Our comprehensive bike tour of Sri Lanka's highlights
Discover the rich history and culture, delicious cuisine, welcoming people and amazing cycling that this small but diverse country offers. This trip runs Negombo to Galle.
As you look at a map of South Asia, you will see a teardrop just off the southern coast of India. This teardrop is not only the place where the Buddhist teachings were first written, but also has the longest continuous majority Buddhist population in the world.
Its position in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Strait means that it has long been an intersection for cultures and a trading hub. It was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. The port city of Galle was frequented by Chinese traders before the fifteenth century and since then by Portuguese, Dutch and the British through periods of occupation.
Once known as Serendib, then Ceylon, and now Sri Lanka, this amazingly diverse country is ideal for cycling with a beautiful coastline and spectacular highland scenery. It welcomes you with great food, excellent accommodation and very friendly, engaging people.
Peak Season Surcharges
Please note that for tours commencing from Aug 1 to Aug 31 there is a peak season surcharge of 7% on the tour price, and for tours commencing from Dec 20 to Jan 10 a surcharge of 10% due to hotel rate increases at this time of year.
14 days duration
607 km distance
Difficulty: Somewhat challenging
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Quality, well-maintained Merida mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with full hydraulic brakes, hybrid tyres for touring. Removable handlebar bags for your personal possessions and comfortable saddles are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
Sri Lanka offers a great variety in choice for accommodation, and we make full use of this. From a grand old colonial property in Nuwara Eliya, to a cosy family run guesthouse in Ella, and a modern boutique hotel in Kandy we have all options covered. Nights in National Parks are generally rustic, but highly memorable and the remaining nights are spend in comfortable resorts or eco-lodges.
An experienced English speaking, local leader will host you on this trip who is well spoken, very well informed, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local leaders who have a passion for their country and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of their country. Your leader will be supported by an assistant guide/mechanic who is tasked with keeping the bikes in tip top shape and often will lead the riding while the leader will ride among the group.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available for tired riders and to carry your luggage.
Sri Lankan food is centered around curries and has an emphasis on vegetables. This is not to say that there is not variety though. Given Sri Lanka's International integration over the centuries, there is a good variety of food available. While lunches tend to be quite similar due to the remote areas traversed, the evening meals often provide for a great deal of choice. As we near the coast, some amazing fresh seafood and fish becomes available and some of the properties in which we stay, pride themselves in their meal offerings. We are experienced in catering for all dietary requirements and invite you to discuss this with us in advance if you are concerned in any way. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars, local snacks and fresh fruit are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water and electrolyte drinks are always available to keep you well hydrated.
Take It Home
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
2 to 10
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 10 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
for Cycle Serendib
Arrival Day in Negombo
Participants will be arriving throughout the day. You will be met on arrival at the Colombo International Airport as required and transferred to the hotel. In the late afternoon meet for a briefing and our first dinner together. Our hotel is located in a peaceful spot, only a short drive from the airport.
Transfer & Cycle to Sigiriya
A relaxing start to the day allows time to enjoy the generous breakfast spread. In the mid morning we transfer by vehicle to the northeast. The traffic thins out as we go and we find ourselves in the dry zone where subsistence farmers tend to their rice crops, aided by irrigation tanks constructed mainly during ancient times. We take to the bikes at a small town and enjoy a ride on deserted backroads, some paved, some unpaved. We arrive into a nicely appointed resort just outside Sigiriya Village and then take a short drive in the car to reach Sigiriya Rock. As the sun gets low in the sky, we climb this impressive rock fortress and learn about some of its history from our guide. The views atop the rock are stunning and then it is time for the descent and a tasty meal back at the resort.
