Kerala Cycle Holiday – India
Kerala is a wonderful part of India and this trip includes some fantastic cycling with amazing scenery.
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.
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 Pedal Nation (our sister company) or High Places 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.
- Cycle through Western Ghat Mountains
- Tea gardens
- Cycle along the backwater lagoons
- Overnight in Houseboat
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.
Breakfast is included throughout the trip; on some days dinner is included as well. Refreshments and light local snacks are provided during all cycling days along with fruits, water refills etc. You can buy a meal for INR600 – INR800, excluding alcohol. Please allow about £40 for this.
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.
You will independently book and pay for flights costs, however we are happy to give you advice or help book your flights for you.
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
Depart fromThattekad, India (via Cochin International Airport)
Return fromCochin, India
Road surfacesMostly flat with a couple of hilly days at the start. Tarmac, off road (conditions can vary).
Bike TypeMountain bike
IncludedKerala Cycle Holiday – IndiaAccommodationLunchCycling guideVehicle supportBaggage transferBike hireAirport transfers
Depart from UK
Arrive in Kochi and transfer to Munnar
On arrival at Cochin International Airport you will be met and transferred to hill station at Munnar in the Idukki district of southern Kerala situated at 1,600metres above sea level.
Most flights will arrive in the morning so there will be a stop on the journey to grab some local breakfast. Drive time around 4 hrs, distance 100km.
Munnar is situated at the confluence of the rivers Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly and is South India’s largest tea-growing region. The route provides awesome views of the Western Ghats mountain range in the distance. As you finally converge on Munnar 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 (B)
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.
It is the first day of cycling in the hill country as 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. The distance to Top station is 35 Km each - way so total distance cycled 70 km. But there is option to do ride back in support vehicle. Hotel (B)
Munnar to Vandanmedu
Today it’s time to leave Munnar and cycle towards Vandanmedu this is a diminutive town with a big reputation for its cardamom plantations. At the beginning of the day we will ride for about 10 kilometres through the tea plantations. As the day progresses, we will be cycling through a number of small villages, whilst traversing numerous spice plantations and cliff views. Eventually our route heads to the town of Vandanmedu. Distance cycled 80 km. Hotel (B, D)
Vandanmedu to Vagamon
This morning we depart from Vandanmedu warming up though some of the protected forests of nearby Periyar National Park, which is famous for the Nilgiri Tigers. The route is full of spice plantation and through which we traverse along the country roads. Needless to mention the region has a history of spice trade for hundreds of years due to the abundance of spices available.
With some more uphill cycling towards the end of the day you reach the final destination Vagamon. Distance cycled 70km. Simple Hotel (B, D)
Wetlands at Kumarakom
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. We will be cycling into the village and spend the night in more traditional accommodation. Distance cycled 80km. Simple Hotel (B, D)
Cycle amongst the fishermen and farmers in Kerala Backwaters
After spending a peaceful night, the following morning 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 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. Distance cycled 40km. Simple Hotel (B, D)
Coastal town of Alleypey – Evening visit local village
Today we have an exciting ride towards Alleppey, this is the epicentre 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 we will pedal to our houseboat for lunch, there is the opportunity for some more cycling in the afternoon or simply relaxing on deck. 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 40km. Houseboat (B, L, D)
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 piece occasionally broken by a handful of local buses passing us by.
Once we have cycled into Cochin there will be opportunity for some optional sightseeing, this can be organised locally depending on time at hand. Some of the notable sights are 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 known as the Dutch Palace. Or option to 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. There is also 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 60km Hotel (B)
The last section of about 8 km into the city can be busy so there is option to hop into the support vehicle and head to the hotel.