Southern India Coast to Coast Ride

14 days
from
2'664 CHF
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Traveller ratings
4.5 / 5 from 32 reviews >
Trip code: 
MIT
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Group size:
4–14
Min age:
16

Cycle through two distinctively different Indian states

The two southernmost states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala perfectly depict the contrasting nature of India. Seeing them on two wheels gives us an excellent opportunity to soak up the rich culture and appreciate the different landscapes as we cycle by. Tamil Nadu sees far fewer visitors than other Indian states, but this is part of the attraction as we follow quiet backroads from the fertile coastal plains in the east to the remarkable hills of the Western Ghats, which form the border with Kerala. Our ride takes us past some of the most impressive sites of southern India, including the former French colony of Pondicherry and the magnificent Sri Meenakshi Temple at Madurai. After cycling through the cooler highlands and tea estates of the Western Ghats, we reach the tranquil backwaters of Kerala, where a relaxing houseboat cruise offers the chance to unwind and reflect on a memorable journey.

Highlights

  • Cycle through two distinctively different Indian states
  • Sample regional dishes served on a banana leaf
  • Cruise on a traditional Keralan houseboat

Key information

  • 10 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat and 2 nights mansions
  • 10 days cycling with full vehicle support
  • Group normally 4 to 14, plus local cycling leader and driver. Min age 16 yrs
  • Countries visited: India

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 8 dinners 
  • 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.

10

Days of Cycling
Pace:

Moderate: 13-16km/8-10miles an hour

Terrain:

Low altitude, 100% tarmac

Day by day breakdown
Day 16.0km/4.0miles
Day 232.0km/20.0miles
Day 3101.0km/63.0miles
Day 468.0km/42.0miles
Day 5102.0km/63.0miles
Day 699.0km/61.0miles
Day 742.0km/26.0miles
Day 971.0km/44.0miles
Day 1082.0km/51.0miles
Day 1135.0km/22.0miles
Day 1257.0km/35.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Chennai
to
Cochin
  • Day 1

    Start Chennai; transfer to Pondicherry via the shore temples of Mahabalipuram.

    Those who are on the group flights will land in Chennai early in the morning. Those not on the group flights will need to be at the airport when the group land if they would like to join the group transfer. Once everyone has arrived we will then depart on the 3.5 hour drive to Pondicherry with a break at Mahabalipuram which is famous for its shore temples and rock carvings. Carving in stone is still a living art here and we will see stonemasons chipping away along the roadside, practicing skills that have flourished for centuries. On arrival in Pondicherry we assemble the bikes and explore this former French colony, a short 6km ride, before an evening briefing about our cycling adventure. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Lunch Dinner
  • Day 2

    Circular ride passing the spiritual commune of Auroville. After lunch in the old quarter the afternoon is free.

    Circular ride to Auroville, a new-age spiritual commune. Founded in 1968 by 'The Mother' and named after her Guru Sri Aurobindo, it offers a more balanced way of living. Revitalized by some earthly fruit juices, we ride the 15km back into town, seeing some fishing communities and cycling along the promenade, which still retains some of its Gallic charm. Depending on time, lunch may be at Auroville or back in Pondicherry, and the rest of the day is free to explore. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Pleasant ride along village roads to experience the rural life of Southern India. Our afternoon ride heads to Chidambaram, famed for its bronze deity casting.

    Starting from our hotel, we ride out of Pondicherry and soon leave the bustle of the city for quiet backroads, experiencing rural life where simple mud huts contrast with the brightly coloured saris worn by the local women. This is the real India and in true Indian style we stop at a roadside restaurant for a tea break. Back on our bikes we cycle another 66km to Chidambaram. Staying in the grand mansion of the village we sleep in the extended family villa – with its own temple it’s almost like stepping back in time. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Riverside ride to the 16th Century Nayak's capital of Thanjavur; afternoon free to visit the town and Royal Palace.

