Sri Lanka North to South 2022

Here's the daily diary of the trip and for this I have written about the cycling days. The days correspond to the pictures, so just click on the day for the pictures to accompagny the text. On day 1 we explored Colombo, on day 2 we we transported by bus to Jaffna.

Day 3 - Jaffna to Port Pedro and back

We set out from Jaffna, destination the most Northerly point. The area is flat so the riding was straightforward as we negotiated our way through the northern suberbs past a pretty impressive yellow temple. Into the countryside with narrow roads that provided easy cycling as we felt our way through the heat of the morning.  This is a low lying area and so we found out near the coast where the road had been flooded by the sea. Finally though the road curved to the right and we were cycling the coast road. In most countries so close to a major city this would have been prime second home territory, but not here. The way was marked by a rough road with small buildings either side used by the fisherman who were omnipresent, their colourful boats pulled up to the shore.  

 There was though one hotel and the Village Hotel were only too happy to let 11 cyclists in for coffee taken over the waters edge. A few of us took a dip in the sea from their very small private beach which added to the charm.  Back on the road we headed for, and passed the Northerly point, with everyone heading for the lighthouse which marked itself a the Northerly point, as did another area opposite the army base where a small shop sold roti’s and tea to the soldiers at cheaper prices. Rounding everyone up, we proceeded to the obligatory photo stop at the ‘official’ point to start our journey south. We’d come the quieter way, with a more major road paralled this on the way back. It was along this that we powered back to the hotel. In the evening having had a disaster of a meal the night before (basically no food was served), we visited Mango for a vegetarian feast in a simple but lovely restaurant. After a lovely meal with so many tuk tuks in the daytime, only one was available, so a group of us walked back to the hotel to get ready for the long rides over the next 3 days.

Day 4 - Jaffan to Mannar

Breakfast was supposed to start at 0630 but not at this hotel. 0715 and folks started to tuck in to the buffet breakfast, an omelette chef stationed beehind a burner, and toast. Fleur had left early as she would do for the rest of the trip, so we assembled at 0800 for the off. At Robin’s request we headed for the enormous estuary which was definitely a good call as it was very pretty over the water. Onto the busy main road which had a good shoulder, to turn right along the A2 to head south. The traffic quietened and we passed paddy fields left and right. Curious motorcyclists passed us, offering me bedding, honey and finally ‘something nice to smoke’
To carry on down the western side we had to cross the sea and that’s where Sangupiddi Bridge came in, as a long causeway led to it, providing one of the high points in the day. A reminder of Sri Lankas past lay to the left with a warning of unexploded land mines from the conflict with the Tamils as this was their stronghold.
Our first stop was at Poonerwyn, a small strung out village where a ruined fort stood next to the road. Built by the Portuguese it was turned into a restaurant by the British and today only 4 walls remain.
The rest of the day was pretty non-descript as we clocked of the kilometers towards our destination at Mannar. The very last part along a concrete road for the last 20km was particularly tough as we juddered along. Once it turned towards Mannar we had 4km left and by that time, for me at least the 120km day was starting to tell.
Entering Mannar past the army check point of which there are loads in this area, it was through the town to our hotel for the night where I chewed salt to avoid cramp, drank a bottle of coke and Robin enjoyed the notoriety as yes, the restaurant was named after him. Our evening meal was a simple affair, lots of fried rice, but 12 portions even after a long day in the saddle defeated us.

Day 5 - Manner to Anuradhapura

On trips, I normally wouldn’t arrange 75 mile days, yet alone 3 in a row, but we were in rural Sri Lanka. It also occurred to me that we were cycling in 2 days what we had driven in an afternoon and on that day we hadn’t done a dog leg, going straight adding to the feat that we were about to complete.
We left Mannar the way we had come in and struck out heading southeast. A pattern had developed in the group, there were those that liked to set a faster pace, so this terrain was ideal for them to pull away. For others we pottered along looking about at things to look at.
After 20km I found mine. To the left was a huge bank and a café below. Looking at the map there was a water feature so it was worth a look. Above us was Giants Tank, an enormous reservoir built by the Kings, centuries ago. A haven for wildlife, it was very pretty as the cormorants roosted on a branch near the shore. I was also very hot and this tank fed the canal system. These canals aren’t just waterways they are used for washing, cleaning and yes swimming. Enjoying the cool were 4 lorry drivers, so I chose to join them. No need to undress, in this heat any moisture goes in 10 miles. It was wonderful, highly recommended and as I cycled away dripping, I made good time. The railway joined us and I reckon I was catching the rest, so after another 8km I reached up for my sunglasses which sit on my head, but they weren’t there. Yup I’d left them at the canal, back we go then and yes there they were lying in the dirt. The back up bus had come back to check with Karen aboard to which I waved them on and continued to chase
A roti and coke at an army café slowed me up, as did picturing a quite surreal creation outside the military academy for engineers. I was further slowed by a slow puncture but the Nestea and ginger cake at another Army café helped mitigate the disappointment.
The section following was quiet, rural and pretty. By the side of the road, two small children were selling things in blue polythene bags. On stopping their father arrived and with no common language I tried green oranges and 2 types of fruit to which I still have no idea, but still filled a pannier with them.
I’d expected to be well behind, but heading down the main road to Anuradhapura came upon Sharon and Mike. They’d been on a magical mystery tour of the area and Mike had now punctured. His plight had been noticed by a passing motorcyclist whom for half an hour attentively checked the tube and tyre, fixed the tube and even pumped it up, under the watchful eye of his son who held the bike. They were so polite, the son even refusing to eat an ice cream I bought for him, popping it in his bag for later!
It was getting late and Anuradhapura was approaching. Missing a turn, the three of us headed for the centre, the straight through approach. That turned out to be a grand choice as others had met the ‘give us $25’ brigade to cycle through the UNESCO listed old part, whilst we had the beautiful sight of bathers in a lake with Jetavanaramaya Stupa behind.
Once through the old part the traffic markedly increased, and the last 8km to the Black and White hotel was really quite busy.
Our hotel for the night was a delightful place. The owner had an expensive bike and was genuinely enthused with what we were doing. This extended to the evening meal which was our best yet with locally sourced breads and an excellent selection of curries.

