Cycle Kerala & Tropical India

15 days
from
£2,499
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Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 86 reviews >
Trip code: 
MIK
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–14

Cycle from the Western Ghats to the idyllic coastline of Kerala

Beautiful landscapes, fascinating towns, stunning beaches and superb food, southern India is an excellent place to explore by bike. From the cool heights of the Western Ghats, where the sanctuaries hide excellent wildlife, to the quiet backwaters of Kerala, where Hinduism has produced elaborately decorated temples, this trip offers the chance to cycle through colourful villages where rural life has remained little-changed for centuries. The final coastal ride to Varkala rewards us with time to relax on the beach and reflect on an unforgettable experience.

Highlights

  • Cycle through striking countryside with tea plantations 
  • Discover Hindu temples and Christian churches
  • Cruise the Keralan backwaters on a traditional houseboat

Key information

  • 9 nights hotels and 3 nights lodges, 1 night houseboat
  • 10 days cycling (including 1 optional ride) with full vehicle support
  • Group normally 4 to 14, plus local cycling leader and driver. Min age 16 yrs
  • Premium departures available

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 10 lunches and 4 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:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 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; 90% tarmac, 10% rough sections

Day by day breakdown
Day 337.0km/22.0miles
Day 442.0km/26.0miles
Day 520.0km/12.0miles
Day 627.0km/17.0miles
Day 786.0km/53.0miles
Day 862.0km/38.0miles
Day 942.0km/26.0miles
Day 1152.0km/32.0miles
Day 1222.0km/14.0miles
Day 1388.0km/55.0miles

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

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Flights usually depart London in the morning.

  • Day 2

    Start Mysore.

    Those on the group flight arrive in Bangalore and transfer by coach to Mysore, breaking the 3.5-hour journey for light refreshments. If travelling independently, you should meet us in Mysore. After checking into our hotel there will be a short introductory briefing and time to relax (we may have to wait until around noon if rooms are not ready). We will meet at lunchtime and after lunch will have a short walk around the local markets. In the late afternoon, there will be a bike briefing and fitting in the hotel courtyard. In the evening there will be a full trip briefing before an optional group dinner.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Lunch
  • Day 3

    Ride to Srirangapatnam ruins; return to Mysore; afternoon explore the city including the Maharaja Palace.

    We start with a leisurely morning ride to Srirangapatna, the ruins of Tippu Sultan's capital which were destroyed by the British in 1799 during their final battle to secure control of southern India. The fortress stands on an island in the middle of the Cauvery River, and once over the bridge we cycle around the old ramparts, enter Tippu Sultans Mosque and the Ranganathaswamy Temple before riding back to Mysore for lunch. Today for lunch you get your first taste of 'thali’ - the southern Indian meal of rice and multiple small portions of curries on a plate, or the typical south Indian ‘masala dosa’, a thin pancake made with fermented rice and lentil batter. In the afternoon we have a guided tour around Mysore Palace. Also known as the Amba Vilas Palace, it is the official residence of the Wodeyars – the former royal family of Mysore, which ruled the princely state of Mysore for over seven centuries. The Wodeyar kings first built a palace in Mysore in the 14th Century; it was demolished and constructed multiple times. The current palace construction was commissioned in 1897, completed in 1912 and expanded later around 1940. The décor is simply stunning, if a little bit over the top, and the former maharaja is still in residence in his private quarters. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Cycle on the backroads of Mysore Plateau to Nanjangud; transfer to Bandipur N.P.

    We leave the hotel and cycle out of Mysore town up to Chamundi Hill to view the huge 5m rock carving of Nandi, Shiva's celestial Bull. There are also good views over the whole of Mysore. We then cycle back down the hill and continue along the quiet backroads, along with the children riding a bike or bus to school. We also share the road with herds of white oxen and women in colourful saris carrying water pots on their heads. We arrive at the important pilgrim centre of Nanjangud, home to the beautiful 9th Century Srikanteshwara Temple dedicated to Shiva. We have a tea break here with the chance to look around the temple whilst the bikes are loaded onto the bus. We then drive for an hour along a busy road leaving the plains for the forested foothills of the Western Ghats – once the hunting preserve of Mysore's Maharajas, staying close to Bandipur National Park. We should arrive at our hotel in the Bandipur National Park in time for lunch, but if not we will have something en-route. In the late afternoon we take a jeep safari in the park. We will see lots of peacocks, spotted deer and monkeys, with the chance to see wild elephants, Indian Bison and of course the elusive tiger. These can be spotted at certain times of the year. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Ride to Mudumalai N.P; explore 'Wild Haven'.

