of Kayanwala. Here, at Kayanwala village we take part in a cookery demonstration in the mud brick home of a local woman and enjoy a freshly prepared lunch of curry, dahl, spiced rice, pickle and more. En route to Kandy we stop off a spice garden in Matale, to see the different herbs and spices, which Sri Lanka is famous for. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed.
Overnight: Kandy | Breakfast, Lunch
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of Kandy - the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. Our first stop will be the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Legend has it that one of Buddha's teeth was taken from him as he lay on his funeral pyre. It was then smuggled into Sri Lanka in 313AD. It now attracts daily pilgrims who come bearing lotus flowers and frangipani. After driving around the Kandy Lake - built by the last Sinhala king, visiting the local bazaar and a gem museum we take Tuk Tuk ride up into the surrounding hills. This afternoon we stop at the Geragama Tea Factory manufacturing 'Low Grown' and 'Long Leaf' tea. This evening, we watch a cultural performance of traditional Sri Lankan music and dance.
Overnight: Kandy | Breakfast
Kandy - Nuwara Eliya. This morning offers free time before transferring 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 up 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.
Upon arrival we embark on a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya - an area known locally as 'Little England'.
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya | Breakfast
Nuwara Eliya - Udawalawe National Park. Today we head south to Embilipitiya, our base for exploring Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe is probably one of the best places to spot the famous Sri Lankan Elephant, the biggest of all the Asian Elephants in the wild. It is thought that there are around 400 elephants here. The park is also home to the elusive leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, the cheeky Langur monkey and lots of types of deer. We take an afternoon game drive here before returning to the hotel for the night.
Overnight: Udawalawe National Park | Breakfast
Udawalawe National Park - Colombo. We travel back to 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 that exist 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 somewhat unusual Gangarama Temple and take a stroll along Galle Face Green, a popular spot for kite flying and games of cricket.
Overnight: Colombo | Breakfast
The beautiful palm fringed beaches of Bentota are without a doubt its biggest draw card, and once you set eyes on them you’ll understand why. Nestled on the Indian Ocean coast with warm crystal clear waters, Bentota offers travellers a whole host of watersports from snorkelling and scuba diving, to waterskiing and surfing – the choice if yours. Indulge in a glass of Toddy – a local coconut flavoured tipple, head to the spa and opt for an Ayurveda treatment the area is famous for, or simply while away the days on the beach cocktail in hand.
Overnight: Bentota and Beruwala | Breakfast x 3
Wednesday. Bentota - Colombo. Today our tropical island adventure comes to an end. Departure transfer to Colombo airport for your onward international flight.
The Kandy Festival tour - 10 Aug 2019
Our Buddha & Beach - Saturday 10 Aug 2019 tour will be in Kandy for its most famous festival - Esala Perahera, also known as The Festival of the Sacred Tooth or the Kandy Festival. We will attend the colourful Kandy Festival pageant on the evening of day 3 and are likely to see more festivities as we enjoy our Kandy city tour the following day. The entrance fee for this pageant is included in the cost of this tour.
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, which once housed 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 of day 3 joining in the revelry of this exhilarating Buddhist festival!
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Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. 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.Read More
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.
OZO Colombo, Colombo
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. To top it off, there's also a fantastic fitness center and a restaurant serving delicious, authentic Sri Lankan cusine. OZO is centrally located on Marine Drive, near Galle Road and just a 10 minute drive from the city centre.
Jetwing Lake, Dambulla
The Jetwing Lake hotel is a brand new property with spacious and comfortable rooms that enjoy a contemporary design blended with splashes of Eastern influenced decor. The ensuite facilities are magnificent and in keeping with the luxurious feel of the property as a whole. Each room also comes with a balcony, from which guests can get some fresh air and enjoy the spectacular views. Within the complex there is a pool, spa and fitness centre, where guests can while away their free time. There is also a restaurant, which serves sumptuous meals.
OZO Kandy Hotel, Kandy
The stylish OZO Kandy prides itself on its smart facilities and stunning mountain surrounds. Its highlight being the rooftop pool and BOMMU Bar where you can soak up panoramic views over Kandy whilst enjoying a cocktail or two. The hotel’s all-day dining restaurant serves a tasty array of Asian and international cuisine using only fresh and handpicked produce. Other amenities include a fitness centre and complimentary WiFi, with guestrooms boasting signature soft beds and rain showers.
Jetwing St Andrew's, Nuwara Eliya
Jetwing St. Andrew's is a unique colonial retreat set in a former country house and surrounded by landscaped gardens. All the spacious rooms are classically furnished with elegant wood and offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs. The grounds of the hotel give a great feel of colonial splendour and guests can wake up to a typical English breakfast and enjoy a stiff brandy at the bar later in the day. Fine dining is offered at the Old Course Restaurant and the hotel also boasts an antique snooker table, which is the oldest in Sri Lanka.
Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, Udawalawe National Park
Situated on 7 acres of land, the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort is the only hotel of its 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.