Cycle to Polonnaruwa
The first part of our ride takes us on quiet backroads through villages and past the reservoir at the foot of Sigiriya Rock. Then we ride on a deserted trail along an irrigation canal where we can often see birds, including Kingfisher and Peacock. Sometimes a Mongoose can be seen running across the path. After a relatively short hill, we ride through the small town of Bakamuna and along another canal into the national park. The road coming through the park has a rough surface at times, but the shade provided by the forest is welcome. We emerge from the park on the levee of the huge reservoir that Polonnaruwa sits on and after riding its length, we arrive at our small-scale, boutique accommodation for the evening.
Explore Polonnaruwa & Cycle to Wasgamuwa
In the cool of the morning we explore the ruins of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. This was a city that was well planned and beautifully constructed in the 11th century and is now a World Heritage Site. Bikes are the perfect way to explore and by being out nice and early, we will almost have the place to ourselves. Back at the hotel, we have a short time to relax before taking a transfer in the vehicle of less than an hour. After lunch, we hit the bikes again and ride a well made, quiet main road with some rolling hills. Our destination is the outskirts of Wasgamuwa National Park where we stay in a small guesthouse. A simple, but adequate and clean property.
Cycle to Knuckles Reserve
A challenging day awaits as we make the journey out of the flatlands, into the hills, and up to 1200m above sea level. We get into the climbing in the second ride section after morning tea, although there is a short, sharp climb to test us out almost straight out the door of the resort. As the heart rate quickens and the lungs are put well and truly to work, we find ourselves in the picturesque Knuckles Nature Reserve. A winding road with many a switchback takes us high into the mountains where the views get more amazing at every turn. The road sees very little traffic and we are left to the sound of the birds and our own breath. As we near the top the air is noticeably cooler and after taking in some breathtaking views, we descend slightly before making one last effort on a tea trail of ups and downs to reach the villa that will be our home for the night. Actually, this property was formerly a tea estate bungalow and has retained its charm along with the acquisition of some creature comforts.Meals: BLD
Cycle to Kandy
A thrilling descent awaits us this morning as we roll through tea hills and small villages into the valley. A short ride on the flat and then it is into the climbing again, although a much gentler gradient than yesterday. After gaining some elevation again, we ride ups and downs along the side of the valley before eventually coming out just east of Kandy. The roads get slightly busier with moto rickshaws and the like before we cross the river and tackle one last hill to arrive into our hotel, set by the main lake in Kandy. This is an atmospheric town that is worth a good walk and features some decent places to reward yourself with cake, coffee and maybe a cocktail or two.
Rest Day in Kandy
We have a day to enjoy this charming city. If you are an early riser, the Temple of the Tooth holds something special for you, as the majority of visitors go in the evening. The hills surrounding Kandy offer some lovely views and there are a number of activities in which to partake. Our hotel is located centrally with views of the lake. Meals: B
Cycle to Gampola, then train to Nuwara Eliya
This is a challenging day as we get into the hills again. We take back roads and find ourselves climbing soon after leaving Kandy. As we go, the population thins out and the tea creeps in. We do enjoy some descending today and a wide variety of road surfaces, but always with minimal traffic. We finish our ride down at the Gampola railway station where we board the train to the higher elevations. The train ride really is stunning and the carriage is quite comfortable. We alight at Nan Oya and then travel by car the short distance to Nuwara Eliya. You will need your warm clothes up here, but the hotel does have an open fire place and a great meal for dinner.
Nurwara Eliya - High Country Exploration
We have a lazy morning in Nuwara Eliya this morning. It is a much cooler climate up here and we can expect some mist and frost in the morning. A game of golf may tempt some, but others are likely to be content just exploring the town with its abundance of British colonial-era buildings. After lunch we set off on the ride which will take us first around the lake and then down a fast, well made road before we make a turn and get into what is now the familiar pattern of winding roads on a comfortable gradient. Once we meet the railway line, we follow that, passing through the high country train stations that are mere whistle stop locations, but are very important to those who live up here. Dairy cows can be seen grazing as we pass through Ambewella and we then turn around and come back to Nuwara Eliya on a different route, stopping at a fully operational tea factory on the way. That same open fire and hot soup await in the charming, colonial era hotel.
