Lanka Challenge

Three wheels. Two tuks. One epic ride.

Our Lanka Challenge Tuk Tuk adventure does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s in Sri Lanka. It’s challenging. You ride tuk tuks. And the adventure is pretty much guaranteed. But really, there’s so much more in the tin than that: there’s surprises and impossibly hot curry and getting lost and the occasional crocodile. If that sounds like your particular brand of fun, read on.

This page is designed to give you a bit more info about what to expect on the trip. To start with: accommodation. Getting dirty when you have a nice bed to look forward to is fun; getting dirty when all you have to look forward to is more dirt is no fun at all. That’s why we like to mix up our accommodation: a night camping in a remote Sri Lankan National Park (toilets and showers included), and a few nights in boutique hotels and resorts. We’ll also chuck in breakfasts and dinners during the challenge.

So start your engines, people. This is going to be one hell of a ride.

Ah, the humble tuk tuk. The ride so nice they named it twice. These are standard issue, Indian-made, Sri Lankan-modified tuk tuks.

Lanka Challenge Tuk Tuk

They’ve got three wheels (don’t ask us why), an open frame, a canvas roof with drop down sides, a cabin for the driver and two seats in the back. Oh, and an engine: a 4-stroke beast that is probably slightly more powerful than a horse.

Tuk tuks have a few advantages: they’re durable, easy to use and very forgiving. They’ll happily handle almost any surface, climate or level of abuse. Their cruising speed is a tasty 35kph (22mph). Their cruising altitude is about one foot.

Warning: Tuk Tuks can easily roll and flip if not handled correctly. We take safety really seriously on these challenges, and you should know there are inherent risks involved, including potentially life-threatening situations.

 

Specifications
  • Engine: 4 stroke engine – 200 cc
  • Petrol tank: 6 litre normal capacity plus 1 litre of reserve
  • Average petrol consumption: 1 litre approx 20 to 25 Km’s
  • Top speed: 55 kmph
How does it work?

For a comprehensive answer, go and Google ‘internal combustion engine’. But here are the cliffnotes.

  • The accelerator is found on the right.
  • The clutch and gears are located on the left.
  • The main break is actioned by your right foot.

On the first day of the event, everyone is required to attend a mandatory tuk tuk driving induction and safety training session (this means you). You’ll get enough lots of time to practice before hitting the road. A rickshaw is a cross between a car and a scooter, so clutch control is key. If you´ve driven a scooter or motorbike before, it’ll be a breeze.

It’s worth remembering that the Lanka Challenge is just that – a challenge. It’s not a race. It’s not like Cake’s seminal 90s hit The Distance. Speed should not be your priority. If anything should be, it’s probably fun.

Legs and Challenges

The Challenge is broken up into various driving legs. Each team gets a road map and a daily navigational sheet, which they’ll use to get from A to B each day. The winning team isn’t necessarily the team that finishes first, it’s the one that accumulates the most Challenge points. How do you get points? By nailing various challenges, we set you along the way.

That means that racing is not really encouraged. In fact it’s actively discouraged. There’s no need to set a new Sri Lankan ground-speed record (very difficult to do on a 200cc tuk tuk, but still…) We’ll provide mechanical support when you need it, but essentially you’re hiring a tuk tuk and driving it independently each day. By yourself. Han solo.

How many people per team?

A team is made up of either 2 or 3 people. Apparently there is no ‘I’ in it. You get one tuk tuk per team.

Can I book my own accommodation?

Unfortunately, no. Only because each leg will start from the hotel / over-night stop and the idea is to share our challenging travel experience together. Most importantly you wouldn’t want to miss out on each night’s social gatherings…

Is there an age limit?

Yes, you’ve got to be at least 18 years old in order to compete. We don’t have a maximum age, but if you’re over 65 we definitely recommend checking with your insurer to make sure you qualify for the medical insurance you’ll need to take part. The Challenge is pretty physically tough – we won’t sugar-coat it. You should really only take part if you’re in good physical shape and your health is A-Okay.

What should I bring along?

Probably not your ski jacket. Or that set of golf clubs. Sri Lanka is a tropical island, so pack accordingly. The nights can get a little chilly, depending on the time of year, so a windbreaker jacket and a few light layers wouldn’t go amiss. Other than that, bring all your travel essentials, some good quality suncream and anything you think will make the long driving days more fun (we recommend honing you I-Spy skills beforehand).

How about luggage?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to strap suitcases to the roof of your tuk tuk. We’ve got a luggage truck that will follow us around. Each morning you’ll load it up with your heavy bags, and each night we’ll hand it back at our hotel. For the camping nights, we recommend bringing a smaller bag to act as a day pack.

How on earth am I going to drive a tuk tuk?

Don’t stress, they’re very friendly. If you can ride a bicycle that has a clutch and an engine, you can ride a tuk tuk. Besides, on the first day everyone gets mandatory tuk tuk driving instruction and safety training. You’ll have plenty of practice before hitting the open road.

Is it going to be dangerous?

To put it bluntly – yes. There will be an element of danger, if only because you’re sitting behind the handlebars of a three-wheeled tuk tuk, on top of 200CC of raw power, and tackling unfamiliar roads in a foreign country. That in itself is a bit risky. But don’t worry too much – if you’re sensible and cautious, you should be fine, and we have a fully trained crew to swing in if anything goes wrong. That includes an ambulance and paramedics on standby.

Warning: Tuk Tuks can easily roll and flip if not handled correctly. We take safety really seriously on these challenges, and you should know there are inherent risks involved, including potentially life-threatening situations.

How about tuk tuk maintenance and repairs?

Your humble steed will be handed over in road worthy conditions and from then onwards it is your responsibility to take care of any repair costs. Our team of mechanics will be at your disposal throughout the event and will assist you with this at a cost. Otherwise you can turn to the locals to help you out. But don’t worry spare parts are not that expensive!