    After breakfast we go for a short circular ride along the villages outside the forest areas to witness the local farming village life. This ride is followed by a tea break before we transfer by jeep to 'Wild Haven'. The afternoon is free to wander the grounds of this rustic planters bungalow, with fantastic views of the Nilgiri mountains one side and Mudumalai jungle on the other. There is a spotting platform and it’s not unusual for elephants and deer (and occasionally a tiger) to wander right up to the lodge. There will also be the opportunity to go on a village walk on the outskirts of the forest and visit a local farmhouse. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Optional ascent to Ooty hill station (13km climb), former summer capital of the Raj; free afternoon to explore the town.

    For some, today is the highlight of the trip, ascending 1251m to Ooty (Ootacamund), an Indian hill station and the former summer capital of the Raj. It’s a very steep ride up 36 hairpin bends with stunning vistas at every turn, and there's an immense sense of achievement at the summit. Although steep, there are plenty of photographic opportunities that provide a resting spot. Alternatively, enjoy a relaxed morning and journey up the hill in the support vehicle. After tea and cake at the top we have an undulating ride into Ooty. Set at an altitude of 2177m, the cool climate of the Nilgiri Hills gives us a break from the hotter plains below. Arriving late morning, we take lunch in our comfortable hotel. The afternoon is free to explore the town and to sample some of their famous cardamom tea. Ooty is called the ‘Queen of the hill stations’ and although it is now a busy little town there is lots to see and do. Originally occupied by the tribal Todas, the area came under the East India Company at the end of the 18th Century. The British introduced tea to the area, and the hillsides around Ooty are covered in tea gardens. The Nilgiri Hills are called the ‘Blue Mountains’, the blue colour coming from the many eucalyptus forests surrounding the area. Both the Botanical Gardens and the Rose Gardens are a short walk from our hotel. In the town there are many shops selling locally grown tea and oils and homemade chocolate. If there is time and it is running, there is sometimes the chance to go for a ride on the UNESCO listed Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a steam train built by the British (your leader will give you details at lunchtime if this is possible). 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Western Ghats descent through tea plantations; transfer to Guruvayoor in tropical Kerala.

    After breakfast we have a stunning ride across the rolling Nilgiri Hills, the backdrop for many Bollywood movies, before starting the dramatic descent, dropping 2000m through the hills and tea-covered slopes of the Western Ghats. The ride offers fantastic views over the hills below and there are some viewpoints that should not be missed. 54km later we reach Gadalur, a typical Indian town with one long high street selling everything, its shop-fronts covered with colourful adverts and cheap children's toys. Here we have a tea break before heading towards Kerala with the final 20km descent through tropical rain forest and bamboo covered slopes to our end point at a typical Keralan roadside restaurant. The bikes are loaded whilst we enjoy lunch and then transfer to Guruvayoor (3.5 hours) to avoid busy roads. (Please note that although the road is not very busy the road surface today is probably the worst of the trip. There are many potholes and the road surface is not even. Please take care and concentrate whilst cycling). Arriving in Guruvayoor, we have time to relax before wandering into town to sample delicious Keralan street food and have an evening stroll outside the temple, which comes alive at night. It is one of the most important places of worship for Hindus in Kerala and the fourth largest temple in India. The town is filled with devotees dressed in traditional Keralan costume who come here in their thousands to offer rice, flowers and gold to Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The ritual starts with bathing in the temple pond, then lighting an oil lamp on the huge 7m-high pillar of light, just in front of the heavy temple doors – a truly beautiful spectacle. Only Hindus are allowed beyond this point.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Morning ride to Guruvayoor Temple and Palayoor Church; continue along country roads to our beachside hotel in Cherai.

