Cycle Kerala & Tropical India

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Trip code: 
MIK
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cycling - Best Sellers
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 lodge, 1 night houseboat
  • 10 days cycling (including 1 short ride) with full vehicle support
  • Group normally 4 to 14, plus local cycling leader and driver. Min age 16 yrs

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

10

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/16.0miles
Day 786.0km/53.0miles
Day 862.0km/38.0miles
Day 940.0km/24.0miles
Day 1160.0km/37.0miles
Day 127.0km/4.0miles
Day 1388.0km/54.0miles

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

  • 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. Those travelling independently 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 we have a short walk round 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.

    Leisurely morning ride to Srirangapatna, the ruins of Tippu Sultan's capital, destroyed by the British in 1799 during their final battle to secure control of southern India. The island 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 vegetable curries or the typical south Indian ‘masala dosa’. 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, and it was 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. Cycle approx. 37km.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Cycle on the back roads 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 back roads, 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, with the beautiful 9th Century Srikanteshwara Temple dedicated to Shiva. We have a tea break here with 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, if not we will have something en-route. In the late afternoon we have a jeep safari in the park. We will see lots of peacocks, spotted deer and monkeys. Look out for wild elephants, Indian Bison and of course the elusive tiger. These can be spotted at certain times of the year. Cycle approx. 42km.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

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

    After breakfast we transfer by jeep through Bandipur National Park to Masinagudi town, from where we start cycling to 'Wild Haven' along the backroads. The afternoon is free to wander the grounds of 'Wild Haven'; a 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 very 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. Cycle approx. 20km.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Optional ascent to Ooty Hillstation (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. Some members of the group may prefer to walk or enjoy a relaxed morning and journey up the hill in the support vehicle. After tea and cake at the top we have an easier 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 now it is 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). Cycle approx. 27km.
    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 and the final 32km descent through tropical rain forest and bamboo covered slopes to our end point at a typical Keralan road side 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 and sample delicious Keralan street food and have an evening stroll outside the temple, which comes alive at night. Cycle approx. 86km.
    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, which 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 gorgeous spectacle. Only Hindus are allowed beyond this point. 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 and country Toddy (local fermented coconut beer). For dinner, try the Jhinga Kachcia Aam Kari, a speciality dish from Kerala, made with green mango and prawns simmered in coconut milk and spices. Cycle approx. 62km.
    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 along the old coast road, passing small fishing communities with their colourful fishing boats hauled up along the sands. Turning inland, we see grand houses built with the remittance money from the Gulf States work force, as well as older houses built 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 this today as it is closed on Mondays. Cycle approx. 40km.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

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

    A free day to explore the town of Cochin (Kochi), its bazaars and old harbour area. Merchants began trading spices such as pepper and cardamom with the Chinese, Arabs and Portugese more than 600 years ago. The Portugese 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 Mattencharry. 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 Portugese 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 Portugese 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, called 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. Cycle approx. 60km. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 12

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

    After a lie-in you can enjoy an optional short bike ride to explore the village. Alternatively you can relaxfor 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, 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. Optional cycle approx. 7km.

    PREMIUM DEPARTURES: These selected departures can enjoy an optional short bike ride to explore Alleppey town approx. 3.5km away.
    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; we 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. Cycle approx. 88km.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 14

    Free to relax on the beach and eat the wonderful 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

Essential Info

Visas

Vaccinations

India

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

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

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 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 very short ride), average 54km/day (33 miles), 100% 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 done bike trips with us before 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) 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. 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.

Accommodation

Hotels, Lodges & Houseboat

9 nights hotels, 3 nights lodges and 1 night houseboat, all have en suite rooms. Most hotels are of a comfortable standard with 4-star facilities. The bungalows at Wild Haven are clean but more basic. The guest house in Fort Kochi is more like a homestay ‐ the rooms are clean and have attached bathrooms.

Houseboats are comfortable and all cabins have toilet 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.

Single accommodation available on request from GBP515.

Premium Departures: On these departures we stay in a range of excellent hotels, ranging from comfortable modern properties to older properties bursting with character. Many have pools, and most have excellent facilities as well as restaurants serving tasty local specialities and international dishes. The air‐conditioned houseboats we use on these departures are of a higher standard with extra space and a more varied menu. Please note that due to limited accommodation options, we stay in the same bungalows as the standard departure at 'Wild Haven'. In Guruvayoor we stay in a 3‐star hotel.

