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Cycle the Back Roads of Sri Lanka - Premium

Cycle the Back Roads of Sri Lanka - Premium

1-800-267-3347

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  • Holiday type
    Guided cycling
  • Duration
    13 nights
  • Accommodation
    hotel-to-hotel
  • Activity level
  • Call usfor dates and prices
  • Departures
    Selected Tuesday and Saturday departures from 1 Jan '70 to 1 Jan '70
  • What's Included?
  • All breakfasts and 10 lunches
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Airport transfers (for group flights only)
  • Local bike hire
  • Key Information
  • This holiday is operated by our sister company, Exodus
  • 10 days cycling (including 1 optional ride) with full vehicle support
  • 95% tarmac, 5% unsurfaced road
  • Routes mostly follow quiet back roads, there are frequent climbs
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader and driver. Min age 16 years
  • 13 nights premium hotels

Sri Lanka:

Cycle the Back Roads of Sri Lanka - Premium

  • Operated by our sister company, Exodus
  • The magnificent cave temple at Dambulla
  • Climb the rock fortress at Sigiriya for breathtaking views
  • Explore the old ruined city of Polonnaruwa
  • The fascinating town of Kandy
  • Ride through tea estates to Nuwara Eliya
  • Search for leopard in Yala National Park

Although a compact island, Sri Lanka is incredibly diverse. Exploring on two wheels is the best way to see this rural country and to experience the way of life of its friendly people. We travel from ancient cities and the fortress at Sigiriya to the hill country towns of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, where the cooler temperatures and lush scenery make for a relaxing ride. In the south we visit Yala National Park, where we go in search of leopard, before ending the trip on the beaches of the beautiful south coast. Most of the route is a continuous ride, and transfers are kept to a minimum.

In many regions of Sri Lanka the bicycle is the most common form of transport, so travelling by bike yourself is a great way to mix with the people and to gain access to their world. This trip covers a substantial part of the island, taking in as much as possible of the scenic and cultural variety that Sri Lanka has to offer. The combination of visits to the ancient cities, great rides through the beautiful hill country, the varied wildlife, and a chance to relax on one of the many wonderful beaches, will certainly give you a taste for serendipity.



We're here to help

If you have any questions about this holiday call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347, use our live webchat or email usa@exodustravels.com

Typical holiday itinerary



We're here to help

If you've any questions about this holiday call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 , or email usa@exodustravels.com

Day 1: Start Dambulla

The group flight from London typically arrives at Bandaranayake International Airport around lunchtime and we transfer to Dambulla (approximately 4 hours) where we stay for the next 2 nights.

Amaya Lake or similar

Day 2: Ride to Dambulla cave temple; climb Sigiriya Rock

After breakfast we ride along gravel roads following an old irrigation canal to Dambulla, the 2nd Century BC Buddhist cave temple. It is well worth the walk to view the five caves, which contain many ancient Buddha statues, some carved from the solid rock. Returning via the busy market town we take another quiet back road riding through chilli and rice fields before cycling back at our hotel for lunch and a relaxing swim in the pool. In the late afternoon we climb the 5th Century rock fortress of Sigiriya to see the beautiful frescoes painted onto the rock face (not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo). The ruins of the palace on the summit are surpassed only by the magnificent aerial view of the surrounding jungle.

Amaya Lake or similar

Day 3: Ride to Polunnaruwa; cycle tour of ruins

A long morning ride along a quiet back road which is part of the Sigiriya nature reserve, before joining the highway travelling east towards Polonnaruwa, riding all the way to our lunch stop and overnight stay. For those who fancy a swim, the hotel also has a swimming pool, a pleasant place to spend the hot early afternoon. Later we tour the old ruined city of Polonnaruwa, which dates from the 10-13th centuries.

Deer Park Hotel or similar

Day 4: Ride through foothills of spice growing region

We follow the local lake's man-made 6km dam and feeder canal to its source, the Amban Ganga River. The afternoon ride is flanked by the stunning Kalanduwa hills on one side and the borders of Wasgomuwa Wildlife Park on the other. As the jungle gives way to plantations, we enter the spice growing region of Sri Lanka. The night is spent in a family-run guest house with small cabanas dotted around the estate. It’s basic but the home cooking in clay pots on wood fired stoves gives you the real flavour of Sri Lanka. If you would like to find out more about the spices used in the piquant Lankan curries, the owners can arrange a visit to one of the renowned spice gardens a short walk down the road.