    Today we cycle by the Shree Krishna Temple. A few kilometres further is another religious centre, Palayur Church, which is one of the oldest churches in India and founded by the apostle St Thomas, who landed in India in AD 52. From here we head towards the coast, cycling along country roads lined with mango and coconut trees. There are plenty of photo opportunities as we observe traditional life. Later, we board a ferry to Vypin Island, arriving at Cherai Beach early afternoon. The rest of the day is free to enjoy this stunning location and swim in the Indian Ocean. Cherai is known for its mouth-watering fresh seafood, so for dinner, you could try the Jhinga Kachcia Aam Kari, a speciality dish from Kerala made with green mango and prawns simmered in coconut milk and spices. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    Cycle along coastal roads lined with coconut palms; ferry to Fort Cochin.

    We set off from our beach location towards the coast to Cochin, cycling south and passing through small fishing communities with their colourful boats hauled up along the sands. Turning inland, we see grand houses built with the remittance money from the Gulf States workforce, as well as older houses constructed during the British colonial period. Please bear in mind that the traffic levels are high for the last 8km as we arrive at the main road to board the ferry to Fort Cochin (Kochi). This town has a unique place in Indian history, and to soak up the atmosphere we spend the next two nights in Fort Cochin. After check-in at the hotel, we wander down to one of the restaurants in the old harbour area of Kochi for lunch. Those wishing to visit the Indo Portuguese Museum should do so today as it is closed on Mondays. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Free day in Cochin to explore the bazaars and the old harbour.

    Today is a free day to explore the town of Cochin (Kochi) with its bazaars and old harbour area. Merchants began trading spices such as pepper and cardamom with the Chinese, Arabs and Portuguese more than 600 years ago. The Portuguese established a base here, followed by the Dutch, who were forced to hand it over to the British in 1841. A potpourri of Indian and international communities, it is now the bustling commercial capital of Kerala and consists of several islands connected by ferries. Most of the major sights are close by on Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. Warehouses 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. St Francis Church is close to the hotel – built by the Portuguese in 1503 it is the burial place of Vasco de Gama and his tomb is inside the church. Further along, you come to Mattancherry and the Dutch Palace. 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 Jewtown 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, Jew Street, is a heritage zone with many antique and handicraft shops and is excellent for shopping. For a culinary experience, you should 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.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Cycle past old Portuguese houses; continue to Vambanad Lake and Muhamma.

    Riding out from Fort Cochin we pass 500 year old Portuguese villas, a striking contrast to the tiny fisherman's huts dotted along the beach road with their long wooden boats pulled up under the palm trees and nets hung out to dry. Many of these fishing villages are Christian; at Arthungal the old stone church dominates its surroundings and is best viewed from the shade of a coconut tree whilst we have a tea break. Continuing along the coast road we head to Muhamma, famous as the start point for backwater trips. We spend the night in a backwater resort overlooking the lake. The tranquil gardens are as relaxing as the Ayurvedic massage and treatements on offer to its guests. In the afternoon and early evening, relax on the veranda as backwater life unfurls before you. 

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Explore Muhamma town before backwater boat trip; overnight on Keralan houseboat.

    After a lie-in you can enjoy an optional 22km bike ride to explore the village, or alternatively, you can relax for the morning. Around midday we board a fabulous backwater houseboat for an unforgettable trip to Trikunnapuzha. These converted rice barges have 2-berth cabins with en-suite bathrooms and come with their own cook. With our bikes stacked on the side of the boat you won't see the saddle for another 19 hours, so just relax and watch the world go by. Vessels of all sizes use the lakes and canals that make up this fascinating network of waterways. The smaller boats ferry passengers and goods between tiny hamlets perched on narrow spits of land. On one side of the canal vast paddy fields of iridescent green stretch as far as the eye can see; on the other are fishing nets and coconut trees. As the sun begins to set, the boats are moored together and we gather on deck for sundowners. 

    Overnight Houseboat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Cliff-top ride to laid-back Varkala.

