Cycle the Backroads of Sri Lanka

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Trip code: 
MIR
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Explore rich Sri Lankan history and culture by bike

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.

Highlights

  • 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

Key information

  • 10 days cycling (including 1 optional ride) with full vehicle support
  • 95% tarmac, 5% unsurfaced road
  • Routes mostly follow quiet backroads, with frequent climbs
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader and driver. Min age 16 years
  • 11 nights hotels, 2 nights guesthouses, all en suite

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)
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

10

Days of Cycling
Pace:

Moderate: 13-16km/8-10miles an hour

Terrain:

Low altitude; 95% tarmac, 5% unsurfaced roads

Day by day breakdown
Day 352.0km/32.0miles
Day 473.0km/45.0miles
Day 580.0km/49.0miles
Day 653.0km/32.0miles
Day 884.0km/52.0miles
Day 966.0km/41.0miles
Day 10102.0km/63.0miles
Day 1132.0km/19.0miles
Day 1237.0km/22.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London

    The group flight usually departs in the evening from London Heathrow.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Colombo; transfer to Sigiriya

    The group flight from London typically arrives at Bandaranayake International Airport around lunchtime and we transfer to Sigiriya (approximately 4 hours) where we stay for the next 2 nights.
    Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Lunch
  • Day 3

    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. Stay as long as you like, as it's only 10 minutes walk back to our hotel.
    Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    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.
    The Village Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    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.
    Countryside Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    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 alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    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 alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    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).
    Hill Club Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

  • Day 9

    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 Bandarawela, 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.
    Hotel Country Comfort or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    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.
    Chandrika Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 11

    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).
    Chandrika Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 12

    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.
    Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 13

    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.
    Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    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 at 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.
    Hotel Mirage or alternative accommodation in the area

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Fly to London

    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.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Maldives

If you are keen to end your holiday on a very relaxed note we can arrange a visit to the Maldives for you.

The flight from Colombo is around 1 hour and upon arrival you will be transferred by speedboat (approximately 20mins) to the Paradise Island 4* resort. Paradise Island is a beautiful coral island with a total land area of 178,900 square metres, covered with lush tropical vegetation, numerous palm trees, surrounded by a wide sandy beach and the crystal clear waters of an azure lagoon.

 You can choose to add on as many extra nights to your trip as you wish; your time on the island will be at leisure for you to do as you wish. The accommodation used has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, room service and all rooms are air‐conditioned and have en suite facilities. As well as the modern amenities of the resort there is also access to scuba diving and snorkelling or for the less active the chance to swim in these wonderful, calm waters. Either way it is a veritable paradise and a memorable end to the trip.

 If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity then we can arrange flights for you to Malé as well as booking the hotel and speedboat transfer to the island.

Essential Info

Visas

Sri Lanka

A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local Sri Lankan Embassy or the ETA website www.eta.gov.lk. Passengers should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offence; please note that people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha.

Vaccinations

Sri Lanka

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

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.

Weather

Because of its location near the equator, Sri Lanka has a hot and humid climate. At the higher elevations, however, the climate is cool; the humidity is relatively lower in the northern and central parts of the country. The average annual temperature is 32ºC (90ºF) in the lowlands and 21ºC (70ºF) in the higher mountainous regions, though it can get chilly in the hill country at night.

Galle

Is this trip for you?

Average daily distance: 65km / 40 miles

No. of days cycling: 10 (inluding 1 optional ride)

Vehicle Support: Fully supported

Terrain is hilly, particularly around Nuwara Eliya and the hill country, but the support vehicle available is if required. Routes mostly follow quiet backroads with occasional unsurfaced sections which may be rough in places. Rides are designed to run door-to-door without transfers. Keeping to the backroads means that there is less traffic but it will become busier when approaching towns.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

Accommodation on this trip is a mixture of tourist-class hotels, some with pools and some local guesthouses. Guesthouses are simple but in good locations along the cycle route giving a real flavour of the country. All rooms have en suite facilities. Wi-Fi is available at the majority of places, either in the rooms or the communal areas.

