Biking Ceylon’s Spice Trails

Sri LankaCycle

The quiet back roads of this tear-drop shaped island make it ideal for cycling. We start along the west coast catching glimpses of the sails of the local fishing boats, before we cycle inland through a multitude of Buddhist and Hindu monuments. Ceylon, as Sri Lanka was once known, has been influenced by ancient dynasties, Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and British, all leaving their imprints and a resulting curious mix of ancient cities, monuments and atmospheric colonial architecture to explore.

We continue to the rock fortress of Sigiriya and the once medieval capital of Polonnaruwa. Here we put the bikes aside for an afternoon and take a wildlife safari in the Wasgomuwa National Park. We take a rest day at the hill town of Kandy so you have time to view the Temple of the Tooth, relax on the lake or walk through the splendid botanical gardens. We then follow rivers flowing down to the south coast and the fortress of Galle.

12 Nights
From USD 2,490Per Person

Tour Itinerary

  • Visit five of Sri Lanka's seven UNESCO Wortld Heritage sites
  • Cycle along palm fringed coasts up to cool highlands
  • Visit tea estates, learn how tea is processed and taste the final product
  • Take a jeep safari through Wasgomuwa National Park, home to elephants, leopards and sloth bears

Meet at the Goldi Sands hotel in Negombo for a trip briefing and welcome dinner.

Riding along the coast we pass the distinctive patchwork sails of the Karavas fishing community. Turning inland on quiet back roads we head to Dambulla to visit a 2nd century Buddhist cave temple. Also known as the Golden Temple, it is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in the country and contains more than 150 Buddha statues.

Riding through the countryside on a mix of tarmac and red dirt roads passing orchards, paddy fields and elephant grass we cycle to the ancient 5th century rock fortress Sigiriya (Lion Rock) where we use our feet for a 300 m ascent to view the ruins of King Kasyapa’s summer palace. After our descent our afternoon ride follows an old irrigation canal framed by long green grass.

Today you have to watch out for wild elephants on our descent out of the Kaladuwa Hills. We ride through the historic park of Polonnaruwa, the 10th Century capital and best preserved of the ancient cities. Abandoned in the 13th Century, it was rediscovered in the 18th Century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We ride along the eastern fringes of Wasgomuwa National Park, home to a large population of Sri Lankan elephants and many other mammals - including sloth bears, leopards, deer, wild buffalo - and more than 100 bird species. In the afternoon we swap our two wheels for the four wheels of jeeps and take a 3-hour safari inside the park.

Today we climb up to the Laggala pass on what is often described as the most stunning road in Sri Lanka. Our undulating ride takes us through the Knuckles wilderness before descending on the so-called spice road to Matale, the spice center of Sri Lanka. We end the day in Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city.

A rest day in picturesque Kandy -- an important religious center of the Sinhalese and a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. Explore the town center’s old shops, antique and gem specialists or the bustling market. A must do is to see the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

Be prepared for a day of long climbs. We pass by small Tamil communities, colorful Hindu temples, scared tree shrines and lots of tea plantations, which means lots of tea breaks as well. We’ll reach a highpoint of 1,386m, but if the hills are too much there’s always the support vehicle to hop into if you tire.

Today’s ride will be along gravel roads and tea estate tracks, through the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea growing region. You’ll be greeted by the pickers at work and their children as we head towards a tea planters retreat.

Riding from the hotel we pick up one of the irrigation canals flowing south, providing water for the many banana plantations we pass. We continue on rural country roads riding the last few kilometres along the main coast road to Tangalle, with time to catch sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Free day to relax, enjoy the beach or visit the turtle sanctuary at Rekkawa about 20 km away.

We transfer to the historic port of Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll along the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers then transfer to Colombo where we'll have our farewell dinner. Tonight we'll have a transfer to the airport or we can drop you at a hotel.

Our bicycle journey will be on quiet back roads, estate tracks and gravel paths. We cover 563 kilometers in 8 cycling days, and much, if not most, of the terrain is undulating and there are some days with more than 100 km of riding. When you combine the great variety of cycling with the cultural and natural attractions, there is plenty to delve into and enjoy.

The road surfaces are mixed: most days we ride on reasonably good quality asphalt roads, but there are enough sections on very badly broken or dirt tracks that you will need a mountain bike, and preferably one with front shocks. However, there is nothing technical involved on this tour and anyone, assuming they have a reasonable level of fitness, will be able to join. A support truck is always available to help.

This ride is for those who have some biking experience as well as experts. The beginning of this ride is relatively flat, but there will be hills as we head inland and there are some long distances to cover. Never underestimate the heat and humidity of tropical Sri Lanka, as it will likely ensure things feel hot. This is a true journey through the finest terrain and scenery of Sri Lanka, with the best culture, nature and wildlife thrown in along the way, ensuring you get the very best of everything from your cycling efforts.

Trip Cost

  • USD $2,490 ~ Adult Twin
  • USD $635 ~ Single supplement
  • USD $220 ~ Bike hire

Trip Dates

  • Dec 12-28, 2017
  • Jan 07-18, 2018
  • Feb 04-15, 2018
  • Mar 18-29, 2018
  • Apr 08-19, 2018
  • Jul 29 - Aug 09, 2018
  • Sep 23 - Oct 04, 2018
  • Oct 07-18, 2018
  • Nov 11-22, 2018
  • Dec 16-27, 2018
  • Jan 06-17, 2019
  • Feb 03-14, 2019
  • Mar 17-28, 2019
  • Apr 07-18, 2019
  • Jul 28 - Aug 08, 2019
  • Sep 22 - Oct 03, 2019
  • Oct 06-17, 2019
  • Nov 10-21, 2019
  • Dec 15-26, 2019

Facts & Figures

Bike Hire

  • USD $220

Total Distance

  • 563 Kilometres

Number of Days

  • 12 days / 11 nights

Number of cycling days

  • 08 full days, 01 half-day

Road Surface

  • This tour is a mix of good quality tarmac, gravel estate roads or dirt tracks. No technical experience is required.

Support

  • An air-conditioned bus converted to take bikes and bikers follows the group the whole time.

Group Size

  • Min. 02; Max. 16.

Staff

  • Cycling leader (for groups of 10 or more), plus a local cycling guide, as well as drivers and assistants for all groups.
  • Smaller groups will be led by our local guide and support team

Accommodation

  • Hotels vary from spa resorts to colonial bungalows on tea estates to remote rustic lodges to the architecturally wonder designed by the famous Geoffrey Bawa.
  • Whenever possible we try to use hotels with charm and local character.

Meals

  • All meals are included from Dinner on Day 01 to Breakfast on Day 12 with the exception of 02 lunches and 02 dinners on the rest days.