Elephant Pilgrimage for Families

Colombo – Kotugoda – Cultural Triangle – Kotmale – Uda Walawe National Park – Yala National Park – Weligama – Colombo  

The Asian elephant provides the central focus to this two-week family holiday but there’s plenty more to see and do including exploring the Cultural Triangle and time spent along the sunny south coast.

Elephant Pilgrimage for Families

Colombo – Kotugoda – Cultural Triangle – Kotmale – Uda Walawe National Park – Yala National Park – Weligama – Colombo


The two-week Elephant Pilgrimage holiday has been designed for nature-loving families. The Asian elephant has played a central part of Sri Lanka’s culture and ecology for thousands of years – 10% of the world’s elephant population is concentrated on this small island! This fascinating animal provides the central focus to this holiday but there’s plenty more to see and do including exploring the Cultural Triangle and time spent along the sunny south coast.

This two-week family holiday can be fully customised to suit your family’s requirements and may include:

  • Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and watch these playful creatures as they bathe and splash in the river.
  • Explore the mythical ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya (Lion’s Rock), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Sri Lanka’s most spectacular sites. Climb to the top for awe-inspiring views and ancient frescoes.
  • Pedal around the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, once Sri Lanka’s capital and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Learn how to make paper from elephant poo at the Eliphus Maximus project and then buy some for friends back home.
  • Wander the village of Kotmale and go hiking, biking or bird watching.
  • Go on an elephant ride (recommended age 5 and above) through the dryland jungle and then take an early morning elephant safari at Minneriya National Park where herds of up to 150 elephants gather.
  • Spend an afternoon in Kandy and visit the Temple of the Tooth home to a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha.
  • Camp under the stars in Uda Walawe National Park. This park is home to 500 wild elephants as well as deer, buffalo, crocodiles and a huge variety of birds. You can also visit the orphaned baby elephants being cared for at the Elephant Transit Camp before they are released into the wild.
  • Stay in a century-old tea planter’s bungalow and learn how Sri Lanka’s most famous crop goes from tea plantation to teapot.
  • Look out for leopards on a safari in Yala National Park as well macaque and langur monkeys, sambur, spooted deer, jackal, wild boar, buffaloes, sloth bears and crocodiles.
  • Enjoy two nights in an eco-friendly game lodge and go in search of leopards and elephants.
  • Wander the charming, narrow-lined streets of Galle’s Dutch Fort and enjoy the colonial architecture, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
  • Go sailing, sea kayaking or snorkelling in pristine coastal waters or jump aboard a boat in search of dolphins and whales; the waters off southern Sri Lanka is thought to be one of the best locations in the world to spot Blue whales, Sperm whales and spinner dolphins.


This holiday has been created for kids of all ages. There is no minimum age for children to go whale watching from the southern coast. Families should be aware, however, that trips last between 3 – 5 hours and that boats may stay out until a whale is spotted so trips may last longer. The minimum age recommended for elephant rides is 5 years. Please note that there are some long drives included in this holiday which may not appeal to little kids – or their parents!


This holiday traditionally starts and ends in Colombo, the capital Sri Lanka. This itinerary can be shortened or lengthened according to your family’s requirements. See sample itinerary below:

Day 1: Colombo – Kotugoda

Car: 15 mins.

Overnight: Overnight stay at hotel in Kotugoda

Day 2-4: Kotugoda – Cultural Triangle

Car: approx. 4 – 6 hrs. (with stops).

Overnight: Three-night stay at lakeside lodge in Habarana

Day 5-6: Habarana – Kotmale, nr. Kandy

Car: 3.5 – 4 hrs.

Overnight: Two-night stay at manor house in Kotmale

Day 7-8: Kotmale – Uda Walawe National Park

Car: 5 – 5.5 hrs.

Overnight: Two-night stay at a mobile tented safari camp in Uda Walawe Park.

Day 9-10: Uda Walawe – Yala National Park

Car: 1.5 – 2 hrs.

