8 Days | 7 Nights
Discover the heart and soul of Sri Lanka on a self-guided cycling adventure. Explore the islands’ rich history, vibrant culture and hints of a colonial past. Enjoy delicious cuisine, warm locals, and the glow of the tropical sun, as well as a luscious green landscape and diverse array of wildlife. This incredible self-guided cycle tour runs from Kandy to Galle.
Once known as Serendib, 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.
A small island with a big heart, Sri Lanka is known for its tea plantations and it is these very plantations you'll be riding through on your adventure, also taking in the cloud city of Kandy with its sacred Buddha tooth relic and pleasant climate. You ride by Horton Plains Reserve up in the high plateau and cycle through the stunning Udawalawe & Sinharaja National Parks, where spotting wildlife is almost guaranteed. Finishing your tour on the southern coast with its crashing surf, relaxed vibe and fascinating fort.
435 KM riding. The terrain is a mix of paved and unpaved roads on secondary roads and quiet country lanes. There are a few sustained climbs (although not too steep) at times and some thrilling descents.
Deposit payment: $625 USD
Single room option: $950 USD
Solo rider option: $1350 USD
Visit at a tea factory along your journey to learn about the process of tea making and sample a cup.
Cycle into Udawalawe National Park where you can take a jeep ride to glimpse the extensive elephant population.
Make your way to the Sinharaja Rainforest where you’ll stay in an eco-lodge surrounded by rainforest activity.
Pedal to the imposing Galle fort on the coast before exploring the city.
Day to Day
Whether you stayed the night in Colombo or Negombo (Negombo is closer to the airport) on arrival, you will need to make your way to Colombo Station (a taxi is recommended). Then you will take a morning train from the national capital Colombo to the central city of Kandy.
You will meet our representative in your hotel in Kandy, who will fit your bike and brief you on the adventure ahead. You have a day to enjoy this charming city. The Temple of the Tooth is a special experience and the holiest site in Sri Lanka. If you fancy a warm-up ride, the hills surrounding Kandy offer some lovely views and there are also a number of activities in which to partake.
Today you begin by cycling back roads where the gradient will gradually begin climbing soon after leaving Kandy. As you cycle, the population thins out and the tea creeps in. You do enjoy some descending today and a wide variety of road surfaces, but always with minimal traffic. The ride finishes down at the Gampola railway station where you board the train to higher elevations. The train ride really is stunning and the carriage is quite comfortable. Alighting at Nan Oya, you then have a short cycle on a gradual gradient to cover the transition from the station to your hotel door in Nuwara Eliya. You will need your warm clothes up here as the temperatures drop at night, but the colonial-era hotel does have an open fireplace and a great meal for dinner.
You have a lazy morning in Nuwara Eliya today. It is a much cooler climate up here and you 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 quaint town with its abundance of British colonial-era buildings.
After lunch, you set off on the ride which will take you first around the lake and then down a fast, well-made road before making a turn to get into what is now the familiar pattern of winding roads on a comfortable gradient. Once meeting the railway line, you'll follow that, pedaling through high country train stations. Dairy cows can be seen grazing as you glide through Ambewella and then turn around and come back to Nuwara Eliya on a different route, stopping at a fully operational tea factory on the way for a cultural experience if you wish. Then same open fire and hot soup await in the charming, colonial-era hotel.
Today is a longer day on the bike as you cycle south, making your way out of the high tea country and into primary forest. Fortunately, the majority of the day’s riding is trending downhill on a variety of roads, taking you all the way to Ella - rich with biodiversity and home to one of the most picturesque train bridges in the country.
Today begins by a picturesque train ride from Ella to the small station of Heputale. From there you will follow a gently undulating road for the first 25km, before you enjoy a great 10km descent, which eventually flattens out for the remainder of the ride as you cycle deeper into Udawalawe National Park.
Flat roads are then the theme for today, with only a few short hills. The roads are still quiet, the villages are a little sleepier and the route will spend some time riding along shaded canals as well as more open stretches. You might like to visit the reserve in Udawalawe, a park known for its large Elephant population. You can also do it the next day in the morning or use that time to do a quick trip to the Elephant Transit Home to see baby elephants, but also learn about modern threats to Sri Lanka's elephant population.
Plan this day with an early start in mind as you are back on the flatlands where the day heats up quickly. You'll ride on a wide, paved, yet almost abandoned road that leads past the recently finished and also abandoned airport. The flat, wide open spaces are quite different from what we have experienced. After morning tea, you'll be on rougher dirt roads for a little while and then onto some pleasant, paved roads along canals and through villages.
Board the van after lunch for a 2-hour transfer up to the Sinharaja Rainforest where you are in a charming lodge for the evening. The vegetation here is quite different from that which you experienced near Nuwara Eliya and in the drier areas. The southwest is a much more moist climate in general, hence the existence of Sinharaja Rainforest. You should have plenty of time to take a walk in the forest with a guide to see some of the birdlife and the lovely greenery. The resort itself is an interesting place, constructed from shipping containers.
The final ride is one to remember as you pedal all the way from your 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.
15km of descending starts you off and then as things flatten out a bit you meet one of the best made roads of the tour. From that point on, you still have some elevation to lose, but you lose it over an extended distance, so it feels like you are flying on the bike. Rolling into the lovely Galle Fort in the late afternoon, enjoying a cool drink as you sit in a 300-year-old fort and look out over the ocean, your riding is now completed. Explore the fort in the evening, before enjoying one last dinner from the many options available.
This morning you will be met again by our representative to collect your bikes and equipment before you check out of the hotel. We can assist you in arranging onward travel, whether it be staying a few more nights soaking up the atmosphere in the fort or soaking up the sun at a nearby location along the coast, a further adventure to the cultural north or just getting back to the airport.
WHAT MAKES US STAND OUT
The beauty of a self-guided tour is that, though the exploration is on your own, we’ve taken care of all the details for you. This means that the route is planned out and programmed into a GPS system and app and your luggage will be waiting for you at one of our chosen accommodations. This bike exploration of Sri Lanka combines all the fun of an independent adventure with our expertise and knowledge of the area, the must-see sights and the best places to eat in order to make your experience more directed and enjoyable.