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8 Days | 7 Nights
BOOK THIS TOUR
Take a self-guided ride through the tea country of Sri Lanka. Cycle the stunning mountain landscapes surrounding Kandy, pedal your way past multiple national parks and wildlife reserves on the way to the coastline, finishing your 8-day independent bike tour in the coastal fort of Galle.
Merida Matts 40 D or Trek E-bike
1 to 14
3 and 4 Star Boutique Hotels, Eco-Lodge
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.
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.
Our dedicated Grasshopper Self-guided Adventures app combines navigating technology with visual and audio descriptions of points of interest along your routes and can be hosted on all Android and iOS devices. The app contains your detailed tour route, podcasts with background information on the regions you will pass through, plus an audio commentary describing points of interest along the way. It also provides dining suggestions along your routes as well in destination locations, with translated menu recommendations. Furthermore, it will provide a and voiced glossaries of common phrases and words, which you can use to find rapport with locals.
On request, we can provide iPads if you don’t wish to use your own mobile device.
We choose hotels not just based on star ratings, but for their character, comfort, charm and their ability to work with us to make your journey as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Self Guided gives us booking flexibility that we don’t usually have with large group tours, so this offer is expanded with some really unique venues. In prominent locations or cities, we generally use hotels in the 3-4 star range. In the minor towns, we use the best available accommodation. At the bare minimum, you can expect air conditioning, a private bathroom and a comfortable bed. This tour also includes a stay in a rainforest eco-lodge.
Exclusive to self-guided tours, our bikes come fitted with top of the range GPS navigation units. These biking computers have remarkable customization capabilities and can easily be ported with all major biking software, such as Strava, RidewithGPS or Kamoot, for all fans of cycling data. Never fear if you are not technically minded, as we've made them accessible to all riders. The device will be customized for you and we will upload the most accurate maps and routes. Furthermore, you will be well briefed on putting it to good use. You can download a free companion app and play around with its setup, download results of a day’s ride, or set yourself daily workout goals.
Before you ride out on your Self-guided adventure, you will be given a set of essential tools to handle all possible minor repairs, or you can turn to local mechanics for help. However, in the unlikely event of a breakdown, you just need to reach out to our representative who will either talk you through basic repairs or organize support in your location or will help you handle transfer to your destination.
On request, and for an additional fee, we provide a premium transfer service, to pick you up anywhere on the road, if you feel you can’t make it to your ride’s destination.
We provide the technology, travel planning and attention to detail so that you can just focus on enjoying the ride. You'll have your pick of great places to eat plus endless opportunities for local interaction as you cycle through regional communities. This is true independent touring without the hassle. It will take you to places you'd never reach any other way and allow you to explore new locations at your own pace.
We provide secure luggage transfers between each of your hotels. This way you can enjoy the ride knowing that when you arrive, your bags will already be waiting in your room. We will also call ahead to ensure that everything is ready for your arrival.
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
On this tour we provide Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers for navigational support. These are the latest in user-friendly navigation tech from Wahoo Fitness. With Wahoo devices you will be able to track your progress and monitor your route. Beyond their basic setup, the geek-cyclists will find Wahoo ELEMNTs to be excellent data mining devices allowing to measure almost any aspect of the ride.
The routes of this tour have been selected from among the safest in Sri Lanka and were designed to be achievable by riders of some experience.
For additional fee, and on demand you can opt for additional van support. This service will allow you to hop on the van each time you feel a bit too tired to continue, or if you just want to cut your cycling short on a given day.
Reach out to our expert team to learn more about additional support.
Our itineraries are carefully crafted to make the best of your time while touring and to balance out cycling and off-the-saddle activities. However, on this tour, there are locations which are ideal to spend an additional day to go on a trek, enjoy the hotel facilities or just to slack around while taking in gorgeous Sri Lankan sights.
Reach out to our expert team to learn more about extending your adventure in Sri Lanka.
We are proud of the skills of our mechanics and put our full trust in the quality of our bikes, but we are always ready to act if something goes wrong. Self-guided touring requires that you can perform minor repairs yourself, but for any tough repairs you can count on our staff to provide assistance.
Your safety on a self-guided tour is our top concern as you ride without a local guide to offer immediate help. For this reason we provide means of contacting our Representative anytime, so if an urgent situation arises they can assist with translation, arranging transportation to medical facilities, or obtaining documentation required by your insurer.
Quality, well maintained Merida Matts 40 bikes in a full range of sizes are included in the price of your Self-guided tours in Sri Lanka. These lightweight mountain bikes come with a lever to lock the suspension fork or shock unit, allowing for ease on bumpy terrain as well as sprints. With hydraulic disc brakes to make the downhills more secure, these bikes are great for touring.
Welcome to Ozo Kandy, where just minutes away from the sacred Temple of Tooth lies this stylish and comfortable hotel. Enjoy cozy rooms in Sri Lankan style, a refreshing outdoor pool, and sublime mountain views during your stay.
This country mansion combines all of the charms of Colonial times with all of the friendly hospitality you’ve come to love in Sri Lanka. Nestled in the hills of tea country, this luxurious home near the city of Nuwara Eliya provides a unique experience.
It is now a little over a week since we are back from our “Sip of Ceylon” tour. We wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed the tour you put together for us! The bikes were great quality, really reliable and definitely more appropriate than race bikes. The routes were varied, through really interesting countryside with awesome scenery in the high country, as well as low. We felt we really got a feel of how both rural and urban Sri Lanka lives. A lot of thought and planning has obviously gone into preparing the routes, but also choosing the hotels, which were a welcome haven of luxury after each day. Your navigation systems worked really well - it took all the hassle out of doing a self-guided trip.
Manoj, our accompanying driver, was super and always there ahead of us, arranging smooth arrivals, trips etc. - please extend our thanks to him as well!
If we’re planning a similar trip in the future, we’ll definitely look you guys up again.
Thanks again for all your planning and preparation and for making this a highly memorable and enjoyable trip for us!
- What was the High Point?
Cycling through the tea plantations, going on a safari and ending up by the beach.
- What was your Low Point?
Thanks to Grasshopper Adventures I had – quite literally – the time of my life cycling in Sri Lanka! I did the wonderful 12 day Sip of Ceylon tour. Sri Lanka is a stunning and wonderful mix of diverse terrain and experiences that they give a traveler: rainforest, amazing beaches, mountains, lush tea and rice territory, busy cities and towns. And friendly and curious people at every stop! It’s a gorgeous country – and Grasshopper – through supremely helpful and reliable support every day – made my adventure possible.
Click here to see our Sri Lanka Travel Guide.
Here is some general travel information for Sri Lanka.
Read our blog on the Sri Lanka travel warnings.
Take a moment to read our blog: Traveling with kids?
Self-guided Tour FAQs
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.
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