Cycling in Sri Lanka 4 – Arugam Bay to Colombo

#26 Arugam Bay to Dombagahawela

June 12: I spent a couple of days at New Tristar Beach Hotel in Arugam Bay before setting off for my next destination, which turned out to be the highlight of my cycling journey around Sri Lanka. During this journey, I had passed through several wildlife parks marked with signs indicating the presence of elephants, but I hadn’t seen one yet, only their poop. It wasn’t until I had traveled about 25 kilometers from Arugam Bay that I finally saw an elephant walking majestically toward a watering hole.

Further along the way, I had a serendipitous meeting with Shenelle Rodrigo and her husband, Shehaan Thahir. As I cycled, they spotted me and stopped their car to say hello. Their videos of their cycling adventure around Sri Lanka proved incredibly helpful in planning my own trip.

Notably, Shenelle, a model who graced the cover of Vogue India’s ninth-anniversary issue, now serves as Sri Lanka’s tourism YouTube ambassador. Collaborating with her husband, they passionately produce captivating travel and tourism content showcasing the nation’s beauty. If you’re considering a visit to this captivating country or simply wish to immerse yourself in its splendor, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out their YouTube channel:

And if you’re curious to watch the brief chat I had with them, you can find it on my Insta story.

Later on, I met Evgeniy Sigaev, a Russian cyclist on a global journey who has explored landscapes across the former USSR countries. Now in Sri Lanka, he’s been pedaling through picturesque scenes for months. His traditional backpacking approach involves camping in places like bus stops, petrol pumps, and churches. During our meeting, he shared heart-pounding experiences of being pursued by wild elephants in Kataragama just a few days earlier, extreme weather experiences in Uzbekistan, India, and Sri Lanka, and the generosity of people providing food and shelter.

Because of the scorching heat, I decided to slow down my cycling pace and, as a result, chose to stay in Dombagahawela instead of following my original plan to go to Wellawaya.

Stay: Nilbima Holiday Resort, Dombagahawela
Distance 55.20 km
Elev Gain 450 m
Time 5h 1m


#27 Dombagahawela to Wellawaya

June 13: I started my trip to Wellawaya early and, on the way, stopped to see the old palace ruins at Galebedda. They say it was built in the 12th century for a princess named Sugala Devi. The most interesting part was a swimming pool fed by water cascading through intricately sculpted dragon heads, channeled from a natural spring up the hill. This pond, originally a part of the palace complex, now stands as a solitary reminder of its opulent past.

Continuing my journey, I passed through several towns along the way, with Moneragala being the largest among them. As I approached Wellawaya, it started to rain, so I had to wait at a nearby petrol station for nearly an hour. After the rain shower, I headed to Bindu’s homestay, a delightful recommendation from Martin Mondo, a fellow cyclist I had met on my way to Arugam Bay.

Stay: Bindu’s Homestay, Wellawaya
Distance 60.21 km
Elev Gain 513 m
Time 5h 5m


#28 Diyaluma Falls

June 14: Bindu, the owner of the homestay where I stayed, recommended that I visit a couple of interesting places in Wellawaya. The first was the Diyaluma Falls, located a little off the beaten track in the Sri Lankan highlands, 20 kilometers away from the city center. The waterfall stands at 220 meters high, making it the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and the 619th highest in the world.

The ride to the base of the waterfall was quite steep. From there, I hired a guide who took me on his motorcycle further up to the parking lot. Afterward, a nearly hour-long walking trail meandered through tall grass on sloping hills, weaving between tilted trees. Vistas extended out across the valley, and the deafening sound of the falls grew louder as I approached.

Upon reaching the top, Diyaluma Falls offered breathtaking views and some of the world’s best natural infinity pools.

The cycle ride to and from the falls passed through expansive rubber plantations.

Stay: Bindu’s Homestay, Wellawaya
Distance 38.44 km
Elev Gain 637 m
Time 4h 18m


#29 Buduruwagala

June 15: Bindu’s second recommendation was Buduruwagala, an ancient Buddhist temple located around 10 km from the homestay. The complex consists of seven statues that date back to the 10th century and belong to the Mahayana school of thought, which enjoyed a brief heyday in Sri Lanka during this time.

