Cycle to the idyllic backwaters of Kerala, where children often learn to row boats before they ride a bike. Experience a unique way of life on the water by spending time on a Keralan houseboat. Cool off in the mountain climes of the Western Ghats and maybe even spot a tiger at nearby Periyar National Park. Explore Kochi, a fascinating blend of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences, and witness the peak of local culture in an incredible Kathakali dance performance.
Beyond the crowded sights of northern India lies another world, one where the rhythms of daily life are that bit slower and the surroundings that bit greener – a place that lends itself to leisurely exploration by bike. Take an 8 day cycling adventure in inspiring Kerala, on roads that are sandwiched between the lush forests of the Western Ghats and the golden sands of the Arabian Sea. Ride through incredible countryside with the chance to swap bike for boat and enjoy a river cruise. Explore towns where Portuguese and French influences sit alongside Hindu and Muslim monuments. In this spiritual place, the bike is a place of active meditation, a place to let the brain relax and refresh while roads are navigated and gorgeous surroundings are absorbed. The rewards of hot days in the saddle lie in beautiful beaches, the welcoming waters of the Arabian Sea and the taste of fresh coconut.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to Trivandrum, locally known as Thiruvananthapuram. Your Indian Kerala adventure begins with an important group meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception.
If you arrive in Trivandrum with free time to spare, perhaps wander around Kerala’s capital and admire its British colonial architecture, visit an art gallery, or stroll through the intricate Puthenmalika Palace, which was previously closed to the public for 150 years. In the evening, maybe head out for dinner with your fellow travellers.
Cycling distance: none
Say 'hello' to your bike support team this morning, then get suited up and fitted to a bike before starting your first ride in Kerala. Leaving from Trivandrum, head straight towards the beach on the flat road that takes you all the way up to the Varkala. The scenery is memorable, with Kerala on your right and nothing but long stretches of sand, palm trees and the Arabian Sea on your left (approximately 45 kilometres).
Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast and is home to some of the whitest and most pristine beaches in the whole country. Even though this is a popular destination for Indian tourists, the beaches are quiet and laid-back. The town itself, a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels, will be explored on an orientation walk. If you have time, perhaps take the bike and cycle through fishing villages to Varkala Lighthouse. Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here.
Cycling distance: approx. 45kms/28 miles, mostly flat with approx. 200m/655 ft of elevation gain
By support vehicle (approximately 60 kilometres) and bike (approx. 24kms), ride to the backwaters of Kerala this morning and discover sleepy Alleppey. Once a significant trading port, the town is now famed for the long ‘snake boats’ races that take place in August every year. Here you will board a typical Keralan houseboat (Kettuvallam) to cruise through the complex system of beautiful lagoons and canals. These floating cottages have western toilets, private bedrooms, a dining area and sundeck for you to relax on. The backwaters are best explored by boat as life revolves around the water here – children often learn to swim before they can walk and they row boats before they ride a bike. Float down the waterways, try your hand at fishing, and just lay back and enjoy this unique landscape.
Notes: The houseboats cruise through the backwaters the whole day. As per the local administration rules, at around 5:30pm the boats are supposed to be put aside for overnight stay. Air conditioning is available only from 6pm-6:30am. Fans are available throughout the day along with options to recharge your gadgets. Each houseboat will have 3-4 rooms so the group will be split between a few houseboats.
Cycling distance: approx. 24kms / 15 miles, flat with approx. 90m/295 ft elevation gain
Leave Alleppey and the houseboat behind and cycle the flat first leg from sleepy Alleppey inland to Chengenassery (approx. 21kms)
Travel by support vehicle inland approx. 80 kilometres (3.5hrs) to Vagamon and start our first ride among the hills of Kerala. Today can be a tough but beautiful ride as the route undulates along winding roads and verdant green hills. Ride for approx. 56kms then avoid the really steep sections by climbing into the support vehicle and continuing all the way to the sleepy town of Periyar. In the evening why not soothe your aching muscles with a well-earned traditional malayalee massage.
Ride 1: approx. 21kms/13 miles, flat with approx. 85m/280 ft of elevation gain.
Ride 2: approx. 56kms/35 miles, hilly with approx. 1200m/3940 ft of elevation gain.
After a leisurely breakfast we enjoy an easier day in the saddle as we cycle through the Kerala high country and the many tea plantations that dot the hills. Enjoy a long downhill into the spice trade town of Kumily, on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and gateway town to Thekkady and the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, before enjoying a sightseeing walk in the nearby jungle.
You also have the opportunity to witness firsthand the fascinating Indian martial art Kalaripayattu, considered to be one of the oldest surviving fighting styles in existence
Cycling distance: approx. 28kms/17 miles - undulating for 18kms then downhill for 9kms - with approx. 360m/1180 ft of elevation gain.
Today is packed with adventure so we have a very early start. What goes up must come down and start the day with the pleasure of a 20kms/12 mile winding downhill cycle that takes you from the cool hills above 1000m all the way down to sea level itself. The road then flattens out as we cycle the last section across the plains to the busy town of Kuravilangad before avoiding the busy traffic by driving to the beautiful beachside city of Kochi.
We arrive in the mid-afternoon and, after check in, we head directly to the historically significant Dutch Palace (Kochi Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch in 1663. Head back to the hotel and grab a shower and relax - the rest of the day will be free to do as you wish (but remember you’re heading back to the Mattancherry part of Fort Kochi for a guided walking tour tomorrow!)
Cycling distance: approx. 71kms/44 miles - downhill for 20kms, then flat/lightly undulating for 50kms - with approx. 450m/1480 ft of elevation gain.
Today is our your last day cycling in the state of Kerala as we enjoy an early morning ride from Kochi to Andhakaranazhi Beach (approx 26 kms), famed for its laid back attitude, sandy shores and tranquil waters.
Return to Kochi for a late breakfast then head back to Fort Kochi for a guided walking tour, including the fascinating the Jewish quarter – the Jewish community here has roots going back as far as 1,000 AD, and you’ll see the Jewish synagogue in the city. The tour will take around 2-3 hours and with enough time to wash off the days’ effort before heading out to dinner and enjoying one of India's most revered classical dances, at a performance of the famed Kathakali.
Note: Due to consistently poor feedback from previous clients we no longer visit the Athirappally Waterfalls.
Cycling distance: approx. 26km/16 miles, flat with approx. 40m/180ft of elevation gain.
There are no activities planned for the final day. You’re able to depart the accommodation at any before midday.
There is so much to see and do in Kochi - why not book and extra day or two.
Perhaps indulge yourself in a hands-on cooking lesson in the ‘land of spices’ and learn how to cook classic Keralan cuisine with a local. Ask your guide for more information.