    Scenic morning ride following quiet roads and tracks along the banks of the Cauvery River to Thanjavur. Previously a capital between the 9th and 13th Centuries, it regained its status under the Nayaks in the 16th Century who rebuilt the Royal Palace, Durbar Hall and libraries. After lunch, we take a vehicle transfer to the Thanjavur Hotel. Late afternoon we visit the palace which houses one of the finest collections of bronze sculptures and stone carvings in southern India and the famous vegetable market at Tanjore followed by a visit to the huge Brihadishwara Temple, one of the largest in India and known locally as simply the 'Big Temple'. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Long ride through the Tamil Nadu heartland to Chettinad, renowned for palatial mansions.

    Leaving the city by the old road, we head out into the Tamil Nadu heartland, visiting the oldest clay horse temple en route, to an area renowned for its impressive mansions built by wealthy traders known as Chettiars. Some of these palatial houses have been converted to boutique hotels, offering a glimpse of the past. The grand interiors of Burmese teak and elaborate plaster work retain much of the traditional architecture of a bygone age. But it's from the kitchens tucked away at the rear of the house that the real flavour of India comes to life: Chettinad cuisine is as traditional as its buildings, the piquant curries are slow cooked in copper pots over a wood stove and are as memorable as the ride to get here. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Scenic ride to Madurai, a highlight of any trip to India.

    Today we have a scenic ride to Madurai. Another rocky outcrop is the sacred abode of Lord Murugan, the son of Shiva and also know as Skanda, the most revered god in Tamil Nadu. Staying at Madurai we avoid the worst of the busy traffic. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Free morning to visit this magnificent temple city. Transfer to lunch then ride past Indian vineyards before a final ascent into the Western Ghats and our night stop at Thekkady.

    Morning free to explore the old city and Sri Meenakshi Temple, one of the largest temple complexes in India and one of the highlights of Tamil Nadu. Thousands of huge stone pillars line the hallways, each adorned with different deities, are said to represent the 3,333,333 gods of the Hindu cosmos. A constant flow of worshipers, offering pujas, (rituals performed by the temple priests to the various deities) add to the heady atmosphere of incense and camphor smoke, and make this an unforgettable experience of Hindu culture. Blessed, we leave the heat of Madurai for the cool air of the Cardamom Hills. We transfer by vehicle to our lunch stop at Theni. After lunch we will be dropped off at Cambam, from where we ride to Kumily. Hidden behind the banana plantation are the vineyards of southern India's new venture into wine making. These give way to the forested slopes of the Western Ghats and a slow but beautiful ascent up through the rainforest to Thekkaday, a small town close to the entrance of Periyar National Park and our accommodation for the next two nights. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Free day to relax and stroll around this hill station or visit the nearby Periyar N.P.

    Today is free to relax or go on one of the trekking and boat safaris to the nearby Periyar National Park. Centred around a man-made reservoir, it is possible to see wildlife all year round, although the best time is the dry season (March-May) when herds of elephant come to the lake to graze by the shore; if you are very lucky you may even see a leopard or tiger coming down to quench their thirst.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    A hilly ride through the tea estates with a refreshing stop at a tea factory; after lunch ride one of the most scenic roads in Kerala to Vagamon.

    Riding from the hotel we cycle through cardamom and tea estates, stopping mid-morning for tea and to visit the local tea factory, learning more about the tea making process. Refreshed, we continue along hilly tea plantation roads with a lunch break at a small roadside restaurant en route to Vagamon, an area of outstanding natural beauty and one of the most scenic roads in Kerala. We end the ride with a superb winding descent on a quiet road and stay at an old plantation bungalow. 
    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Cycle through rubber and spice plantations to Kottayam, the Syrian Christian heartland of Kerala.

    Today we ride through rubber and spice plantations en route to Kottayam, known as the Syrian Christian heartland of Kerala. Here grand churches dot the landscape and we break at Palai to visit St Thomas Church, its white washed facade and distinct gilded ceiling predates its Portuguese renovation. All roads converge into Kottayam City, and we avoid the city by following country roads and stop for a lunch break at Erttumanoor Town. Then entering a world in which the author Arundhati Roy set in her book 'The God of Small Things', close to the shore of Vembanad Lake. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Free morning to explore or relax by the lake before boarding a houseboat for a stunning backwater cruise.

