Cycle Tour from North to South of Sri Lankaoffered by supplier M20818 (read about supplier)
Tour Duration: 14 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 16 people
Destination(s): Sri Lanka
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 1595 Pound Sterling (GBP)
Maximum Per Person Price: 1695 Pound Sterling (GBP)
We head inland towards Habanara in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, cycling through Kaudulla National Park: a wild life haven. A rest day in Habanara gives us time to visit the nearby extraordinary Sigiriya fortress with its series of moats, ramparts and water gardens. Moving on to Polonnaruwa we have more time to explore this cornerstone of the cultural triangle, discovering medieval ruins and sacred temples. Cycling through more beautiful scenery we reach Mahiyanganaya at the foot of the Knuckles mountain range. We head into the highlands reaching the temperate climes of tea plantations and areas characterized by colonial British culture, on a journey through hillsides blanketed in green with stunning views. Our Sri Lanka: North to South cycling tour ends in Kandy, the island’s second largest city and capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom.
Day 1: Arrive Colombo.
You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. There will be a group meeting this evening.
Day 2: Colombo - Jaffna.
We take an early morning train heading north to Jaffna in Sri Lanka’s Tamil heartland. The railway line to Jaffna was reopened in 2014 and rolling stock ranges from brightly coloured colonial style carriages with air conditioning, to more basic trains, and the recently introduced higher grade Chinese built locomotives with first class accommodation. The journey begins with beautiful sea views as far as Colombo Fort, taking us through Kurunegala, Anuuradhapura and Vavuniya in a verdant inland landscape. Approaching the Jaffna Penninsula we traverse the Elephant Pass, a narrow strip of land where the animals were once driven across from the Indian mainland to the Tamil area. Most significantly in recent history the pass was the location of two major battles during the civil war in 1991 and 2000. We continue through a patchwork of green fields and small holdings to reach Jaffna. Once we have checked into our hotel there is time to explore the town. This afternoon we will cycle out to one of the beaches on the Jaffna peninsula.
Day 3: Jaffna Peninsula Circular Route.
We begin by cycling out past Jaffna Port to Kayts (Velani) the bottom half of a crescent of islands. A mere strip of road takes us across the causeway onto the island. We cycle a flat open route dotted with derelict buildings, fishing villages and Hindu temples. We take the ferry across to Karainagar (Karaitivu). Cars, cyclists and pedestrians all use this crossing to hop between the south and the north island. Located on the northern tip of Karainagar is remote, tree lined Casuarina beach. With white sands and shallow swimming waters the beach is a picturesque stopping point. From here you can see Fort Hammenhiel, a 17th C Portuguese Fort built from coral stone on its own sand bank in the sea, just a boat ride away from the island. This is the only Sri Lankan fort that has been built in the sea. The road takes us back to Jaffna along a 4km causeway with lagoon on one side and ocean on the other. We will see wading fisherman at work close by. The Jaffna Peninsula has large areas of lagoon and salinized ponds. From March to September, migrant birds in their thousands flock to these brackish waters. Greater Flamingos and many varieties of wader numbering in their thousands are a sight to behold. Jaffna is a popular destination for nature lovers especially birders.
Day 4: Jaffna - Killinochchi.
We head back southward today, to Killinochchi, cycling across the Elephant Pass. Formerly the Tamil Tigers ‘capital’ and now re emerging from the devastation of war, Kilinochchi is in development and our accommodation this evening will be simple. Nonetheless you will receive a friendly welcome.
Day 5: Killinochchi - Mulliyawalai.
We cycle today toward the east coast of Sri Lanka to the town of Mulliyawalai. The town is rebuilding in the wake of nearly three decades of civil war. As the area is gradually resettled tourism offers opportunities for local communities Where the west coast of the island has experienced a boom in tourism the eastern shores have an unpolished natural hue. The Nanthi Kadal lagoon was the last point of conflict in the war where then army defeated and killed large numbers, including Velupillai Prabhakaran, Leader of the LTTE. Today there are few traces of this troubled past. Herons inhabit the tidal flats and marshy grasslands. Palmyra palm trees grow along the shore although there are areas barred by yellow tape and skull-and-crossbones signs and the warning, “Mines” in English, Sinhalese and Tamil.
Day 6: Mulliyawalai - Nilaveli.
Today we continue along the East Sri Lankan coastline with a short ferry crossing. The area, has undeniably outstanding naturally beauty. Nilaveli, stretches for around 4km along golden sands. 1 km off shore Pigeon Island national park (in fact 2 small islands). As far back as 1963 Pigeon Island was designated as a bird sanctuary. In 2003 it achieved national park status. (permit required). The island take its name from the colonies of rock pigeon which reside here. The national park contains some of the best remaining coral reefs off Sri Lanka. The reef is shallow, so easily visible to snorkelers as well as as divers. There are many types of coral, fish and turtles.
Day 7: Nilaveli - Habanarana.
We head inland today to Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, cycling through Kaudulla National Park. The park was established to create a ‘migratory corridor’ for elephants connecting with Minneriya and Wasgomuwa national parks to the south, and Somawathiya National Park to the north and east. At the centre of the park is the Kaudulla Tank, an ancient watering hole where elephants gather its remains replenished when other pools and lakes in the park, are gone in the dry season. Other wildlife in the park include: sambar deer, monkeys and and sloth bears, leopards and a wide variety of birds. We cycle on a further 22km to reach Habarana.
Day 8: Habarana Rest Day.
Habarana is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s cultural heartland. A short 14 km journey away is Sigiriya’s Lion Rock. This ‘eighth wonder of the world’ dates back to the 5th century B.C. There are landscaped gardens, ponds, moats and ramparts, twisting steps and stairways up to the ruins of the King’s palace high on top of the rock. Habarana Lake is encircled by a small footpath. It takes around an hour and a half to walk around the water. You will see fishermen constantly out in the middle of this 25 acre expanse or water. 138 species of birds have been spotted here. Some of these are protected and native to Habarana and 2 are endangered species.
Day 9: Habarana - Polonnaruwa.
We have a much shorter day’s cycling today leaving us time to explore Polonnaruwa; a cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. This medieval capital (11th - 12th Century AD) remains a well-preserved city of stupas, moonstones, beautiful parks, towering buildings and imposing statues from antiquity. Ancient treasures include some fine examples of art and architecture from the period, such as the giant Buddha statues of the Gal Vihara. The ruins of the city are spread out over an extensive area of woodland and a bicycle is the ideal way to explore the sprawling temple complex. To visit all major sites you’ll cover around 15 km.
Day 10: Polonnaruwa - Mahiyanganaya.
We depart Polonnaruwa, cycling southwards through paddy fields. to Mahiyanganaya following a scenic route with Wasgomuwa National Park to the east and Mauduru Oya to the west. Mahingaya is a small town on the plains at the foot of the Knuckles mountain range and we will have great views of the range during the day. Around Mahiyangana there are national parks, bird watching stations and wildlife sanctuaries. - Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple. The elegant white building is believed to be the site of Buddha's first visit to the country, and is one of the Solosmasthana: the 16 sacred religious locations in Sri Lanka. Nearby is Dambana Vedda village, home to the last inland remaining indigenous people of Sri Lanka. Originally hunter-gatherers, they used bows and arrows to hunt game, and also gathered wild plants and honey. Many Veddas also farm, and East Coast Veddas are fisherman. Veddas are famously known for their rich meat diet.
Day 11: Mahiyanganaya - Ella.
We cycle 77km further south today to Ella. In an idyllic setting surrounded by hillsides blanketed in tea and a temperate climate this isolated town has underdone development in recent times but it remains a beautiful location. The Rawana Ella Falls are a dramatic 25m stretch of water cascading through the hillside. Although enticing swimming here is not recommended.
Day 12: Ella - Nuwara Eliya.
Nuwara Eliya was built by the British and remains quintessentially colonial complete with post box, golf course and vegetables you may recognize from home. A cool mountain retreat, there are many guest houses here catering to the tourist trade. Other popular landmarks dating back to British colonial times are Victoria Park and Gregory Lake, where you can take a boat ride. An an easy way to get around is to take a trishaw.
Day 13: Nuwara Eliya - Kandy.
Our journey takes us north east today to Kandy, we can stop at the small village of Hanguranketa to visit an ancient temple with murals that date from the 18th C when the Kingdom of Kandy was an independent monarchy. The Hanguranketa valley is is reputed to produce the finest teas on the island. Cycling onwards we reach Kandy, our final destination on the tour. The hill station Kandy is regarded as Sri Lanka’s second city and is home to the Temple of the Tooth an important religious shrine. A sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha has been enshrined here since 4th Century. The temple has decorative walls, a golden roof and fine woodwork. Religious services (pooja) with traditional music and drumming are held daily at dawn, mid-day and in the evening where guests can participate. The town is a mix of traditional and colonial architecture, at the town’s centre is a small lake. Kandy was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese, when the island had been invaded by Portuguese Dutch and English. Its customs and culture have endured in the city’s unique music, dance and architecture. The Udawattekelle forest reserve is right at the heart of the city. In minutes you can leave the bustling city centre for tranquil jungle surroundings. This evening we celebrate the end of our tour with a farewell meal.
Day 14: Departure Day.
We can help you arrange a transfer today back to the airport at extra cost.
Supplemental Tour Information:
The trip does not include: your international flights, some meals in transit, and on rest days. (Light lunch and refreshments will be provided by our back up crew on moving on days), drinks, including mineral water, other than those supplied with meals, visa costs ($30), gratuities (these are at the discretion of the tour participants), any other personal expenses, travel Insurance.
Airfare is not included in the tour price.
Own room from: £325
Bike Hire from: £185
e-bike Hire from: £370.
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Joined InfoHub: Mar 2011
M20818 is a specialist company taking small groups of cyclists to spectacular, remote areas of the world. We offer a unique blend of physical challenges, cultural experiences and cycling camaraderie, at highly competitive prices. M20818 guides are experienced cyclists and tour leaders. Destinations include Laos,...