Day 6 - Anuradhapura to Sigyria

Another breakfast feast, shame we couldn’t stay longer as we bade farewell and headed back to Anuradhapura along the busyness that was the A12. Like a switch the traffic turned off as we headed through the old town, heading back to the main road when we were asked for $25 for 100 metres of cycling through another part of this UNESCO site.
The ‘ring road was busy and so was the A28 to Telawa where the back up bus plied us with drinks and fruit.
Now in Europe, roadworks are done a bit at a time, a few miles if you are unlucky. In Sri Lanka the whole road is worked on and that can mean 50km which was the case today. Teams of workers firstly strengthened the water culverts then built bridges, then ripped up the road then retarmacced it, often widening it at the same time. I expect it will be beautiful next year but the B213 was one long vibration fest
Passing through Eppewala we continued south west before heading past Kalawewa National Park. Constructed by King Datusena in the 5th century we rode the embankment with a drop to the right and a slope to the enormous lake on the left. We lunched here before continuing onwards.
The final part took us back along the canal networks to finish at Cloudz Hotel with a pool and a group of small villas with a bathroom outside the walls of the bedroom.

Day 7 – Sigirya to Gititale

I've been here twice before but nothing can really prepare you for quite how interesting this place is. Built over 7 years and lived in for a further 9 it's essentially a palace atop an enormous rock previously lived in by Buddhists monks. Around the edge are deep defences including a moat with crocodiles, ditches and walls. There's even a massive rock still in place chisseled out, that can be levered onto the enemy.
As you approach, ornate gardens and ponds greet you, all restored on the right with the left side still buried in the centuries old soil.
We'd hired a local guide. With COVID, times had been tough. 3 tours a day were now 2 a week, so the 150 guides took turns. The approach was by steps but these were closed today so we took a trail to the great lions feet for the staircase to the top to admire the view and the ruins of the palace. Descending took us past the mirror wall and 9 frescoes of ladies, all that remained of the hundreds that the monks had removed once they had reclaimed the site. One new rule here, no photography, clearly treasured.
Morning visit over we returned to the hotel for the bikes to retrace our steps past the fortress on the jungle road. Heading right we were on the much busier A11 taking us past Minneriya National Park where Karen and Robin had decided to go elephant spotting. For 4 of us on bikes though, the elephants came to us as first a mother and calf tried to cross the road and then a bull elephant decided that yes indeed the grass was greener on the verge. In both cases we sat a respectful distance away waiting. In the second after 30 minutes a motorist took pity on us, using his car as a shield from Mr Elephant to let us get past.
Our one accident happened shortly afterwards. A worried lady stopped in her car telling us that someone had fallen. We'd already noticed that Martin was missing and were pleased when he pedalled towards us, though having left quite a lot of skin on the tarmac. It turned out that a brake bolt had fallen and so had he. We were left to shepherd him to the hotel where Lorna shovelled sweetened tea down for shock, I plied him with chocolate cake and we borrowed the hand soap for COVID to wash him down (well Martin did that)
The others returned having been to Dambulla caves and we all watched the sunset from the terrace with cups of tea. The day finished with the hotel buffet, quite a Western affair.

Day 8 was a rest day in Giritale

Day 9 – Giritale to Mahiyangana

Breakfast at 0630 and we were away for 0750. Down the steep slope from the Giritale Hotel to head left along the lake. it was Sunday and early so the traffic was light. A couple of young Sri Lankan racers shrieked with delight as they passed me, not knowing that ahead the fast bunch would be more of a challenge, and so it was but with single speed, curved handlebars and wire brakes they were doing well.
The first section was lovely, a river to the right with Elephant fencing and paddy fields to the left. Pretty flat we made good time to Bakamuna where we had snacks by the river whilst Shameera beat the monkeys away who were ganging up in the trees. Good job Robin had a cycling helmet on as a rock thrown by Shameera missed its target and all things bow to gravity.
At 50km the terrain started to change as you could see the hills all around us to left, right and centre. There was a climb today and as it approached it was tough to see where it would be. What it was, was a turn to the left then a final part so was so steep even a motorbike behind spluttered to a stop. Mercifully short, we descended to the lunch stop at Sanjula Hotel. The bus was in the car park, rotis and fruit were on offer and the fast gang had left
The last section was one of the loveliest I have ever ridden. Flat with a wide meandering canal on the right full of water lilies. The backdrop were the mountains. On the left the intense green of the paddy fields were as delightful. People were washing their clothes and swimming in the canals so we searched out some steps to join them. The water was cool but you needed to be careful as the water was fast flowing
12km from the end we stopped for ice cream. At 25 pence each, tough to refuse and we chatted to the family with 3 daughters aged 16, 12 and 9, the eldest spoke good English which isn't that common
In Hasalaka turning left by the soldier statue the road got busier and we arrived at Tikiri Villa by the canal, surrounded by paddy fields and with squabbling monkeys on the roof.

Day 10 - Mahiyangana to Ella

Breakfast was all laid out at 0700, so we tucked into the usual suspects, papaya in thick slices, water melon, eggs and sausage and mounds of toast. In the past 5 years I have noticed people taking as many pictures of us than we do of them and the manager here was snapping us all at breakfast and afterwards asking for a line up before we set off.

