A land of misty highlands and tea plantations, dense jungles and savannah grasslands, Sri Lanka is ideally suited to cycle touring and exploring the many historic UNESCO sites. From the palm fringed west coast, we cycle/drive to Sigriya where we climb the rock fortress of Lion Rock and explore the Dambulla Cave Temple complex. The following day we continue cycling along quiet back country roads where there is time to explore the extensive Buddhist and Hindu monuments and colonial heritage that characterizes the country’s rich cultural history. Our journey leads deep into the rain forest of central Sri Lanka where monks conduct prayers in harmony with the forest before continuing to the hill town of Kandy with its diverse botanical gardens. We then board a train for one of the worlds most spectacular rail journeys, winding through lush tea plantations and past waterfalls to the hill station town of Ella. Here we are met by our driver and continue the rest of the way by vehicle to the Uda Walawe National Park. Here we swap our bikes for jeeps and head out on wildlife safaris through the surrounding savannah grasslands where there is the potential to see elephant, leopard, sambar deer, mongoose and countless birds among other animals. We then switch our attention to Service where we spend a full day at the school of Uva Kuda Oya village. Spending two nights at this remote village will provide the opportunity to learn about the culture, traditions, social structure and way of life in rural Sri Lanka. You will be refurbishing the local school building by painting a classroom both internally and externally and re-plastering the walls where required. We will have an opportunity to be involved in teaching some lessons and assist the teachers. It will be equally hard work as it will be fascinating, educational and uplifting in every sense. To assist us there will be lots of help from the eager and appreciative local school kids and a team of local laborers. We farewell our new friends and visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home which rescues orphan elephants and returns them to the wild when they are ready, providing a humane alternative to taking abandoned animals into permanent captivity. We end our journey by returning to the coast and cycling through the historic fortified town of Galle and along quiet interior village roads passing different types of plantations and crops. This is a learning service adventure with an incredible diversity of activities and sites and is one to get really excited over!!!
These trips involve walking or cycling for up to five or six hours a day at a slow but steady pace and should never be misinterpreted to mean they are easy trips. These trips are usually a week in duration. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and good health. Suggested preparation: 30 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week for three months leading up to your trip. For trekking, hill walking with a daypack in variable weather conditions is also recommended. For a cycling adventure, cycling twice a week for three months prior to departure is recommended, however there is a support vehicle at all times for those who require it.
After so many months of planning and preparing the day has finally arrived for you to depart on your Sri Lankan Service Adventure! Please see day 2 for arrival details.
Accommodation: Catamaran Beach Hotel, Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Your flight arrives at 12:15am so we suggest getting to bed shortly there after as today's ride is as challenging as it will be fascinating! On arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met by your guide and transferred to the Catamaran Beach Hotel at nearby Negombo Beach. After breakfast you will be fitted out with your bikes in readiness for your first day of cycling. We then transfer by private vehicle towards Sigiriya. After lunch it is time for your first leg of cycling to commence as we ride towards Sigiriya. The route will be along quiet roads through vast Coconut Estates and Paddy Fields with the vegetation changing gradually from the wet zone to the dry zone. You will see a traditional form of slash and burn cultivation called, shifting cultivation which is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned and allowed to revert to their natural vegetation while the cultivator moves on to another plot. Riding along cart tracks, undeveloped trails, and a small distance on developed roads until you approach Dambulla. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple considered being the largest painted caves in the world with more than 22,000 sq ft of painted surfaces with many paintings, sculptures, statues of Lord Buddha, his disciples, Kings, and Gods etc. Dambulla is actually a collection of five caves of different sizes declared a World Heritage Site in 1991. Initial authorship is attributed to King Valagambahu who took refuge here after being driven out of Anuradhapura by invading armies, although the works span over all periods since then to the late Kandy Period in the 18th Century. Continue cycling to Sigiriya and overnight stay and dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Camelia Hotel, Sigiriya
Approx Cycling Distance 35-50km
Rise early to beat the sun and climb the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, a World Heritage Site which provides exceptional views of the surrounding jungle. A Royal Citadel for 20 years in the 5th Century AD, this unique Rock Fortress or "castle in the sky" rises 600ft above ground level, derived the name "Lion Rock" as the entrance to the climb to the summit is reached between two giant carvings of the paws of a lion.
We then start cycling the back roads to Na Ula.The route will be a variety of muddy tracks, paved roads, occasional tarred roads and passing by dry zone jungles, teak plantations, paddy fields and through a variety of small villages. After enjoying some refreshments in Na Ula we board our transport and travel the final distance to Kandy by vehicle. En route we stop off at a Spice Garden where you can learn about the medicinal properties of various spices, how they are turned into spices and what the plant looks like prior to this process taking place.
It is then a short drive to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s hill capital and stronghold of the Sinhala Kings. It is 488 metres above sea level and is often referred to being the country’s most beautiful town. Kandy is an exciting place for shopping and you can pick up some great souvenirs in wood, copper, silver, brass, ebony and bronze. Ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks, jewellery and rush and reed-ware can also be purchased from a variety of markets or specialist stores.The focal point of the town is, without doubt, the golden roofed Dalada Maligawa where the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha is enshrined. In the evening watch a Cultural Performance by traditional Kandyan Dancers and Drummers including devotional "Fire Walking" and walk across in the star lit night to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha - by far one of the most important places of worship for Buddhists the world over.