The hotel that we typically use in Nuwara Eliya has been selected for the character of the premises and the appearance of its grounds but the level of service is not always at the standard of the other hotels on this itinerary.

The Hill Club in Numara Eliya was originally set up as a private  members’ club. Some traditions are still in place and so occasionally rooms  are blocked off for a members’ conference.  It might be that in the months of April , June , July , September or December we are not able to secure rooms at the hill club. If this is the case we will accommodate your  group in a similar standard hotel in Nuwara Eliya, though the hotel  may not have the same kind of ‘old style’ character.

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.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • Reviewed April 2018
    David Brady

    Maximum damage, maximum fun!

    This was my first group ride and, as such, didn’t know what to expect. However, from arrival at the airport and meeting the group leader, it was obvious that this was going to be fun and a little challenging at times, mainly due to the heat and humidity. I have to say that the whole trip was very well planned out, with plenty of good cycling, fabulous sightseeing, food and drink sampling, with friendly locals along the way. Many happy memories, new friends and a longing for the next trip!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Several of the amazing sights, wonderful temples, massive variety of great food; some good challenges on the bike too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh is one of those people who make managing a group of 16 people, bikes, itineraries etc look easy. Calm assurance and reassurance, if need be, along with a permanent smile and sense of humour, helped us all through the cycling even when the going got a bit tough. He’s a great asset to Exodus and I’d recommend him for ‘tour guide of the year’ without a moments hesitation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your own saddle and pedals if possible, as this can make a big difference to you; keep well hydrated throughout and eat sensibly.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Carol Merritt

    Cycle the Backroads of Sri Lanka

    Fantastic! Sri Lanka is a hidden gem, a beautiful country and to explore it on 2 wheels you see it at it's best. I've enjoyed all our cycle trips with Exodus, but this one in particular benefits from door to door cycling and it's only the transfer from Colombo airport/return which you have to jump into the minibus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along the river bank watching families swimming, women washing their clothes and water buffalo further downstream, not to mention all the wildlife.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh was brilliant. I couldn't believe our luck as he has previously won Guide of the Year. Superb and the best leader in our experience. We will vote for him as Guide of the Year and hope he wins again. He couldn't do enough for the whole group and had his eye on personal attention to detail with each individual.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just book it, you'll love this trip.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Ronald McAulay

    Backroads of Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka is a really beautiful country and there is no better way to see it than on a bike with a group of like minded people cycling alongside. This was a special holiday full of interesting and fascinating things to see. It offered a real mix of both challenging and easy enjoyable cycling. Our guide Suresh was nothing short of marvellous. His attention to detail combined with his sense of humour and his care to make sure we always had what we needed was exceptional. I have been on three Exodus holidays so far and this one must surely be the best so far....guaranteed!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    While on safari we were lucky enough to witness a leapord and her cub come walking towards us to take water at a waterhole. They drank while watching out for danger and then wandered back off into the wild. The moment lasted about five minutes or so and was simply magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh was marvellous. His attention to detail combined with a great sense of humour was excellent. He went the extra mile on many occasions to make the holiday memorable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On one or two of the days the cycling is quite challenging where long distances have been combined with significant hill climbs and very hot temperatures. The bus is always available to get onto but don’t underestimate the effort required to make it to the end or top. This holiday is rated a four in effort level and having completed two other cycling holidays that were rated threes, I can confirm that there is a difference!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This holiday was a special one - made so by the combination of a number of things: a good mix of people; a beautiful country; some challenging but very enjoyable cycling; fantastic weather; a wonderful support team; excellent organisation; fascinating things to see; good accommodation and a great guide.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Eileen Phillips