Thilanka Resort and Spa or similarThilanka Resort & Spa

Day 5: Ride to Kandy

Today is tougher as we head for the hills and Kandy, the spiritual and cultural capital of the hill country. Those who feel like an easy day can jump onto the bus for the 50km trip to Kandy, while the rest of us pedal away, riding through the Moorish town of Matale. Its inhabitants, descendants from Arab spice traders, still control most of the spice market, which is a good place to pick up some freshly ground curry powder. As Kandy's roads are as old as the city itself, we may have to drive the last few kilometres to avoid the traffic. Surrounded by hills, the town is centred around a small lake and the Temple of the Tooth. The afternoon is free to wander through the streets and markets.

Hotel Thilanka or similar

Day 6: Free day in Kandy

A free day to explore the town. Kandy has many interesting attractions including the wonderful Botanical Gardens, the famous Temple of the Tooth, and streets lined with interesting curio shops. The surrounding hills are dotted with wonderful temples.Hotel Thilanka or similar

Day 7: Challenging ride through tea estates to Nuwara Eliya

For anyone who doesn't do hills, we strongly recommend the train ride to Nuwara Eliya. For those who feel like a challenge, it’s 84km, climbing up to 2000m above sea level to reach this most favoured hill station. For the first part of the ride we take the old road, a far more pleasant route, and one of the few places where you see terraced paddy fields. Beyond the paddy fields is tea country and the area is reputed to produce the finest teas on the island. Tickets for the train journey are dependent on availabilty on the day (although usually available, there may be the chance that the bus will need to be used instead for those who don't fancy the hill).

St Andrews Hotel or similar

Day 8: Hill country ride to Ella

In the morning we visit a tea factory on the edge of the town, and then cycle through hilly country towards Ella, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant and later tea in Bandarawella, a trading centre where exotic fruits from the east coast are traded for hill-country vegetables. Arriving in the late afternoon, we watch the sunset from the famous view point of Ella Gap. On a clear day you can see the coast shimmering in the distance.

Hotel Heaven's Edge or similar

Day 9: Descent of 1000m, stopping at the impressive rock-cut Buddha statues at Buduruvagela; to Tissamaharama

Descending 1000m we leave the breathtaking scenery of Uva Province for the gentle rolling hills of the dry zone, stopping at the impressive rock-cut Buddha Statues at Buduruvagala. The giant 15m rock carving of Buddha is flanked by small figures depicting his helpers and a very rare image of Maitreya, the future Buddha, which dates from the 10th Century. The tranquillity of the place is enhanced by the lotus-covered lake where we will relax on the banks and enjoy some fresh fruit before riding on to lunch. Here we can retreat from the heat of the day, before the final 30km to Tissamaharama, the capital of the old Ruhuna Kingdom.

Kithala Resort or similar

Day 10: Morning ride to Kataragama Temple; afternoon drive to Yala N.P. for safari

In the morning we cycle to Kataragama temple, which lies 16km northeast of Tissa. People of all faiths come to seek favour with the god Skanda, who is reputed to restore people's health. The colourful and noisy pooja is always busy, with thousands of pilgrims during the festival season from July - August. Tissa is close to Yala National Park, the best park in Sri Lanka to see leopard. After lunch we have a safari in the park, when we may see elephant, deer, wild boar, sloth bear, asian jackal, lots of birdlife and if very lucky a leopard. We return to Tissa for the night (please note that the sanctuary may be closed for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to check the animals. We therefore go to an alternative area close by, usually the Udawalawe National Park).

Kithala Resort or similar

Day 11: Ride through Bundala N.P. and the lagoon for spectacular birdlife; continue riding on coast to Hambantota; transfer to Ahangama

Leaving early to avoid the heat of the dry zone, we ride along the boundary of Bundala Bird Sanctuary. During certain times of the year thousands of flamingos can be seen wading in the brackish shallows, eyed up by crocodiles, basking in the early morning sun. We hit the main road for the final 30km to Hambantota, a series of sandy bays fanning out from this typical coastal town. Transfer from Hambantota to Ahangama by coach. For the next 2 nights we stay in Ahangama.

