Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure begins in the town of Negombo which is located close to the international airport. You can arrive at any time today as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5:30 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place. Those arriving early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. The beautiful surrounding countryside is best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent with help from the hotel reception. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Riding distance: none
Rise early and enjoy some breakfast at the hotel. Start off with a test-ride through the city streets, from the hotel to the fish market. This gives you a nice insight into the daily working of the market and the dry fish industry. You will then cycle from Negombo to Chilaw (approximately 40 km). Along the way, you'll encounter quaint fishing villages, the scenic Dutch canal, coconut plantations and various tile factories. Sit down to a picnic lunch on arrival in Chilaw. Afterwards, hop aboard a coach and travel to Anuradhapura (approximately 90 km). Here you can settle into your hotel, relax and perhaps take a swim in the pool. You have the option of joining a 'food crawl' through the streets and markets of Anuradhapura – a great chance to sample some tasty local cuisine. Notes: The fish market in Negombo is closed on Sundays. Riding distance: approx. 40kms/25 miles, mostly flat with approx. 170m/560ft of elevation gain.
After breakfast, cycle to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Anuradhapura (approximately 20 km each way). Enjoy a guided bicycle tour of the ancient city. Among the ruins you'll see the sacred old Bo Tree – a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. The ruins themselves are spread over quite a large area, with some in woodland settings and others appearing more cultivated with columns and ponds dotted about. While you're here you will visit the impressive Isurumuniya Temple. Pay a visit to the Anuradhapura museum, then enjoy a local lunch. Return to the hotel and enjoy free time for the rest of the afternoon. Riding distance: approx. 37kms/23 miles, mostly flat with approx. 130m/430ft of elevation gain.
Cycle from Anuradhapura to Ritigala, passing paddies, man-made water tanks and jungle patches (approximately 70 km). Sit down to some lunch along the way at a countryside kiosk. Make a visit to the beautiful Ritigala monastery, which dates back nearly 2000 years and is named after the mountain on which it sits.. After exploring the site and learning a thing or two about its local mythology, board a coach and travel to Polonnaruwa (approximately 60 km). Relax and unwind on arrival. Riding distance: approx. 70km/44 miles, mostly flat with approx. 210m/690ft of elevation gain.
Saddle up for a morning ride to Polonnaruwa. For breakfast you'll dine at a local village house. Arrive at the ancient site of Polonnaruwa, the second oldest of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, and do some exploring. Visit the likes of Vihara temple, Parakrama statue and Siva temple while you are here. Then cycle to Diyabeduma (approximately 45 km). Marvel at the scenery along the way – sanctuaries, man made channels and farm lands – before sitting down to a picnic lunch. Next, travel from Diyabeduma to Dambulla by coach (approximately 40 km). Enjoy some free time on arrival. In the evening you'll visit the Dambulla wholesale vegetable market, where there's an option to join in on a food crawl. Riding distance: approx. 45km/28 miles, mostly flat with approx. 160m/530ft of elevation gain.
This morning you will cycle from Dambulla to Sigiriya (approximately 50 km), an ancient rock fortress perched among lush greenery that strikes an awesome pose against the skyline. Enjoy some well-earned breakfast at the top of the rock, taking in the lovely views. Afterwards it's off to Matale by vehicle, though spice plantations and pleasant countryside. Enjoy lunch at a spice garden, then transfer to Kandy. In the evening you will sit down to a traditional Kandyan dance performance – a riveting insight into an age-old culture. Riding distance: approx. 50km/31 miles, mostly flat with approx. 150m/500ft of elevation gain.
After breakfast at the hotel you have the option to either head out for some hard-core cycling in Knuckles Conservation Forest (weather/time permitting) or stay in Kandy and explore. Later in the morning the group will head to Giragama (approximately 15 km) for a guided tour of a tea factory. This is a great chance to learn about how Sri Lanka's best-known beverage is made. You will also sample some of the delicious varieties on offer. Enjoy an afternoon of free time to relax. In the evening you will visit the Temple of Tooth Relic, the most important Buddhist site in the country. Explore the complex that surrounds it, then return to town for an (optional) food crawl. Riding distance: none
Transfer to Kandy railway station after breakfast. From the station you will embark on a scenic train trip from Kandy to Hatton, then cycle from Hatton station to Maskeliya (approximately 40 km) through leafy tea plantations. For lunch, enjoy an authentic Tamil meal from a local kiosk. Check into your guesthouse, then relax. In the evening, there's an optional climb of Adam's Peak, a beautiful, conical, snow-capped mountain (2,243 m). The best time for this activity is from mid December to early May. Riding distance: approx. 38km/24 miles, light climb near the start then mostly downhill with approx. 380m/1250ft of elevation gain.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast before cycling down from Bogawanthalawa to Balangoda (approximately 55 km). This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Sri Lanka – it follows a path along the tea plantations and passes lush pine forests. Have lunch at Balangoda on arrival, then transfer from Balangoda to Tissamaharama (approximately 100 km). Along the way, you'll stop to visit an elephant transit home which helps rehabilitate elephants for re-entry to the wild. The elephants are often released into the Uda Walawe National Park. Riding distance: approx. 52km/32 miles, uphill at the start then mostly downhill with approx. 720m/2360ft of elevation gain.
Cycle from Tissamaharama to Kataragama after breakfast (approximately 20 km each way). The holy city of Kataragama is a colourful and vibrant religious centre that rivals Adam's Peak in terms of national importance. This is where the two-week Kataragama Festival attracts thousands, mostly Hindus, each year in July/August. Afterwards, take a jeep ride through the beautiful Yala National Park, home to elephants, crocodiles, and gorgeous waterbirds such as the great thick-knee. Yala also lays claim to one of the world's highest concentration of leopards. Riding distance: approx. 38km/24 miles, lightly undulating with approx. 170m/560ft of elevation gain.
After breakfast, cycle from Tissamaharama to Hambantota via the pretty Bundala National Park. After lunch at Hambantota, continue to Mirissa. Enjoy an afternoon of beach splendour in Mirissa. The beach itself is a long curve of sand with lovely clear waters for swimming – a great spot to watch the sunset. Consider cycling to nearby Weligama, where colourful fishing boats bring fresh fish to sell along the shore. The local cottage industry of lace products is also well worth a look. Riding distance: approx. 39km/24 miles, flat with approx. 60m/200ft of elevation gain.
Enjoy some time to relax with a free day that is yours to spend as you please. You might like to go whale-watching, which is more successful from November through to April. Later drive to Galle (approximately 50 km each way). Spend the evening exploring Galle, home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls and many interesting old buildings. Enjoy a stroll around the historic fort and watch the sunset from the ramparts before driving back to Mirissa. While the famous stilt fishermen casting lines from their traditional poles are an iconic sight unfortunately this activity has become a real tourist trap, with tourists expected to pay for the opportunity of taking a photo. We advise our travellers to use their best judgement before paying for a photo. Riding distance: none
Depart Mirissa after breakfast with a transfer to Colombo (approximately 3 hours). On arrival, check into your hotel and then take a city walk past the bustling Petta Bazaar, Independence Square, Parliament, and the National Museum. Your walk finishes with a shopping opportunity at the Barefoot fairtrade store. Here you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the country and support small cottage industries. Tonight there's an optional final group dinner to celebrate your journey. This comes in the form of a food crawl along the city's tantalising market stalls. Riding distance: none
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. The hotel's check-out time is 11 am. Riding distance: none