“Small group holiday 15 day cycling through the heart of Sri Lanka, to the Cultural Triangle and also two national parks. With 10 days’ cycling.”
Sigiriya | Polonnaruwa | Kandy | Dambulla | Nuwara Eliya | Horton Plains National Park | Tissamaharama | Ella | Buduruvagela | Yala National Park | Galle | Kataragama Temple | Bundala National Park
Description of Sri Lanka cycling holiday
This 15 day Sri Lanka cycling holiday takes you to some of the most extraordinary sites on this ‘teardrop island’, an idyll with landscapes that range from its Indian Ocean coastline to the tropical Central Highlands, which are still home to tea plantations and hill stations, dating back to its colonial past when it was known as Ceylon.
After landing in Colombo, the capital, and taking a private vehicle transfer to the first cultural highlight on this tour, the ancient palaces and remnants at Sigiriya, we are able to cycle from one place to the next, without transfers. We cycle to some of the other the main points on the celebrated Golden Triangle, which is the ancient artery of Sinhalese civilisation in Sri Lanka, including the ruins of Polonnaruwa and Dambulla Caves, which boasts eighty caves packed into a giant rock which stands 160m over the town. But also packed with Buddhist statues and iconic gifts. Cycling to these wonderful sites really helps put their magnificence into perspective, seeing how they have evolved in the stunning natural environs all around. And also how real life continues all around them.
The natural wonders that we also visit on our cycling tour include Bundala National Park, with particularly spectacular birdlife, and Yala National Park where we have a safari. If we are lucky, we will see the elusive leopard, but the park is also home to elephant, deer, wild boar, sloth bear, Asian jackal and many more.
No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without a trip to its coastline, especially after eleven out of fifteen days in the saddle. We spend two nights in the coastal town of Ahangama, and there is also an option to go whale and dolphin watching off Mirissa, between the months of November and April. Before being transferred back to Colombo for departure, we take time in the historic and gorgeous city of Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its 16th century coastal fort, it is a maze of shops and cool cafes, with a wonderfully chilled coastal feel about it. A great way to finish this carefully crafted itinerary through the peaceful, pretty and totally made for pedalling, Sri Lanka.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Get in training, there are some good distances to cover on this trip, with a few climbs too.
Small group tour, max 16 people. Min. age 16
Moderate-challenging, varying between 32-102kms per day.
11 nights in comfortable, standard hotels, 2 nights guesthouses.
Flights, accommodation, all breakfasts, 10 lunches, transport, activities, tour leader, bike hire.
For dinner, Sri Lankan food is fab, costing £5-8 per day.
Solo travellers welcome, with surcharge for single rooms.
Small group holiday
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka cycling holiday
Activity: By using our own power to cycle around, we have a minimal impact on the environment. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints and actively try to reduce our impact through attention to waste and energy reduction. However, having said this we do try to leave behind a positive impression through engaging with locals, visiting small cafes and restaurants and buying locally produces crafts and produce. We visit culturally important sites like the 2nd century Buddhist temple at Dambulla, the rock fortress at Sirigiya and the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy and our entry fees make a vital contribution to their upkeep, whilst also celebrating Sri Lankan history.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Accommodation and Meals: All of the hotels we stay in are dedicated to hiring local staff and using freshly sourced produce wherever possible. This helps to benefit the surrounding community by providing employment opportunities and income alternatives where they may be otherwise hard to come by. We also try to select accommodation which has strong environmental policies. For example, Hotel Sigiriya uses scheduled light switching, recycling and waste regulations, water saving cisterns etc. Where meals are not provided, we suggest that clients spread their commerce to small local businesses and try some authentic food. Whilst staying in the guest house, there will be a chance to try a homemade meal cooked in a clay pot over a wood fired stove and to see the spice gardens where some of the ingredients came from.
Charity: We financially co-sponsored a local Tsunami relief project, which enabled 25 families to be rehoused and for two schools to be equipped with toilets, running water and outdoor swings. In collaboration with a German operator and the village temple, we have helped towards 10 large water tanks and an eye clinic in a remote village with a donation of 200 pairs of glasses. We also assisted a principal agent of Unicef in development of day care and education of school children of the estate sector labourers in the hill country.
Local Craft and Culture: There are plenty of opportunities to engages with local culture on the several visits to towns, villages and historically important sites and events. There are many places to buy handcrafted souvenirs along the way (e.g. Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya) but the markets are often a favourite of the clients for their vibrancy and authenticity. At the Kandy markets and the Moorish town of Matale, there are large spice markets. We also visit a tea factory and an exotic fruit and vegetable trading centre, where clients can learn a bit about daily agricultural life for some locals and also support the community by buying things here.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
Reviews of Sri Lanka cycling holiday
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 01 Feb 2014 by Joy Skipper
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Cycling through the the back roads of Sri Lanka
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Be fit before you start
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes, as I donated to a dog charity (Embark) in Sri Lanka on my return to UK
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?