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Sri Lanka - Classic

Itinerary


Day 1: Negombo

redspokes Sri Lanka Classic cyling tour begins in the coastal town of Negombo. On arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met and transferred to our beachside hotel.

Negombo is a multi-faith town with a majority population of Roman Catholics, as well as Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. It is sometimes referred to as ‘little Rome’, with over 20 Catholic churches featuring ornate architecture that date from the Portuguese era. 

Fishing is a key industry and there are bustling markets where you’ll see mats spread out with drying fish along the sandy beaches.

Accommodation: Hotel (D)


Day 2: Negombo – Dambulla 

Setting off on the bikes from Negombo the first 3km of our ride are on main road until we reach quiet back road. We pass a fish market and local fishing communities as we cycle towards Kurunegala along a picturesque route that passes coconut plantations and toddy tappers and paddy fields on fairly flat wide roads first tarmac and then red dirt track. After 45km we reach Kattimahana. From here we will transfer to Kurunegala.   Coconut and rubber plantations surround the town, but long before we arrive we will spy a towering Buddha statue.  Eight large rocks encircle the city and legend has it that they represent animals who were turned to stone by a demoness lady of the lake for threatening to drink the water dry. Once a medieval capital city, Kurunegala is now predominantly a modern town with an old stone clock tower in the centre. After a Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch in a local restaurant we will transfer on by vehicle to avoid main roads to Dambulla or, after one hour by vehicle, you can chose to ride a further 38km from Malsiripura to Kiriibbankatuwa Lake. First cycling along 14km of small sealed road through agricultural countryside and clay house villages then continuing on red dirt road for a further 24km. We then take another vehicle transfer to reach Dambulla.

Situated at the heart of the cultural triangle, Dambulla has the best preserved cave temples in Sri Lanka. There are five caves; the shrines are decorated with murals and populated by numerous Buddha statues. The temples are evidence of the presence of indigenous civilisations long before the arrival of Indian influence on Sri Lanka. 

Cycling Distance: 83.5km (52 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 3: Dambulla - Sigiriya - Dambulla

We cycle a circular route today visiting Sigiriya. Our route begins with 20km cycling alongside the shores of Kandalama Lake with excellent views of the ancient 5th century rock fortress Sigiriya (Lion Rock). This ‘eighth wonder of the world’ dates back to the 5th century B.C. and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the summer palace of the notorious Sinhalese King Kassapa.

Reaching Sigiriya, we park our bikes and walk through the old water gardens passing moats and ramparts. We climb 300m to the summit passing impressive frescoes on our steep ascent on a mix of steps hewn out of the rock and circular iron staircases. At the summit we will find the ruins of Sinhalese King Kasyapa’s stronghold and be rewarded with spectacular views.

Returning to ground level you can enjoy a cool drink of king coconut thambili before we continue our ride to our lunch stop. We will dine in a Kamatha; a farmer's work station in a paddy field. You will have the opportunity to taste hoppers and 'kotthu' and can even have a go at preparing your own food on the iron stove. 

After lunch we loop back to Dambulla cycling on well surfaced road.

Cycling Distance: 40km (25 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 4: Dambulla - Polonnaruwa

We begin the day cycling through paddy fields and small villages with jungle on both sides of the road; we may see or hear a few peacocks and monkeys along the route. Lunch today will be hosted by a village family who will serve you seasonal local delicacies. You will be invited to visit the village school. This afternoon we cycle past Kadawalal Lake on red dirt roads, and will have great views of the local birdlife.

We reach Polonnaruwa a cornerstone of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle and continue our ride for a further 15km cycling through the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. Abandoned in the 13th Century, it was rediscovered in the 18th Century. The Brahmanic chiselled stone monuments, built by the Cholas, show the magnificence of the ancient Rajarata Kingdom. 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 of Sri Lanka's finest art and architecture of 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. After seeing the main sites we’ll have a 20 minute vehicle transfer to our hotel.

Cycling Distance 74km (31 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 5:  Polonnaruwa - Lagalla Valley

The day begins with a vehicle transfer to Bakamuna (One and a half hours). We begin cycling on a flat terrain experiencing variable surfaces and passing the beautiful Wasgomuwa Wildlife Park. We head on up into the hills following small roads and lanes first through forested scenery. As we ascend into the spice plantations our surroundings change with dramatic landscapes, hidden waterfalls and stunning mountain views. We stop for lunch in a local house with mountain views. We stay tonight in simple accommodation which will give you an authentic experience of rural Sri Lanka. 