Overnight: Two-night stay at eco-friendly game lodge

Day 11-13: Yala National Park – Weligama

Car: 3.5 hrs.

Overnight: Three-night stay at boutique hotel overlooking the bay

Day 14: Return to Colombo, end of holiday


The coast: The most popular time of year to visit Sri Lanka is from December to April. During these months the days are sunny and the sea serene.

From May onwards the humidity rises and the rain begins to fall in stormy bursts until June.

A second monsoon passes through from October to November, although the rainfall is unpredictable and showers never last for long. Visit at this time of year and make the most of discounted hotel rates.

The best months for whale watching are December to April.  

Kandy & Hill Country: Kandy’s location means that its climate is wetter and cooler than much of the rest of the country. The dry season runs from December to April and the monsoon rains fall from May through to July.

The average temperature is 20C although January can be cooler. Nuwara Eliya sees an average temperature of 16C and can drop to as low as 3C, particularly during the winter months.

Sri Lanka’s high season runs from December to March; book well in advance if you plan to visit over the Christmas period.

Adam’s Peak can only be climbed between December and April. The 10-day Kandy Esala Perahera festival is held in July/August.


What to take for the family: Throughout Sri Lanka light cotton clothing works best but do bring something warm for the mornings and evenings when staying in and around Kandy as it can get chilly in December and January. It’s also worth bringing a lightweight waterproof jacket. For families travelling with infants you’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of shops selling baby essentials. However, it’s worth packing enough with you to get started as well as snacks for hungry kids on car journeys. Sunscreen and a hat with a peak or wide brim are essential as are a sturdy pair of shoes if you plan to do any walking in the countryside surrounding Kandy.


Little kids will enjoy Tea Leaves by Frederick Lipp. The short story tells the tale of a young girl Shanti who lives in Sri Lanka and travels from the tea gardens to the sea. The Quail’s Egg: A Folk-tale from Sri Lankaby Joanna Troughton is a sweet story about a mother quail’s efforts to get her egg back after it rolls into the crevice of a rock.

Waldo by Nathaly Hewawasam, is a good one for big kids and tells the adventure of a Doberman who escapes the dog pound where he has been living for as long as he can remember. Fourteen-year-old Nathaly is originally from Sri Lanka and wrote the book to help raise funds following the devastating tsunami in 2004. A portion of each book sale goes towards reconstructing homes in Sri Lanka.

For parents there are plenty of options. Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje tells the story of his return to Sri Lanka in the 1970s after growing up here in the 1940s and 50s.  It’s a wonderful look at the island and its people. Leonard Wolf’s time as a colonial administrator in Sri Lanka provides the backdrop for his novel The Village in the Jungle. First published in 1913 it’s a rather dark story of the harsh lives of Ceylonese villagers. The award-winning Sam’s Story by Sri Lankan writer Captain Elmo Jayawardena tells the story of Sam, an illiterate village boy working in Colombo. More light-hearted is A Year in Green Tea and Tuk-Tuks: My unlikely adventure creating an eco farm in Sri Lanka by Rory Spowers, a BBC journalist who moves his family to Sri Lanka in order to transform a tea estate into an organic farm.





This Holiday is approximately US$ 6,719 for two adults and one child below 12 years for all accommodation and travel. The accommodation quoted in this itinerary is high-end and the itinerary can be adapted to suit your family’s requirements.

Our partner agent will be happy to propose an itinerary based on the above sample and to give you an exact quote based on your requirements.

This holiday is organised by our Sri Lanka-based partner agent who has extensive experience organising bespoke tours in Sri Lanka and is also well versed in family travel.

Complete Operator information, including local telephone numbers at your destination, will be given to you upon completing an enquiry.

Make an enquiry for the Elephant Pilgrimage Sri Lanka

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Your enquiry will be sent directly to our partner agent responsible for this holiday. Remember, you never pay more making an enquiry through globetotting than by booking directly with any of our partner agents.

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