Cycle India: Tour Difficulty: 6/10 Challenging: Avg. Daily Distance: 80km (50 miles): Off Road Cycling: 0%: Maximum Altitude: 1990m
Cycle India: Kerala, India is a beautiful and memorable destination for this Red Spokes bicycle holiday; home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations and commonly known as “God’s own country” . With rich and diverse cultures Kerala is an outstandingly beautiful and interesting part of India. It is included in the National Geographic Traveller as one of the world’s 50 must-see destinations. Kerala has always held a fascination for travellers. What better way to explore this wonderful country than mountain biking on our India cycling tour?
The terrain here is geographically diverse, with the Arabian Sea to the West and the mountains of the Western Ghats to the East, offering a great variety of cycling. On the Redspokes Kerala bicycle holiday you will experience exotic beaches, lush green misty hill stations, sloping tea plantations, blue lagoons and tropical rainforests, before finally exploring the fascinating and beautiful inland Waterways. The serene ambience of these waters makes them one of the unique attractions of Kerala.
Our tour includes the unforgettable experience of a night on board a luxury houseboat or ‘Kettuvalom’. The following morning we enjoy a leisurely cruise through the tranquil small lakes and amazing surroundings
Another highlight of our India cycling trip is the food. Distinctive Keralan cuisine is flavoured with lots of natural herbs and spices, great for vegetarians and far less fiery than the style of curry to be found further to the North of India.
Cycle India 15 days cycling tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is rich with experiences and will give you a great insight into this fantastic region and its culture, all from the unique vantage point of a bicycle.
Cycle India: Day 1: Trivandrum
On arrival in Trivandrum, you will be met and transferred to our hotel. This afternoon we will assemble bikes for a short ride to Kovalam Beach.
Cycle India: Day 2: Trivandrum to Madurai
This morning we have a pleasant ride around the back roads of Kovalam through palm groves with tantalising views of the Malabar coast. We visit a multi-faith fishing village where there are churches, mosques and a synagogue. Later this afternoon we take a train to Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Cycles transported by road.
Cycling distance: 35km Climb/Ascent: 325m Down/Ascent: 327m
Cycle India: Day 3: Madurai / (Nilakottai) – Vathalagundu
Breakfast at hotel followed by a visit to the magnificent Meenakshi temple. Later this morning you have time to explore the town. After lunch, and a short vehicle transfer, our cycling begins. This is a lovely ride to Vathalagundu Village along an old narrow road which rises from the plains up into the hills with views out across semi-desert land interspersed with lush green palm plantations and a lake.
Cycling distance: 44.61km Climb/Ascent: 1,419m Down/Ascent: 326m
Cycle India: Day 4: Vathalagundu to Kodaikanal
A stunning 1200 metre ride to the cooler climate at the hill station town of Kodaikanal. There is a long climb to finish this afternoon’s cycling, but we are rewarded with scenic views of the plains below as we end the day.
Cycling distance: 41km Climb/Ascent: 1,391m Down/Ascent: 810m
Cycle India: Day 5: Cycle India 15 days Rest Day
You have the chance to take it easy in pleasant surroundings today after yesterday’s cycle, or go walking and explore around the lake.
Cycle India: Day 6: Kodaikanal to Palani
Our day begins with a 5km downhill ride before we join undulating road for 30-35KM. We continue our long, winding cycle downhill away from forest and coffee plantations to the arid plains at a low of 300 metres. After lunch we head to Palani, a densely occupied Hindu pilgrim town.
Cycling distance: 61km Climb/Ascent: 1,025m Down/Ascent: 2,326m
Cycle India: Day 7: Palani to Marayoor
Today we cycle through Indira Gandhi and Chinoor national parks (32 kms) to Marayoor. In the Malayalam and Tamil languages “mara” means hidden and “oor” means land. The fresh mountain air and views of mist-clad hills and hamlets make this a beautiful location.
Cycling distance: 85km Climb/Ascent: 1,046m Down/Ascent: 2,133m
Cycle India: Day 8: Marayoor to Chinnakanal
Another fantastic cycle ride through the fabulous tea plantations to the hotel near Chinnakanal on the road to Thekkady. Thekkady is the Country’s sole tiger reserve, with a bountiful array of tropical flora and fauna, and is home many endangered species and a rich tribal culture.
Cycling distance:55km Climb/Ascent: 1,580m Altitude gain: 1,014m
Cycle India: Day 9: Chinnakanal to Kumily
Leaving the tea plantations, cycle down through the Cardamom Hills from Chinnakanal to Kumily. This is a hilly 30km, we are likely to be greeted along the way by the local children with a polite ‘good morning’, in impeccable English. We will stay 2 nights close to the Periyer National Park.
Cycling distance: 90km Climb/Ascent: 1,480m Down/Ascent: 2,120m
Cycle India: Day 10: Cycle India 15 days Kumily
Non-cycling day. After a leisurely breakfast you have to opportunity to take a guided tour of the spice plantations near Kumily. There will also be time to explore the small town of Kumily or have a rejuvenating ayurvedic massage.
Cycle India: Day 11: Kumily to Vagamon Village
The first 25km of our journey is along well surfaced rolling road through tea plantations. We can stop along the way to visit a plantation. After lunch, on our route towards Vagamon village, we follow quiet twisting back roads through moorland, complete with dry stone walls. The area bears an uncanny resemblance to a British moorland, with the exception that the bushes are tea plants rather than gorse.