    We have breakfast on the houseboats as they move from their overnight mooring point to our disembarkation point. Here we meet the support vehicle and set off along a quiet coastal road to the Valaazhikal ferry crossing. We load the bikes on a local fishing boat to cross the river estuary and pass by Amrithanadamayi Ashram, better known as the Hugging Mama Ashram, a spiritual retreat overlooking the backwaters. We then join the main road to Quillon and have lunch at a seaside guesthouse: the fish is bought fresh from the market and cooked in mild spice and served with Poratta, a favourite Keralan bread. After lunch we are back on quiet roads for the last 30km to Varkala, a small laid-back community with coffee bars and yoga schools perched along its cliff-top. We spend the next two nights here. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Free to relax on the beach and try delicious seafood.

    Today is a full free day to relax and enjoy the beachside location. There are a number of beach shack restaurants for lunch which serve excellent seafood. Try some of the Tandoori dishes – the clay ovens give a more authentic taste to breads and curries. The last night's meal is generally at the hotel with a fusion of all your favourite Keralan dishes.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Varkala.

    Those on the flight inclusive package will be transferred to Trivandrum airport early in the morning for the daytime flight back to London. Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.

    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, 10 lunches and 4 dinners included.

 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 approximately £3 (approx. US$5), but alcohol is difficult to get hold of in Kerala. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow. Water is provided in the support vehicle, where you can fill your bottle from the 20 litre containers. You should allow approximately £10 (approx. US$16.00) per day for lunch and dinner when they are not included, £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. Generally you can eat out very cheaply in India.

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. 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. Please note that swimming in the sea at Varkala is not always possible, depending on recent weather conditions, however the hotels we use will always have a pool.

Mysore, India

Cochin, India

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified 'Road'

Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging)

10 days cycling (including 1 optional ride), average 54km/day (33 miles), full vehicle support.

Terrain and route: mostly surfaced roads, a few rough sections. A good all round trip with plenty of flat riding, lots of downhill and a challenging climb. Routes follow mainly quiet back roads with low levels of traffic, but this does increase when approaching towns. Indian roads can be busy and clients must be confident cyclists who have cycled in traffic before. Leaders will brief clients on the rules of the road and we ask that you please listen to them carefully and follow their instructions. We aim to cycle most of the route door-to-door, with only a few transfers needed due to distances and busier roads. Great for a first time bike trip or first visit to India, but lots of interest for those who have completed cycle trips with us previously and want to see a different part of India.

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) is 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.

DIWALI FESTIVAL

Some departures will be in India during the Diwali festival -– this is marked on the website. This is a great festival to witness and some minor itinerary alterations may be made locally in order to make the most of this occasion.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 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, Lodges & Houseboat

9 nights hotels, 3 nights lodges and 1 night houseboat, all have ensuite rooms. Most hotels are of a comfortable standard with 4-star facilities. The bungalows at Wild Haven are clean but more basic. 

Houseboats are comfortable and all cabins have ensuite facilities, the majority of cabins on board are on a twin share basis. The houseboats are air-conditioned (between 8pm and 6am) and also benefit from a communal/dining area. Please note that single rooms can be limited.

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 to brief your group about keeping their rooms ventilated at night (i.e. window open) to ensure sufficient air circulation. 

 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 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.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 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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  • Reviewed April 2018
    Kathy Williams

    A fantastic trip!

    A wonderful cycling holiday, superb organisation and led and supported by a great team who were friendly and efficient. The itinerary was very varied from towns and palaces to the jungle, beaches and backwaters, and the cycling linked it all perfectly. The big hill climb up to Ooty was certainly a challenge, (but well worth it) and added an extra dimension to the tour. Despite staying in excellent hotels, we felt we had an insight into the real India as or routes took us through back roads and villages. I would thoroughly recommend it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the animals in the tiger reserve, including spotting a leopard and a tiger!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Safi, was excellent and contributed hugely to the success of the trip. He was friendly, with a sense of humour, interesting and knowledgeable and very efficient with briefings and organisation. A great guy!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was superb, and plentiful. A perfect holiday!
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Vanessa White

