Sri Lanka Cycling Epic

The scenery is magnificent, the food superb and the people amongst the friendliest on earth. Travelling by bike is a great way to mix with the people

  • Intro
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Price and What's Included

Our Sri Lanka Cycling Epic covers a substantial part of the island, taking in as much as possible of the scenic and cultural variety that Sri Lanka has to offer. The combination of visits to the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, great rides through the beautiful hill country around Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, the variety of wildlife from the hills to the lowland Udawalawe national park, and a chance to relax on one of the many wonderful beaches, will certainly make you want to come back here again and again. However, this is not just a cycling holiday; it is also an insight into a way of life which can only be appreciated from the saddle.

For the mountain biker there is a profusion of dirt roads criss-crossing the hill country and National Parks. The majority of the rides in the Sri Lanka Cycling Epic follow dirt tracks and quiet country roads, and most of the riding is not technically difficult though the terrain is hilly to mountainous on some days, requiring reasonable fitness. There are some options for tougher rides though in many cases there is also an easier road alternative on these days.

Sri Lanka Cycling Epic itinerary

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Day 1: Arrival
We check-in to our hotel in Negombo, a beach resort just a short journey from the airport. This afternoon there’s the opportunity to take a short cycle ride amongst the coconut palms, a perfect way to start our journey around Pearl of the Orient (one of Sri Lanka’s many names). In the evening there should be chance to sample some of the excellent fresh seafood available.

Day 2: Cycle to Kurunegala, Drive to Girtale
After breakfast we cycle to Kurunegala, from where we transfer directly to the comfortable Girtale Hotel. The hotel has a swimming pool and overlooks the magnificent Girtale Lake, which is home to some amazing water birds. Painted storks and ibis can often be seen fishing in the lakes clear waters. Later in the afternoon we assemble our bikes and go for an optional ride exploring the surrounding countryside if time permits it.

Day 3: Ride to Polonnaruwa
After breakfast we cycle from the hotel following one of the lake irrigation canals to Polonnaruwa, the best preserved of the ancient cities. Riding around the vast ruins of the 12th century capital you sense how great the kingdom once was. Some of the more outlying overgrown ruins are now home to the long tailed Grey Langur and Toque Macaque monkeys. Our lunch stop is by the huge lake known as the Sea of Parakrama, where you can jump in and cool off. The afternoon ride is through the vast verdant rice plains and wends its way back to our hotel.

Day 4: Ride to Sigiriya
An optional 10km road ride takes us to the start of our jungle ride to Sigiriya. The ride, through stunning jungle-covered hills, was once an old King’s route and follows a river valley trail. Flocks of noisy parrots squawk overhead adding to the lost valley feel of the fantastic single-track ride. We end the ride at the Sigiriya Hotel, our lunch stop and overnight accommodation. The hotel has a superb view of the spectacular Sigiriya rock fortress and is a good place to relax and enjoy a local beer. Later this afternoon we climb 300m to the top of the 5th century Citadel, to see the beautiful frescoes painted onto the rock face. The ruins of the palace on the summit are only surpassed by the magnificent aerial view of the surrounding jungle. Stay as long as you like, as it is only a 30 minute walk back to our hotel.

Day 5: Ride and drive to Kandy
After breakfast we ride along a mixture of smooth dirt roads and village paths to Dambulla, the 2nd century BC Buddhist cave temple. It is well worth the climb to view the five caves, which contain many ancient Buddha statues, some carved from solid rock. After visiting the caves we cross the road for lunch at the old colonial-style Dambulla resthouse. After lunch we leave towards Kandy, breaking our journey at one of the numerous spice gardens that line the road. Here you can learn more about the many plants grown within their grounds. They say the oil from the king coconut restores hair loss and increases your sex drive – failing this, the freshly ground spices should improve any curry you intend to cook once back at home. From the spice garden we transfer to the Knuckles mountain range for a fantastic road descent through the Madukelle tea plantation to Kandy, riding all the way to our hotel.

Day 6: Rest day in Kandy
The whole day is free to relax by the pool or explore Kandy on your own, the cultural and spiritual centre of Sri Lanka. The town has many arts and craft centres, antique and clothes shops as well as a number of colourful street markets. Those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of Kandy should visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. The landscaped gardens, planted by the British, contain both native and foreign plants, including a spectacular selection of orchids. Anyone feeling like a more active day involving some serious downhill can try the ‘White Knuckle’, a gnarly 23km descent running through tea estates, rivers and jungle – though this is not for the faint-hearted.

