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7 Days | 6 Nights
BOOK THIS TOUR
A 7-day independent bike adventure, starting and finishing in the cloud city of Kandy in the mountains of central Sri Lanka. Heading north to tour through the ancient wonders of the cultural triangle. A self-guided and compact option for those keen to explore central Sri Lanka by bike.
Merida Matts 40 D or Trek E-bike
1 to 14
Comfortable hotels & guesthouses
Independently cycle tour the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka in the heart of the cultural triangle, made famous by the Hindu and Buddhist texts from antiquity.
Start by making your way out of the mountain of Kandy, cycling the stunning "18-bends road". Pedal through beautiful national parks towards the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, the 1000-year old former capital. Ride to the famous Lion's Rock in Sigiriya, the ruin of a palatial fort on the top of the 200m high rock outcrop. Then head to the hill, cycling through the tea country on the way back to Kandy. Along the way, use our suggestions to guide your chosen stops and meals and enjoy great accommodations. This adventure is yours!
407 Km riding. The terrain is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads on secondary roads and quiet country lanes. There are a few sustained climbs (although not too steep) at times and some thrilling descents.
Cycle your way out of Kandy on the famous “18 Bend Road” towards the sacred town of Mahiyanganaya.
Pedal to the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa for an exploration of 1000-year-old Sri Lankan history.
Ride to the imposing Lion’s Rock with the ruins of an ancient palace on its summit.
Glimpse the incredibly diverse wildlife of Sri Lanka, perhaps spotting peacocks, monitor lizards, or mongoose.
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. After you check into your hotel, you will be met by our representative who will help you get fitted up on your bikes. They will also take you through the other associated equipment and then provide a bit of a briefing on practicalities for Sri Lanka and your ride. You can then spend the remaining daylight hours exploring the area around the hotel by bike as a light warmup ride.
You start out your tour in the central cloud city of Kandy. The proud capital of an ancient mountain kingdom, Kandy was the last place to fall to the British during the colonial invasion. Kandy is a beautiful city with a temperate climate, littered with historical, colonial buildings that circle its stunning central lake. The city is most famous for being the location of the “Temple of the Tooth” a significant Buddhist relic. The day’s ride is a special one, as you cycle East out of the city on the infamous yet now newly renovated “18 bend road” towards the temple town of Mahiyanganaya.
Today you'll cycle the picturesque long corridor between 3 lush National Parks (Knuckles Reserve/ Maduru Oya/ Wasagamuwa) to reach the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The immaculate ruins of Polonnaruwa, depict in detail the 1000-year-old ancient capital of Sri Lanka in all its glory. Park your bikes and take a look around.
Moving from one wonder of the ancient world to another, today you'll cycle through back roads and trails of the wetlands and jungle to discover Lion’s Rock. Sigiriya Rock is an imposing sight standing at an impressive 200meters, with its summit home to the remains of a luxurious palace from over 1500 years ago. Your hotel sits in the shadow of this amazing rock, and there is a good chance of hearing the trumpets of wild elephants in the jungle this evening.
Leaving Sigiriya, you'll cycle a trail through farmland. On the way, you will hopefully see plenty of local wildlife, with peacocks, giant monitor lizards, and mongoose being common sights. You may even meet an elephant or crocodile during this section.
After lunch, you continue through lush, green jungle and then begin your gentle climb into tea country. The last leg of this day is a steeper climb that can make your heart rate go up a bit, however, it is achievable with well timed stops.
A thrilling descent awaits this morning as you pedal through tea hill plantations 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, it's time to ride some ups and downs along the side of the valley before eventually coming out just east of Kandy. The roads get slightly busier with motor rickshaws and the like before you cycle across the river and tackle one last hill to arrive at your hotel, set by the main lake in Kandy.
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 your onward travel, whether it be a further adventure into the tea country or the beaches in the south or returning 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.
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 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 with some cycling 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 day short.
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.
Experience the ultimate luxury in the heart of the holy city of Mahiyanganaya with a stay at this sustainable hotel. Enjoy Sri Lankan hospitality, soak in the stylish outdoor pool, and rest in comfortable rooms. The natural wonders of a waterfall, lake and national park aren’t far away.
This luxury resort located near an eco-park with stunning views of Lion’s Rock and surrounding greenery. Enjoy modern comforts and a gorgeous swimming pool as well as ample spa facilities and breathtaking views.
I had a wonderful time on this tour. In many ways my experience on this tour was quite similar to my experience on the 4 other extended Guided Grasshopper Tours (Saigon to Hanoi, Bangkok to Saigon, Cycle Taiwan, and Sri Lanka by Bike).
Most of the features I have come to expect from Grasshopper were on display in excellent fashion throughout this tour: attentive customer service, excellent bikes, inspired routes, quality support, and wonderful lodging.
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 look at our blog: Is Self-guided for you?
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 best places to eat in order to make your experience more directed and enjoyable.
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