Out of the villa to head right along a delightful minor road, full of local comings and goings, wildlife and potholes. As we jangled about on the road, Robin and Linda stopped by the canal to check out a zillion bird species and by the time we reached the difficult turn off we were very split as a group.  Just before the bridge the left turn was seen by all but 3. For us made a little easier by Robin saying something and a bus appearing out of the junction. It descended to cross the Mahaweli Ganga on a concrete causeway where we saw an amazing site. Squadrons of cormorants in 7 waves flew above us in a large V formation, there must have been over 1000, presumably using the river as a guide. 

Onto the B492 which was wider and busier. Passing Fleur, all seemed well. She’d been on the road for 2 and a half hours, using no power on her electric Brompton and wasn’t sure if Karen had passed her. At this point the road started to climb and just before Meegahakiula the van had pulled in and indeed, 3 had missed the turn. Phones rang and the story evolved that the road was a dead end entering the dam. An employee had guided them back to the B road and they were well behind us, so bus dispatched to pick up first Fleur and then Karen, Sharon and Mike. Sharon commented later that her first rule was to always know where I was. Robin had waited but on hearing that Karen was OK, set of to catch the others leaving me in his wake. 

The climb continued followed by a drop and it was at this point that Karen and Sharon joined to tackle the second climb with 24km to go to Badulla. It turned into a tough climb, steep gradient and zig zagging up the mountain side with good views down and back.  It was pretty clear now that the others would be long ahead, so finding a shop/café on a scenic bend we popped in for an ice cream that turned into a drink, that turned into sampling all the curries to filling in a visitor’s book and great fun was had by all. We topped the climb on the edge of Badulla. Robin bless him had waited 2 hours having caught and left the others, talking to a civil servant who wanted to meet his wife. We celebrated with an ice cream before descending fast into the busy town of Badulla to begin the climb to Ella, this time a little gentler as it went in fits of climbs and flats. It was quite a busy road and it was a relief to head left towards Ella (but not before another ice cream) but even this reared up as we passed the Tea Plantations.

Through Ella which was quite a culture shock, a sea of white faces, yes this was tourist ville and it was a relief to pass through ending up at the superb Tea Forest Lodge at the edge of town, a 6 bedroomed guest house with a lovely owner serving an evening meal of curries full of flavour. Coconut, fish, aubergine, beetroot to name a few.

Day 11 - Ella to Nuwara Eliya

We set of at 0530 to walk to Little Adams Peak to see the sunrise. The way was lit by torches as we headed through the grounds of the 98 acre resort. Along the trail and up the peak aided by having concrete steps for 2/3 of the way. Top reached, the sunrise failed to excite but the views and small golden Buddha made the climb a worthwhile one.
The Tea Forest Lodge continued to please as we tucked into a delicious breakfast on the deck outside. Loaded up we descended to the 9 Arches bridge close to the Lodge where the 0920 train was due to cross the railway bridge conceived in 1921. Lots of people took position, from us overlooking the bridge, to people actually walking along the trackbed. Sure enough it arrived snaking its way across the curved bridge heading for the station, an iconic sight.
We all pushed the bikes back to the road aside Karen who decided that she could indeed get herself and the bike into a tuk tuk along a narrow track. The memory of her waving like royalty as it buzzed up the track will live long in the memory.
Back to the start it was through Ella, silent as this is an evening town to head left up a wicked zig zag climb through the tea plantations. The road traversed the hillside, again with lovely views to the left and an assortment of places to stay, illustrating what a tourist honey pot this place was.
I caught Robin and Karen at the short cut through to Banderawela entering the busy town, regathering at a café overlooking the fields on the outskirts of town. It was at this point that the allotment variation came to light. One of the instructions had been tough to follow and I’d missed it but as Steve said ‘we’re slaves to the garmin’. To avoid a section of main road the route had taken a side road. Now these usually work, but in this case it led to a series of allotments, a number of frightened bits of wildlife and a bemused farmer. Linda had well and truly got into the spirit by exploring a muddy ditch with her bike, well it wouldn’t be a bike tour without a bit of an adventure would it?
Shortly after the lunch stop, we found the back-up bus and loaded up with yoghurt and fruit for the big climb to Nuwari Eliya. We all set of in our usual order, the 3 racing snakes at the front followed by Linda who was well into the spirit of this trip now. Close to the back I saw my chance, a slow lorry labouring its way uphill, too good a chance to miss. Many years of practice in India and my right arm caught the tailgate. 10km later I was at the front having majestically passed the rest. Of course, it was purely for photographic reasons as I snapped those passing me again. The climb continued passing the Botanical Gardens and 10km out I stopped, bought an ice cream and waited for the ladies.
One final push into Nuwari Eliya which broke my chain with all the effort ,and we were aside the shores of the lake close to the finish. Lorna on her rambling was there to greet us a few hundred metres out and we finished at Lu Chalet where we would spend the next 3 nights to explore Horton Plains and rest a day.

Day 12 and 13 were rest days 

Day 14 - Nuwara Eliya to Hapatule

The chef had put on his outfit as we said farewell to Lu Chalet. Another group photo for the staff and we were away along the minor roads of the lake. I was surprised at just how little the area was developed figuring that this would be prime real estate especially as the lake was a playground for the rich taking in the cool of this hill station.
We were slated to descend the way we had climbed 3 days ago, so it promised to be a fast descent along the switchbacks to Keppetipola. A chance for some to check out the temples overlooking the glorious views, for others an opportunity to enjoy the descent
Diesel gate had continued, the back up bus had tried for 3 days to obtain fuel, and was now in Keppetipola parked up in an enormous queue, so it seemed appropriate to see how they were doing and collect any spares that we needed. Freshly cut hair and trimmed beards suggested that things were OK and so I loaded up a few spare inner tubes and a tyre as we would be on our own now.
The valley road next was beautiful as it wound its way around the long valley filled with agricultural working, there was even a temple to offset the many shades of green.
Robin had picked up a puncture, we seemed to be getting a few of these on this trip. As usual this caused attention, as a red tuk tuk to pull to a halt, watching us do the necessary, talking to themselves and finishing by asking us if we’d like to buy something to smoke.
We caught the others in the next town where they’d found a bakery but nowhere to sit. For me part of the fun is a café stop, so a closer stop revealed a seating area inside. Six of us entered which caused great excitement as tables were pulled together and a plate of delicacies produced. The way it’s done is a plate is loaded with goodies and you pay for what you eat. I ‘risked’ the salad sandwich and yes Steve the spaceship cakes were pretty good. Washed down with chai it would have been perfect aside the nasty smell of drains in this place, but heh you can’t have everything.
It was planting season and all the fields seemed to be filled with people ploughing and planting. I hadn’t seen this in years but in the distance an ox and plough was in use whilst ladies planted the green shoots of rice in its path.
Fleur had gamely made it this far. For a 70 year old lady it was a remarkable trip for her, so in Borolanda she negotiated a tuk tuk for $5 to take her the final 14km to Hapatule. 4 of us left behind quaffed an ice cream and decided that we’d do the side trip, after all we had time. A tuk tuk driver tried to tell me the road was closed (they do a lot of this) and as we plunged down then climbed steeply I wondered if it was a good idea. However, as the narrow road rose and fell with birds everywhere it seemed a good idea. Our destination was Diyathalawa. A centre for the army, we watched as trainee troops marched about and just made it into a bakery before the heavens opened for quite some rainstorm. The bakery manager had allowed our bikes in, so we were dry when we did the southern section through the tea plantations admiring the brooding clouds around Hapatule in the distance.
Back at the B road we headed first left for what was the loveliest climb of the trip. A perfect grade took us gradually upwards. The main road took all the traffic so we were left in peace to admire the view to the left and the tea plantations. It was only in the last few kilometres that the road kicked upwards to deliver us in Hapatule. To Sharon’s delight we crossed a railway track and cycled through the bustle of this small town made busier by another fuel queue.
We ended at Sri Lak View, my third visit and a hotel with a view but not today.

Day 15 - Hapatule to Udawalawe

As Linda sat on the balcony, the cracking view had failed to materialise as the cloud rolled over the escarpment at Sri Lak View. Overnight the bus had managed to get enough diesel to get the luggage to the South Coast, so for now everything was back on track.
Breakfast in the airy dining room of eggs, toast and fruit fuelled us up as we prepared to leave the mountains and return to the heat of the lower levels.
It was a fast start today with over 20km of downhill to look forward too. The extensive views of the south, viewpoints and monkeys sped past as we freewheeled ever downwards.
The group settled into its usual order as Robin and Martin hurtled to the bottom, but for once Steve seemed to be taking his time.
A puncture left me well behind the pack, not helped by finding a piece of metal embedded in the tyre the next day. It did though cause great interest to the crowd that gathered as I fixed it. Needing a new inner tube a local bikeshop appeared. Like hens teeth these are pretty rare. A line of polythene wrapped gleaming bikes greeted me but did they have a tube? nope.
I thought I’d not see anyone until the evening but as I rounded the corner there was the bus and a delighted Sharon who unloaded her bike knowing that now she had someone to show her the way, with which we proceeded onwards to stop shortly for an ice cream at a local shop where the lady in charge spoke great English, tried to offer us a free drink from her fridge and gave us a tour of the vegetables she had on display.
The final two sections of the day were quite different. The first a very pretty road that finished our descent from the mountains. It was one of those roads that was being worked on throughout as teams of engineers were widening bridges and digging culverts. The second section was flat, fast and quite busy as we headed to our destination at Uda Walawe.
Our arrival was greeted by the others who were reclining by the pool, so it would have been rude not to jump in, 30 minutes later it was all aboard for a jeep safari around Udawalawe National Park in search of elephants, crocodiles and more bird life. It started to rain just as we found the first herd and they glistened in the wet. At foot was a 10 day old calf, quite a lovely sight.

Day 16 - Udawalawe to Dundra Head

We’d decided not to visit the Elephant orphanage as this was an 0900 start and with the heat we wanted to be away, so at 0830 we passed the guard on the gate to take on the canals to the south of Udawalawe.
The canals were built from the 5th century and provide a haven for wildlife and people as well as providing some of the best cycling in Sri Lanka.
We picked up the left bank, sharing it with pedestrians, motorcycles and the odd tuk tuk. For wildlife spotters on a bicycle these are fantastic where Kingfishers, Herons and Eagles are easily seen, so travel is both rewarding and takes longer than expected.
We stuck with the canal as long as possible before arriving at the outskirts of Embilipitiya. It was a different experience as the world and his wife thundered past us on all manner of transport. A right turn along a quieter street gave a brief respite until it was right again along a dual carriageway that was the main artery out of the town to the south west. On the outskirts the bus was waiting. Home-made electrolyte drink and bananas fuelled us on our way to a flatter and quieter section. Now as a group we had agreed to broadly stick together so Sharon and I had to seek out mobile entertainment. What better then, than a mobile ice cream seller on a bicycle honking his horn? In the depths of his cool box on the back rack lay two ice cold tubs of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Liberally placed on a cornet for 100 rupees, we got an ice cream and he got a good pay day, so we both won.
To our left a crowd had gathered to watch the cricket. In a rough field the rule seemed to be to hit the ball as far as possible to the delight of everyone involved.
The group had separated a bit now and I knew that lunch was close, but what’s this? An enormous Buddha with a line of lifesized statues playing homage, bound to be worth a quick look? So, in we popped, but as with lots of things, Muruthawela temple kind of evolved. First the children came out, one with a remote controlled car, then the chief and finally the English teacher. It turned out that the chief had been there 40 years. His charges were children from the poorer families and the English teacher spoke very good English. It turned out that the other features were Buddha on a 6 year fast and we were shown behind closed doors an enormous reclining Buddha. Naturally this made us late for lunch of yoghurt and fruit cake, so this was swallowed at speed as we cycled the last section as a group before stopping for a final ice cream at Thalpawila. Here a lady quietly said 'I have ice cream' to see her freezer emptied.
We’d agreed to meet 5km from the end, so the final gathering took place and Fleur joined us for the final part with 25% battery left. Trouble was this dissipated on the last hill, so we all waited for her to lead us to our final destination, Dundra Point.
With a smile a lot of us dipped into the sea and had various pictures taken thinking the job was done until Karen pointed out that she had found an official sign and so we had to do it all over again.
So, there we have it North to South. To finish we somehow managed to get all the bikes, luggage and people into the bus, find some diesel and stay 2 nights close to the beach to finish the holiday. It's a fabulous place, perfect for a February holiday.


