This cycling tour takes you to Sri Lanka's top cultural sites and also off the beaten path. Cycle along rice fields, tea plantations, and tranquil villages to reach ancient kingdoms rich in history and culture. You also have the chance to explore Sri Lanka's wildlife parks to see herds of elephants roam the wild country.

Highlights

  • Discover Sri Lanka's wildlife at Wilpattu Big Game Safari Camp and Udawalawe
  • Visit ancient fortresses and cities of Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa
  • Explore the vast wilderness of Horton Plains and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • Relax on the golden beaches of Pasikudah
  • Bike approx. 600 kilometers through wet and dry regions of Sri Lanka

Overview

Sri Lanka's geographical and cultural range is astounding. On your bike rides through green rice paddy fields, tea plantations, and rural villages, gain a sense of the warm community life. Uncover Sri Lanka’s cultural roots during visits with indigenous Veddah tribes, and interact with locals in modern cities. What makes this trip truly unique is your ability to travel by bike through unusual settings such as Sri Lanka's top wildlife reserves, or the country's ancient cities and ruins.

Route map

Route map for "Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka - 14-Day Cycling Tour"
Route map for 'Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka - 14-Day Cycling Tour'

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival - Negombo

Boats in the lagoon in Negombo
Boats in the lagoon in Negombo

Upon your arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake, you will be transferred to a hotel in the nearby town of Negombo. Enjoy a relaxing overnight stay at a beach hotel in this coastal town. Before dinner, meet your guides and crew members to discuss your upcoming cycling journey.

Day 2: Negombo – Wilpattu

After a meal at your hotel in Negombo, you will be transferred to Giriulla. This city, on the banks of the Maha Oya River, is where you begin your cycling adventure. Today, cycle a 91-km trail that crosses the country’s warm dry zone, a rural region of green rice paddy fields and farming villages. This approx. 6-hour cycling trail covers the primarily flat terrain of paved and dirt roads with stops along the way to stay hydrated and recharge. Your ride ends at Ambanpola, where you will be transferred to the Wilpattu Big Game Safari Camp. Stay overnight in the relaxing camp.

Cycling distance: Approx. 91 km from Giriulla to Ambanpola
Time: Approx. 6 hours
Grading: Soft

Day 3: Wilpattu – Anuradhapura – Sigiriya

Elephant
Elephant in Wilpattu National Park

After a restful night at camp, it’s time to hit the road again. This time you will be cycling to Sri Lanka’s historical sites that date as far back as the 4th century BC. At first, the trail takes you to the outback of the Wilpattu National Park. Known as one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest parks, Wilpattu is famous for elephants, leopards and sloth bears. The park’s paved roads are fairly flat and you have the chance to visit villagers that live in the park. Reach the ancient city of Anuradhapura before being transferred to your hotel in Sigiriya.

Cycling distance: Approx. 50 km from Wilpattu to Anuradhapura
Time: Approx. 3-4 hours
Grading: Soft

Day 4: Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa

Sigiriya Lion Rock fortress, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya Lion Rock fortress, Sri Lanka

After an early breakfast, visit the mystical 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya. This palace was once inhabited by the rebellious and unconventional King Kashyapa. His palace is known as one of the best remaining ancient examples of urban planning.

After your visit, continue biking towards the second most ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa. This bike path offers a smooth route on a fairly flat and open terrain in a forest. Cycle along the great Minneriya tank, built by King Mahasen in the 13th century. This astounding symbol of human ingenuity spans an area of approximately 4,670 acres. 

Cycling distance: Approx. 65 km from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa and around its historical sights
Time: Approx. 4 hours
Grading: Soft

Day 5: Polonnaruwa – Pasikudah

After a rejuvenating rest, cycle from the ancient city of Polonnaruwa to Pasikudah. Situated on the eastern coast of the country, Pasikudah has one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka as it is one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline in the world. Travel across one of the longest metal bridges in the country, Manampitiya Bridge, that was once used for both automobiles and the local trains. This area is known for its dry weather, so keep yourself well-hydrated at all times.

This area is also known for its dry weather so it is advisable to keep yourself well-hydrated at all times. 

Cycling distance: Approx. 73 km from Polonnaruwa to Pasikudah
Time: Approx. 5 hours
Grading: Soft

Day 6: Pasikudah – Dambana (Approx. 98km)

After enjoying the golden beaches of Pasikudah, explore Sri Lanka’s cultural roots. Initially, cycle along 20-km of eastern coastline until reaching Dambana. Ride to Dambana where the country’s native “Veddah” tribes reside. Home to around a thousand Veddahs, Dambana is a cultural haven for the indigenous Veddah language. This is also a hub of ecotourism and other community development projects. 

