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Nuwara Eliya, known as 'Little England'
Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
Capturing the viewpoints across tea plantations
Cycling towards Udawalawe National Park
Walawe River provides an important sanctuary for wildlife in Udawalawe National Park
Passing rice paddies and grasslands

Macmillan Cancer Support Sri Lanka Cycle

Sri Lanka Cycle
CycleHotelHotYELLOW 3
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About the Challenge

Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is an island renowned for its natural beauty, fascinating culture and beautiful beaches. Our challenge traverses the central highlands from west coast to south, combining some of its country’s many highlights and an authentic insight into its rural life with diverse, hilly cycling.

From tropical lowlands, we ride through forested valleys and small villages into the tea estates and cloud-forest of the central highlands, where temperatures are cooler and our efforts are rewarded with lush, stunning scenery. The back-roads are strikingly beautiful and, as we descend to the southern plains, the area is rich with wildlife; elephant sightings are possible!

This spectacular, adventurous and demanding route promises a huge sense of achievement and the beautiful beaches of the south coast are a just reward!


Macmillan Sri Lanka Cycle

  • On arrival we transfer to our hotel and have time to freshen up and prepare our bikes for the start of our exciting cycle. Depending on flight schedules, there may be time to relax and enjoy the beach before dinner and a detailed trip briefing; we then get ready for a good night’s sleep before the start of our challenge! Night hotel.

  • After a good breakfast, we set off! This morning gives us a wonderful warm-up ride, getting us used to our surroundings and the heat as we pedal through lowland villages on fairly flat roads to the village of Algama. After lunch and an opportune waterfall stop, we transfer to the historic city of Kandy, our destination for the night. An ancient capital, Kandy is a beautiful city and home to the golden-roofed Temple of the Tooth, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in the world. This evening we can walk to the sacred temple, where we enjoy time exploring. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 52km; Drive approx 2.5 hours

  • Leaving the legends of Kandy behind, we take a short drive (15 mins) out of the city to avoid the traffic, then head for Tea Country! Once on our bikes we ride the undulating roads that pass through this hill country; there are some long, tough climbs today too. The vegetation changes as we climb into this region, known for its cool, crisp climate, and we see tea plantation shrubs laid out in neat rows among the green forests and valleys surrounding us. This region was an appealing summer retreat to the British living here in the 19th Century. A stiff but stunning climb takes us towards the small town of Walapane, where we can relax before loading up in the vehicles. We then transfer to Nuwara Eliya, with a brief visit to a tea factory en-route, where tea-tasting might revive us! Nuwara Eliya is set in a wooded basin below Sri Lanka’s highest mountain peak; known as ‘Little England’ with its English-style lawns and colonial buildings, the town is a great place to wander before dinner. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 50km

  • After breakfast we set off again, with a mostly downhill route for the first part of today. The temperatures should remain cool and comfortable – perfect for cycling. As we ride, we enjoy views of the surrounding green mountain slopes, waterfalls, and dense jungle. Passing through Hakgala Forest, we make our way to Kande Ella, the highest lake in Sri Lanka. We ride through plots of land growing familiar vegetables such as carrots, leeks and cauliflowers, able to be grown in these temperate conditions. We continue onwards to the hill station of Ambewela, often referred to as ‘Little New Zealand’ as it is renowned for its dairy farming. Our cycle is pleasant through these rolling meadows, before a steep 4km climb through teak and rhododendron forest to reach Horton Plains. These high altitude grasslands are majestic to cycle through, with their atmospheric misty plains and cloud-forest. From here, we begin our long, well-earned descent through the forest of Ohiya, dropping around 700m elevation. We make our way to the busy market town of Bandarawela; an excellent end to an amazing day of cycling. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 68km

