Negombo is a great place to start any tour in Sri Lanka with its wide beach and lively bars. There is also an old historic quarter you can wonder around and get the feel of Sri Lankan daily life. The old fishing harbour filled with brightly decorated fishing boats and the traditional red sailed catamaran’s is great for photos. This evening you can get to know your fellow cyclists over a welcome dinner.
The first ride of the trip takes you inland to a more rural, authentic part of Sri Lanka which is off the beaten tourist route. You’ll get a taste of this exotic country as you cycle among coconut and rubber plantations. The area is affectionately called ‘Little Rome’ due to it’s numerous Catholic churches. A ride along flatland takes us through villages where you can encounter friendly locals before a transfer to Jaffna. You’ll take a break at Killinochi, where the LTTE or Tamil Tigers were based.
Immerse yourself in Jaffna’s buzzing markets, small fishing ports and old Star Fort built in 1618 to protect the peninsula. As you make your way to Kyats Island, this is your opportunity to set your own speed. Don’t miss out on the water birds as you cycle to the northern tip of the island, Casuarina Beach. You’ll take a picnic lunch and (optional) dip in the pristine Indian Ocean before starting the journey back to the mainland.
Today you cycle along another causeway, en route to Ponneryn, the Jaffna lagoon, which rewards you with minimal traffic. The road connects to the sea at Lluppaikkadavai, our lunch spot, which hopefully treats us to sightings of Dugongs, a rare sea mammal. You’ll continue cycling to Mannar Island, where the day will finish at a 700 year old Baobab tree, nicknamed the elephant tree, due to its large structure. This tranquil island is peaceful and the perfect place to relax with a beer. On a clear day you may even be able to see the Rameshwaram tower in India.
It’s time to head back to the mainland, cycling through ‘Giants Tank’, a lake surrounded by rice paddies built by King Dhatusena. The afternoon is reserved for rest so you can head out on an evening exploration to Anuradhapura. This ancient city dates back to the 4th century BC and is home to some of Asia’s oldest Buddha monuments.
This morning you’ll immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s core religion, Buddhism. Your route takes you past multiple temples and intricate stupas to Ritigala, a beautiful nature reserve. There is a myth passed through generations that some of the rocks are from the Himalayas, released by Hunman, a monkey god.
This afternoon you will visit a landmark Sri Lankan monument, Sigiriya, aka the ‘Lion Rock’. An abandoned royal palace which was then converted to a monastery for Buddhists, it is brimming with hidden treasures, from the mirror wall to the incredible views from the top, prepare to be amazed.
Your first stop, Dambulla cave temple, is the largest in Sri Lanka. Embellished with frescos, this complex dates all the way back to the 2nd century BC. After a transfer to Melsiripura its time to explore another key Sri Lankan element – spices. Allow your senses to go wild as you surround yourself among nutmeg, clove and pepper plantations. After a stop at a Spice Garden you will begin the ascent up Wattegama valley covered in rice paddies and jungle topped hills.
Today is a well earned rest day. Kandy holds a religious significance and acts as a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. Delve into the atmospheric market, old shops and antique gem stores. You should take a trip to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Today you will conquer hills, hence the shorter distance. Remember to bring a camera, as the tea district scenery is well worth a photo. Cycling along the Mahaweli River will lead you to Hatton, one of the islands oldest tea plantations. Tonight’s accommodation was formerly a colonial home for planters.
Prepare for some climbs this morning, passing tea plantations and Adam’s Peak, a holy mountain. Your descent is lengthy and the last 30km is on straight flatland which takes you into Uda Walawe National Park.
If you’re an early bird or love animals there is an optional morning safari, with the chance of seeing elephants, crocodiles and birds. Later you’ll start your final cycle of the trip, following luscious rice paddies to Dondra Lighthouse, in the very south of the island. Your tyres will eventually touch the Indian Ocean, signalling the end of your journey from North to South.
We can drop you off at a Colombo hotel or help you to extend your stay in Galle.
Sri Lanka offers incredible scenery, outstanding natural beauty and abundance of Buddhist monuments and ancient kingdoms. From the Singhalese capital Annuradhapura BC200-AD1000, a centre of power for over a 1000 years, to the forts and churches built by the Portuguese in the 1500’s, Sri Lanka offers a journey through history like no other.