Buduruvagala means ‘the rock of Buddhist Sculptures,’ and the name is derived from the words for Buddha (Budu), images (ruva), and stone (gala). The gigantic Buddha statue, at 16m from head to toe, is the largest standing Buddha statue on the island and still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe, with a long streak of orange suggesting it was once brightly painted. It’s surrounded by smaller carved figures.

Stay: Bindu’s Homestay, Wellawaya
Distance 26.93 km
Elev Gain 208 m
Time 2h 58m


#30 Wellawaya to Ella – highest elevation in Sri Lanka

June 16: Ella wasn’t initially part of my planned coastal route, but when I realized it was only 30 kilometers from the homestay, I decided to cycle there. Ella is a charming small town popular among visiting tourists, nestled in the hills of central Sri Lanka. The first 20 kilometers of my ride was relatively flat, but the last 10 kilometers, quite steep. Nevertheless, the ride was enjoyable as the road wound up through picturesque mountain landscapes, surrounded by a refreshing cool climate.

En route, I passed by the Ravana Falls, a three-tier cascading waterfall said to be the widest in Sri Lanka. Legend has it that the demon King Ravana, who, according to traditional folklore, is believed to have ruled the country, once kidnapped Princess Sita and hid her behind the waterfall, now known as the Ravana Ella Cave.

Upon reaching Ella, I visited the famous Nine Arch Bridge, also known as the ‘Bridge in the Sky.’ This impressive bridge was built in 1921, connecting two large mountains during the construction of the Badulla – Colombo railway. The bridge spans 300 feet in length, 25 feet in width, and stands 80-100 feet high. It’s a remarkable example of colonial-era railway engineering in the country. To reach it, I could cycle only halfway and had to walk the remaining distance due to the narrow steep steps leading down to the bridge.

My accommodation for the stay was the delightful Ella Flower Garden Resort, which offered a fantastic view of Ella Rock. I spent an extra day hiking up the nearby Little Adam’s Peak and enjoying the pleasant climate away from the coastal heat.

Stay: Ella Flower Garden Resort
Distance 35.62 km
Elev Gain 1,163 m
Time 4h 37m


#31 Ella to Wellawaya

June 18: On my way back downhill from Ella to Wellawaya, I stopped at the ninth-kilometer post to see a unique obelisk commemorating the 1630 Battle of Randeniwela. This battle occurred near Wellawaya and involved Portuguese forces led by Governor Constantinu De Saa de Noronha and Prince Maha Astana, later known as King Rajasinha II of the Kandyan Kingdom, along with his brother Prince Vijayapala. Despite their superior cannon power, the Portuguese suffered a massive defeat due to a mass defection by their local militia. The Battle of Randeniwela is a significant event from the Portuguese colonial era in Sri Lanka.

Later, I met a potter who happily showed me the various clay items he had made and even demonstrated how to make a pot on the wheel.

Stay: Bindu’s Homestay, Wellawaya
Distance 33.65 km
Elev Gain 140 m
Time 1h 42m


#32 Wellawaya to Dondra Head – southern most point of Sri Lanka

June 19: Today, my plan was to reach Dondra Head, the southernmost point of Sri Lanka. As I left my homestay, I chose a slightly longer route, avoiding the Katragama forest due to its reputation for being frequented by wild elephants and leopards.

Along the highway, I came across sesame seeds being spread out to dry. I was captivated by the beautiful murals adorning many walls, and I even had the pleasure of meeting an artist who had created a mural in a Japanese style.

Upon reaching the southernmost point, it was quite late in the evening, and finding suitable accommodation proved to be a challenge. Consequently, I had to travel to Matara to find a hotel, in the process cycling the longest distance during the entire Sri Lanka adventure.