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  • We stayed in the Heritage Hotel in egombo on the first night after the flight. Situated on the west coast just above Colombo, we had a lovely view of the Laccadive sea and the fishng boats used
  • Steve exits along Mannar Bridge passing the fort on the left
  • We stayed the night at the Black and White Hotel where the owner owned a posh racing bike. He talked us through breakfast of curries and toast. This was one of the best stays on the trip
  • These moniters lived ina drain and were fed by an enterprising local. The guy who did this was the second as the last one was bitten 2 years prior and died as a result
  • He looks cute but these Toque macaques lived in the trees around the accomodation. They were an early alarm call as they bounced of the roof
  • The path to Little Adams Peak was well signed and well paved which was a good job really as we walked in the dark relying on bicycle torches
  • The chef at Lu Chalet dressed up in his chef outfit for our last breakfast
  • From the balcony of Sri Lak view there should have been a far reaching view to the south coast and the sea beyond. With a mist rolling over the hills, Linda and Sharon only lived in hope
  • Early morning light at Safari Lodge along the pathway to the individual chalets
  • We had a 6 hour transfer to Jaffna to start the ride. Passing through Anuradhapura we had a chance to look at a few things as a break. Here Lorna and Martin climb the stairs to overlook Isurumuniya Temple
  • The buddha turned yellow in the morning sunrise on Little Adams Peak
  • Fish on a stick
  • The owner came out and wished us well in the morning
  • We set out from Jaffna in the early morning. Jaffna sits on the coast, so rather than take the main road out we looped past Palk Bay which was a great decision as in early morning light the boats and fishing huts were a delight
  • Mike passes Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan
  • Sharon and Linda Mike pass Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan
  • All gathered together for a bus trip and walk about in Colombo
  • The chap doing this was quite good. Once they 'perfrmed' he let them have the fish
  • We bussed to Sigiriya early in the morning for a 3 our walk about this impressive fortress
  • Ella from Little Adams Peak
  • The manager at Tikiri Villa wanted a group picture so here it is. We were photographed throughout our stay here
  • We left Giritale heading south along the B112
  • Sharon and Fleur leave our overnight stay at Safari Lodge, ready for the last day in the saddle
  • Lorna starts the long descent from Hapatule
  • Karen passes Seetha Amman Kovil
  • Seetha Amman Kovil
  • South along the B112
  • Dagoba at Isurumuniya Temple
  • Sharon et al set out from Tikiri Villa
  • There were views from Little Adams Peak, but I thought the silhouettes of those waiting for the event was more interesting
  • Sharon passes the temple. We would pass this on the way out and the way back
  • This was the view of the temple on the return (Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil) As you can see it's a bit bigger than you expect on the way out
  • Mannar is on an island, connected by this causeway, Mike heads out
  • Setting of, we rounded Sigiriya fortress
  • It would be a long fast descent from Hapitule along the A16, something that Robin was going to take full advantage of
  • Don't forget
  • Dgs are everywhere in Sri Lanka. Almost always brown and littering the highways. It's the drivers job to avoid them. Most are placid, just a few are up for the chase
  • The B294 or jungle road heads to Habarana. Here it joins the A11 where we headed east to Giritale
  • A White fronted Kingfisher roosts on a branch over the canal. These are usually seen as a flash of blue through the air
  • Heading along the A32 at Thatchchanthoppu was flat, and there was so much bird life about in the many water areas
  • Fleaur approaches the Thampalai Lagoon Area
  • Our first stop was the fish market in Negombo. Here fish are laid out to dry and salted
  • We were picked up by an enterprising guide who took us about the place. He seemed harmles enough but was described as a 'bad man' by several fishermen when we reached the market itself. Here he's showing Sharon the fish and trying to get her to taste
  • The Thampalai Lagoon Area area has a road to the west, quite minor but being very close to the sea it was somewhat prone to flooding, so we had to push/swim a bit here
  • A rare sight these days as mechanisation comes in. Here 3 people were loading a trailer with rice straw
  • The start was a really pretty ride along the B474 as it passed through extended villages and countryside
  • Basic tea stop just after the entrance to Minneriya National Park. Chai and rotis
  • Inside a Sri Lankan Veterinary Centre
  • Bridge across the pretty waterway (Elahera Minneriya Yoda Ela) which we followed for some way today
  • Steve starts the descent from Hapatule
  • Hakgala Kovil. A quite surreal temple by the side of the road with these bluish greenish figures
  • View from Hakgala Kovil temple
  • A moniter scuttles away as the peloton passes in Udawalawe
  • Koy Carp in the pool at Isurumuniya Temple
  • A mother and baby cross the A11. We sat back and left them to it
  • There are loads of peacocks in Sri Lanka, you're hear their cry very commonly
  • Just to the left of the route where the railway runs, if you climb the bank is Giant's Tank where the Cormorants roost
  • The coast road was pretty under developed. However the Village Hotel, let us in for coffee and a few of us went for a swim in its private beach
  • Freshly caught, these were being gutted and processed on lengths of polythene on the shore
  • The gutting of fish attracted quite a few egrets
  • Water Lillies
  • A reminder of the Tamil conflict. The marshes close to Sangupiddi Bridge are still mined as the Halo trust sign warns you
  • I always love street murals. Not that common in Sri Lanka, though this one on the side ofa wall in Polonnaruwa was pretty impressive
  • You'll see a few of these on the descent from Nuwara Eliya