    Free morning to relax and enjoy the lake view; or ride to the nearby Kumarakom bird sanctuary and then take a sightseeing ride along the shore of the lake. Midday we board our houseboats for a stunning backwater cruise. The houseboats, converted rice barges now come with a captain, cook and crew; we just sit back, sip long drinks and watch the world go by. 

    Houseboat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Final ride along the coast road to Fort Cochin.

    In the middle of the morning we disembark at Muhamma. Riding along the backroad we cross over to the coastal road to the Arthingal Beach for our first view of the Arabian Sea, and finally know that we've cycled across India from coast to coast. We then ride on to Fort Cochin for lunch. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 13

    Free day in Fort Cochin with its Chinese fishing nets.

    A free day to explore the town of Cochin, its bazaars and old harbour area. Warehouses filled with the smell of tea and spices are limewashed bright green, yellow and blue; rickety old bikes and handpainted trucks piled high with goods, fill the narrow streets and food stalls stand on every corner. Further along the road we come to Mattancherry and the Dutch Palace. Next to the Palace is the synagogue, built in 1568 for the Jewish members of Cochin's trading communities, adorned with hand-painted tiles from China and elegant Belgian chandeliers, all donations from wealthy merchants. The area around the synagogue is excellent for shopping. For food, try the fish market near the Chinese fishing nets, where you can buy the day's catch and have it cooked to your own taste. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities here.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 14

    End Cochin.

    If you are on the group flight you will have an early morning transfer to the airport for the flight back to London. Those not flying with the group will leave us at the hotel in Cochin.

    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

India

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).

 

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, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. 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, 11 lunches and 8 dinners included.

You should allow approx. £10 (approx. US$16) per day for lunch and dinner when they are not included. £3-4 (approx. US$4.80-6.40) for lunch, and £5-6 (approx. US$8-9.60) for dinner without drinks. This amount may vary according to how much you drink. Generally you can eat out very cheaply in India. There is a good choice of restaurants and sometimes there is a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, South India is an ideal destination. Lunches on riding days are usually taken in local roadside cafes. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approx. £1-3 (approx. US$5). Please note that service in Indian restaurants can be quite slow. Mineral water is carried in the support vehicle and you can refill you water bottle from these large 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, but monsoons have been known to be late and it can rain as late as November. 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. However, in the hills temperatures can be considerably cooler and you can expect temperatures to drop to a few degrees above zero at night. We ask you to note that frequent rainstorms can be expected throughout the tour on November departures. However, the storms are usually of quite short duration and the sun normally comes out fairly quickly afterwards.

Chennai, India

Cochin, India

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified 'Road'
Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging)
Average daily distance: 65km (40 miles)
No.of days cycling: 10
Full vehicle support
Terrain and route: almost entirely surfaced roads including plenty of quiet backroads with low levels of traffic, but this does increase when approaching towns. Road surfaces mostly good. There is one sustained climb en route, and some undulating sections with short climbs, but the support vehicle is available if required. Longer days at the beginning of the trip are mostly flat, but always interesting. Most rides are door-to-door, allowing plenty of time in the saddle.

Indian roads can be rough in some places, with potholes. Please bear this in mind if you are bringing your own pedals and clip-in shoes.

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.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

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 and mansions

Most of the hotels are comfortable tourist-class and all have ensuite rooms. 2 nights will be spent in Indian grand homes; one of these is a palatial wedding mansion built by the Chettis and the other is a 19th Century plantation owner's family home. The night near Kottayam (Day 9) will usually be spent in a local homestay. The accommodation here is spread out so some of the group will stay in the main house and others in permanent Swiss Cottage tents. These each have a raised bed and mattress, an attached veranda and toilet.

Houseboats are comfortable, the majority of cabins on board are on a twin share basis, and all cabins have toilet facilities. The houseboats have a communal dining area and are air-conditioned at night between 8pm and 6am.

Customers should be aware that the gas water heaters used on all houseboats are open-flued systems, as used in many parts of India. While this complies with Indian law, it does not meet UK standards and therefore we must inform travellers that there is a risk (while minimal) of carbon monoxide emissions. We have asked our leaders to install a Carbon Monoxide alarm, and they have been asked to brief groups to keep their rooms ventilated (i.e. window open) at night to ensure sufficient air circulation. 