The cost of repairs depends on how each teams looks after their vehicle. Naturally there is a small amount of wear and tear on these type of events, but you will only be charged for parts that are damaged or need to be replaced. There will be a full vehicle inspection prior to handing over your tuk tuk. On average, the cost of repairs ranges from USD $40-120 per team.

And fuel?

These wonderful machines are surprisingly fuel efficient, so unless you drive like a madman your wheels will do at least 30 km to the litre so you won’t really be spending more than USD $100.00 bucks for the whole Challenge.

How fast do tuk tuks go?

Whoa there, speed racer. These bad boys can’t really get over 50kph. The average speed should be around 35kph. Fast enough to get the blood racing, but not so fast you hit a cow. That’s the sweet spot.

What if I crash and  write off my ride?

If possible, try not to do this. One of our registration requirements is to pay (or better block the amount off your credit card) a refundable deposit of USD $1,800 per team. This will (ideally) cover you for most touch ups and accidents, although if the tuk tuk is a complete write-off the bill might increase. At the end of the Challenge we’ll inspect the vehicle, come to an agreement, and return any balance to you before you leave Sri Lanka. A pretty standard car-hire type system, really.

Do I need special insurance?

Yes and your team entry fee includes an Emergency & Medical travel insurance for the duration of the Challenge. If you’d like to get additional travel insurance to cover things such as luggage loss and flight cancellation etc., we’ve got a few companies we’ve used before and can recommend. If you’re an EU resident, try Campbell Irvine. For everyone else, head to World Nomads.

Do I need a special drivers license?

Everyone who competes has to provide us with a valid International Driving Permit with a Category A stamp. Sorry to get all hardass, but if you show up and can’t produce the license, we can’t let you compete (we also reserve the right to without a refund).

How about vehicle insurance?

Third party insurance is included under the hire of the tuk tuk. Scratch as many Ferraris as you want (please don’t actually do this).

Can my team entry be sponsored?

Definitely! We love to see teams going the extra mile to raise money for charity. Just be aware that the tuk tuks we use have limited branding space (we take up some for our own branding purposes). If you need more info on this, just let us know.

How do I register?

Easy peasy. Here’s how:

  1. Sign up here.
  2. Pay your initial deposit.

Once you’ve done all that successfully, we’ll send you an email with lots of exclamation marks confirming your team’s availability.

Once I register what other docs do I need?

Once your registration is locked and loaded, we’ll email you and ask you to provide us with:

  1. A passport copy for each team member (we promise not to laugh at the photos).
  2. International Driving Permit with a category A or B stamp.
  3. Your arrival and departure details.

We’ll double check all these docs on the ground in Sri Lanka, so please bring copies with you.

When do registrations close?

30 days before the Challenge.

Do I need to bring my own camping gear?

Nope. We’ll provide the sleeping bags and the marshmallows as necessary. However it might be good to bring a torch.

Who needs a visa to Sri Lanka?

Ah visas, our old nemesis. You can find out the full list, and how to apply, here.

Can the route change?

We try to stick to the original route and accommodation as much as possible, but they can be subject to change from time to time.

Is it expensive in Sri Lanka?

Not really. Some luxuries can be a little pricey (hence the ‘luxury’ bit), but for the most part it’s super reasonable. Lunch might be a few dollars and beers are generally under a buck. It’s like travelling back in time to the 50s when the world was a much simpler place and children respected their elders.

Will there be internet connection throughout?

All our hotels will have internet connection, but the campsites not so much (it’s really hard to train monkeys to operate the WiFi). If you’ve booked your own accommodation, you’ll have to check with them.

Religion?

Buddhism – 70 per cent; Hinduism – 16 per cent; Christianity – 7 per cent; Islam – 7 per cent. If in doubt, just smile and be friendly.

What languages are spoken in Sri Lanka?

Sinhala, Tamil and English are spoken throughout Sri Lanka, although in remote villages the English-speakers might be few and far between. You’ve brushed up on your Sinhala, right?

What’s the weather like

If you like your weather warm, you’ll love Sri Lanka. Warmth is kind of its thing. Even when it’s pouring with rain. There are plenty of more in-depth weather guides online, but generally the south-west monsoon brings rain to the western, southern and central regions from May to July, while the north-eastern monsoon is from December to January. Expect anything from 23 to 30 degrees Celsius.

Do I need to get vaccinated?

This is completely up to you (and your doc), but generally it’s a good idea to be up-to-date with standard vaccinations like Tetanus, Hap A and Polio. Other jabs to consider are Tuberculosis, Meningitis and Typhoid. Anti-malaria meds might also be a good idea. If in doubt, check with your GP.

For more info, click here.

What are the roads like in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has a good road network linking all the major cities, towns and interesting places. But don’t go expecting pristine tarmac everywhere you ride. Some of the rural roads in particular can get pretty wild and bumpy.

So, why is Sri Lanka so amazing?

Shore answer: come and find out for yourself. Long answer: it’s sort of like India, without the madness and crowds. It’s still mad, and there are still crowds, but not quite on the same scale. It’s also got a great cultural legacy from trade and immigration: Indian, Tamil, English, Portuguese, Dutch. Pretty much every seafaring culture has touched the island at some point, which means the food is seriously good. Like don’t even get us started. Check out this blog for a bit more info.

Payment Method & Terms:

  • Only USD$499 / £333 deposit required to signup.
  • Outstanding amount is required 90 days before the start of Challenge.

Cancellation Policy:

  • Non-refundable deposit.
  • 89 to 30 days prior to start of the Challenge – 50% cancellation charges apply.
  • 29 days to start of the Challenge – 100% cancellation charges apply.

For more information please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions.

Share this: