Around the Island - Mountain Biking Tour (12 Nights - 13 Days Itinerary)
Day 01: Arrival - Negombo
Upon your arrival our team will welcome you at the Katunayake International Airport and transferred to Goldi Sands Hotel in Negombo, just 6 km drive from the airport and 40 north of the Colombo Capital. You can just chill in the swimming pool or take a dip in the ocean. In the evening you can just take an easy ride in the area to familiar with the tropical heat and climatic conditions of the island. Enjoy your meal admiring the sunset and overnight stay at Goldi Sands Hotel.
Day 2 - Negombo to Kurunegala - Cycling 78km
After an early breakfast at Goldi Sands Hotel, we will head off to Kurunegala along some local roads. An amazing journey of vivid green contrasts leads us past vistas of dense jungle and broad rice paddies during the first kilometers of our cycling trip in Sri Lanka. As we pass from tunnels of jungle out into open rice fields we’ll be struck by the beauty of towering coconut palms rimming the border between the two. A sky charged with fluffy balls of cumuius clouds sets the backdrop to this verdant landscape. The peace of the country roads is abruptly broken by the bustle of this central island transport hub. Kurunegala, Elephant Rock, is a busy cross roads town on the main road to Colombo. Its skyline is dominated by a towering rock formation giving rise to the town’s name. Check in at Kandyan Reach Hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 3 - Kurunegala to Dambulla, Cycling 80km
Winding our way up to Dambulla on some beautifully scenic back roads we’ll experience the dense Sri Lankan jungle and meet the friendly locals as we learn that life here is concentrated along the roads. Small roadside boutiques, fruit and vegetable stalls, schools, smiley faces of locals will make your ride a dramatic one. The ride will be mostly in flat terrain, but there will be few kilometers of climbing in the middle of our ride. To finish our day, we will check in at Green Paradise Resort, nestled in the jungle surrounded by nature and lush vegetation. This eco friendly resort provides breathtaking views of rice paddies and will guarantee you a great variety of services.
Day 4 - Dambulla to Sigiriya, Cycling 30km
Today we have a short itinerary. First we will climb the famed Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most impressive of Sri Lanka's cave temples and was built by King Valagambahu in the 1st century B.C. The complex of 5 caves, containing over 150 images of Buddha with over 2000 square meters of painted walls and ceilings is the largest area of paintings found in the world. Upon the descend from the cave temple, you can have a short spell to enjoy the surroundings of the region. After having lunch we will start our next spell to Sigiriya. A few kilometers ride will take you to a completely different atmosphere; going from lush green jungle and on through a dusty red plain, reminiscent of an African landscape. Arriving at our day’s hotel we will be greeted by a monumental rock fortress towering high above this arid landscape. Dinner and overnight stay at Hotel Sigiriaya.
Day 5 - Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa, Cycling 54km
An early start to the day, a short drive away and we are climbing to the summit of one of Sri Lanka’s most amazing landmarks – Sigiriya Rock (Lion’s Rock). This exquisitely beautiful complex of ancient ruins perched high on the rock is a site with a chequered history; from monastery to royal fortress and palace, and back to a monastery. We guarantee you’ll be left breathless by the uniqueness of this place. Back to the hotel and on the bikes we’ll pedal through this dry zone experiencing up close a very different side of Sri Lanka, passing through Minneriya National Park, a home to wild elephants. Rolling along an undulating road across to Polonnaruwa we will visit Sri Lanka’s second kingdom from medieval times. We’ll take a ride through the ruins of this ancient capital and learn of its tumultuous past. We’ll transfer by vehicle back to the Sigiriya hotel to enjoy a dinner and for overnight stay.
Day 6 - Sigiriya – Kandy, Cycling 100km
Saying farewell to the playful Grey Langur monkeys of Sigiriya we will head for the high country. A longer day in the saddle today we’ll gradually climb up to our day’s final destination. Taking quiet back roads we’ll ride by some familiar scenery from previous days to be eventually led literally down the garden path. Along both sides of the route to Kandy there are a multitude of spice gardens. We’ll pause for a while to regain some energy and discover the story behind the exciting aromas of a Sri Lankan spice garden; nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, vanilla. Can’t you smell it? Matale, the next point of call along this route, is a dense, bustling market town. Take your time through here and you might find the bargain you’ve been looking for. From here on to Kandy we’ll mostly be heading uphill. Welcome to the highlands. We will be privileged to stay at the Hotel Suisse, a majestic colonial residence set by the Kandy Lake; a hotel with more history and tales to tell than we have room for here.
Day 7 - Kandy – Nuwara Eliya, Cycling 70km
Rising very early this morning we’ll take a brisk walk around the lake to the highly sacred Temple of the Tooth. This temple, a centre of Buddhist faith, is believed to house a tooth of the Lord Buddha himself and at dawn each morning the locals and pilgrims come to worship this holy relic of Buddhism. The plainly decorated temple exterior disguises the interiors of the temple buildings which are richly carved and decorated with inlaid woods, ivory, and lacquer. You will find this a truly moving experience. After a hearty breakfast we ride out of Kandy towards the pinnacle of our tour of Sri Lanka. We’ll take today’s stage in two sections. For those who appreciate only a little hill climbing the beginning of the day is perfect for you. For the hard core climbers we’ll let you continue to ride the full day out. And what a spectacular day this will prove to be. High mountains with lush green vegetation as far as the eye can see. The climate is fresh not humid, cool not cold. Where the gradient steepens we break for a hot tea at a local roadside stall. From here the climbers continue to pedal; the others will take a ride in the van. This is tea country. Camellia Sinensis plants cover the hillsides for miles and miles. Another chance to appreciate the view and sample the local produce; we pause at a tea factory on the way. Upon arrival at Nuwara Eliya, ‘Little England’ we will check in at St.Andrew’s Hotel built around a Tudor country house which served as a grand colonial residence during the days of British rule. Dinner and overnight stay at St.Andrew’s Hotel.
