The group flight usually departs in the morning from London Heathrow.
Arrive at Bandaranayake International Airport in the early hours and and transfer to Sigiriya, (4 hours) where we stay for the next 2 nights. After arrival we sit down to breakfast and the trip briefing whilst rooms become available. You are free to relax for a few hours before we meet up after lunch to put our bikes together for an afternoon ride around the tarred and gravel roads that surround Sigiriya. Virtually traffic free, we may encounter a monkey or two. Land only passengers can meet us at the hotel or at the airport in time for the transfer to Sigiriya.
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, we end back at our hotel for lunch and a relaxing swim in the pool. In the late afternoon we climb Sigiriya the 5th century rock fortress, to see the beautiful frescoes painted onto the rock face (nb - not recommended for those suffering from vertigo). The ruins of the palace on the summit are surpassed only by the magnificent aerial view of the surrounding jungle. Stay as long as you like, as it's only 10 minutes walk back to our hotel. Ride approx. 52km.
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 over night stay. For those who feel they need 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. Ride approx. 73km.
We follow the lake's man-made 6km dam and feeder canal to its source, the Amban Ganga River, stopping for lunch in the shade of one of the giant overhanging trees. The river's cool water may tempt you for a swim (so keep a spare pair of shorts in your day pack) before lunch, a mixture of local specialty rotties (spicy curry pancakes) and fresh fruits from the market. The afternoon ride is flanked by the stunning Kalanduwa hills on one side and the boarders 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 small family-run guest house with small cabbanas dotted around the estate, its 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 currys, the owners can arrange a visit to one of the renowned spice gardens a short walk down the road. Ride approx. 80km. Basic Lodge
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 the Arab spice traders, still control most of the spice market, which is a good place to pick some freshly ground curry powder of your own. We may have to transfer the last few km to avoid traffic, as Kandy's roads are as old as the city. Surrounded by hills the town is centered around the Temple of the Tooth. The afternoon is free to wander through the streets and markets. Ride approx. 53km
A free day in Kandy to explore the town. Kandy has many interesting attractions including the wonderful Botanical Gardens, The famous Temple of the Tooth, streets lined with interesting curio shops or the surrounding hills that are dotted with wonderful temples.
For anyone who doesn't do hills, we strongly recommend the train ride to Nuwara Eliya, the highest point on the island! Those who feel like a challenge, its 94km climbing up to 2000m above sea level To the highest and most favoured Hill station. 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 and the area is reputed to produce the finest teas on the island. Ride approx. 94km.
The morning is free to visit the town and a tea factory or you can organise a trip to Horton Plains, a 2000m undulating plateau of grassland and forest. Several of Sri Lanka's endemic birds can be seen here as well as Sambur and spotted deer. Leaving Nuwara Eliya mid morning, we cycle 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 Ella Gap. On a clear day you can see the coast shimmering in the distance Ride approx. 66km.
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 Satutes 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; on whose banks we can enjoy some fresh fruits before riding on to lunch. Here we can relax from the heat of the day, before the final 30km to Tissamharama the Capital of the old Ruhuna Kingdom, ride approx 102km.
Tissa is close to Yala National Park, the best park in Sri Lanka to see Leopard. During the morning safari, you may see elephant, deer, wild boar, sloth bear, asian jackel, and lots of birdlife and if very lucky a leopard. We return to Tissa for lunch and an afternoon cycle to Kataragama temple, which lies 16km north east of the town. People of all faiths come to seek favour with the god Skanda, who is reputed to restore people's health. The colourful and noisy night time pooja is always busy, with thousands of pilgrim's during the festival season, July - August. Ride approx. 32km
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 thousand of flamingos can be seen wading in the brackish shallows, eyed up by crocodiles, basking in the early morning sun. After 25km we hit the coast 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 you will stay in Ahangama.
Relax at the hotel or join a late morning ride along rural roads to Wandurugama, a small village, for lunch at a family home. Returning via Koggala lake, in time for a swim, before watching the sunset followed by an evening fish BBQ at the hotel. From November to April you can also go Whale watching off Dondra head, near Mirrissa, 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.
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. Your free to find your own lunch, meeting back at the bus for 1.30pm for the 3hr drive to Colombo arriving late afternoon. The rest of the day is free to relax by the pool or shop along the main highstreet. For the last evening meal we can choose from one of the many restaurants in 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 ends after check out.