    Tropical India

    My first time in India and Tropical India was an ideal place to start. Some of my fellow travellers who started in the north confirmed this. I was told Kerala and Tamil Nadu is greener, slower and softer than the big cities of the north. I was a solo traveller and the group couldn't have been more friendly and inclusive. Well paced trip ,busy but not exhausting. All in all a well organised and wonderful experience, I shall certainly be travelling with Exodus again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The overnight on the boat in the Kerala backwaters was as delightful as I hoped and definitely a highlight. The crew were lovely and gave us a great experience. All the food on the trip was delicious. I like my curries spicey but not hot and that is what I got. The restaurants always ask how you liked your curry and gave you what you wanted. We had quite a lot of buffet meals which were good value and provided lots of choice. The rickshaw ride through Madurai was great fun. Really everything was inspirational !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manoj was totally committed to giving us the best possible experience he could. He joined us for all meals and ensured that the service we received in restaurants and hotels was efficient and met our needs. He looked after us very well and was very caring. All our group remained happy and healthy with only minor ailments, but I am sure that if the need had arisen he would have made sure prompt and good treatment were provided.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do as much as you can and take advantage of all the optional trips. Take some clothes with you that you are happy to leave behind. I am sure the chambers maids appreciate this as part of their tip! This will also make room in your case for presents. Kovalam is a shoper's paradise! Lots of small craft shops, many family run, all with their own different traditional designs. I also bought a beautiful Kashmir rug in Madurai which I have shipped home. The 4hr trek through the tea plantation is tougher than the tour notes suggest, lots of steep inclines and descents. Our group's age range was early 50s to early 70s and we all did it, thanks to Manoj support and encouragement. Its well worth doing it, but I was very glad I took a stick to provide extra stability.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel rooms were adequate, but most of the plumbing is antiquated! The bathroom I had in Munnar smelt musty and damp. It badly needed upgrading. The hotel standards given on the trip notes are not accurate in some places. For example, The hotel in Madurai is only standard grade while the Deshadan Backwater Resort has recently upgraded bathrooms and is very comfortable. The hotel at Kovalam has a lovely private beach which is a bonus, but again the bathrooms are in need of upgrading.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Mark Springthorpe

    Some lovely rides and not too strenuous

    There are many great points about this trip; - This trip combines riding in busy city traffic (which is mental, but exciting and often safer than in UK), with lovely rides through beautiful scenery (e.g. little villages, forest, coast) - much of it fairly flat and easy cycling. We went in Feb and the temperature is hot (30-35C). - Food was a huge surprise in the fact that many of the hotels had great selection and great quality, and the meals in people's homes were delightful and delicious - only the breakfasts were disappointing, but lunch/dinner was great. However, it is all Indian food, so don't expect Western choices. - Most of the hotels were in great locations, and of great quality (comfortable, modern, clean). - The rides weren't exceptionally long (20-25 miles, with a couple around 50), but in the 30-35C heat many of these were done in the morning and were more than long enough to see great things. - With these rides being slightly shorter than on other trips we've done, there was lots of free time (e.g. afternoons) and a couple of free days which allowed us to experience far more of Kerala than on just a bike - a good mix of riding and free time. - Minimal bus transfers (only 2 I recall), so most rides were door to door. - The boat trip on the backwaters was delightful, and the photo opportunities are great. The are 2 rides that are worth being aware of; - The ride to Ooty is a gruelling ride of 17 miles up a 1,400 meter climb - the road is a constant gradient of 10-15% so it's hard work. Even though you start the climb around 07:30, it doesn't take long for the heat to kick in. However, there's no pressure on how quickly you get up there, and you can opt out and take the bus if it's too much for you. - The descent down from Ooty is pretty much 20 miles all down hill, but the road is often poor (pot holes, poor surface, traffic on wrong side)) so riding fast is tempting but dangerous, so you need to watch what you are doing - but it's a lovely ride through Eucalyptus forest and tea plantations. We felt this trip was really enjoyable, and highly recommend it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting on the beach at Sunset on Sunday evening in Fort Cochin - there were hundreds of Indian families (locals, holiday makers) all having fun, and the atmosphere was special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Safi Hyder, and he was great - he made sure things went smoothly and that the trip was enjoyable. His support team were great too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware if you fly into Mumbai (from UK) as the time needed to sort out your visa, collect baggage, go through customs and re-checking baggage can be very slow (2-3 hours) so make sure you have enough transfer time between flights (we missed our connection because of this issues).
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Julie Reynolds

