Cycle the Coast of Kerala

8 days
from
1'234 CHF
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Trip code: 
MIA
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–14

Gentle cycling along the tropical Keralan coastline

Kerala is an excellent place to discover by bike; a true tropical paradise with an idyllic coastline, lush tranquil backwaters, colourful temples and old stone churches. It's not surprising that Kerala is often referred to as 'God's own country'. Offering a gentler experience than the often frenetic north, Kerala is great for a first time bike trip or your first visit to India. From the old spice port of Cochin to the laid-back beach town of Varkala, we gently cycle through beautiful landscapes, fascinating towns and colourful fishing villages, sampling superb south Indian cuisine along the way. A night in a village homestay provides a unique insight into the warm Keralan hospitality, and the backwaters of Kerala are cruised on a traditional houseboat before relaxing on the sweeping beaches of Varkala.

Highlights

  • Explore the old spice town of Cochin
  • Experience warm hospitality in a village homestay
  • Cruise the backwaters on a traditional houseboat
  • Relax on the sandy beaches of Varkala

Key information

  • 5 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat, 1 night homestay
  • 6 days cycling, including 1 optional ride and a bike tour of Cochin, with full vehicle support
  • Mostly surfaced roads with a few rough sections
  • Group normally 4 to 14, plus leader and driver. Min. age 16 yrs

 

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6 (including optional rides)

Days of Cycling
Pace:

ranges from 25km/day (15.5 miles) to 52km/day (32 miles).

Terrain:

Mostly surfaced roads (which can be rough in some places) including plenty of quiet backroads

Day by day breakdown
Day 26.0km/4.0miles
Day 352.0km/32.0miles
Day 435.0km/22.0miles
Day 57.0km/4.0miles
Day 638.0km/24.0miles
Day 725.0km/15.0miles

Itinerary

Cochin
to
Varkala
  • Day 1

    Start Cochin.

    Start Cochin. Those on the group flight usually arrive at our hotel in the afternoon. We'll then have our bike fitting and test our bikes. We stay in The Killians Boutique Hotel (or similar) for two nights, which is located in the heart of Fort Cochin (excellent for exploring). Yoga sessions are provided here and it also boasts an Ayurvedic spa and swimming pool.

    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Explore Cochin by bike and foot.

    Today is a good opportunity to get used to the bikes, exploring the historical town of Cochin (Kochi) by bike and foot. The Portuguese established a base here, followed by the Dutch, who were forced to hand it over to the British in 1841. With a multicultural heritage, it is now the bustling commercial capital of Kerala. Merchants began trading spices such as pepper and cardamom with the Chinese, Arabs and Portuguese more than 600 years ago. Warehouses are still filled with the smell of tea and spices are lime-washed bright green, yellow and blue; rickety old bikes and hand-painted trucks piled high with goods fill the narrow streets and food stalls stand on every corner. Most of the major sights are found in Fort Kochi and Mattencharry. We'll visit St Francis Church, which is close to the hotel. Built by the Portuguese in 1503, it is the burial place of Vasco de Gama and his tomb can be found inside the church. We then make our way to the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1568, it was gifted to the Maharaja of Kochi before the Dutch took it over. Close to the palace is Jew Town and the Paradesi Synagogue. Built in 1568 for the Jewish members of Kochi’s trading communities, it is adorned with hand-painted tiles from China and elegant Belgian chandeliers, all donations from wealthy merchants. The area around the synagogue, called Jew Street, is a heritage zone with many antique and handicraft shops and is excellent for shopping. The fish market near the Chinese fishing nets is also worth a visit. Cochin is also the centre for Keralan arts, so this evening we'll enjoy a Kathakali dance performance, a form of religious dance and play unique to Kerala.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Cycle to Muhamma, past old Portuguese villas and through fishing villages.

    Riding out of Fort Cochin, we pass 500 year old Portuguese villas, a striking contrast to the tiny fishermen's huts dotted along the beach road, with their wooden boats pulled up under the palm trees and nets hung out to dry. Many of these fishing villages are Christian. At Arthungal we can rest under the shade of the coconut trees, sip tea and admire the view of the old stone church. Continuing along the coastal road, we make our way towards the backwaters of Muhamma. Kerala is renowned for its backwaters; a network of canals and lakes which we cruise on a traditional rice barge later on in the trip. Tonight we stay in a backwater resort overlooking Vambanad Lake. The veranda and the gardens are excellent spots for relaxing whilst backwater life unfurls before you. Treatments such as Ayurvedic massages are offered here.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Continue riding along the coast to a backwater village in the region of Alleppey.

    We continue along the coastal road towards Alleppey, another start point for the backwaters trips. Our ride takes us through Kainakary Village, eventually reaching Chennamkary, a traditional village in the Kuttanad backwater region of Alleppey. We'll spend the evening here in a homestay, arriving in time for lunch. The homestay is spread across a number of houses owned by different families. Rooms are air-conditioned and come with their own bathroom. It's a fantastic opportunity to experience warm Keralan hospitality. We'll enjoy a cooking demonstration in the evening, followed by dinner. 

    Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Optional morning bike ride to explore the village; board houseboat in the afternoon.