Amari Galle or similar

Day 12: Free day on beach; optional ride to Koggala

Relax at the hotel or join a late morning ride along rural roads to the village of Wandurugama before returning via Koggala Lake and back to the hotel to end our riding. This afternoon is free to explore the beach area or swim and laze by the pool. In the late afternoon we can view the stilt fishermen climb their poles to catch a few bites for supper. From November to April we can also go whale watching off Dondra head, near Mirissa, which is one of the best places in the world for seeing Blue and Sperm whales. Huge pods of dolphins are also often seen accompanying the boats.

Amari Galle or similar

Day 13: Transfer to Colombo via Galle

Leaving mid morning, we will stop to visit Galle. The Old Dutch fort was built in 1663 after the Dutch took the island from the Portuguese. The old ramparts and small back streets bring alive some of the history of the fight for colonial domination of this prized island. You’re free to find your own lunch, meeting back at the bus around 2.30pm for the 2 hour drive to Colombo. The rest of the day is free to relax by the pool or shop along the main street. For the last evening meal we can choose from one of the many restaurants in Colombo.

Ramada or similar

Day 14: End Colombo

If you are travelling on the group flight we will have a morning transfer to the airport for the daytime flight to London. The arrangements for those not flying with the group end after check out.

Where you stay

During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.

To find out more call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347, use our live webchat or email usa@exodustravels.com

Hotels

You will spend 13 nights in premium hotels. We use a range of 4-star hotels, or the local equivalent. These offer more comfort and the rooms and services are of a higher quality than on standard Exodus trips. Most have pools and excellent facilities as well as restaurants serving a range of local specialities and international dishes.

Single accommodation (available on request)

Please note paying the single supplement may not mean that you receive a double or twin room for sole use. The room you are allocated may differ from hotel to hotel, and on some nights a smaller room for ‘one person’ may well be allocated.


Meals

All breakfasts and 10 lunches included.

Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Despite, or perhaps because of, these influences Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to simply as ‘Rice and Curry’; this is the staple dish in most restaurants and is usually a serving of rice accompanied by assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles ‘sambols’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic. The variety is constant and this along with the abundance of fresh seafood and fish ensures the cuisine is a constant highlight of the trip. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent (for example, wheat or dairy-free) so please be prepared for this as you may need to bring these from home. Spicier food can be avoided easily and lots of the hotels with serve Western options alongside traditional food. All lunch and tea stops are subject to change dependent on the cycling speed of the group as well as the weather conditions.

Travel

Our aim is to provide holidays that are unbeatable for choice and flexibility. We've listed our most popular travel options below, however you aren't limited to these - we can tailor-make virtually any holiday to suit.

To find out more about the travel options available call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347, use our live webchat or email usa@exodustravels.com

Transfers

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Headwater has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Transportation

Transfers to and from the airport are in a private bus. All your luggage and personal belongings will be carried by the support vehicles. Transfer sections will be done in the minicoach, which is air-conditioned. The support vehicle will follow the riders almost all of the time for those on the main route, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like.

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Sri Lankan Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up-to-date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Dambulla and ending in Colombo

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Dambulla in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. Accommodation check-in times are normally from around 12 noon.  If you wish to book a private transfer to the start or from the end point please contact your sales agent. Please note the cost of our private transfer is likely to be higher than a local taxi as our service is subject to local government tax. We only allocate vetted drivers.

Reviews

Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. As this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available from our customers, but here are the comments that have been received from previous Exodus travellers.

A wonderful holiday with wonderful people! Our exceptional hosts Ruwan and team lead us on an amazing journey, exploring the countryside, the wildlife and introducing us to their culture and way of life. I was very much looking forward to my first trip to Sri Lanka and I loved it. Cycling through the countryside, paddy fields teaming with bird life, being greeted with big smiles and high fives from the locals was a real pleasure. I really enjoyed the hilly days, some are challenging then the lion beer, curry and rice at the end of the day are perfect.

A wonderful holiday with wonderful people! Our exceptional hosts Ruwan and team lead us on an amazing journey, exploring the countryside, the wildlife and introducing us to their culture and way of life. I was very much looking forward to my first trip to Sri Lanka and I loved it. Cycling through the countryside, paddy fields teaming with bird life, being greeted with big smiles and high fives from the locals was a real pleasure. I really enjoyed the hilly days, some are challenging then the lion beer, curry and rice at the end of the day are perfect.

A well organised trip with lots of variety to keep everyone interested.

This trip was so much more than expected. Our guide, Suresh, and his team were superb, seamlessly organising every aspect of our trip - snacks, luggage into hotels, tyre changes and even a shelter to get changed under when the rain became too torrential to cycle in! His knowledge and love for his country and the extra events he organised (e.g. dinner ‘al fresco’) combined with his great sense of humour made this a trip we will never forget - definitely an amazing way to experience the scenery and local life of this beautiful country. Other than one hotel, where we had no running water (this could have been due to the torrential rain), a mattress on a concrete slab and insects galore, the majority of hotels were good and some were very good. The cycling for me (a regular but non club cyclist) was tough in places but generally manageable other than the long uphill ride to Nuwara Eliya where I managed to cycle to the lunch stop. My advice to anyone in the same situation would be to take the train - it would give you the advantage of having the afternoon in the hotel and time to see the surrounding area, rather than travelling in the support vehicle. All in all, an experience not to be missed!

A really enjoyable trip with a charismatic tour leader, and superb scenery, wildlife and food. The support team were great, always trying their best to look after you, and the driver had nerves of steel negotiating the chaotic traffic. Sri Lanka has emerged from some dark times, and is once again a terrific place to visit, with great variety and vibrancy and a lovely, friendly vibe. Plenty of smiles and high-fives as you ride through the landscape, shouts of “Bye!” Following you down the road.

Excellent holiday in a wonderful country - fun cycling with a lovely group of people, great food, amazing scenery and wildlife, and lots of local life to observe and enjoy.

This was a wonderful trip with great cycling, eating, sight-seeing and so much more. We got a great insight into the local history, culture and economy. The group got on well and enjoyed the wit and humour of its members, but the tone was set by the leader, Suresh, who informed us and amused us in equal measure.

Great cycling holiday through a stunning country.

If you are having any doubt about booking this, think again. This is a trip of a lifetime and a truely amazing experiance. Cycling the backroads of Sri Lanka gives you a wonderful insight into the country.

Fantastic trip- beautiful country with lots to see, friendly people and great food

Dates and prices

You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.

Find out about The Headwater Price Promise to ensure you're getting the very best value for money.

This 13 night guided cycling holiday includes:

All breakfasts and 10 lunches

All accommodation (see below)

All transport and listed activities

Tour leader throughout

Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

Airport transfers (for group flights only)

Local bike hire


How to book:

For further details, or to check availability, speak to our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or complete our holiday enquiry form (we'll contact you at a time that's most convenient for you).

To enquire about this holiday, or for further information, call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or complete our holiday enquiry form.

Please call for prices

We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.

Key information

This holiday is operated by our sister company, Exodus

10 days cycling (including 1 optional ride) with full vehicle support

95% tarmac, 5% unsurfaced road

Routes mostly follow quiet back roads, there are frequent climbs

Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader and driver. Min age 16 years

13 nights premium hotels

Transfers

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Headwater has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Transportation

Transfers to and from the airport are in a private bus. All your luggage and personal belongings will be carried by the support vehicles. Transfer sections will be done in the minicoach, which is air-conditioned. The support vehicle will follow the riders almost all of the time for those on the main route, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like.

Joining instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Sri Lankan Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up-to-date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Dambulla and ending in Colombo

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Dambulla in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. Accommodation check-in times are normally from around 12 noon.  If you wish to book a private transfer to the start or from the end point please contact your sales agent. Please note the cost of our private transfer is likely to be higher than a local taxi as our service is subject to local government tax. We only allocate vetted drivers.



Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for Cycle the Back Roads of Sri Lanka - Premium. Simply complete the form below (fields marked * are mandatory) and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.

Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

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