 

Please note that the single supplement does not include the night at Vanilla County Plantation on Day 9 and cannot be guaranteed on the houseboat either due to limited rooms.

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.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed April 2019
    Tony Jenkins

    What a fantastic trip!

    Wow, what a great trip. I had a fantastic time and I am so glad that I did it. There were so many highlights. To start with the cycling was varied and interesting combining flat, uphill and undulating sections along the way as well as cycling by rivers, along country lanes, a bit of city cycling, cycling through tea plantations and many more. The food was delicious throughout and there was lots of choice. I particularly enjoyed the fresh fish and jumbo prawns in Cochin but there was also a wide variety of tasty curries to choose from along the way. All of the accommodation was relaxing, comfortable and air conditioned/had fans. The amount of different places visited was great too ranging from Hindu temples, Christian churches, tea plantation, spice plantation, bird sanctuary etc. The guides on the trip were exceptional. Abhi, the tour leader, always had a smile on his face and always had an answer for any question that you asked him. He was also very encouraging on the cycling side of things as well as pointing out lots of interesting things along the way. He also made you feel welcome and was very organised. He was great. Franklin, the driver, was also great. He was always there to help with your luggage, fill up your water bottle or offer some food for your trip. He was also encouraging too. I would just like to say a quick thank you to Virginia, Alan and Scott who were my travel companions. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to travel with. They were fun, good to talk to and helped make me feel comfortable while cycling. Thanks. Finally, I would like to say that if you are thinking about doing this trip then just do it as you will have a great time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment was the day where we were cycling through the tea plantations. I really enjoyed the cycling (including 3000ft of climbing!) and the scenery was spectacular too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader Abhi always had a smile on his face and always had an answer for any question that you asked him. He was also very encouraging on the cycling side of things as well as pointing out lots of interesting things along the way. He also made you feel welcome and was very organised. He was interesting to talk to and a great human being.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It got up to nearly 46 degrees when I went on my trip so I would highly recommend wearing a cap/buff or similar under your cycling helmet as it gets so hot on your head otherwise. I would also recommend cycling gloves and padded shorts/underwear as it can get very hot and sticky. Good quality sun cream is essential too.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend going on this trip as it is varied, fun and exceptionally well run.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Eamonn O Dulainn

    Wonderful Trip

    Just back from a wonderfully exciting ,fulfilling and enjoyable trip across India with a lovely group of people. Accommodation and food of an exceptionally high standard.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting with and seeing how the people of Tamil Nadu get on with life in a manner that seemed to be so bereft of aggression and so gentle while welcoming visitors despite living in the most primitive of conditions. Seeing at close quarters the level of service provided at all of our overnight stays. The cycle through the tea and rubber plantations.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shekar R. and his crew of Keryun, Bevan and were as attentive to our needs as any people could possibly be.Our water bottles were filled before we asked, our bikes were ready and we were minded and cosseted from start to finish. Shekar is very proud of his country and was keen to allow us to experience as much of its culture and people as time would allow. He took every opportunity to allow us to gain extra enjoyment from out trip by seizing opportunities which presented themselves en route such as arranging for us to join a wedding party for lunch...meeting a young schoolgirl to recite poetry and visiting houses benefits . He coped with requests and difficulties in a most efficient and caring manner and ensured that all were included in his plans.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The temperatures during March this year were exceptionally high (up to 45C) but I would advise people to travel for trips in Dec/Jan /Feb if possible. Drink as much water as possible...then some more.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it ..you'll be delighted you did.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Hazel and Keith Sexton