Day 7: Ride in the Tea estates
After breakfast we transfer to the top of the Huntane Massif, with its magnificent view of Kandy and the daunting Knuckles Mountains. The ride follows a trail leading to the estates, where scores of brightly dressed tea pickers pluck the top leaves of the green bush. As we reach the estate workers’ hamlet we divide the group in two, with the more experienced riders following the leader along a technical single-track descent. A more leisurely descent along a tarmac road, with breathtaking vistas and colourful Hindu temples, also winds its way to Galaha, a typical hill country town. An optional 9km-road ascent takes us to the Pitawella rock pools and waterfall, the perfect place for a natural shower and picnic lunch. Riding from lunch we continue along the tea trails, where once again the group can be divided as there are both off-road and road options. Both routes end at the estate’s tea factory where we can stop and sample the refreshing local brew and tour the factory.

Day 8: Train and bike ride to Nuwara Eliya
Today we take the train to Watagoda or Nanu Oya, this classic mountain train journey is truly one of the highlights of a visit to Sri Lanka! When we get off the train we will have a picnic lunch and then continue on our bikes through tea estates to Nuwara Eliya, the highest point on the island. Later in the afternoon we will visit a tea facture and get an insight into tea production. If you wish to dine at the Hill Club a jacket and tie are required.

Day 9: Ride to Belihuloya
We transfers the 28km to Horton Plains by car – keener cyclists can cover this on their bikes. Horton Plains Nature Reserve is approximately 10,000 hectares in extent. A remote, high plateau, 2000m, supports grassland fringed and interspersed with patches of dense cloud forest. This silent and beautiful place is home to leopards, sambar, and the shy bear monkey, as well as a plethora of bird-life. There are also three varieties of lizards located here including the horned lizard. Cycling across the plains we then start our amazing descend though a very remote tea estate. Our lunch will be taken at the Bambarakanda fall, Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall. From here it is still about 15 km of exciting downhill till we reach the main road. From here we transfer by car to our camp near the small hamlet of Belihuloya which is a very picturesque and romantically situated about 160km from Colombo in the historical “Sabaragamuwa” province. This zone is a climatically transitional area linking the wet & dry zones and the hill country & the low country. This very important location has made it one of the places in the country with the highest bio-diversity.

Day 10: Ride to Udawalawe national park
For early birds there will be some kayaks available for taking out on the nearby dam for some beautiful morning exercise. After breakfast we cycle on small roads towards the Udawalawe national park. This 30821 hectares dry zone game park was declared as a protected national park in 1972. It has an annual rainfall of 1524 mm and an average temperature of 29.40C. This park is world famous for its elephants. You will see whole herds of them, adults and young, bathing and playing in the water or feeding. We spend the night inside the park in a luxury camp.

Day 11: Drive to Galle
After a morning safari in the park we drive to Galle on Sri Lanka’s west coast, where there is an old fort. Built in 1663 after the Dutch took the island from the Portuguese, the town brings alive some of the history of the fight for colonial domination of this prized island. We finish the tour here in the famous Light house hotel.

Day 12: Departure
We drive back to Colombo and take you to the airport in time for your onwards connection. We trust you have a fantastic time in Sri Lanka and will be looking forward to welcome you back with us. You could also chose one of our many tour extensions.

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Year round high temperatures in coastal regions: Colombo averages 27°C. It is much cooler in the hills with Kandy averaging 20°C. Spring like temperatures in the hill country, but chilly evenings. Two monsoon periods: Apr-Sep when rain is confined to the southwest; and Oct-Mar when it falls in the northeast. We try to avoid the worst parts of the year but you should always come prepared for a bit of rain.

Best time to go








Base price per person $1995


We have an air conditioned support vehicle with us all the time, so there is always the option of taking a break. We camp in luxury in the Udawalawe national park. You will be accompanied by a western leader and the best local guides.

What is included

  • Airport transfers
  • All transportation in air-conditioned vehicles
  • Backup vehicle for cycling
  • All accommodation in Hotels, Bungalows and Luxury camp
  • All meals (day 1 B&B only)
  • Entrance fee to Sigiriya, Dambulla Temple, Horton Plains & Udawalawe National Park
  • All government taxes & service charges
  • Local cycling guide
  • Tour leader

What is not included

  • International flight to and from Colombo
  • Travel insurance (We insist you have one)
  • Airport taxes
  • Optional trips and sightseeing tours
  • Additional nights at the beginning or end of trip
  • Lunch and dinner day 1 and 12
  • Soft/alcoholic drinks
    Bar bills and laundry
  • Tips
  • Excess baggage charges

Eye Candy

A truly epic journey! The Roof of the World on a bike – what better way to explore Tibet and Nepal, meet the locals, experience the amazing culture and stunning scenery!
Felix Haslimeier Edinburgh, New Zealand