Eden Resort & Spa - Beruwala, Bentota and Beruwala
The Eden Resort and Spa is a relaxing hotel that combines elegance and charm. The selection of rooms are spacious and well equipped with lovely timber flooring and air conditioning. The hotel itself also offers a plethora of restaurants plus an onsite spa.
Our tour was full on. Our guide was honest and warned us at the beginning that we would be "on the Go" for the most of the tour. It was amazing. He was amazing. We covered an incredible amount of wonderful, historic, cultural sites. Aktar was informative as well as interesting and amusing in all aspects of our trip. We knew it was a tour of Buddas but we did end up with one too many! Our choice of trip though. It was a good mixture, having the historic input then the beach to unwind. Everyone we came in contact with was friendly and helpful.”
We had an absolutely fantastic holiday; a real trip of a lifetime (until the next one, of course). We packed so much into the 12 days, seeing all the many sights and sides of Sri Lanka - we felt as though we really got under the skin of the nation. Whilst there were one or two activities that weren't really for us (the elephant orphanage and the gem shop visit was a bit weird), overall we did just about everything we wanted to see and do. We're a bit depressed to be home, to be honest!
Akhtar was a very affable and knowledgeable guide - nothing was too much trouble for him and we enjoyed spending time with him socially beyond just the daily itinerary. It really struck us how knowledgeable he was to the wider world beyond Sri Lanka, despite not being fortunately enough to be able to travel frequently himself. It'd be cool to see On The Go Tours send him off to explore another part of the world - we're sure he'd come back with a few good stories!
Loved the country, loved the tour and loved the people (natives, guide and fellow tour group members).
Tom & Sarah
NOTE FROM ON THE GO: As part of our Responsible Travel and Animal Welfare Policy as of 01 October 2016 we will no longer be including the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage or any other elephant related activity, (aside from viewing in their natural habitat) within our tours.”
This is my 6th On the Go tour and i was not dissapointed with the itinerary or the guide (including support staff - especially our driver). As stated we were continually on the go and the guide very informative throughout. Traffic was a nightmare - but that was part of the culture / country we were in and part of the experience - it did detract though from having some valuable downtime which was a shame. The historical sites and knowlege of our guide made this tour and my walk up lion rock - whilst nearlly killing me was worth every effort. Feedback on the tour itinerary for me would be to drop the visits to the tea plantation, gem shop and spice garden. All these places were commercial in nature and I felt thise interested in such could obtain the same items whilst having free time in some of the beautiful towns we visited - particularly Kandy. I also think if Galle could be included on this itinerary it would round off a great cultural tour (we did a day trip to Galle during our stay in Bentota). Once again a credit to On the Go and I look forward to planning my 7th trip. - thanks Danny”
Overall it was an amazing experience, Aktar was an incredible and reliable guide and was very knowledgeable. A little more free time to walk and look around would have been good but overall we had a trip of a lifetime and have many lifelong memories.”
What a lovely guy Farzan is, nothing was too much trouble for him and he was often replenishing our stock of water bottles without us even asking. He was extremely knowledgeable and and amusing and it was as if we had known him for years. He certainly made our experience of Sri Lanka a very enjoyable one. He also took lots of photos and was happy to share these both on your site and with us personally, often capturing unguarded moments, some flattering (some not so flattering!) His wildlife shots from the vehicle safari in the national park were stunning and it's lovely to see his love of conservation, very much reflected by many of the Sri Lankan people we met. I'd happily recommend your company and Farzan personally to anybody wanting to visit Sri Lanka. ”
Very nice and interesting tour to get a first Impression of the country, especially the mountains and the national park were very nice. Personally would leave the Elephant orphanage as basically nothing but a zoo and its more interesting to see the elephants in the wild...
Very nice was also the extra lunch at local village with boot ride rather than in the ´tourist restaurants who sometimes served less good food but at higher cost. Tour guide was very nice, knowledgable and helpful.
Would be nice to have more time for exploring local markets and villages. Hotels were brilliant with great buffees. Great to get free water on the bus at any time. For shopping i would prefer little local shops rather than big tourist jewelery Shops that basically all sell the same overly priced.
Beach Hotel was very nice with expecially good buffees, very nice guesture was a Special birthday cake and decoration of the room, very much appreciated by the Hotel staff.”
Kalum was a fantastic guide. He was helpful, professional, friendly and knowledgable. He provided us with historical and contextual information everywhere we went which gave us a real flavour of Sri Lanka. He also made some great suggestions like the massage and elephant ride, as well as taking us to a place for lunch in traditional surroundings with great food. We would definitely return as our trip went far too quickly! Thank you!”
Extra Tour Info
The tour had a higher degree of comfort to our normal trips and we found we enjoyed the quality of the hotels and the comfort of the travel. We certainly were 'on the go' and found that the time given to each activity was just about right. The visit to the tea factory was mediocre but the canoe trip and lunch cooked by the Sri Lankan ladies was amazing. Manoj did an excellent job of organising everything to run smoothly and was a mine of information about his country. We certainly enjoyed the company of the group, we were quite varied but got on really well. For us, the group travel made the tour much more fun than a private driver. The beach aspect gave us a good opportunity to relax at the end of the busy tour.”