    AN UNFORGETABLE TRIP LIKE NO OTHER EXPERIENCED

    When my husband suggested cycling in India, I was to say more than a bit apprehensive but having returned from this 2 week trip I have to say that I have had one of the best experiences of my life that I could possible ever have. The contrasts when cycling were incredible - from the quiet undulating roads through stunningly beautiful tea plantations in the Western Ghats to super busy streets with buses, tuk-tuks, motor cycles, bicycles and cows to navigate around! The cycling itself was of a reasonable challenge with a few ascents but the bikes provided were of a high standard with good gearing and suspension so absorbing some of the "bumpy roads" making the ride enjoyable and rewarding at the same time. The distances cycled on a daily basis varied and even on the longer days (100 km) these were broken up with food stops/rests so nothing felt overly difficult. The food was another highlight and stopping at local "cafes" which were most definitely not on the usual tourist route a great experience and we tried so many new and delicious delicacies cooked at times on open fires by the most friendly of cooks. The accommodation on the whole was a very pleasant surprise with the standard a lot higher than we expected. All the places provided excellent breakfasts and dinners so the main issue was of NOT putting on weight! Finally, whilst the main focus was to cycle from coast to coast, on each and every day there were different cultural sights / experiences to partake of and so allowed us to see and appreciate this beautiful part of India. If you are thinking of doing a cycle trip that allows you a wealth of new experiences and adventures then do NOT hesitate to do this trip as you will not be disappointed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling in Tamil Nadu and when we passed the schools, the children in their beautifully presented uniforms would come rushing to wave to us and smile as we rode past. They made us feel so welcome. Also when we stopped, people were again very welcoming and wanted to have photographs with us and know all about us. The friendliness of the people, who themselves have very little, were so smiley and happy that it made you feel very humble.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Shekar was outstanding! From the moment we met him in Pondicherry to waving us off at Cochin airport, he could not have done more to make this trip so special for our group. He was extremely organised, knowledgeable and listened to what our group wanted and adapted the trip accordingly as he genuinely cared about us having a memorable time in his country. We felt very safe under his direction and he took full control so that when we arrived/departed different places we only had to worry about riding our bikes. He was very friendly and sociable, and worked tirelessly to ensure we had a fantastic trip. In this, he was supported by Abi, Kurian and Franklin and as a team they worked extremely well together so that all of our wants and needs were catered for. Could not ask for any more from any member of this fantastic team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Cycling in India is unlike any other cycling that I have ever done! However, the team looking after us ensured we were safe so listen to what the leader tells you to do and follow any such instructions from the team guiding. On the roads do not hesitate - ride with confidence and you will be fine. Accept that parts of India have real rubbish/pollution problems, but try to see beyond this and in areas like Kerala a real effort is being made to make the region a plastic free zone. Also, embrace every new experience - there are so many - and enjoy every moment of such a trip that will leave everlasting memories.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Indian driving in the towns is best described as "chaotic" with lots of horning beeping and everyone on the road trying to navigate the street at the same time but somehow it works and before long you get used to the horns warning you that another road user is in the vicinity. This trip certainly allowed me to experience sights, sounds, tastes and smells like no other trip and if you are like I was somewhat apprehensive, then I would say to you, "Do It!" and it is something you will remember for the rest of your life.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    lindsey gill

    Indian challenging adventure

    From dipping our rear wheels in the Bay of Bengal, travelling through the largely tourist free Tamil Nadu, over the mountains of tea plantations, through fabulous scenery, down into Kerala, and dipping our from wheels into the Arabian Sea, Abi our guide and his team looked after us with cheerfulness and a sense of humour. We ate amazing food often off banana leaves in places you would never venture into as an unaccompanied tourist, and experienced true Indian live at very close quarters. Some demanding cycling, especially on the roads of the crazily busy towns, and some extraordinary sights made an exciting experience. The Indian cookery class and the heritage home stays made the trip even more special.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing how people struggle to scrape a living together but at the same time are happy, smiling and welcoming to visitors, it is very humbling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Abi was so lovely caring and happy in his work, he seemed to genuinely enjoy meeting new people interacting and helping them experience his country, and was always happy to adapt to our needs.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We suffered no ill effects but we were careful about using regular hand wash and avoiding drinking the water. We ate largely Indian style food avoiding western style meals and ate brilliantly.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Barry Tiernan