Accommodation: Devon Hotel , Kandy
Approx Cycling Distance 35-50km
After breakfast we depart Kandy by train to the hill station town of Ella. The train journey is one of the worlds most scenic and provides an opportunity to experience the vast rail network which the British colonial government developed in 1864. The journey takes you from Kandy at 500m above MSL through woodlands before slowly rising through hills, over bridges and past villages. As the train climbs higher, you begin to enter Sri Lanka’s famous tea country; rows of tea bushes line the hills where you can spot tea pickers moving between the bushes with huge sacks on their backs. The train ascends to a summit at 2024m before descending again to Ella at 1041m. Here we have lunch and visit a nearby Tea Factory and a Plantation to witness the manufacturing process of world famous "Ceylon Tea" and to taste a pure unblended cup of factory fresh tea before the leaves are sent to the Tea Auctions in Colombo prior to being exported worldwide. We then drive out of the hill country towards the coast to Uda Walawe National Park where we undertake an afternoon game viewing Jeep Safari. Uda Walawe National Park is situated around a reservoir in the south central area of the island where the land comprises of grasslands, thorny scrubs and many valuable species of trees. Large herds of elephants, species of deer, wild boar, water buffalo and jackals are some of the wild animals found here, along with a variety of bird life.
Located in close proximity to the elephant infested jungles lies the village hamlet of Uva Kuda Oya. We spend the following two nights here and it is the site of our Community Service Project. Accommodation will be provided in individual cottages with basic yet comfortable facilities and is a unique experience and one which is rewarding and interesting for those who embrace it. Each free standing cottage has an attached toilet with shower and ceiling fans. You will sleep under mosquito nets. A limited supply of electricity is provided through a generator and blackouts are not uncommon. Meals are served in a separate building nestled among the mango grove where you will enjoy traditional local specialty foods made using home grown ingredients. The calm and quiet atmosphere filled with only bird song during the day will sometimes receive occasional visits from the wild elephants in the night when the crops are in place.
There will be a Project briefing this afternoon where you will be organised into smaller work teams and meet the foreman who will be managing the project work. Tomorrow will be a big day so we suggest an early night sleep!
Accommodation: Cottage Site, Uva Kuda Oya
We will first meet with the local foreman who will take us on a tour of the school
showing us what work we will be doing. The group will be divided into smaller work teams and each assigned separate tasks. Some of the work across the day will involve sanding and preparing the surfaces for painting, paintings the walls, ceilings and any exposed timber work, plastering the external mud walls, sweeping and general cleaning, light load carrying or possibly assisting the renders with their work. You will not need any specific skills or experience, just the willingness to participate and the ability to roll your sleeves up and get a little dirty (you should wear suitable clothes), all for a great cause. There will be a local professional builder supervising the project and ensuring we get all the work completed on time. Regular breaks will be taken so as to keep energy levels high. On completion of the project a handover ceremony will take place, a plaque will be unveiled and lots of singing and dancing will follow! There is an option to enjoy a game of cricket with the youth of the area who will be playing wearing their long sarongs in the field.
Accommodation: Cottage Site, Uva Kuda Oya
After an early breakfast we leave for Uda Walawe National Park where we undertake a second Jeep Safari to hopefully track down the game you did not see previously.
We then visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Located just outside the National Park boundary it opened its doors to baby elephants in need in 1995. The babies are well looked after fed and groomed to integrate back into a jungle environment after a stay of approximately four years.This has turned out o be a successful conservation exercise where for a small fee interested elephant conservation enthusiasts can become foster parents for these baby pachyderms until they are weaned away from milk and learn to eat other types of food.
We then leave for Galle on the south west coast. En route we will break the journey at Weligama to see the Stilt Fishermen if they are in action. Galle is a port city, standing on one the main sea routes in the southern part of the country. The Dutch built the 1st Protestant church in Sri Lanka here, and it is also famous place for its Dutch Fort, a world heritage listed site. We will enjoy a walking tour of the historic quarter including the Galle Fort. After lunch you will have some time to explore the old city and surrounds at your leisure or just relax by the beach and take a dip in the ocean.
Accommodation: Lady Hill Hotel, Galle
After breakfast we get back on the bikes and start riding on interior roads through small townships, villages and past a diverse mix of plantation to reach the coastal town of Bentota. In the afternoon for those who still have the energy can enjoy some water sports.
The following activities will be available for hire:-
Water Skiing = per round = US$ 10.00
Jet Skiing = per round of 15 minutes = US$ 23.00
Jet Skiing High Powered machine = per round of 15 minutes = US$ 25.00
Wind Surfing = one hour = US$ 8.00
Sailing = one hour = US$ 15.00
Banana/Tube/Knee Board = per event round = US$ 10.00
Body Board = one hour = US$ 8.00
River Boat Cruise = three hours = US$ 12.00
Canoe = one hour = US$ 8.00
We will drive to Colombo then onto Negombo where you will have access to a hotel to prepare for your flight home to Seoul. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. We will transfer to the airport for your 8 Nov 01:30am flight at the suitable time.
Your flight from Colombo departs at 01:30am. All services conclude upon arrival at the airport yet the memories and friendships will last a lifetime!
Per Person, Twin Share