If excursions are booked seperatly without transportation and/or hotels, this offer is not covered by the STO Garant guarantee. You can find the conditions for this guarantee scheme on STO Garant’s website (www.sto-garant.nl/de/downloads).
Perendeniya Botanical Gardens
These stunning gardens were once reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty. Today, even commoners are allowed in to enjoy the most impressive and largest (60 hectares) botanic gardens in Sri Lanka.
Highlights include a fine collection of orchids, a stately avenue of royal palms, the extraordinary, aptly named cannonball fruit tree and 40m-high Burma bamboo. Another big hit is the giant Javan fig tree on the great lawn, with its colossal central trunk and umbrella-like canopy of branches. Peradeniya is 6km from central Kandy.
Kandyan Dancers & Drummers
With elaborate costumes, gyrating dance moves and show-stopping, fire-breathing stunts, a Kandyan dance performance is one of the defining experiences of a stay in Kandy. Calling it a traditional Kandyan dance performance is something of a misnomer as the shows are very much aimed at audience entertainment and contain dance routines and costumes from across the country, including the famous ‘devil’ dances of the west coast (which are very hard to see in their home region).
Some days Kandy’s skies seem perpetually bruised, with stubborn mist clinging to the hills surrounding the city’s beautiful centrepiece lake. Delicate hill-country breezes impel the mist to gently part, revealing colourful houses amid Kandy’s improbable forested halo. Here’s a city that looks good even when it’s raining.
And when the drizzle subsides, cobalt-blue skies reveal a city of imposing colonial-era and Kandyan architecture, none more impressive than the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of Buddhism’s most sacred shrines.
History and culture are on tap. Yes, the city is renowned for the great Kandy Esala Perahera festival (held annually in July/August), but its vibrant cultural life and attractions more than justify a visit at any time of year.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Initially created to protect abandoned or orphaned elephants, this is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular attractions. It’s a highly commercialised experience, with hefty entrance fees for foreigners (25 times the local price) and mahouts demanding extortionate tips for photos. Sure, you get up close to elephants and see them bathing, but the orphanage’s conservation value is questionable and organisations including Born Free (www.bornfree.org.uk) have published negative critiques of the centre. Overall, national parks are the best places to see Sri Lankan elephants.