Cycling distance: 53km Climb/Ascent: 1,055m Down/Ascent: 840m
Cycle India: Day 12: Vagamon Village to inland waterways
Lots of downhill and easy riding this morning. We cycle from Vagamon to the inland waterways. We will board houseboats in time for lunch and begin a cruise of the beautiful inland waterways. One of Kerala’s highlights.
Cycling distance: 89km Climb/Ascent: 639m Down/Ascent: 1,727m
Cycle India: Day 13: Alleppey to Cochin
We disembark at Alleppey late morning and begin a coastal ride through shady coconut palms and sleepy fishing villages. Stopping for a picnic lunch you have the opportunity to cool off with a dip in the Arabian Sea. This afternoon we cycle through prawn farms and rice paddies to Cochin on the Malabar Coast. We stay 2 nights in Cochin.
Cycling distance: 61m Climb/Ascent: 497m Down/Ascent: 460m
Cycle India: Day 14: Cochin
A day for sightseeing in Cochin. You can take a guided tour of Dutch Palace and Synagogue, or explore spice warehouses and antique shops. This afternoon we have time to pack up the bikes for the journey home.
Cycle India: Day 15: Departure day
Sadly it is time to say farewell to your new found friends as Cycle India ends today. There will be a transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Cycle India 15 days Tour Mileage: Between 35 – 90 kilometres per day (Please note: There are 7 days where the elevation gain is between 1,000m – 1,700m)
Cycling support and grading
All of the time you will have the security of a back-up vehicle; either a jeep or a bus. The vehicle will carry our entire luggage (we transport your main baggage by support vehicle from each overnight stop to the next) and yourself if you want. The back up van will be with us throughout the day stopping around every 15 miles. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems so all you normally need to carry is a daypack, for your camera etc, however, we cannot guarantee that we will be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel.
Getting there and away
Cycle India 15 days holiday starts in Trivandrum on Sunday. We appreciate that people may join the tour from all over the world and therefore no matter what time you arrive at the airport a representative will pick you up so that you and your luggage can be transferred to your hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive before this date we can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a free transfer to your hotel. Cycle India 15 days price does not include your international or local flights.
Equipment and bike stuff
Most roads in Kerala are in reasonable condition. A lightweight mountain bike, touring bike or Audax bike will be suitable so long as you are able to carry a daypack or rackpack. Please ensure that you bike is in good working order before you leave on tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particularly we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible. Use good quality touring tyres.
Each participant will be expected to carry sufficient spares and tools to deal with punctures and minor repairs. We would advise the following tools to accompany you on your tour: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels – check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes. An accurately calibrated cycle computer is advisable.
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and, to this end, we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing, etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance – but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
Weather – what to bring!
It will be hot and dry with daytime temperatures up to 30 degrees centigrade. Sun cream is very strongly recommended. Head and eye protection are also essential. A light windproof/fleece may be necessary in the evenings when visiting hill stations and for early morning descents. Modesty is expected in towns and temples. Ladies should cover their legs and shoulders when not cycling (a beach wrap is ideal for this). In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs. Sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes — cycling footwear, Lightweight socks (3 pairs) — heavy socks (1 pairs), Underwear (4 pairs) — lightweight thermal long johns, Lightweight, long-sleeved thermal shirt — lightweight trekking shorts, Padded cycling shorts (2 pairs) – shorts, T-shirts (2) — lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, Fleece jacket/pullover, Biking jacket — waterproof (breathable fabric), Fingerless biking gloves — warm gloves, Fleece hat or cap with earflaps, Headlamp – & spare bulbs/batteries, Spare laces — sunglasses, Toiletries — basic first aid kit, Towel (small) — small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), Sun Cream, Lip Balm. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
Maps of Kerala are available from all good map shops. Some of the minor roads we use will not be shown. You will be provided with detailed route sheets.
What’s included and what’s not
Rooms will be in mid-range/good hotels and a guesthouse with air conditioning or ceiling fans and en-suite facilities. One night will be spent on a houseboat (2 or 3 twin bedrooms with private facilities on each boat). All rooms are based on two people sharing.
South Indian food is mainly vegetarian and spicy but not hot curry. There is an abundance of fresh fruit and fish. Mineral water is widely available and will be carried on the support vehicle to be paid for from a kitty.One breakfast, 3 lunches and two dinners are the only meals not included. Breakfasts and evening meals (vegetarian and fish options always available) will be taken at the guesthouse/hotels. Full board will be provided on the houseboats. On moving on days the support crew will provide light lunches. Mineral water will be paid for from a kitty.
Included in this tour are all vehicle transfers to and from airports and vehicle support with baggage transfers. An overnight train from Trivandrum to Madurai and 10 nights guesthouse/hotel, 2 nights hotel 1 night houseboat. The services of an English speaking guide throughout the tour along with all visits/trips as per the itinerary.
The trip does not include international flights, meals in transit, 2 dinners, 3 lunches (Light lunch and refreshments will be provided by our back up crew on moving on days), 2 breakfasts, drinks, including mineral water, other than those supplied with meals, visa costs (£30), gratuities (these are at the discretion of the tour participants), any other personal expenses, travel Insurance.
The route is a mixture of poorly maintained tarmac and very rough gravel tracks. The best tyre for the job is probably the Schwalbe Marathon XR. It’s very tough and hardwearing and has a decent tread for the gravel without being too knobbly for tarmac.
We would advise the following: a multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels – check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
Cycle India 15 days: Pricing due to currency fluctuations and seasonal changes please inquire for the best possible price.
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