    Cycle the Backroads of Sri Lanka

    An amazing experience with Exodus & Suresh as tour leader.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The challenging ride to Nuwara Eliya & feeling a great sense of achievement. Visiting the impressive rock cut Buddha statues at Buduruvagela.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh is a Legend. His deep passion for his country & wealth of knowledge ( historically & geographically) made the trip a memorable experience. Suresh greeted us every morning with a broad Sri Lankan smile & would give a short briefing before guiding us safely through the back roads to the next overnight stop. With Suresh's expert guidance we also visited World Heritage sites, spotted animals on Safari & was delighted by his culinary skills in the kitchen. During the trip any requests were dealt with immediately- organising massages, early morning runs, bird watching at dawn, to name a few. Nothing was too much trouble. Suresh is one in a million & a first class Tour Leader for Exodus in Sri Lanka.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good fitness level is definitely required.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Highly recommend the trip but would have preferred the premium option.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Sarah Hamer

    Backroads of Sri Lanka - cycle

    To see Sri Lanka on two wheels was just the most amazing experience for us. Cycling through tea plantations, rice paddies, local villages and wildlife sanctuaries. A stunning country with the friendliest of people. Being part of a group made the holiday like one big party with friendly banter from breakfast through to lights out in the evening. Early starts met with the usual groan but what a way to spend the day flying along the roads enjoying all the sights along the way. A well organised trip with an excellent leader in Suresh. Nothing is too much trouble. A must do for the those out there thinking about your next Exodus adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the sunset and the sunrise the next morning in Ella listening to the call to prayer across the valley with the mist swirling around the mountains. Peaceful and just magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    How many words can we use. Suresh. Amazing. Witty. Helpful. Great listener. Entertainer. Historian. Super fit. Playful. Comedian. Kind. Considerate. Our group were 16 who became one large family all of us chatting and having the best time with Suresh being the party organiser. A great trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book it and ask for Suresh as your tour leader. Nothing is stopping you. This has to be the only way to see this beautiful country. Get out there and see it.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Diane Smith

    Cycling and so much more.

    This is a cycling trip for anyone of average cycling ability, or above, who also wishes to sample all the culture sights, sounds and tastes that beautiful Sri Lanka has to offer. Accommodation varies from simple guest houses to nice hotels, but it is as stated in the trip notes and perfectly adequate in all instances to refresh and rest after a fantastic day. The food is delicious, be it served in a street café or hotel buffet, and options for those who don't like their food too hot are always available.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every minute spent cycling through this country is inspirational. The scenery and wildlife are awesome and the friendly locals (in particular the children) ensure you are never lonely. They will take time out of their daily schedule to wave, cheer and speak as you pass; making you feel humbled to be so welcomed to their beautiful country. Time taken to enjoy a fantastic jeep safari in Yala National Park, climb Lion Rock at Sigiriya, go whale watching and explore the old towns of Kandy and Galle are also extremely memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I have never travelled with any other tour guide who commits himself so totally to ensuring that his clients have a fantastic holiday in the way that our guide Suresh Bandara did. His love and knowledge of his country shine through and he shares this with the group in the most enthusiastic and entertaining manner. He constantly goes the extra mile to cater for the individuals interests (for example organising two extra early morning bird walks for interested parties) and has a knack for identifying when a special occasion is being celebrated and organising a special surprise. The safety and comfort of the group are clearly paramount to him and cycling is always undertaken at a pace to suit everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel light. Apart from your cycling clothes you don't need a lot more. The Sri Lankan people are quite reserved so shorts which go below the knee and long light trousers are more useful than very short shorts when not cycling! You will also need long sleeves and trousers to protect against the insects at night in some locations. It is fun to haggle the price when shopping in Kandy and Galle, however you will find the hotel shop in Kandy is very good value for anything from jewellery to trousers and they are prepared to barter.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You will be hard pushed to find a cycling tour which has more of an impact on you than this one. If it is your first cycling tour go for it. You will be so well looked after and encouraged that you will return home determined to book your next one.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Martin Pilcher

    "Best holiday so far.........guaranteed!"