  • A rather cross looking monkey admires the progress of 11 cyclists passing him along the highway
  • Mahesh was the helper on the tour. COVID was on the wane, but he was careful to make sure we all had clean hands getting back into the bus
  • We stopped for a morning stop at Bakamuna, after which Dianne passes a temple
  • Lunch stop having looked around Polonnaruwa
  • Mother and baby cross the road
  • Cycling west into Anuradhapura, we crossed the railway but not before a train passed
  • Decorated wall
  • Robin and Karen return to Tea Forest Lodge having enjoyed the sunrise atop Little Adams Peak
  • Self explanatory really
  • Next stop was the Colombo National Museum. It dates back to 1877 and has a colonial vibe with a rich history covering 2500 years. The founder of the museum was William Henry Gregory, British Governor of Ceylon from 1872–1877.
  • Steve enjoying a brew at the Village Hotel and Indian Restaurant
  • Hanging elephant lamp. Pour the oil into the front legs and the oil sits in the belly. 11th -12th Century
  • On a flat days ride the rise over Sangupiddi Bridge was a climb, Sharon made it
  • Linda and Robin wildlife spotting on the B474
  • Robin cycles through Anuradhapura with Jethawanaramaya in the background
  • Lunch at Polonnaruwa
  • One of the few ruins seen outside the major centre, just off the road at Kumaraalle
  • Long mural on the outskirts of the small settlement of Belihuhoya
  • We used the canal network coming out of Uda Walawe, here the group cross a culvert
  • The network is used for washing, fishing and swimming
  • Never have I seen the cows stick quite so close to the sign warning everyone
  • Mirisavetiya Rajamaha Vihara Dagoba at Anuradhapura. Built by King Dutugemunu (BC. 161 - 137). The reason behind this Stupa was the king's mourn due to consuming a chili-meal without offering to Sangha. Subsequently, king Gotabaya has expanded it
  • Linda cycles through Anuradhapura with Jethawanaramaya in the background
  • Linda and Robin approach a local bus on the B474
  • It was quite some breakfast at Tea Forest Lodge
  • Linda and Robin cross the Mehaweli Ganga on a causeway. This was just after a tricky turn that a few missed (that's another story) Yu could see the dam to the right
  • We took the main road to Telawa then headed left along the B213. Now this was very rough but it was being resurfaced, so next time it should be grand. Here Lorna tackles it
  • We returned on the canal network. Here Lorna takes the low road
  • The causeway after Sangupiddi Bridge where you are in effect crossing the Indian Ocean
  • Temple along the coast road
  • A old Morris decorates the side of the road. You rarely see these but there were 3 of them here
  • Is it a snake? Nope it's another water monster
  • We reached the north coast road. The first part was just inland but after Valvettithurai Junction, the sea views opened up giving lovely views of the hundreds of fishing boats littering the coastal area
  • 11th - 12th Century. One of the Saiva saints, a tamil psalmist
  • whilst Linda takes the high road
  • Only 5km later a bull elephant was happily grazing the verge. We sat for 20 minutes hoping that he would move on. A very kind driver saw us and used his car as a shield so that we could progress
  • Steve on the B213
  • Squadren of Cormorants. An amazing sight. There were maybe 7 of these groups flying up the river at 400 metre intervals
  • Sharon and Dianne on the B213
  • 50km marker on the A11
  • Sharon on a bridge on the canal network
  • Dianne and Fleur along the coastal road (AB21)
  • Along the canal route. The surface is red dirt, in places pitted, but some places have smooth tarmac that puts our infrastructure to shame at times
  • I'd punctured a few times. In a vane attempt to get an inner tube, there stood a bike shop and no they didn't have one
  • Lorna along the canal bank
  • Fleur along the Coastal Road
  • Giant's Tank Sanctuary is a giant reservoir that leads to a canal, perfect for lorry drivers to wash and scrub up. On a hot day it would have been rude not to join them
  • A small religious statue tucked inside a Banyon Tree
  • Sharon and Dianne on the B213
  • Another 50km sign to add to the collection
  • Early morning preparation for the day ahead.Water bottles filled, bikes checked in the shadow of the back up bus
  • Large graveyards are not a sight in Sri Lanka.What you do see are graves from singles to maybe 40. This small group were for military deaths and were highly decorated with pictures and paint
  • Linda took a lot of pictures. Using the zoom she would take a picture then identify whatever it was in the evening
  • Fishing in the canal using a net that's weighted all around. Throw it in and catch the fish...
  • Approaching Port Pedro near the army camp. Port Pedro doesn't really have a centre, more a strung out series of houses
  • leur and Mike along the canal bank
  • Lots of things use the canal towpath. These machines are very popular, a bit like a ride on lawn mower
  • In it goes
  • An egret keeps an eye on the moniter as it swims the canal
  • Passing through Eppiwala. These towns are quite frenetic to cycle through but I always felt quite safe as speeds are low
  • Meegahakiula town sign
  • Paddy fields. This was the view to the left
  • Built during the British Colonial era, the story goes that not long after the bridge had been commissioned by the British, World War I broke out the steel was used elsewhere, so it was completed in 1921 with none
  • Petrol and Diesel for sale in a small shop. Mostly for motorbikes and tuk tuks
  • Hits the water
  • Through Port Pedro. We all went to the lighthouse which was pretty non descript then returned back along the coast road
  • Galle Face. This area has been so changed that even our guide who lives locally didn't really recognise the place with so much building going on
  • White throated kingfisher
  • A array f vegetables for sale. This lady was charming. She spoke good English as we quaffed various ice creams and drinks from her fridge
  • Taken from the car park of the Botanical Gardens, this was the descent along the A5
  • The canal would on occasion open to a larger area full of wildlife