    Coast to Coast

    This is a great holiday covering 2 distinct regions of Southern India, Tamil Nadu and Kerala The cycling was excellent, flat rides for the first week in Tamil Nadu and hilly the second week in Kerala The accommodation was generally very good. The food was excellent, enjoyed by all on the trip. There were only 6 of us on the trip(all friends), on previous tips there were 16. However it worked out really well. We all enjoyed the cycling, potholes and all. Some busy towns but enjoyable to cycle through.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We stayed at a Plantation House in Vagamon, Kerala which was a special moment for all. Such a beautiful house and the family looked after us very well, cooking a magnificent meal in the evening. Were also driven to a rock pool in a Jeep for a swim. All of us would have loved another day here The night on the houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala was also great fun, a nice touch near the end of the holiday

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Abhilash (Abi) was wonderful. He was kind and caring, looked after us very well. Abi was always there to make our holiday enjoyable. The rest of the team, Kurian, Santos, Vipin also worked very hard and we enjoyed their company. This was a truly excellent team

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The food was so good, likely to put a few pounds on!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only bone of contention were the two Abad Hotels we stayed at. The hotels were great hotels from an accommodation and food perspective. However for a group of cyclist, it is often lovely after a long day's ride to have a nice cold beer and a glass of wine at dinner, which was not possible at these two hotels While we could drink in our rooms, its not the same. We are a bit "old in the tooth" to have a sneak a drink hiding out of sight. I do not think a "dry hotel" is appropriate for a cycling group when there were several other resort hotels in the same area. This is my 4th cycling trip in Asia and not come across this before.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Kevin Frazer

    In search of a good cup of tea

    Myself and my wife (Chris) are both keen cyclists and were keen to have a bit of an adventure. This ride looked like the perfect first trip for us as it meet a number of our requirements. It needed to have enough miles to satisfy my cycling needs but not too difficult for Chris. It had to be somewhere a bit different and it had to go from A to B. Also since retiring 4 years ago I have been blogging about the best cafes/tea shops to go to on a cycle ride and this would give me the chance to blog about tea rooms in the capital of tea. The trip surpassed my expectations as we cycled through a variety of landscapes, learned about temples and tea plants whilst I was able to update my blog with news of the tea shop culture. A day to day review with photos is on my blog http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/special-rides-and-trips.html The second week could have done with a few more miles cycling as there were a couple of rather short days. Although the overnight ride on the houseboat maybe a highlight for some I found it a bit dull (after many trips on the Norfolk broads) and would have rather spent it on the bike. I was particularly impressed with the organisation of the team once throughout the trip making the whole experienced very relaxing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I just loved cycling in a completely unfamiliar environment but I was blown away by how friendly the Indian people were. So much waving and friendly chatting it was such a welcoming country. As the number one self appointed tea room reviewer in the whole of Norfolk I also loved going to the roadside tea shops in search of a great cup of tea, although I didn't really find one.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As we arrived at Chennai airport we were not sure what to expect but we were warmly welcomed by Shaker, our tour leader, and from that point until we flew home we didn't have to worry about a thing as all our needs were taken care. I don't think we could have been looked after any better by Shaker and his team and I was really impressed with their friendliness and organisation. I couldn't speak highly enough of them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was very hot when we went so we probably overpacked 'warm' clothes. Also the trip notes advised not to wear lycra and keep shoulders covered although in practice there was no such restriction and most of the party were in lycra shorts and cycle tops. As the support bus is never far away you can keep you cycling stuff (suncream, money, snacks etc) on the bus so just need a pocket for your phone or camera when riding. Don't be afraid to try the different foods on offer. Most of the road surfaces were as good or better than in Norfolk with the exception of one day when it was more of a hard track along the river but nothing to worry about.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was such a good experience we are already looking at what our next cycling trip will be.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    David Waugh