    A great trip that had everything including dramatic scenery, lush countryside, wonderful cycling, adventure in a safari park, beautiful beaches and of course lots of tea!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We really enjoyed the safari and seeing elephants, crocodiles and leopard in their natural habitat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh took care of our every need from the moment we arrived and met us at the airport. He goes above and beyond in ensuring that we all had a fantastic experience, taking any stress away from us so we could enjoy every moment. His excellent relationships with the locals tells you that this is someone who is well respected among the community, which in turn means you get the best out of seeing how the people live and work.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Well everyone talks about that hill! My advice is to enjoy it - take it at your pace and see how you get on. If you are an accomplished rider then you will love it, if not, then it is a great challenge! There is of course the support bus always at hand. There is also the alternative of the train, for which 1st class tickets need to be booked months in advance. 2nd class tickets are available on the day but be prepared to stand the whole way! The tea and water stops are great but do not include electrolytes so you might want to take your own.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is our second Exodus cycling holiday and we are looking to book for 2019 but this will be hard to beat......................or will it??
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Jane Owen

    Cycling the friendliest island in the world

    Highly recommend this trip as the best way to see Sri Lanka. Not only is it a most beautiful country that has such varied landscapes and sites to see each day, but you do it all by 2 wheels with very little overland journeys in a minibus. Its also a fantastic mix of cycling and sightseeing. What's more the local people are so friendly everywhere you go...could it be the friendliest island in the world?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me personally my greatest achievement and moment of inspiration was climbing Sigiriya rock rather than the cycle challenges that I didn't find too challenging, as I had to conquer my fear of heights for the climb! Really thanks to Neelaka our guide and the rest of the group who were so calming and encouraging. I am so glad I got to the top as the 360 views of Sri Lanka were just stunning and I will never forget this moment in Sri Lanka. My other great moment was the cycling moment and satisfaction of reaching the top tea hills at Nuwara Eliya after the all day ascent from Kandy. The faster cyclists and the guides cheering everyone in at the top was memorable as was the relief of arriving.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Neelaka was outstanding. I have always found the standard of Exodus leaders good and have been with other companies that were good, but Neelaka was a cut above the rest. He was such a great mix of always so professional but letting his fun and sunny personality shine through and was always generous with his time to impart his immense knowledge and insight about the country, its culture and its places. He dealt with any concerns so calmly and efficiently and together with his team got the entire group of 16 people (no less) of quite varied cycling abilities, round the country with no problems whatsoever, with a smile on everyone faces and great memories. He was ensured we had memorable tea and lunch stops - a fantastic variety of local cafes with delicious local savoury snacks, local families houses and many treats of fresh coconuts and ice cream! Most people had done a few trips in their time but the general consensus was that Neelaka was everything you could want in a guide and more. The cycle guide and mechanic Sandy was also excellent in looking after everyone's cycle needs and supporting all 16 cyclists.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Its worth getting cycle fit before this trip as it is very hot cycling which can make the distances feel longer. I also found that it is OK wearing lycra in Sri Lanka - they are used to weirdly dressed cyclists by now! But slap on the sun block and take a hat for when you are sightseeing off the bike. The food is generally amazing but some of the hotels and restaurants get a bit repetitive on offering the same curries.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm now just trying to plan when I can return!
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Michael Innes