Day 8 - Nuwara Eliya – Ella, Train Transfer
Today we’ll give our legs a rest to take a ride on the train. You will be transferred to Nanuoya which is the closest railway station to Nuwara Eliya which is 9 km away. This is another unique experience you will get during your 13 days trip in Sri Lanka. The railway here passes through reputedly the most scenic region of this country; winding its way round the mountains, through tunnels, by waterfalls. This is such an intimate way to experience a foreign culture, so close to the inhabitants in and outside of the train. From school children to business men, to women with their produce, to monks, to vendors selling foods walking through the carriages; the train is a concentration of local life. And by the sides of the railway is no exception. Life goes on so close to the tracks. The Sri Lankan people make you feel so welcome. Children excitedly watch as you photograph or film, others tap you on the shoulder pointing out the next great shot approaching. Infinite tea fields, with women plucking the ripe leaves. Point out people playing cricket track side and you’ll be asked if you play yourself and off the conversation goes. Your Sri Lankan rail experience terminates with some seriously spectacular views over Ella Gap. We will get off at Ella Railway station and transfer to Ella Jungle Resort, an adventure hub in the island. Dinner and overnight stay at Eco Lodges of Ella Jungle Resort.
Day 9 - Ella – Udawalawe National Park, Cycling 85km
Today should be a breeze after the last days of cycling. Starting from 920m altitude at the breathtaking mountain views, we’ll fly down out of the mountains to the plains of southern Sri Lanka. Enjoy the ride as we glide along some fantastic roads. During the final kilometers of our ride today we will see clearly the mountains from which we came presented in a beautiful panoramic vista. Our day of cycling is completed in an unusual fashion today. We’ll pack the bikes away and load up for a genuine safari trek at dusk, Sri Lankan style. Watching from afar we’ll enjoy seeing wild Asian elephants venturing out for their evening bathing ritual. Tonight’s accommodation will be a unique experience for all; camping beneath the stars in the heart of a National Park. Fully equipped tents with everything from beds, to bathroom, to wall-to-wall carpet will guarantee you a comfortable nights’ sleep. Enjoy a hearty BBQ meal and overnight stay at Luxury camp by Master Campers.
Day 10 - Udawalawe National Park – Mirissa, Cycling 125km
After the breakfast at the campsite we will back to the park entrance by a safari drive. A long day on the road today will bring us from the open plains of Udawalawe back towards the coast. Leaving the National Park we’ll cycle by rice paddies and wetlands teeming with wildlife. The numerous kilometres today will be well rewarded in the end; stretches of pristine palm lined beaches, crystal blue water and some fantastic surf. Take a well earned dip in the ocean after our big day of cycling. This evening we’ll lap up a beach side accommodation, Paradise Beach Club, dining on fresh seafood and perhaps sipping a chilled glass of wine. In all, a tropical beach scene that dreams are made of.
Day 11 - Mirissa – Bentota, Cycling 36km, Train Transfer
How about seeing some of the big five of Sri Lanka? Blue Whales & Sperm Whales? Today we will give a relax to our legs from yesterday’s long day out of the legs. Early morning we will go for a whale Watching Boat Ride off Mirissa Beach. Once you finish the boat ride, you will be transferred to Bentota via Galle. We’ll dismount in Galle, a city with a colourful history to say the least; a harbour city, invaded by the Portuguese, taken over by the Dutch, then the English, and most recently Galle was heavily struck by the 2004 Tsunami causing great loss of life. A fortified city built by the Portuguese, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the centre point of Galle. To finish the day we’ll get into the vehicle to arrive at the doorstep of our hotel, Bentota Beach Hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 12 - Bentota, Cycling 35km
Take the day off today and just relax by the pool or swim in the Indian Ocean. Take a canoe ride along the Bentota Ganga (river) with locals to discover the wondrous ecosystem hidden in the mangroves and see how Sri Lankans have integrated their life into this wet zone. Visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery; operated by the Wild Life Protection Society of Sri Lanka. It was established in 1981 to protect Sri Lanka's turtles from extinction. If you wish there are some nice back roads around here well worth cycling should you have the desire to pedal one more time. There’s a bustling market across the bridge in Bentota Town just a short walk away where you can grab some last minute bargains. There are also numerous water sports available in the area. Enjoy your last day visiting Sri Lanka with the freedom of your own time.
Day 13 - Bentota – Colombo Airport
With bikes and bags packed we say farewell to our cycling friends new and old. Those leaving today will have an airport transfer vehicle on standby to take you to your flight. Any guests wishing to continue their stay here or elsewhere in Sri Lanka can also benefit from Wild Holidays Travels.