20th - 27th Jan
An unforgettable, six stage trip of a lifetime through the heart of Sri Lanka, this exclusive Off:Roader is one you won’t want to miss.
Averaging 80-100km per day on a mix of back country dirt roads, gravel tracks and mostly quiet lanes, experience the undiscovered gravel paradise of Sri Lanka. Our unique route winds its way from the west coast, north of Colombo, through the rice fields of the lowlands to the stunning private tea plantations in the highlands and back down to sea level again. We finish by the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches of the south coast.
Off the bike, you’ll have the opportunity to visit some of the country’s ancient cultural and UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the rock fortress of Sigiriya, take a scenic train ride, and experience its varied wildlife first hand on safari.
Whilst our accommodation will be in comfortable 3* & 4* hotels, we will be staying in some more rural parts of the country so you get a real feel for the warm and friendly Sinhalese culture. Our feed stops will be unlike any others, as we mix local roadside stalls with an abundance of the freshest, most flavoursome fruits you’ll ever taste!
Deposit £299 | Private Single £1,999 | Shared Twin / Double £1,749 per person
Be one of the first to experience gravel in Sri Lanka! With a massive network of unexplored gravel roads, single track through rice fields and dirt tracks through private tea plantations, on this trip you will take the roads less travelled and see the country from a unique perspective.
Get back to nature: Sri Lanka is a sensory overload with incredible biodiversity! An enchanting country, with an abundance of wildlife (think eagles, kingfishers, monkeys, leopards and elephants to name but a few), and incredible views everywhere you look, every day is guaranteed to ignite all your senses.
Food, Tea & Culture: Have you ever tasted a coconut roti hot off the grill? Or watched a delicious hopper (Sri Lankan pancake) being made for you? Or drunk a fresh King Coconut? And did you know there are over 20 different types of banana in Sri Lanka? Each day we will enjoy local foods and fresh produce, our feed stops will be unlike any others!
Included in Ride Package
Our ride today takes us along the stunning coastline on mostly flat, quiet gravel roads. North of Chilaw is the heart of coconut country, full of coconut plantations.
As we pass through the area, our gravel tracks take us past many lagoons, lakes and salt plains. These natural gems are home to a variety of water birds, lotus flowers (the national flower of Sri Lanka) and vibrant water lilies.
Our ride finishes to the north of the Kalpitiya peninsula, home to kite surfing during the summer months and multiple water-based activities in the winter, such as scuba diving, snorkelling and dolphin watching.
Ride Difficulty: 1/5
% Off Road: 75%
We start the day with a short coach transfer to Talawa before we begin our ride. We have amazing red gravel and dirt tracks and quiet roads, passing through small farming communities. The area is surrounded by large ancient tanks, which are reservoirs filled by the monsoons.
Today is another steady ride on fast rolling gravel and dirt tracks. The route gently rolls upwards for most of the day, but you will hardly notice it! We pass by Dambulla at the end of our ride to get to our accommodation just south of the town.
At the end of the ride is the first of our optional excursions. Once fed and showered, you will have the opportunity to climb over 1,000 steps to the top of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya, and see the beautiful artwork painted on the walls of the king’s fortress. At the very top you are rewarded with breathtaking 360 panoramic views.
Ride Difficulty: 2/5
% Off Road: 70%
Our Queen stage features two main climbs, making up the majority of today’s elevation. We start with a rolling 35km before we tackle our first climb, a 4.5km road climb with a few spicy sections. Once crested, we descend down towards Rattota then it’s straight into our main climb of the day.
The 14km, majority off road, ascent climbs up to over 1,100m high, providing you with stunning views up and out towards the majestic Knuckles Mountain range.
We then take a largely gravel descent down towards the Victoria Reservoir (created by the Victoria Dam), south of Kandy, to our eco hotel set in stunning natural surroundings.