    Sri Lanka cycling

    A lovely trip to a lush green island. Cycling is generally good. Sites are all interesting and well worth seeing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyone has there own likes but for me the Sigiriya Rock and some of the Buddhist shrines were really good. The amount of remains from ancient civilizations is both impressive and humbling compared with what we have in Britain. Also the bird life is plentiful and varied and the general lush tropical landscape is lovely.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was excellent - as was the whole team. Friendly, genuinely caring, highly knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are certain things to consider- Although the trip title implies that you are travelling on quiet back roads most of the time, you are not. At least half the cycling is on busy roads which can be fun but involves a lot of dodging traffic etc. The worst aspect of the trip is the pollution from vehicles which can get quite unpleasant as you overtake or are overtaken by yet another bus / truck belching black exhaust smoke. The country is going to have to tackle emissions which are causing issues in the cities. Generally we had a trip with no serious incidents / illnesses but most had a short bout of stomach problems so be prepared. The lack of malaria and serious mosquito issues is a bonus. Take the trip notes with a pinch of salt. They need to be updated as some days are longer / harder / easier than they say. They should be updated and made more accurate. It is hot - over 30C most of the time - but this is OK as long as one drinks plenty of bottled water which is continually available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a very pleasant trip in that it is a lovely island, the people are genuinely friendly, and the cycling is perfectly achievable for a very average cyclist like myself. The country is busy and appears crowded as most people either live in cities or along the roads so wherever you cycle, however quiet and remote the little roads may be, you are always among people and habitations. The optional whale watching trip was OK. The plus side is that we saw a reasonable number of blue whales at close quarters. The downside is that you are doing that with at least another 20 boats who are rushing around trying to get close to the same whales. Sri Lankan food is OK but not as great as is sometimes made out. All the hotels put emphasis on the "buffet" system but it doesn't take long to get fed up with yet another array of curries or dishes which you somehow feel have been sitting around a little too long. Most hotels do have a la carte and the prices are fair and the choice is usually decent, although don't expect fine dining. The lunches (included) are simple but perfectly adequate. Alcohol - local beer (lager) is widely available in hotels and is OK. The local stout is good but very strong. Wine usually about £18 per bottle of house wine. Cocktails decent and reasonably priced.
  • Reviewed January 2018

    Cycle Sri Lanka - Amazing trip with some challenging cycling

    This was my 3rd trip with Exodus, and it was a really great experience. Sri Lanka is a wonderful country, very lush & green as it is a tropical country with lots of rain, so it is just green everywhere. The people are very humble & friendly, they speak English in most places, except in some really remote areas. The cycling itself was challenging, due to the heat factor, as it is quite a humid & hot most of the time. Overall, the trip exceeded my expectations, & I really enjoyed the cycling as that is what I was looking forward to.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The simplicity of the people & how humble they are, extremely friendly, and especially since we are on bikes, they are always fascinated by where we have come from & where we are going to, and the fact that we are cycling everywhere. Ridging through very remote areas is really refreshing as well, a nice break from the busy & polluted cities.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh is a great guy & a great leader, a great sense of humour, and goes out of his way to do more that what is expected of him & always does it with a smile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some days of the cycling can be quite challenging, so ensure you have a decent level of fitness. I am fairly fit, and there were a few days that were tough. The weather plays an role as well, as it is very humid & hot, it adds to the difficulty of the cycling, so ensure you are prepared. Stray dogs are everywhere, lying in the middle of the roads roaming around, they are generally harmless, however, as you will be on bikes, they like to run after the bikes, sometimes giving up after a few meters, but sometimes they can chase you for a while, can be quite scary, but you just need to kick you leg out at them & shout at them & that will hopefully get rid of them. Lots of sunblock & insect replant is a must. The food is not for everyone, can be spicy & you may not get western food in all places. Keep hydrated, as it is extremely hot. Some of the accommodation is not the best, think we had 2 places where is was very basic, but that is expected, as some parts are not central & a little remote.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is a lovely trip, just be prepared for some decent cycling, and ensure you are ready for some real work, especially up the hills, climbing up to the tea plantation area was an epic ride, & very tough. Mostly enjoy the sights & sounds, as it was a really great trip with a great tour guide as well, who not only lead us cycling, but also gave us a lot of history on the country as well as some added activities, like a hike up to amazing lookout points.

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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