    A Fantastic Trip

    This was a great trip for me as a novice traveller to India. I was concerned beforehand about cycling on the Indian roads but I was reassured appropriately by Exodus staff and the cycling was very enjoyable. There were a couple of stretches on the trip that were on fast busy roads but that was only when that was unavoidable and our guides always looked after us very well, assisting us to cross junctions etc. This was a lovely introduction to Southern India with a good balance of cycling and rest or other activities. Safi our guide was brilliant as were Viben, his assistant and our driver Santosh. Safi was extremely well organised and reliable and gave us good clear briefs each day and after each break. He and Viben supervised the cycling very well and I was quickly rescued when I accidently took a wrong turn! Santosh was just lovely and always gave us a big smile with our water and gorgeous snacks including our "Dark Fantasy's"! (biscuits with chocolate in the middle -- very clever choice given the heat). Nothing was too much trouble (even trying to get us a turkey dinner for Christmas!) and I felt very well looked after, particularly when I left all my valuables in a safe! Such a stupid thing to do but Safi dealt with it calmly and reassuringly and it was all sorted with no fuss and no loss! For me the trip was as "described on the tin" but I was also fortunate to share the trip with a fantastic group of people. Everyone was like minded and easy going which meant that everyone got along well, we had a great laugh and I feel that I have met a whole host of new friends. I have done a fair amount of travelling before and I would not hesitate in recommending this trip to others. The cycling is not difficult (save for Otty hill of course!) and it was a lovely way to see the country and encounter the very friendly people. If you are a photographer there are some fantastic photo opportunities - the only problem is that you have to let some of them pass otherwise you would never end up where you need to get. Thank you very much to Safi, Viben, Santosh and Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the tea plantations and then along the coast watching fishermen pulling fish out of their nets.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Relax and go with the flow. Parts of the trip pass through busy bustling cities which can initially feel a bit overwhelming after England.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No I think I said it in the summary (sorry didn't realised there were separate sections!
  • Reviewed December 2017
    steven elliot

    Cycle Kerala an Tropical India

    We loved this. India just hits you in the face - sights, smells,sounds,tastes. Exotic and spicy, just like a good curry. Cycling is such a great way of seeing a country and we traveled deep into rural areas where tourists don't go; we often felt like creatures from another planet and the locals seemed to agree judging by the number of selfies they took with us in them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many: Riding through Mysore in the rush hour - at the same time both exhilarating and bowel loosening. The ride up to Ooty even though we went through rain and mist and didn't see a thing. The ride the next day down through tea plantations and rain forest Walking round Guruvayoor at night during a Hindu festival and realizing we were the only foreigners. The welcome we received from Muslims on the day they celebrated the birth of the Prophet - sweets,food,ice cream,smiles. Sighting a tiger at Bandipur. The food - piled on weight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was a star.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You do need to be confident of cycling in traffic. The route takes you through some busy towns/cities and along some highways. Indians allegedly drive on the left but the evidence for this is weak. Motor cycles seem to routinely travel on the hard shoulder in the wrong direction and tuk tuks and mopeds just do their own thing. Cars and lorries don't so much overtake each other as play chicken. The cycling is pretty easy - once you get to Kerala there is a near total absence of hills. The ride up to Ooty is an aberration - similar to but harder than Alpe d'Huez. The altitude of Ooty is over 7000 feet and we were very cold at the top because of the rain ( we were there at the time of a cyclone which caused flooding and loss of life in southern Kerala). Suggest you take full wet weather gear. Take hand gel and if you you expect a high level of toilet cleanliness then this is not the trip for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were a happy group and mixed well which has not always been our experience on Exodus trips. This sort of holiday is best suited to the sociable.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Tom Hazeldine