    A laid-back morning today. You can either relax at the homestay or go on an optional short bike ride to explore the village. At midday, we board our houseboat for a backwater cruise to Trikunnapuzha. These converted rice barges consist of 2-berth cabins with en suite bathrooms, and are equipped with their own cook. We stack our bikes on the side of the boat (we'll be saddle free for the next 19 hours) whilst we watch the world slowly go by. Vessels of all sizes use the network of canals and lakes, with smaller boats ferrying passengers and goods between tiny hamlets perched on narrow spits of land. On one side of the canal we can see vast paddy fields, and on the other side are fishing nets and coconut trees. As the sun begins to set, the boats are moored together and we gather on the deck for sundowners and dinner. 

    Houseboat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Disembark houseboat; cliff-top ride to the laid-back beach town of Varkala.

    Breakfast is taken on the houseboat before we disembark. We then enjoy a cliff-top ride to the laid-back beach town of Varkala. We set off along a quiet coastal road to the Valaazhikal ferry crossing, loading the bikes onto a local fishing boat to cross the river estuary to Karunagapally, where we meet our support vehicle and transfer to the beautiful beach town of Varkala. We'll stop for lunch en route. We spend the next two nights at Varkala, staying close to what is considered one of India's best beaches. With coffee bars, shops and yoga schools perched along the red sandstone cliff-top, this town is an excellent place to chill out.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Short morning ride to the surrounding coastal area; afternoon free to relax and enjoy Varkala.

    After breakfast, we enjoy a small morning ride to explore the surrounding coastal areas. Returning to the hotel by lunch time, there is time to enjoy the beachside location and perhaps try one of the beach shack restaurants, which serve excellent seafood. We recommend trying some of the Tandoori dishes - the clay ovens give a more authentic taste to the breads and curries. Tonight there is the option to enjoy a final group dinner at the hotel's restaurant, which serves a variety of Keralan dishes. 

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Varkala.

    Those on the group flight will be transferred to Trivandrum airport for their flight back to London. For Land Only travellers, the trip ends after check-out.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners included.

Lunches on riding days are usually taken in local roadside cafes, allowing us to sample typical south Indian dishes such as poori (deep fried bread served with curry) and dosa (thin pancake made with fermented rice and lentil batter). South Indian food is very much influenced by its tropical landscape; creamy coconut dishes enlivened with delicate spices, served on a banana leaf. It's also an ideal destination if you are a vegetarian. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap, and there'll be plenty of tea stops so that you can enjoy a cold can, a cup of chai or refreshing coconut water. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately £3 (approx. US$5) but please note that alcohol is difficult to get hold of in Kerala as it is a dry state.

Generally you can eat out very cheaply in India. Where food is not included, you should allow approx. £3-£4 (approx. US$4.80 - US$6.40) for lunch, and £5-£6 (approx. US$8 - US$9.60) for dinner without drinks. This amount may vary according to how much you drink.
Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow. Drinking water is provided in the support vehicle, where you can fill your bottle from the containers.

Weather

The most important feature of the Indian climate is the monsoon. The main monsoon strikes the coast of Kerala in late May and sweeps its way northward over the next month or so. The ideal time to visit is during the dry season from October to March. Days will be hot and the nights warm, the average range of maximum daytime temperatures being between 21ºC and 35ºC and from 6ºC to 20ºC at night. We ask you to note that frequent rain can be expected throughout the tour on November departures. However, this is usually of a short duration and the sun normally comes out fairly quickly afterwards. Please note that swimming in the sea at Varkala is not always possible, depending on recent weather conditions.

Cochin, India

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified 'Road'
Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)
No. of days cycling: 6, including 1 optional ride and a bike tour of Cochin.
Full vehicle support.
Average daily distance: ranges from 25km/day (15.5 miles) to 60km/day (37.3 miles).
Terrain and route: mostly surfaced roads (which can be rough in some places) including plenty of quiet backroads with low levels of traffic, but this does increase when approaching towns. The support vehicle is available at all times if required. The cycling consists of mostly half-day rides, allowing time to explore the sights and relax at your hotel.

This trip is designed so that you can experience the best parts of Kerala in a short period of time. Kerala shows the softer side of the sub-continent, offering a gentler experience than the often frenetic north. We follow the coast rather than going inland in order to avoid the highlands of Kerala. This itinerary is therefore great for a first time bike trip or your first visit to India, but there is also plenty of interest for those who have completed cycle trips with us previously in India and want to see a different part of the country.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI's schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place.

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, houseboat,homestay

5 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat and 1 night homestay (all en suite).

We use tourist-class hotels throughout the trip, all of which have swimming pools, whilst the village homestay brings a different flavour to the itinerary. The homestay is spread across a number of houses owned by different families. Here we experience warm Keralan hospitality, alongside a cooking demonstration and dinner with the hosts. Rooms are air-conditioned and come with a private bathroom. Please note that single rooms can be limited at the homestay.

Houseboats are converted rice barges consisting of 2-berth cabins with ensuite bathrooms. The houseboats are air-conditioned (between 8pm and 6am), come with their own cook and also benefit from a communal/dining area.

 

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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