    Coast to Coast - the real India

    I have been to India before with happy memories of Rajasthan in 2015 and looked forward to my trip to southern India. Sadly although I love travel and I am pleased that I went, as always the brochures and glossy pictures on the Exodus website leave out some of the things you will see - The province of Tamil Nadu is generally poor; the cities are overpopulated and crowded. The cities are best described as heaving masses of humanity, the air thick with pollution. The towns and villages lack sanitation, the rivers run thick with waste & rubbish. Cows browse street side piles of aging rubbish in their search of food. Dusty roads choked with constant traffic. The roadsides often choked with shacks that have no running water nor electricity. Kerala, the second half of the trip on the other hand is much cleaner but even so the urban and rural environments still sadden the heart. Two days at Fort Cochin in a hotel surrounded by building sites near a local beach choked with piles of plastic and other waste was two days too long for me. True there were highlights and the landscape ( where there are no people) can be just fantastic. And again the history, religion, and the people are very friendly & so welcoming.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving at a small village surrounded by paddy fields ; a family group, complete with a new born baby sitting on white plastic chairs outside their home/hut, surrounded completely by strewn piles of rubbish.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Stay in Kerala or pick another trip in another country.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Geoff Beale

    Cycling coast to coast Southern India

    A excellent trip that samples two very distinct states. You need to be fairly fit for this trip, there are some very long days of 100km in the saddle and some very stiff climbs in the middle of the tour which scale some 1200metres in the day. Initial impressions of India were the noise of the traffic horns, the anything goes rules of the road, there aren’t any but it seems to work, but you do need to be comfortable cycling in chaotic traffic. The rubbish everywhere and the cows, goats and dogs in the road and in the towns were an eye opener. Cow dung and holes on the pavements were part of the adventure that you needed to watch when walking around. Most people seemed to smile a lot and the kids always shouted welcome to these crazy white people cycling in the heat. Kerala was clearly very much more affluent than Tamil Nadu and the contrast was clear in that there was less rubbish and the drivers were a little more aggressive to everyone. You get used to the horns blasting all the time, it’s more I’m here, be aware of me. The food is an experience, interesting, very tasty and varied but always spicy. You need to like curries.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole trip was an inspiration and if you’ve never been to India before it gives you an eye opening experience to the real India. In the saddle you get to sample the sights, sounds and smells you would miss on any other type of holiday. Everywhere we went there was agriculture, acres and acres of rice paddies and in the mountains the tea plantations and factories. The markets were full of produce some of which we don’t see in the UK, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of any kind. The people were friendly and full of smiles. The side excursions added to the experience, food markets, temples, palaces, tea plantations and factories, and the backwater houseboat stay and cruise near the end of the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shakar was excellent as tour leader and his team made the trip memorable. They were so helpful and were always out to ensure our wellbeing. His knowledge and recommendations were invaluable and his and his teams enthusiasm second to none.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fairly fit, there are some long distances mostly flat initially for the 100km legs but also long steep climbs after the 5th day cycling. I clocked over 15,000 feet of climb over the whole trip on my gps. If you like adventure this is a great trip to experience Southern India. A great achievement once you’ve dipped your wheels in the Gulf of Bengal at the start at Pondicherry and at the end, the front wheels of your bike in the Arabian Sea just south of Cochin. It’s a tough trip but on reflection well worth it. If you enjoy cycling and adventure, go for it. If your Jabs are up to date you do not need any extra. No need for malaria tablets either. You will need lots of deet mosquito spray for day and evening. Even with it you will get bitten depending on whether the bugs like you or not. I only got 3 or 4 bites but some of our group got dozens. Don’t let that put you off though. Take plenty of sun cream, you will need it. We took UK pounds with us and changed some but mostly used ATMs for anything else. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels but not all but our tour leader was able to point us to the nearest ATM and advise on how to get the best cash exchange rates. As usual don’t change cash at hotels you get a poor rate. We only changed an initial £20 to give us a bit of cash till we knew the score.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The group we were with gelled really well considering the age gaps from 31 to 70. It tended to split into youngsters and oldies but we all mixed very well and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and fellowship on the trip. This was our sixth Exodus cycling trip and would recommend it for those with a sense of adventure.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Mandy Boak