  • Gem Mining. Sapphires etc were found by pumping water and filtering what comes out the ground
  • The usual sellers were present along the front where Sri Lankans paraded along the promenade, here Robin settles for some chips
  • Sri Lanka has an abundance of wildlife . This lizard was watching us from the tree by the shop
  • 50km along route A14
  • Stork in the canal
  • The 0920 crosses the 9 arches bridge in Ella
  • Ths was a fabulous lunch stop. It started as a cup of tea, moved onto a soft drink and ended up trying all the curries that they had on offer
  • An orange flowered tree offsets the green of a tea plantation as we left Ella
  • Most bus shelters are highly decorated, this one had a wildlife theme
  • Drinks at the Army Welfare Restaurant. Right next to the army camp, the rotis were cheaper than elsewhere so we loaded up on these, coffee and pepsi
  • Purple heron
  • Robin and Sharon along the canal network
  • The descent finished at Keppetipola where we headed right. The back up van had been stuck in the queue for diesel, fortunately next to a bakery
  • There were many Brahminy Kite. They were attracted by the offal and fish bebris produced by the local fishermen processing their catch. These were circling trying to pick up quite a big piece of fish
  • View along the waterfront. The cranes in the distant are Chinese and they have reclaimed land to build a financial centre
  • Statue outside the 2nd Battalion Mechanised Infantry Regiment, near the Mech cafe
  • From the minor road cycled along the escarpment, you could look left and see Little Adams Peak
  • Milepost on the road snaking along the edge of the hillside from Ella
  • Sharon through an avenue of trees
  • Brahminy Kite in flight
  • Weligepola
  • Fleur tackles the canal path. With small wheels and a length with plenty of water filled potholes it wasn't easy
  • Sharon heads for the Knuckles range. There are nine peaks over 1200 meters (4000 ft) in Knuckles Range. The highest peak, "Gombaniya" is 1906 meters (6248 Ft).
  • All of us, shaddowed by a new skyscraper
  • Rice Harvester attended by multiple egrets of which there are millions in Sri Lanka
  • At the end of the lovely road from Ella, we crested the brow of the hill and there lay a stationary tub tub with a face popping out
  • Karen takes a picture of the small girl in a tuk tuk
  • More food stalls at Galle face in Colombo
  • Linda at Sakkotei Cape, the official northerly point and start of the 1110km ride south
  • Martin tackles the water culvert
  • General scenic view from this lovely road
  • You could see over Sri Purwarama Viharaya to the agricultural fields beyond as we traversed the valley
  • Agriculture near Sri Purwarama Viharaya
  • Sharon descends past a shop and milepost. This road was rough but all along there were signs of widening and an upgrade up coming. Sri Lanka do things not in halves, many kilometers are worked on by hundreds of road crew
  • Lorna on the last part of the canal towpath close to Embilipitya
  • Our last port of call was the Market in Colombo. To be honest there isn't that much to see in Colombo but these places are always interesting
  • On a quiet road lay a table with a number of bags filled with fruit. After a tasting session of green oranges and two others that frankly I still have no idea, I stuffed 2 bags in my panniers and everyone was happy
  • Car parts for sale in Bandarawela
  • Karen and Robin along the canals
  • We quite fancied buying one of these to help us up the hill in Bandarawela
  • Linda buying fruit in Colombo Market
  • All of us at Sakkotei Cape
  • Along the last section of canal the path was tarmacced and the umbrellas were out as sunshades
  • Near Ambawila Wewa
  • We stopped for some sweetcorn boiled on the fire, this was washed down with a coconut. What we didn't try's the illicit substance wrapped in leaf atop everything else. We were definitely a curiosity to the chap on the right who gave us a purple water
  • Karen traverses the lovely valley road
  • Temple in Embilipitya
  • Km 27 on the B484
  • Herbs in Colombo Market
  • There's a lot of water in this area
  • Bandarawela
  • The finish of the day was at the Cloudz Hotel. Karen uses the front door mimicking the entrance to Sigirya itself
  • Forever known as the allotment variation. It was a turn that led through allotments and not a road. Followed by Steve, Lorna and Linda they persevered
  • Mahesh serves up the final morning tea stop on the edge of Embilipitya
  • Robin ad a puncture on the valley road. Always a source of amusement for the locals as the one stopped, offered us a hand and tried to sell us 'something to smoke'
  • A family portrait of monkeys close to the lake called Ambawila Wewa
  • As we left Embilipitya and cycled through the countryside a car horn went to herald the arrival of the ice cream van. Well who were we to refuse as we chose chocolate and vanilla
  • I saw these coming from quite a long way off. Buddhist monks with their charges off for a swim
  • Egrets rest on a boat on the causeway with windfarms in the distance
  • Colombo Market
  • Guess I had to do it. My thanks to Robin for holding the front wheel you can just see his hand
  • We returned a meal at the Kings Hotel in Negombo. This meal was pretty typical of what you can get as a Western Tourist. We wanted curries, they want to please and give chips. I guess Westerners have prouced this attitude.
  • Lunch Stop in Bandarawela. We weren't quite sure where the back up bus was so plumped for this place. Situated by the road it had a glass viewing area over the valley behind
  • These faster buses were a pretty sight as they passed us. Many different designs all based on a blue theme
  • It as Sunday and the crowds were out to watch a cricket game. The aim seems to be to hit the ball as far as possible and this ball in this picture was lost in the undergrowth
  • Many temples are decorated on the outside walls with black elephants with white tusks
  • The last stretch to Udawalawe was along the A18. Quite a fast road, this temple provided a point of interest
  • Badulla Town Mural
  • Karen on the long climb towards Nuwara Eliya
