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Kerala Cycling

Kerala Cycling

£1295 per person

Grade 2 Cycle TourIntroduction

Kerala is a wonderful part of India and this trip includes some fantastic cycling with amazing scenery.

Cycling

The holiday starts and finishes in Cochin: taking in the hill stations and tea plantations of Munnar, the cardomom fields of Thodupuzha and the backwaters of Kumarakom. With a daily mileage of around 60km – some longish ascents (and descents!) and plenty of stops for refreshments and photographs, this moderately challenging trip is suitable for all regular cyclists.

Information

We stay in some lovely hotels and, on the backwaters, a houseboat. As we make the return journey towards Cochin we will be cycling along the Old Beach Road, an experience definitely not to be missed.

​The weather will be pleasantly warm, around 23 to 25 degrees, providing a perfect remedy to the British winter.

India High Places began in India in 1987 when our very first trip set off to trek in the Garhwal Himalayas in north India.  We have gradually widened our destinations and now also go to Ladakh, Sikkim as well as Kerala. If you are looking for an authentic and active holiday in India, we are the specialists. Moreover we hold India in great respect and have a deep regard for the land and its peoples.

To travel with High Places and our sister company Pedal Nation Cycle Tours will disprove many of the myths you might hold and leave you with a sense of wonder and incredulity. There is a life force in India, which we may already have lost in the west. You must come and see for yourself.

There are 14 major languages in India and around 200 minor languages and dialects. Malayalam is the spoken language in Kerala. It came as a shock to discover that our hard-learnt Hindi was virtually useless here. English is often spoken but is not as widespread as in other parts of India.

Highlights

  • Cycle through Western Ghat Mountains
  • Tea gardens
  • Cycle along the backwater lagoons
  • Overnight in Houseboat

Accommodation

On this trip, all of the places we stay are friendly and with character, and in diverse locations. For example we will be staying in a comfortable guesthouse in Munnar and later on in the tour on a beautifully crafted kettuvallam (houseboat) on the backwaters.

All accommodation is double or twin share unless a single supplement has been confirmed.

Meals

Breakfast is included throughout the trip; on some days lunch and dinner is included. This allows you the option of trying a wide range of local restaurants which is very much part of the adventure. Cuisine in Kerala is delicious. Vegetables and fish spiced with pepper, turmeric, cardamom and ginger, tempered with coconut milk and yoghurts make for many memorable meals during the trip.

And the masala dosas!!

In the Tour Plan, (B, L, D) refers to meals included in the trip cost i.e. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Flights

You will independently book and pay for flights costs, however we are happy to give you advice or help book your flights for you.

Tour Plan

The Kerala tour route is flexible and should be seen as a guide only. Local conditions, weather or fitness could lead to changes in our daily plans. All times and distances are approximate.