Walk to Worlds End, Cycle to Ella
A very early start is needed today for the transfer by vehicle up to Horton Plains. We then walk through the National Park to World's End Lookout where we take in the stunning views over the valley. Along the way you may be lucky enough to see deer and monkeys. After the walk we hit the bikes and take a thrilling downhill ride through a fertile valley where farmers will be hard at work, and then pass through the bustling town of Bandarawela before settling in Ella, a small town that caters well to the weary traveller.
Cycle to Kataragama
A few more climbs start us off today through stunning tea country and small villages. We see some amazing views this morning over the interesting shapes of the various peaks. After morning tea we get into our huge descent back to the flat lands. Only those adverse to downhill riding will be without an ear to ear grin as the kilometres tick over a lot quicker than they have for the previous week. We call it a day at lunch and then transfer into the next destination which takes only 45 minutes. Kataragama is an important pilgrimage location for Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim peoples and has a long history dating back to the last century BC. Once you have had a chance to check in and change clothes, a Jeep will be waiting to take us into the Yala National Park through the northern entrance near our hotel. We can then take out time in this quieter end of the park, waiting by a reservoir or two in the hope of seeing a Leopard and almost certainly some Elephants.
Cycle & Transfer to Sinharaja Rainforest
An early start is essential as we are back on the flat lands where the day heats up quickly. We ride on a wide, paved, yet almost disused road that leads past the recently finished and also disused airport. The flat, wide open spaces are quite different to what we have experienced. After morning tea, we will be on rougher dirt roads for a little while and then onto some pleasant, paved roads along canals and through villages. We board the van after lunch for a 2 hour transfer up to the Sinharaja Rainforest where we are in a charming lodge for the evening. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Galle
Our final ride is one to remember as we pedal all the way from our rainforest lodge to the coast and the old port city of Galle, where the fort sits staunchly defending a city mostly composed of nicely restored houses and quaint cafes now. We take a walking tour to explore the fort in the late afternoon, then enjoy one last dinner together.
Tour Concludes in Galle
Today the tour concludes. For those who are not in a hurry to leave, Galle is a great place to spend another day or two. Explore the alleyways of the fort, sit and read in one of the many nice cafes or just enjoy the pool. For those departing today, road or rail transport to Colombo and beyond is readily available. If your schedule suits an early morning departure, it is also possible to travel to Colombo with our support vehicle.
What's the Riding Like?
Very hilly terrain
11 days riding
The terrain is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads on secondary roads and quiet country lanes. There are sustained climbs at times and some thrilling descents. There is always a support vehicle on hand to give you a lift if you need a break from the riding.
Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, with generally good weather. Two monsoons affect different parts of the country, so one region can be dry while another is experiencing tropical rain showers. The hill country is noticeably cooler than the northern plains and coast and can be downright chilly at night! March to mid-April is the driest time nationwide, with the first annual monsoon bringing rain to the southwest lowlands and central hills from late May to September, and a weaker second monsoon affecting the northeast of the island from November to February.
What our guests tell us...
Just a selection of our great reviews!
I have caught the Grasshopper bug! This was my second tour with you guys and I will keep coming back for more. Riding Sri Lanka on two wheels was absolutely magical! There is truly no other better way to see this country. Massive thanks goes out to Adam and his support crew for another unforgettable trip.
Koki was a legend. He was professional and really conscientious. He was lots of fun and made the tour feel well-organised but relaxed. His English is perfect and he is really easy to communicate with.
Far exceeded our expectations.
Other Multi-day Tours in Sri Lanka
We have an exciting range of multi-day cycling tours in Sri Lanka. Bike through the scenic tea plantations of the Hill Country, absorb the history of ancient Sri Lanka on the dry plains of the Cultural Triangle, or relax in gorgeous Galle and the beaches of the south. History, culture, amazing landscapes, friendly faces and one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world - Sri Lanka has all this and more.
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