  • Neil and Robin at Sakkotei Cape. After this we took the more main road back to Jaffna to spend the night
  • Poonerwyn Fort was right by the road. One of the few old things around. Basically 4 walls, built by the Portugese, then the British used it as a restaurant
  • View east from the climb to Nuwara Eliya
  • View
  • Buses are the kings of the road. They go at speed overtaking anything and everything gives way as they belch black diesel fumes. These blue variety were the faster version with different designs on the sides
  • Linda passes a welcome to Sri Lanka mural
  • Karen passes a welcome to Sri Lanka mural
  • Lorna with her game face on, climbing towards Nuwara Eliya chasing Robin and Martin
  • I loved these old road signs. Often tucked away in the undergrowth
  • It was a long day and yes we had done 50km (and more) by the end of the day
  • Steve in fourth place chasing Lorna
  • I snatched this view in gathering gloom in Ella. It shows the view south towards the sea which you could just about see. The next morning, cloud filled this space
  • Welcome to Sri Lanka mural
  • Sharon passes the Sri Lankan mural
  • We were treated to a few songs by our trusty crew in the evening in Ella
  • Sankhagiri Maha Viharaya Temple
  • Lunch stop. Shameera and crew would buy roti's and cake which we'd munch in agreeable places
  • Dianne leaves the lunch stop
  • These signs were by the road at areas where the provinces changed, in this case Uva and Central Province
  • Robin passes a welcome to Sri Lanka mural
  • Martin leaves the lunch stop
  • Linda leaves the lunch stop
  • We spotted this line of figures from the road. seemingly tens of life-sized figured in a row leading to an enormous Buddha at Muruthawela temple
  • Muruthawela temple. This life-sized scene shows the Buddha undergoing a 6 year fast watched by his folowers, that's why he's thin
  • Robin and Karen take a pose with the Knuckles Mountain range behind
  • Robin and Karen leave the lunch stop
  • Sea View Restaurant. I've added this as we dined here the night before, authentic and yummy. If in the area go there
  • First the children came out and then the chief came out to have a chat at Muruthawela temple
  • We were led to a door and behind that a lovely reclining buddha at Muruthawela temple
  • Full moon over Kings Hotel in Negombo
  • At the end of the ride lies Mannar which has quite an impressive fort guarding the area. The square-shaped fort was built in the mid-16th century by the Portuguese, but it was captured by the Dutch in 1658. Later surrendered to the British
  • Neil and Shameera. I was called Mr Neil throughout this trip
  • On the final hill to the end we passed a wandering herd of water buffalo
  • All of us at Dondra Point by the seaside with the bikes
  • Martin and Dianne Young at the southern point of Sri Lanka at Dondra Point
  • Cafe at Bogahakumbura. We popped in here for tea and cake. A tray was loaded with cakes and buns, you then choose what to eat and pay for this. The place was noted for it's lack of drainage and a terrible smell
  • Robin andKaren at Dondra Point the southernness part of Sri Lanka
  • All ofusby the official southerly sign at Dondra Point
  • Neil at the southerly post marker at Dondra Point
  • Agriculture near Boralanda
  • Standing at the Southern most point of Sri Lanka, the Dondra Head Lighthouse built by British in 1889 is currently operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Octagonal in shape and painted in white, the Dondra Lighthouse stands 54m hig
  • All of us, the bikes and the luggage packed up in the bus for the trip to the last hotel
  • Spring planting season in the rice fields. A combination of hand planting and a very unusual sight, using an oven plough
  • As this tour was shaded by the diesel crisis, here's the final part. Having strapped the banner to the front and driven to a fuel station I got out, told the police that as tourists we needed fuel to get home that seemed to work. So here we are, the
  • Fleur decided to pick up a tub tuk in Boralanda and for 1000 rupees ($5) was transported the 14km to Hapatule
  • Fruit and vegetables in Boralanda
  • Fleur heads off in the tuk tuk
  • Hosing down the bus on the descent out of Boralanda
  • Heading left from the B353, some of us took the scenic but very hilly minor road to Diyatalawa. Here Linda passes one of the enormous Bougainvillea plants growing wild in the hedgerow
  • Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) at Diyatalawa
  • Mike passes military hardware at the Sri Lanka Military Academy
  • Loads of bus shelters throughout Sri Lanka are decorated. This one near Diyatalawa had a cartoon feel about it
  • Linda on the southerly section of the loop road from Diyatalawa, passing through the tea plantations
  • Mike had a puncture about 15km from Anuradhapura. These are such friendly people that the this chap stopped and started to help, pumping the inner tube and popping the tyre back on. I bought his son an ice cream who was so polite he wouldn't eat it,
  • Jethawanaramaya across the water on arrival at Anuradhapura
  • Welcome to Udawalawe National Park
  • Green Bee Eater
  • The last 6km of this ride were glorious. A very steady uphill run towards Hapatule through the tea plantations
  • Bathers and across the water lies Sanda Hiru Seya
  • We finished at the Giritale Hotel where the sunset could be seen fromm the terrace
  • A crocodile lurks in the pool. The 2 water buffalo out of shot were quite safe
  • Robin, Karen, cow and milepost
  • Sharon along the canal. We were all looking for a swimming point
  • Local cyclist and ladies with umbrellas on the road to Hasalaka
  • Two Indian elephants and babies at foot in Udawalawe National Park
  • Linda heads to Hasalaka
  • Indian elephant at Udawalawe National Park
  • Our second sighting of elephants were taking a late afternoon bath. If you look closely the one on the left has a 10 day old youngster swimming
  • Having had a swim and wash up the elephants meander into the bush at Udawalawe National Park
  • A Crested Hawk Eagle sits in a tree at Udawalawe National Park
  • Eagle at Udawalawe National Park