Download the Kerala Itinerary

7 days of cycling
Approx 240 miles Age
  • Destination
  • Depart from
    Thattekad, India (via Cochin International Airport)
  • Return from
    Cochin, India
  • Road surfaces
    Mostly flat with a couple of hilly days at the start. Tarmac, off road (conditions can vary).
  • Bike Type
    Mountain bike
  • Included
    Kerala Cycling
    Accommodation
    Lunch
    Cycling guide
    Vehicle support
    Baggage transfer
    Bike hire
    Airport transfers
  • Not Included
    Evening meals (unless specified)
    GPX files
    Travel to start & from finish
    International flights
    Travel insurance
    Visas
1
Arrive in Cochin (Kochi: population 602,000)
On arrival at Cochin International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Thattekad, around 65km and one hour’s drive away from the airport. After a rest and a spot of lunch you will fitted for your bike and then get a chance to saddle up and stretch your legs exploring the nearby surroundings. For those with a particular love of nature and wildlife there is the opportunity to visit the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (also known as the Thattekad Sanctuary), where you may be fortunate enough to observe exotic birds such as the Indian Pond Heron, Pied Kingfisher and the Plum-headed Parakeet. (L, D)
2
Thattekad to Munnar
This is the first full day of cycling and we will be pedaling to the hill station at Munnar in the Idukki district of southern Kerala situated at 1,600metres above sea level. Munnar is situated at the confluence of the rivers Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly and is South India’s largest tea-growing region. To reach this one time summer resort favoured by the British Raj we have a very gentle introduction to the day, starting out on quiet roads that traverse the local spice plantations, before turning off onto a slightly bigger road. The terrain then becomes a little more challenging and you will see numerous fields carpeted with neatly arranged emerald-green tea bushes that cling precariously to the hillside. The last 24km of the ride is steep; you would expect this in a low mountain region, although you can always hitch a ride in the support vehicle. Whether you are enjoying the exertions of a tough ascent on the bike or relaxing in the 3 support vehicle you will be rewarded with awesome views of the Western Ghat mountain range in the distance. As you finally converge on Munnar hill station the sight of verdant green fields juxtaposed against the mountains stretching as far as the eye can see will live long in the memory. We will be spending a relaxing evening in Munnar. Distance cycled 65km. Hotel (B)
3
Munnar: Western Ghats panoramic views - Tea plantations and Top Station
Munnar was a favourite summer resort of the British Raj and their architectural legacy can still be observed around the hill station in the form of quintessentially British style bungalows that would not be too out of place in Eastbourne or Worthing. Notwithstanding the colonial history of Munnar, it is also a wonderful place for cycling, the roads and trails are undulating and occasionally challenging, whilst there are plenty of downhill stretches to compensate for the steep climbs. Today you will head out from Munnar to Top Station in the Kannan Devan hills. This part of the cycle tour provides some grand views of rolling hills and lush valleys. We will also catch sight of the Mattupetty Dam and other highlights include Echo Point and the Floriculture Centre, where another stunning panoramic view of the Western Ghats awaits. This 1,600 km long mountain range runs along India's western coast and is protected by UNESCO because of the enormous biodiversity found in the area. Several thousand species of plants, hundreds of varieties of birds and 325 different endangered species including mammals, birds and plants are all to be found in this spectacular mountain range. Once again we will be spending the night at our hotel in Munnar. Distance cycled 65 km. Hotel (B)
4
Munnar to Thodupuzha
Today it’s time to leave Munnar and cycle towards Thodupuzha (population 46,000) this is a diminutive town with a big reputation for its rubber plantations. At the beginning of the day we will ride for about 10 kilometres through the tea fields and take a diversion towards Anachal and then head towards Chengulam. As the day progresses, we will be cycling through a number of small villages, whilst traversing numerous spice plantations and paddy fields. Eventually our route finds us following a river, the course of which is notable for a number of small dams. We will cover the final stretch of today’s journey in the support vehicle, whilst we’ll be spending the night in Thodupuzha. Distance cycled 60 km. Hotel (B)
5
Kerala’s Wetland on the House Boat at Kumarakom
This morning we depart from Thodupzha warming up with a gradual climb of 30km and then a superb 20km descent. These are the last of the hills before we join the plains and cycle alongside a stunning waterscape en route to the village of Kumarakom on the Vembanad Lake. This beautiful part of Kerala and the nearby town of Aymanam some 13 kilometres away in the Kottayam district served as the backdrop for Arundhati Roy’s acclaimed novel The God of Small Things. Life in this timeless landscape around Kumarakom revolves around the maze of river ways, used by fisherman and farmers who transport their crops of coconuts and rice to nearby towns and markets. You should find that spending the night on a luxuriously refurbished houseboat, called a kettuvallam is an undoubted highlight of your cycle tour in Kerala. There can be no finer way to unwind than relaxing with a cool drink whilst watching the sun go down on tranquil waters of Vembanad Lake, make sure to bring a copy of The God of Small Things. Distance cycled 62km. Houseboat/Simple Hotel (B,L,D)
6
Cycle amongst the fishermen and farmers in Kerala Backwaters
After spending a peaceful night on the houseboat, the following morning after a hearty breakfast we will pedal out into the countryside and catch sight of how the local people live, we will see fishermen casting their nets into the water using the same fishing techniques that have been used for generations. Later on we will observe farmers cultivating crops of coconuts, bananas, fruit and other vegetables. By approaching the residents with tact, diplomacy and sensitivity we should be able to take a peak inside the interior of one or two houses and see the village women at work, processing coconut fibres into mats, mattresses and brushes. Daily life in a Kerala village is notable for hustle and bustle; the sights, smells and sounds will make a lasting impression on your memory and cycling back for lunch at the houseboat provides a chance to reflect on the exuberance and friendliness of the local people. The rest of the day is free for some more cycling or the opportunity to take a well-earned afternoon nap. Once again we will be enjoying a freshly prepared supper on our houseboat before retiring for the night. Distance cycled 40km. Houseboat/Hotel (B,L,D)
7
Coastal town of Alleypey – Evening visit local village
Today we have an exciting ride towards Alleppey (Alappuzha: population 178,000) this is the epicenter of the Kerala backwaters and en route we will be pausing to explore some more traditional houses and once again observing how the local people live in this remarkable region of India. Lord Curzon the Viceroy of the Indian Empire once said of Alleppey, ‘here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties, Alleppey, the Venice of the East’. This vibrant town is situated with the Laccadive Sea to the west, is flanked by the Vembanad Lake to the east, and pierced by a myriad of rivers flowing towards the sea. Alleppey is a beautiful town, the oldest town in the region and the sixth largest in Kerala; here you will experience Indian urban life in all its vivacity. A highlight of our excursion is a visit to the oldest lighthouse on the Indian west coast, this magnificent red and white 30metre tower was built in 1862 to guide seafarers negotiating this once busy part of the Indian coastline. If time allows we will also visit the Mullakkal Temple. After spending an interesting few hours in Alleppey we will pedal back to the our houseboat for lunch, once again there is the opportunity for some more cycling in the afternoon or simply relaxing on deck. In the early evening we will be sailing to a nearby village and visiting a local family who will prepare our supper, this will give us a fantastic opportunity to sample local life. This will be our last evening onboard the houseboat. Distance cycled 40km. Houseboat/Hotel (B,L,D)
8
Alleppey to Cochin
With perhaps a hint of sadness, this morning we leave our houseboat and cycle along the old beach road towards the city of Cochin. The cycling is easy and there are some superb photo opportunities all along the route, most notably the Chinese fishing nets, an iconic image of Cochin, standing as a testimony to the relations between the Ancient Chinese Empires and the Cochin Kingdom. The ride will take us through the coastal and backwater areas of Mararikulam, a beautiful ride with the peace occasionally broken by a handful of local buses passing us by. Once we have cycled into Cochin we will be engaged in some more serious sightseeing, most notably a visit to Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese and gifted to the Raja of Cochin around 1555; the building was improved, extended and renovated by the Dutch and in honour of their work, it is now know as the Dutch Palace. With sightseeing the theme for the rest of the afternoon we will also visit Jew Street and the Paradesi Synagogue, one of the few functioning synagogues in India, which was built in 1568 after Jews were allowed to settle in Cochin following the Crusades. The final visit of the day is to St. Francis’ Church, constructed, again by the Portuguese, in 1503 and the burial place of the explorer Vasco da Gama before his remains were transported back home to Lisbon. Distance cycled 52km Hotel (B)
9
Departure Day
After breakfast it’s time for the transfer to Cochin Airport for your flight home. (B)

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