    Far exceeded expectations

    It's a wonderful trip. Every last detail has been meticulously planned from the routes to the choice of hotels, where to have lunch, where to rest during the cycling... It was my first cycling holiday and I enjoyed that part of it more than expected - if you're reasonably fit, with the exception of Ooty Hill it's perfectly manageable. In that sense the heat and humidity is the hardest part of the cycling. However, the standout for me was the food - simply incredible... I like Indian food in the UK but this was another level entirely - a huge variety of flavours and certainly not crazy spicy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Ooty Hill. Physically, the toughest thing I've ever done (it's brutal) - despite taking on electrolyes and other fluids, being in shape and generally sporty (I'm mid 30's and not carrying any weight) I got badly dehydrated and must of stopped 12-15 times. However, I was enormously proud of myself for cycling the full 13km /1,300m of height gain. And next time I'll know the sort of training I need to do! The other highlight was seeing an elephant in the wild for the first time on the game drive, which again was a lot more fun that I expected.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was easily the best group leader I've had and I've done these group tours all over the world. He was incredibly conscientious and kind as well as being exceptionally well organised - time and again he went the extra mile. He'd always phone ahead so everywhere we stopped was expecting us and his advice on things like what not to eat was greatly appreciated. Finally, when he needed to put his foot down with either us or his team he'd do so in a gentle, understated way - often with a chuckle. He had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go when it's a bit cooler, padded cycling shorts are a must and take electrolytes if you sweat a lot. Oh and try the Kerala bread - kind of a cross between naan bread, a pancake and puff pastry (I couldn't get enough of it!)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Most of the cycling is in the morning so there is time to relax or go for a wander in the afternoons - assuming you're willing to brave the heat that is!
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Robert Seatter

    Cycle Kerala and Tropical India

    A great trip - with huge diversity of experience and atmosphere My first time in India, and Kerala was probably the right place to start Good cycling, paced by time in Kochi city/time on the backwaters/a brief time on the beach

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the winding roads between vivid green tea plantations Dusk viewed through the tracery of Kochi's fishing nets Lunch on the family terrace in Kochi The general Indian assault of colour and light The genuine sense of welcome from schoolkids and passers by

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Joseph/Shibu (not forgetting Harry the driver) were all lovely Calm, assiduous and unfailingly patient and courteous - in what could have been a v stressful and dangerous context (some of this cycling is really quite dangerous if you cease to concentrate for the wrong moment!) The one thing that was really lacking was the cultural/historical input And quite reasonably, Joseph/Shibu cannot be good at everything However, the 2/3 one off guides hired to do this in situ were all terrible - the one in Mysore took a 10 minute call to sell carpets in the middle of our Palace tour, another local guide outside Mysore at the temple was incomprehensible This could I imagine be easily sorted with some better on the spot recruitment

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You WILL get ill (unless perhaps you are a v seasoned Indian traveller) Pace yrself as the combination of cycling and heat and illness can be difficult

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I much preferred the second week of holiday Mysore was OK but the Tiger Reserve/Ootey were not terribly interesting - may have been bad weather we had I would happily have had a longer time concentrated in Kerala The last venue was pleasant - hotel/beach etc, but it was surrounded by tripperish shops and outlets which was a pity after so much of genuine India
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Colin Prince