Cycling distance: Approx. 65 km from Karadiyaru to Dambana
Time: Approx. 5-6 hours
Grading: Soft

Day 7: Dambana – Kandy

Today, you will have a much more challenging task on your hands as you tackle the hills of Kandy. Follow an initial ascent of a few kilometers until you reach Hunnasgiriya. Next, bike all the way down to Kandy. Cycle along the banks of the Mahaweli River, Sri Lanka’s longest river. Reach the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka’s capital and enjoy its numerous cultural, religious, and cultural attractions.

Cycling distance: Approx. 65 km from Gurulupota Kandy
Time: Approx. 4-5 hours
Grading: Moderate / Hard

Day 8: Kandy

Kandy city, Sri Lanka
City of Kandy, Sri Lanka

Today, enjoy a morning cycling through tea plantations and quaint rural villages surrounding Kandy. Visit the Tea Museum in Hanthana and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. Next, embark on a tour of Kandy, known as the last bastion of the ancient kings. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city on your own to stroll through markets and shop for local crafts such as brassware, batik, and lacquer work.

Cycling distance: Approx. 53 km in Kandy
Time: Approx. 4-5 hours
Grading: Soft / Moderate

Day 9: Kandy - Nuwara Eliya

Today, take a scenic train ride from Kandy to Nanu Oya, and bike about 7 km from the station to your hotel in Nuwara Eliya. This paradise of rolling hills, vast green tea plantations, and colonial estates boasts some of the country’s best mountainous scenery. Spend the rest of the evening roaming around the city. Often referred to as “Little England”, Nuwara Eliya is a doorway to a different place and time. This city was heavily influenced by the British colonial past and offers a cool climate. Colonial-style structures of note include the Golf Club, which dates back to 1889.

Cycling distance: Approx. 7 km from Nanu Oya to NuwaraEliya hotel
Time: Approx. 30 minutes
Grading: Moderate

Day 10: Nuwara Eliya - Horton Plains – Belihul Oya

Following a relaxing day, get you back on your bike. After breakfast and a warm pot of Sri Lankan tea, travel to Horton Plains. Horton Plains is a large plateau cradled by the mountains of Nuwara Eliya at an elevation of 2,100 m above sea level. After cycling to the plains, take a nature walk through the Horton Plains National Park, a wildlife habitat of 10,000 hectares. Keep an eye out for Sambar deer, Leaf Monkeys, elk, deer, squirrels, wild boar, migratory birds, hares, and porcupines. At Belihul Oya, hop back on your bike and descend down “Satan’s Steps”, named for steep hairpin turns. After a brief stop at Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall, Bambarakanda, cycle down the hillside for 6km. Receive a transfer to Belihul Oya.

Keep an eye out for Sambar deer, Leaf Monkeys, elk, deer, squirrels, wild boar, migratory birds, hares, and porcupines. At Belihul Oya, hop back on your bike and descend down “Satan’s Steps”, named for steep hairpin turns. After a brief stop at Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall, Bambarakanda, cycle down the hillside for 6km. Receive a transfer to Belihul Oya.Cycling distance: Approx. 23km from Horton Plains to Kalupahana

Cycling distance: Approx. 23km from Horton Plains to Kalupahana
Time: Approx. 3 hours
Grading: Moderate

Day 11: Belihuloya - Udawalawe

Today,  cycle from Belihuloya to Udawalawe, home to one of Sri Lanka’s most beloved national wildlife parks. Ride along the Samanala Weva Reservoir, which is part of the second-largest hydroelectric project in Sri Lanka. Once in Udawalawe, go on an optional evening safari ride in the national park. The Udawalawe National Park is the only place in the world where an elephant sighting is guaranteed on every drive as elephant herds crowd watering holes. Stay overnight at the Udawalawe Big Game camp site. 

Cycling distance: Approx. 67 km from Belihuloya to Hambegamuwa
Time: Approx. 5-6 hours
Grading: Soft / Moderate

Day 12: Udawalwe – Sinharaja

It is now time to switch climatic zones and venture into the wet, lush region of Sri Lanka. Travel to Sinharaja Forest Reserve, known as ‘Kingdom of the Lion’. Here remain the country’s most treasured rainforest and biodiversity hotspot: a World Heritage Site. After breakfast at the campsite, cycle to Sinharaja over some sections of rugged terrain. The cool climate helps you cope with the challenging parts of this trail. Along the way, encounter birds, flora, and fauna unique to the region. 

Cycling distance: Approx. 44 km from Godakawela to Vaddhagala
Time: Approx. 5 hours
Grading: Moderate / Hard

Day 13: Sinharaja – Galle

Travel from the cool climate and the natural setting of the Sinharaja rainforest to the historic port city of Galle. On your bike ride, cycle down a forested, moderate track before returning to Gale. Today, tour the capital of the Southern Province. At one time, it was one of the most important trading hubs for the colonists. Stay hydrated as you return to the dry zone.

Cycling distance: Approx. 62 km from Neluwa to Galle
Time: Approx. 5-6 hours
Grading: Soft / Moderate

Day 14: Galle – Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake for your return flight.