    Truly amazing

    This was our first time in India and the first cycling trip we've ever done. We were a group of 12, plus Shakur our leader, Kurian our driver, Franklin our back-up man and Anil, driver, water-supplier and all-round cool guy. The group were of mixed ability which worked fine - we had loads of coffee stops, happy bushes breaks and although there were about 5 long days of cycling on the trip, from 8 till 4.30, it was all quite manageable. The route of this trip is superb. Using mainly backroads, then the odd venture onto main roads and into the busier towns, we saw such a diversity of scenery and got a great insight into the daily lives of the local people. All of it was so enjoyable, so fascinating. Weaving your way through full-on Indian traffic is exhilarating and hilarious but somehow or other it all works and we all got through the experience unscathed. The backroads do have quite bad potholes in places and can get a bit bone-shaking but they're worth it, honestly. The accommodation is all of a really good standard I felt. I got the impression from more seasoned travellers in our group that this is one of the better trips in that respect. And the food! Oh my god! Fantastic & in abundance - only regret was I couldn't eat all of it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many highlights it's difficult to choose. From the first morning when we did a circular route to Auroville, we were hooked. What a way to see a country and what a country! We were like wide-eyed kids with the biggest grins on our faces all through the journey - the sights, sounds and smells, the colours, the smiling friendly people, the beautiful children, the dogs, goats, cows - there was something amazing down every street, round every corner. It was a morning we will honestly never forget, just wonderful. And the people all smiling and waving, so friendly, cheering us on our way. And the food!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shakur and his team did a great job and looked after us so well on this trip. You could see that the more we enjoyed ourselves the happier they were. There were a couple of occasions when the route had to be changed or certain excursions cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, ie a strike on the day we were supposed to visit the tea plantation factory! But Shakur would get on his phone and next thing it was all organised and we still managed to visit the factory although it wasn't up and running. We left an ipad in one of the hotels - they rang Shakur, got on a motorbike and met us en route about 40k down the line. Every time we stopped Kurian or Anil would fill our water bottles, make sure we all got our coffees and teas just how we liked them. They didn't rest until they were sure we had everything we needed. Franklin cycled at the back all week, taking care of the slower members of the group and helping anyone with bike problems. We couldn't fault these guys, they were just great and helped make the holiday such an enjoyable experience. Thanks guys.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bib shorts aren't practical for these trips - best would be a couple of pairs of thin liner shorts with some fast-drying over shorts. We had a couple of serious downpours en route and I wished I'd taken a second pair of shoes to cycle in - some people cycled in sandals. Gel seat - cheap one off Amazon - proved v useful. We did need to wash clothes now and again - take a decent travel wash or use the hotel laundry - quite cheap. American Express travel card was only accepted once, best off with Visa or Mastercard. Money exchange in airport offered us a much lower rate than anywhere else. ATM's sometimes run out of money so taking some pound notes out with you is quite handy, there are loads of "foreign exchange" places. Practice your camera face - many Indians we met wanted to have a photo taken with us - funny but true?! Our group ranged in age from 46 to 73, everyone coped well with the cycling, although there are so many photo opportunities that go whizzing by, a Go-Pro would have been quite handy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This will certainly not be our last trip to India, or our last cycling trip. We absolutely loved it. It was very well organised, the route was really well planned and we got to sample all the highlights that Tamil Nadu & Kerala have to offer from the tea plantations, to cookery lessons, houseboat trips, temples, palaces - you name it. Loved it.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Anne King

    Southern India coast to coast ride.

    This was a lovely trip, taking in a lot of the sights and sounds of rural India which we could not have discovered for ourselves. We also visited many of southern India,s foremost sights. The cycling was as billed and very enjoyable, mostly on quiet back roads, although the chaotic traffic in the cities should not be underestimated.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of the hill at Thekkady!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader didn't communicate plans very clearly and didn't always do what he said we would do. For example he promised a stop near a lake in three kilometres which I looked forward to as I'm a keen bird watcher, we didn't stop. He described a morning ride as undulating, it was a 12 kilometre climb. The deputy, Abi, was absolutely excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy! Take plenty of money, the costs add up, tipping kitty is a substantial sum.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes need to be clearer. As it transpired that the tips kitty wasn't for tipping the support team I find it very hard to know what the money, over £50 per head, was spent on. That's an awful lot of snacks and cups of tea at Indian prices!

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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