Stay: Asiri Inn, Matara
Distance 152.54 km
Elev Gain 936 m
Time 10h 48m


#33 Dondra Head to Galle Fort

June 20: I left the hotel early and made my way back to Dondra Head to drop off some postcards at the mailbox located at the southernmost point. While I was there, I took the opportunity to explore a magnificent Buddhist temple complex nearby.

In Matara, I came across a monument of a hand holding a globe. This intricately designed sculpture marked the landing point of the SEA-ME-WE 4 (South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4) underwater submarine cable: it stretches approximately 18,800 kilometers and connects Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria, and France.

Continuing my journey, I visited the Matara fort before heading to Galle, where I encountered some captivating sights. In Mirissa, which is a popular tourist destination, especially among Russians, I observed local fishermen perched on stilts, engaged in their traditional fishing practices. This picturesque scene has become a popular tourist attraction.

Nearby, just opposite an Air Force Base, I came across an old airplane on display. This aircraft had once played a vital role in transporting soldiers across the country during the civil war; now mothballed, it stands as a unique exhibit within a restaurant.

My exploration also led me to a turtle sanctuary, where dedicated individuals cared for sea turtles injured in fishing nets and by trawlers, nursing them back to health before releasing them back into the ocean. Additionally, the sanctuary was involved in protecting baby turtles hatched from eggs found on the beach, ensuring their safe return to the sea.

Upon reaching Galle Fort and while searching for a hotel to stay, the owner of the New Old Dutch House recognized me from a video Shenelle had posted on her Instagram of the small chat we had. He graciously invited me to stay at his hotel and offered a discount.

Stay: New Old Dutch House, Galle Fort
Distance 77.40 km
Elev Gain 335 m
Time 6h 58m


#34 Galle Fort to Colombo

June 24: I spent a delightful couple of days in Galle Fort before embarking on my journey last ride back to Colombo. The day began with clear skies, but an unexpected rain shower caught me while I was still exploring the fort. The rain came and went over the next 30 minutes before finally subsiding.

The scenic road leading back to Colombo followed the coastline, passing through renowned tourist spots such as Bentota and Hikkaduwa. During my journey, I had the chance to visit a couple of workshops in Ambalangoda, where they craft the famous Sri Lankan masks. However, I found them to be a bit pricey and later learned that there were more affordable workshops just off the main road.

One significant stop was at the Tsunami Museum, which pays tribute to the 35,000 people who tragically lost their lives in Sri Lanka during the 2004 tsunami. This catastrophic event, occurring on Boxing Day, stands as one of the largest natural disasters ever faced by the island, directly impacting numerous coastal towns. The museum conveys the harrowing story through photographs and newspaper features from that fateful day. Situated near Hikkaduwa Beach, the Tsunami Museum also offers insights into the town’s history before the disaster struck. It houses a portion of the commuter train that was en route from Colombo to Matara when the tsunami swept it away, resulting in over 1,500 casualties—a grim reminder of the world’s worst-ever train disaster.

On my journey, I also came across several Sea Turtle Hatchery and Rescue Centers dedicated to conserving some of the world’s endangered turtle species.

My memorable trip concluded at Independent Square around 5 pm, marking the end of my Sri Lankan coastal route adventure, which began on May 7th and covered a total distance of 2152.51 kilometers. I thoroughly enjoyed cycling along the stunning Sri Lankan coast, with its well-maintained roads, and I had the pleasure of meeting warm and welcoming Sri Lankans during my stay.

Stay: Hotel Venue
Distance 126.69 km
Elev Gain 161 m
Time 8h 27m

Putting this travelogue together has been a delightful endeavor, and I would like to thank you for taking the time to read it. Your patience and interest in this journey are greatly appreciated, and I sincerely hope you have found enjoyment in these posts. If you have any questions or would like to reach out, please feel free to contact me.

Cycling in Sri Lanka 1 – Colombo to Jaffna
Cycling in Sri Lanka 2 – Jaffna and around
Cycling in Sri Lanka 3 – Jaffna to Arugam Bay
Cycling in Sri Lanka 4 – Arugam Bay to Colombo
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