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Discover the Best of Sri Lanka by Bike

By Pankaj Mangal

You Can Stay In An 18th Century Tea Factory, Get Up Close To Endangered Elephants, and Ride On One Of The World’s Most Beautiful Train Routes During This Slow Travel Far-Eastern Cycling Adventure

Whilst the world is brimming with destinations filled with new and exhilarating opportunities, there are some which have been recognized more than others for their beauty, but that many haven’t yet had the chance to explore.

In particular, the breathtaking Asian country of Sri Lanka has received much recognition for its glorious lands. Most recently, it was voted ‘The Best Country in the World to Visit’ in 2019 by Lonely Planet and only last year it was named one of the ‘Top 10 Friendliest Countries’ by Condé Nast Traveller readers.

And dotted with historic ruins, verdant rainforests, and teeming with natural wonders, it should certainly be high on travelers’ bucket lists for an unforgettable travel experience.

For those eager to delve deeper into the most biodiverse Asian country on the planet, Art of Bicycle Trips has the ultimate adventure for those looking to indulge in the real and raw beauty of Sri Lanka, at a slower pace.

We offer one-of-a-kind cycling experiences across Asia and beyond and our guests can relish the opportunity to slow travel across Sri Lanka on two wheels, venturing from its historic settlements to its swathes of golden coastline.

Highlights include a stay in a once-thriving 18th-century tea factory, visiting the famed Nine Arch Bridge, and seeing one of the world’s most endangered Elephant species in the wild.

Commence your Sri Lankan adventure in the colorful coastal town of Negombo, rich in European heritage and known for its bustling fish market and flawless beaches.

Wildlife lovers will particularly enjoy the opportunity to visit Muthurajawela Marsh whilst here. Situated nearby, travel by boat to its saline waters and ecological hotspot home to hundreds of endemic floral and faunal species, including kingfishers, monitors, and monkeys, where you’ll be immersed in only a fraction of the country’s rich biodiversity.

The first day of cycling offers an easy pace to indulge in the stunning coastal routes surrounding Negombo. Stop at local fish markets and interact with residents, learning of their labors and way of life, before journeying onwards to the city of Kandy.

Kandy’s surrounding tea-clad hills in the central region of Sri Lanka are home to prosperous natural spots harboring some of Sri Lanka’s most significant historic and religious sites. These include the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic - the most revered site in the country, where you can marvel at all of its glory and walk within its harrowed halls.

Commence the following morning with a ride through the Nuwara Eliya Valley, the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea regions, brimming with luscious tea plantations and stretching green vistas that meet mountaintops. You’ll stay in ‘Little England’, which is the nickname coined for Nuwara Eliya town due to its Victoria-era architecture and Colonial charm.

Spend the night at Heritance Tea Factory Hotel, a beautifully restored 18th-century tea factory that has been transformed to offer fine dining and luxury. The hotel still magnificently incorporates the original and period features, including wooden lofts, tea crates, and even the engine that was the main source of power for the factory in its era.

Anyone looking to connect with the tea-clad landscapes can even enjoy an excursion out to the hotel’s nearby tea terraces, indulge in a high-tea experience, or, even get hands-on whilst tea plucking in local attire. And, for your labor, you can take home a packet of your own handpicked tea and learn more about the tea-making and preparation process in the Mini Tea Factory later on.

Venture onwards out of Nuwara Eliya, taking in the views of hardworking tea pickers in the local tea plantations, through a diverse range of landscapes including dairy farms, lush grasslands, and dense forestry.

You’ll reach Pattipola Railway Station on your travels, which is the highest railway station in Sri Lanka nestled at 1,897 meters above sea level. The station is surrounded by leafy treetops and sometimes low-lying clouds, creating an ethereal setting.

Tackle a challenging uphill climb to reach Horton Plains, one of the country’s most popular national parks, and it's no wonder why. Its thick forest and grassland expanses are home to beautiful flora and fauna as well as exceptional hiking trails.

This includes a hike to World’s End, leading to a dramatic viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the park itself.

Later, behold the wonders of Ella, a top bucket list destination in Sri Lanka, home to the famous Ella train station and the impressive Nine Arch Bridge - one of the most iconic railway bridges in the world dating back to the colonial era.

You’ll venture on a scenic train journey to the town. The route is regarded as one of the best in the world and weaves through dense jungle and passes by vast tea plantations whilst gently journeying through the verdant highland and mountainous landscapes of this beautiful region.

Nearby, you’ll ride to Udawalawe National Park for a safari adventure. Here, hundreds of endangered Sri Lankan Elephants roam freely amongst other wild species, including leopards and buffalo. Look in awe at these breathtaking creatures in their natural habitat up close with the expertise of knowledgeable guides.

Spend your penultimate day amongst the palm-fringed southern coast, passing through abundant banana plantations to reach a striking change of scenery compared to the mountainous regions you have already explored.

Take pleasure in experiencing the local culture and rural lifestyle here whilst soaking in the salty scent of the nearby ocean on the approach to Tangalle, a beachfront haven in Sri Lanka’s south.

End the trip on a high with a stay at the luxurious Anantara Peace Haven Tangelle Resort. Nestled in a local coconut plantation bordering the glistening ocean and golden shoreline,

this tropical paradise is the perfect venue to experience the tranquillity of Sri Lanka’s coast one final time.

The ‘Best of Sri Lanka Luxury Bike Tour’ is an 8-day tour starting from $2,995 (£2391.78) per person. More information can be found here.