Stef Lanka Tours


All about travelling in Sri Lanka


Central Province

Quite central to the Cultural Triangle, Dambulla is a fairly large town most famous for the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple. Although the town itself has little to offer, a night or two here gives you easy access to many historical sites such as Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. It is only 72km from the hill capital Kandy. The wholesale market in Dambulla comes to life early morning with it being a key distribution center for vegetables and fruits.

Things to do in Dambulla

Visit the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple

This is an isolated rock mass 500 feet high and a mile around the base. This famous Rock Temple dates back to the First Century B.C. The caves of Dambulla sheltered King Walagamba during his 14 years of exile from Anuradhapura. When he regained the throne he built the most magnificent of Rock Temples to be found in the Island. In the first Cave is a recumbent image of the Buddha 47ft long cut out of the Rock. The frescoes on the walls and the ceiling are the oldest here but they are over painted in the Kandy period.

It is best to visit during morning or towards the afternoon to avoid the heat of the hot sun. This is not a hard climb and will take approx.. 1 ½ for the whole visit. You will need to cover your knees and shoulders and access the inner chambers barefoot or with socks.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Arguably the most fantastic wonder of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is a “UNESCO World Heritage Site” built in the 5th Century. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600-foot high rock. On its summit are the foundations of the Royal Palace, Water Tanks to supply water and all other buildings and at the edges the guardhouses. On one of the stairways the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting survived in the form of Frescoes of 21 life sized damsels still shining in their original colours.
The Water Gardens, Fountain Garden, Summerhouses, Boulder Gardens and the Caves within the enclosed area should not be missed.

Recommend to visit around sunrise or by late afternoon to beat the heat. Wear comfortable cotton clothes – ideally something that will let your body breathe. Wear good climbing shoes.

Pidurangala Rock

Pidurangala Rock is located in Sigiriya, apporx. 30 min away from neighboring town of Dambulla. It is adjacent to the Sigiriya Rock and offers an amazing view of the Sigiriya Rock, as it is at a slightly lower height. It has gaining popularity as a good sunrise spot for views of the famous rock as well as 360-degree views of the valleys surrounding the area. Pidurangala gives more of a natural rock climbing feel than Sigiriya and has an ancient Buddhist temple on site.
The climb is quite easy and will take you about 30-45 minutes at the most. It comprise of easy staircases as well as some steep inclines and some off-road pathways.

Remember to cover your legs and shoulders as you pass through the temple at the base of the rock prior to arrival at the ticketing counter.
Recommend to visit around sunrise to beat the heat and for best view.
Wear comfortable cotton clothes – ideally something that will let your body breathe. Wear good climbing shoes.

Ritigala Rock Monastery

The monastic ruins at Ritigala are steeped in ancient history and mythology. One of the more popular beliefs is that Lord Hanuman accidentally dropped a chunk of medicinal herbs that he was carrying back from the Himalayan Mountain to Sri Lanka, to help Lord Rama’s brother, Prince Lakshman, who was wounded during a battle. This story accounts for the pocket of vegetation of healing herbs and plants at the strange mini-plateau at the summit of Ritigala, distinct from the dry-zone flora of the lower slopes and surrounding plains.
In the 9th century it was endowed by King Sena I, to monks who found Ritigala caves ideal for a sparse existence. Although this is not a typically designed place of worship, with perhaps more of a frugal feel, the monastery is a beautiful place to visit steeped in history. Many enjoy the feeling of discovery here as you need to explore yourselves, rather than have buildings explained in detail by a guide.

Steady footwear advisable as a bit of rocky, uneven pathways are involved.

Minneriya National Park

This National Park with 8889 hectares in extent is famous for its large population of elephants in herds of 100 to 150 roaming in the jungle and seen in the catchment area of the lake.
Entrance is about 6 km from Habarana on the main Habarana Polonnaruwa road. Office is by the side of the main road.
About 300 wild elephants, wild buffaloes, wild boar, spotted deer, sloth bear, Sambhur, Leopards, Crocodiles, Jackals, 9 kinds of amphibians, 25 kinds of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 26 varieties of fishes, 78 varieties of butterflies are recorded from the Minneriya National Park.

Experiences & Activities

“THE GATHERING” - The largest gathering of Asian Elephants

The gathering is the largest annual migration of Asian elephants in the whole world. Mentioned as one of the 10 Greatest Wildlife Wonders of the World by Lonely Planet, the elephant gathering is a sight to behold in Sri Lanka. This unique phenomenon of nature can be witnessed in Minneriya National Park. Every year, August through September, up to 300 Asian elephants gather at the Minneriya Lake. This occurs during the dry season and the elephants come looking for food and water which they find at Minneriya Tank. Witness the natural phenomenon that opens up the mysteries of these big animals’ behavior.

Village Walk and Boat Ride

Explore the rural but beautiful village of Hiriwadunna, Sri Lanka. It’s a half a day trip from Dambulla, Habarana or Sigiriya. The journey to the village through the lush Sri Lankan countryside is very interesting. The tour starts with a Bullock cart ride through the gravel roads of the village. Then a short walk through the tiny village while enjoying the views. Experience a boat ride to the next side of the rural village with the cooling breeze.
A Sri Lankan lunch can be arranged during this experience.

Hot Air Ballooning

A great way to experience the delight of flight with a bird’s eye view of the area below, a journey through the sky, drifting gently over the cultural triangle, or closer to a wildlife park in a hot air balloon will be unforgettable. Hot air ballooning tours are available from the north central plains of the island and be carried away under blue skies and over the landscape dotted with many little man-made lakes, one might even spot an elephant near these tanks, ancient monuments, propose to your fiancée in a hot air balloon, celebrate your birthday in a hot air balloon, exchange vows and get married in the air in a hot air balloon!
Boarding around 6am and landing will be done approx.. 8am.
• Dress casually and comfortably for the weather, as it gets a little warmer while the sun is out.
• You are advised to allocate about 3 ½ hours for your balloon excursion.
• Kids below 7 years and pregnant ladies will not be allowed in the balloon.
• If a flight is cancelled due to bad weather necessary alternatives or a refund will be arranged.
• Your pick up locations will be from Habarana, Sigiriya, Dambulla or Kandalama and the times will depend on the pick up point. Usual times will be between 4.45 am to 5.30 am.