  • After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we soon set off, leaving the bustle of Bandarawela behind us. Initially, the first few kilometres cycled today are spent on a gradual climb, up through tea plantations, before it becomes a downhill descent for around 20kms until we reach Ella, a laid-back, hill-country village with picturesque viewpoints. Continuing our journey downwards to the Southern Plains, the highlights keep on coming, as we pass teak, eucalyptus, rubber and sugar plantations, in an area rich with birdlife, from hornbills to peacocks. With elephants free to roam in this area, they sometimes come to the roadsides; our overall cycling distance today will be dependent on their presence. Our end point of today’s ride is the lakeside town of Tissa. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 70 - 120km (with probable transfer to hotel)

  • Today offers a contrast to the terrain and views we’ve grown used to over the past few days of cycling, as we will now explore dry monsoon forests, interspersed with stretches of rice paddies and grasslands. The terrain is predominantly flat, so we can take in the long stretching views, bird and animal life surrounding us. The final stretch leads us to our destination of Udawalawe National Park, with its reservoir on the Walawe River providing an important sanctuary for wildlife. The park is famous for its large elephant herds and has many other game to look for, from buffalo to sambar deer, plus many bird species.

    Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 81km

  • This morning, we’re treated to a pleasant ride through small towns and villages, as we make our way towards the coast. The rice paddy fields are soon replaced with coconut fields and the sea breeze will be a welcome refreshment. We’re making our way to the charming town of Tangalle, with its sweeping beaches. Our hotel for the night is beautifully located beside one of the most beautiful beaches in the south of Sri Lanka. We’ve made it … and who could dream of a more perfect place to contemplate our achievements! Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 60km

  • We have the day free to enjoy the beach, and meet up for an evening to celebrate our big achievements. Night hotel.

    (Lunch not included)

  • We transfer to the airport for our international flight home.

Prices may vary depending on date.

  • Available pricing options

    Fundraising Option
    Registration Fee £400 Fundraising target £3,995 Tour Cost - Airline Taxes - Book now

    Pricing Explained

    Registration Fee (i)
    Payable on booking

    Fundraising Target (i)
    Paid 10 or 6 weeks prior to trip departure

    Trip Cost (i)
    Payable 8 or 4 weeks prior to trip departure

    Download Challenge Details

Detailed Information

  • We usually stay in hotels or lodges of a 2-3* standard or equivalent. Standards may vary between the hotels but they are generally comfortable and convenient for our route. Hotels are often on the outskirts of towns to minimise unnecessary extra mileage and avoid traffic.

  • The food provided is plentiful, often local in style and freshly-cooked, and will give you plenty of energy. Sometimes we enjoy a buffet-style lunch-stop, other times we might have packed lunches. On some trips we stop at small local restaurants. Dinners are generally eaten in camp or at the hotel, depending on accommodation. In some regions there may be less variety than you are used to, and in others fresh meat or produce can be harder to come by. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally on travel / free days, giving you the opportunity to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit different budgets.

    Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we may be in very rural or remote areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat we strongly recommend you bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.

  • Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. Usually leaders are based in the UK or other English-speaking countries and lead for us regularly throughout the year in many different countries. In some instances, trips are led by in-country guides with a wealth of knowledge about the region; they have been trained by us to provide the level of support expected on a Discover Adventure trip.

  • Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.

  • For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check

Preparing for the Challenge

  • We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

  • Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date). 

    You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.
    You can obtain a quote with Insure to Travel from our website at:, or you may choose to take out your own travel insurance, just remember to let us know the policy number and emergency phone number!

  • For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow participants and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!

Buy your kitbag

Kili bag - reduced.jpg Only £42 - designed to deal with the rigours of your challenge.

Easier for accessing gear than a rucksack (especially when camping) this is probably the most cost-effective way to take your luggage on a Discover Adventure challenge!



Trips are graded Yellow, Orange or Red, in increasing level of challenge. This trip lies within the YELLOW range.

Yellow colour

The grade is determined by factors such as terrain, distance, climate, altitude, etc. Each colour grade has a spectrum which reflects the difficulty of these factors; trip duration, accommodation and living conditions (see icon) are also taken into account. 

Trip grading explained