    Mr Colin Prince

    The overall content and places visited on the trip was up to the standards expected of an Exodus holiday. The standard of the hotels was average, except when we were in Kochin. There, the home stay room we were given was very poor, the bedding was dirty and the room very small for 2 people. This would have been alright if we only had 1 night there but as we had a down day, I felt it was unacceptable. Our group was split into 2 hotels. It would have been better if we were all kept together. Safi did move us for the second night, but only after I requested it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the tiger in Bhundipur reserve. The animal and bird life was an unexpected pleasure. Going to a family home, meeting the family and doing a cookery course there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This is my 3rd Exodus trip and I feel that the service that Safi provided was very much below the standards that Exodus had set previously. His knowledge was very poor and his communication skill were lacking. I felt he had lost any enthusiasm for the trip and he did not think about the social aspects of the group. The Kochin hotel as an example. The care that had been shown on previous Exodus rides,mwhen we came to stops on the bikes,bwas lacking e.g., no reminders for hand wash, no welcoming smiling faces and snacks had to be asked for. The driver was very good but not always there. Having said that Safi stepped up to the plate when I needed to go to hospital.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Use plenty of hand wash, apply lots of sun cream and drink plenty of water.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our trip could have been made more enjoyable if our group leader had volunteered more information and stopped and explained things about Indian life, as has happened on my other Exodus holidays.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We were sorry to hear that Colin was disappointed with aspects of this trip. This homestay in Cochin is no longer being used by our groups and we hope that people will enjoy their stay at the new homestay. We were disappointed to hear that Colin was underwhelmed with some of the trip’s leadership; Colin’s feedback was followed up on by our local manager and we are pleased to see that Safi has taken this constructively and has received very good feedback since.

    Louise Ungless - Product Manager for India

  • Reviewed March 2017
    Vicki Nunn

    5000 miles away from my life in rural England!!!

    What a shock to the senses arriving in Mysore on the first day of what was to be an amazing 2 weeks! The colour and noise of India was exhilarating! Such a brilliantly varied trip - I loved it! So much more than just a cycling holiday! A real snapshot of Southern India that I would recommend to anyone who loves to see and do a lot whilst away.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just arriving in India and realising that my 2 week adventure was about to begin! Against all odds, seeing a tiger drinking at the waterhole in Bandipur National Park! Mysore Palace at night (I nearly didn't go cos it was the first night and I was SO tired!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was a nice enough guide but could have been a bit more forthcoming with info about places visited and things seen along the route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take: a bag for front of your bike to avoid bumbags/rucksacks (it's too hot!), shower gel if you don't like soap (that's what most of the hotels provide), loo roll (not provided in loos out of hotels), electrolyte tabs for your drink, concentrated squash (makes that warm water a little more interesting!) and BINOCULARS for the safari (a must!) Add as many extra days in Varkala at the end of the holiday as you can (one day just isn't enough!) but book it yourself (Exodus charged us double the going rate!!). We used the group flight but left 2 days later than everyone else and were so glad we did!
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Lesley Foote

    Enjoy South India from the comfort of a bike saddle

    Described as "moderate/challenging", this cycling adventure produced everything promised - varied cycling experiences in Indian towns and villages, backwater houseboat cruise, fabulous food and a relaxing beach at the end.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one inspirational moment when there were many, but for me the houseboat trip felt like a privilege: the leisurely pace of the cruise and the photography opportunities as the evening light changed, not to mention the beautiful meals cooked on board for us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Joseph, and together with his team he kept everyone on track and ensured we were well fed, safe and gave us good direction. He let people go off on their own when it was safe to do so, and kept everyone in check and under his wing when cycling through busy urban areas. His management skills ensured that we kept to time, while at the same time allowing us flexibility to visit local homes, tea shops and tourist areas if we wanted. He made staying in Indian hotels easy - no worries about accommodation, food safety or what to tip. He also anticipated some of us needing to know if we could get a beer at the hotels, ensuring we bought in advance if there was going to be a no-alcohol policy at the next hotel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took my own saddle cover for comfort - not a necessity, but a little luxury for the last day which is the longest cycling and some roads a bit bumpy. Always carry hand wash or soap leaves with you - taps for washing hands were normally available at snack stops, but not always soap. Anti-mosquito spray was needed in the evenings at the National Parks and Verkala. Don't be put off by other road users/traffic in India - Indian drivers are much more sensitive to cyclists than British drivers in my experience. They want you to survive, they take care to avoid you, they beep their horns as a warning that they are there, not to tell you to get out of the way. I felt much safer cycling in India than I do cycling in my own home city - London

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have been on quite a few Exodus cycling trips now and can highly recommend this one for the itinerary, the varied experiences, the cycling (the uphill day was hard but exhilarating, the downhill day exciting), the views, photography opportunities, and the Leader is experienced. The last you can only appreciate when you have been on other trips where the Leader lacks skill.

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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