Our second optional activity is a trip into Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the last kingdom of Sri Lanka. This enchanting city served as the secret capital and cultural centre of the country. At its heart lies the revered Temple of the Tooth, a 400-year-old religious site that holds great significance for Buddhists worldwide
Ride Difficulty: 4/5
% Off Road: 60%
Today starts with a short transfer to Kandy station before embarking on a magical train journey. The landscape changes as we travel past cascading waterfalls, small villages and into the heart of the tea plantations and the Sri Lankan Highlands during one of the most picturesque train journeys in the world.
Arriving in Haputhale, we begin stage four. Our shortest stage of the week, we wind our way up and down to Bandarawela through private tea plantations. The highlight of the day is the ride up to Lipton’s Seat, perched in the clouds at 1,000 meters above sea level, it’s the highest point in the area. From here you have 360 views of tea plantations as far as the eye can see. We’ll have a short stop at one of the tea factories, before descending down into Bandarawela for the night.
Ride Difficulty: 3/5
% Off Road: 50%
Our penultimate stage starts with a 10km mixed terrain climb up and out of the tea plantations. Take your time and soak up the sights and sounds as you tackle the final climb of the trip.
Once our climb is done, it’s mostly downhill or flat towards the coast, passing through farmlands, including paddy fields, pepper plantations and rubber plantations. We pass close to magnificent National Parks, all the way to the town of Tissamaharama, in the deep south of the country.
Our optional activity today is an evening jeep safari in Yala National Park where you might see leopard, elephants, sloth bears, monkeys, birds and deer, amongst other local wildlife.
Ride Difficulty: 3/5
% Off Road: 50%
For our final stage, we are back to the fast rolling gravel and dirt tracks of the lowlands. Passing by rice fields and small villages, we wind our way steadily towards the coast.
In true Glorious Gravel international style, our finishers party will be in a beautiful setting. We roll to one of the South’s most stunning stretches of coastline near the Rekawa Lagoon. Our finishers party will be beside the tranquil turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, where you can share a cold beer and celebrate in style with fellow riders.
Ride Difficulty: 2/5
% Off Road: 75%
Our Off:Roader series are non-competitive, designed to take you off the beaten track with a group of friendly, supportive riders. The whole event is social starting on day one with a flat stage and a cold beer all together at the finish line.
Each evening we eat together and have a ride briefing where our UK event manager goes through the next stage & our local hosts talk us through the region we will be riding through.
The routes are fully signed – we roll out each day in small groups and you will soon settle into a little peloton of riders going at a similar speed to you.
Our team is on hand at every step of the way – at the start line, riding on the route, at regular checkpoints and always a phone call away if you need anything. We take delight in our reputation of providing multi stage rides of a lifetime and nothing is too much trouble to ensure you have a great time.
Accommodation & Meals
The hotels in Sri Lanka are a good standard. We stay in a mix of small resorts and 3* and 4* hotels, some very rural. We start and finish our ride staying at hotel on the coast with beach views. Inland, we’ll stay in a mix of eco and spa hotels very close to nature.
Accommodation is half board. Evening meals are buffets with a range of local dishes, such as curries, and more international foods such as pasta. Vegan, gluten free and other dietary options are available.
Equipment & Packing
We will send a full packing list but late January in Sri Lanka should be great weather with warm to hot days and pleasant evenings and mornings. We go into the hills and some remote areas so weather can change quickly and a waterproof jacket & layers (arm warmers, gilet etc) are must packs.
Evenings are casual, don’t forget to pack swimmers as some hotels have pools and wellness areas. You will need to bring one small soft-sided item of luggage which we will take from hotel to hotel and you will get a small day bag on arrival where you can pack extra clothing etc to collect at the second checkpoint.
The ride takes in a mix of gravel roads, tarmac and some off road sections on dirt. It is ideal for gravel bikes with all rounder tyres (35mm plus). We have spare inners, lube & CO2 at all the feeds. There is also a bike wash available at the end of each stage.