Cycling Distance: 45km (28 miles)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 6: Lagalla Valley - Matale - Kandy

Today begins with a 35 km cycle on twisting roads through beautiful valley and hillside in the Knuckles mountain forest reserve with stunning vistas, cloud forests, waterfalls and rich natural diversity all around us as we ride an uphill route. We reach spice hill capital Matale; the town’s people descend from Arab spice traders. Just north of Matale are spice gardens and a colourful temple at Alu Vihara. We continue onto Kandy, Sri Lanka's hill capital and a cultural highlight with a vehicle transfer.

Cycling Distance: 55km (34 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 7: Kandy Rest Day

We have a day off the bikes today on redspokes Sri Lanka Classic tour to explore Kandy. Kandy is regarded as one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful towns. It is 488 meters above sea level and after Colombo is Sri Lanka's most visited destination. Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth; an important religious shrine. A sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha has been preserved here since the 4th Century. The temple features fine ornate decoration and woodwork. Religious services (pooja) with traditional music and drumming are held daily at dawn, mid-day and in the evening and guests can participate. There is a mix of traditional and colonial architecture and at the town's centre is a small lake. The Udawattekelle forest reserve is right at the heart of Kandy. In just a matter of minutes you can leave the bustling city centre for tranquil jungle surroundings.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 8:  Kandy - Kithulgala - Dickoya

We leave beautiful Kandy with a transfer as far as Peradeniya where we begin cycling downhill on a small surfaced road through tea plantations riding a few climbs along the way. After 69km we reach a Sri Lankan village on the Kelani river with white water rapids and unparalleled natural environments; an adventurer’s idyll. We have a riverside stop for lunch and you can take a refreshing dip in the water. There are also options for rafting and to visit nearby Belelina Cave.

From Kithulgala to Dick-Oya we cycle a stretch of flat road before climbing up into the hills again, via immaculately laid out tea plantations surrounded by forest and valleys.

Cycle Distance: 70.5km (44 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 9: Dick-oya - Belihuloya

Today we continue cycling through tea estates along dirt tracks that cut through the greenery, linking old colonial plantations and hill stations. As we ride through lush landscapes we will cycle many steep climbs to reach Belihuloya. This beautiful hillside location links the dry and wet zones and the hill and low countryside at an altitude of less than 1500m making it a rich bio-diversity spot. The vegetation ranges from moist semi-evergreen and tropical forest, to dry patana grasslands and temperate forests. A perfect location for nature lovers.

Cycling Distance: 45km (28 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 10: Belihuloya - Udawalawe

From Belihuloya we cycle gravel paths through small towns, villages and forest, first on gentle undulating road before a steep uphill ride. We ride mostly through thick forested areas; the journey is refreshingly cool in the shade of the trees cycling leading us to Udawalawe national park. The area was created to provide a habitat for animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River. There are many water birds and Sri Lankan elephants here. A popular tourist destination Udawalawe is the third most visited park in the country.

Cycling Distance 101km (63 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)
 


Day 11: Udawalawe - Mirissa

We head on towards the southern coast today, setting off on back roads riding through beautiful paddy fields passing small village houses.  En-route you will witness some of Sri Lanka’s finest cinnamon plantations.  The gentle coastal hills of southern Sri Lankan are especially suited to the growth of cinnamon. Also, you will see some of the best low grown tea plantation at an elevation between sea level and 600m. These are heavy and robust teas with a deep colour. We will have lunch at a local house and you can try buffalo curd with honey or 'black dodol' a local delicacy. We cycle the last few km along the main coastal road to reach Mirissa. At the southern tip of the island, Mirissa has a headland between a small fishing harbour a beautiful stretch of sandy beach with calm, clear waters. This tranquil spot is now becoming more popular as travellers turn away from the more popular resorts. Fringed with coconut trees the beach offers spectacular sunsets Mirissa is a popular place for whale and dolphin watching.

Cycling Distance: 105km (65 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 12 Merissa - Galle 

We make an early start cycling northwards this morning following the coast towards Galle; the largest provincial town in the south of the island and a UNESCO world heritage fort. It was built by the Portuguese and extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17 C, it is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers

Cycling Distance: 35km (22 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)  


Day 13: Galle - Negombo

This morning we will take a city tour by bicycle that lasts approximately an hour.  After this we pack up the bikes and have lunch at a restaurant in Galle fort.

This afternoon we will transfer back to Negombo. There is time to explore the town's old quarter, the fish market and stretches of sandy beach. 

Cycling Distance: 10km (6 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 14 Saturday: Negombo - Home

redsokes Sri Lanka Classic cycling tour ends today. We will arrange your transport to the airport.

(B)

 

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. . Mirissa . Lagalla Valley