Friday 19th January: Depart UK
Saturday 20th January: Arrive into Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport. See transfer times below. 7pm Welcome, pre-ride briefing & dinner
Sunday 21st January: 8 to 8.30 stage start. 7pm briefing & dinner
Monday 22nd January: 8am bus transfer to start. Optional climb of Sigiriya rock fortress. 7pm briefing & dinner
Tuesday 23rd January: 8 to 8.30 stage start. Optional visit to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. 7pm briefing & dinner
Wednesday 24th January: Transfer to Kandy for a train to Haputhale to ride through tea plantations. 7pm briefing & dinner
Thursday 25th January: 8 to 8.30 stage start. Optional evening jeep safari at Yala National Park. 8pm briefing & dinner
Friday 26th January: 8 to 8.30 stage start. 7pm briefing & dinner
Saturday 27th January: Departure day, see below for transfer times.
Yes, SriLankan Airlines have daily flights from London Heathrow (9.30pm departure) direct to Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) with a flight time of 10.5-11 hours. There are also return flights that depart Colombo at 12.55pm daily. Once you’ve booked your place on the trip you will receive full information about booking your flights. You can also book your flights directly here.
Arrival: On Saturday 20th January, we will be running a transfer at 2.15pm local time for anyone arriving at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport from London Heathrow (note that this flight departs the UK on Friday 19th January at 9.30pm and lands at 12.35pm on Saturday 20th January). The transfer to our hotel in Chilaw is approx 2 hours. If you plan to arrive in Sri Lanka earlier, you can either make your way direct to our first hotel, or return to the airport on 20th January to join the group transfer.
Departure: On Saturday 27th January, our transfer will depart our hotel in Tangalle at 7am and go direct to Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport for the 12.55pm departure back to London. This transfer takes approx 3 hours.
No, you cannot currently rent gravel bikes in Sri Lanka. However, you can take your bike box as part of your luggage allowance with SriLankan Airlines.
Yes! You can take your bike box as part of your luggage allowance with SriLankan Airlines at no extra cost. Bike boxes will be stored securely for the duration of our trip and returned to you on our final day. We have mechanics available at the start & finish to help with bike building / packing.
Yes, in the checkout there is a box to put whoever you want to share a room with. If you are booking a double room (2 people, 1 bed) please select 2 people in the checkout.
You can secure your place with a deposit of £299. This is non-refundable so we strongly suggest you get travel insurance before booking (you can also purchase cancellation insurance in the checkout).
Full payment is due 3 months before departure (October 20th), we will send you a reminder when this is due.
In addition to some incredible gravel routes, we have some optional off the bike activities so you can make the most of being in Sri Lanka. If you want to climb the rock fortress of Sigiriya, head to the magnificent Temple of the Tooth in Kandy or take a jeep safari through the Yala National Park to see elephants, monkeys and a myriad birds, we have made plans to allow for this. All optional activities will be at an additional cost.
You are welcome to extend your stay in Sri Lanka on either end of the trip. Note the information about airport transfers and your options. SriLankan Airlines also flies to the Maldives so you could even add on a relaxing stay there.
On our recent gravel trip to Sri Lanka we felt very safe. Just take the usual precautions with valuables, particularly when carrying them in crowded areas. We will be staying in relatively remote places, where you need to be more cautious of the wildlife than anything else (there are some poisonous snakes, lots of friendly dogs on the roadside and water buffalo, cows and elephants can be known to stray onto roads, often at dusk). It’s likely, however, that the only big wildlife you’ll see is on safari! We’ll be setting you off in small groups and there will be daily briefings that highlight anything you need to be aware of.
As long as you are up to date with routine vaccinations, then you shouldn’t need any specific vaccinations for this trip. However, we recommend that at least 8 weeks before the trip, you check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website.
General information on travel vaccinations is also available on the NHS website.
There is WiFi in the hotels of varying quality. Mobile coverage is generally very good in cities and towns, though may be patchy in rural areas. You can purchase a local SIM or use your own phone. Check with you mobile operator on charges before leaving the UK.
January is the best time to visit the west and south coast of Sri Lanka. Expect plenty of sunshine and minimal rainfall throughout the month, and average temperatures around 30°C. If there is any rain, it is generally both warm and short lived.