Single accommodation available on request from GBP695.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2017
    Tom Hazeldine
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Lynda Kimola
    It was an amazing holiday. We saw a variety of landscapies and interesting items. The routes were varied and entertaining. I had the option to ride the bus when the road was too steep or too busy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Riding down hill from Ooty in the mist through the eucalyptus trees.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was informative, helpful and fabulous.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Mmske the most of all the trip has to offer.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was a great experience and I would highly recommend the tour.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Anne Mccarthy
    It would be foolish to try and get a taste of all of India in two weeks. You would need to spend at least half your time flying and busing from one corner to another. This tour allows you to savour a corner of India at a reasonable pace. We had a chance to experience the moderately sized city Mysore, see the beaches, the hill country, national parks and cycle both in moderate traffic (hint- don't look back) and on quiet back roads.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved -seeing the people washing in the river outside Mysore -recognizing the extent of our disposable plastic problem - the range of climate from dry land in the parks to the canals of Alleppey - seeing a tiger. Yes we were that lucky.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I appreciated that our leader Safi allowed us to cycle - when reasonable- at our own pace. Safi has a quiet sense of humour. He was sensitive to the groups various food needs, always calm and in control of the situation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Look out for the tuk tuks in Kochi. They will try very hard to get you into 'tourist' stores. That can be fun, but be prepared to wonder about the value. Consider Dukoral to reduce the chance of stomach upsets. Pack your sense of humour. It is all part of the experience. Enjoy the people. I found that a smile or wave, especially to small children would be rewarded with wonderful welcoming smiles in return. We spent some time before and after the biking on our own. People were helpful friendly and happy to share their lovely country.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You don't have to be an expert cyclist to do this tour. It is possible to opt out of some of the more difficult areas. I only managed to cycle 1/2 way up the nasty switch backs to Ooty. The rest I enjoyed on foot. Be prepared to enjoy some very good food. Pack expandable clothing.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Janet Gooding
    All in all this was a fabulous trip ! Food was excellent. Hotels etc excellent. Cycling challenging enough to give you something to think about each day. Local people wonderful ! Just do it !

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling all the way up Ootty !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Saafi and his team were EXCELLENT !!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ladies don't worry you can cycle in Lycra and vests all the time. I packed all sorts of cover up clothes that never came out of my bag !

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I packed mozzy stuff, Imodium, and pain killers - NONE WERE NECESSARY. - fabulous trip !!
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Zoe Paton
    This was a whistle stop tour of southern India with a great variety of scenery, some absolutely amazing food & fantastic accommodation. The cycling was straightforward & the Exodus tour guides were great. Can't recommend it highly enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I managed 30 of the 36 hairpins going up Ooty Hill before waiting for my partner who wasn't feeling well. Big achievement for me & one of my personal highlights.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Joseph (leader) & Shibu (driver) were a fantastic team & they gave us everything we needed & more besides on the trip. Unfortunately there were only 3 of us on my departure (because the other guests cancelled the day before) so Joseph & Shibu spent a lot of time with us, talking about India, their lives & ours. I cannot speak highly enough of them. They are absolutely lovely people & made the trip for us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be nervous on the roads - they are insane & chaotic but you get used to the traffic & soon start understanding how they work. Confidence is the key! The cycling really isn't very challenging so don't worry about doing loads of training before you take the trip. Only Ooty is tough but that's optional & you can take your time if you do go for it. Jump in with both feet & enjoy the culture shock! Oh & eat as much food as you can manage, it is amazing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I can't fault this trip. It offers an amazing array of scenery (seaside, city, mountains, forest, tea plantations) & the accommodation & food is fantastic. The only slight downside was the fact there were only 3 of us (we are a young couple & the other guest was an older solo traveller). This meant we couldn't enjoy the group holiday experience which we had hoped for (& enjoyed on a previous Exodus trip) but it was outside Exodus' control so was just unfortunate.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    William Thornton
    I did this trip with some trepidation as to whether it would live up to a previous cycling trip I had done with Exodus (IndoChina & Angkor) which was brilliant, no worries there, this was an amazing experience in so many ways. Firstly the variety stands out for me, each day offering new unseen before sights, giving another view of India. The organisation was very good, accommodation and eating arrangements all hassle free. Bikes were in excellent condition and easy to ride with their smooth tyres. The trip is classed as 'challenging' but don't be put off by this as only a short ride on first day and the 36 'hairpins' are a challenge. Neither are compulsory and quite a few walked without bikes instead. The rest is fairly flat and downhill and many days are short as you start early to avoid the heat. The roads are mainly quiet with a few busy bits but the drivers in India seemed more accommodating than those in UK! We were a group of nine and the group gelled really well, we had a lot of fun :) one of the group even had a guitar which added to the entertainment! It was very hot in March and it is essential to drink lots of water at every opportunity. One particularly good part about this trip is the very few transfers (on the bus) that is has, some trips have quite a few I have noted. Overall India was a revelation to me, quite different to what I was expecting. The people are friendly and keen to speak to you as they practice their English. I took away so many memories and am so glad I decided to do this trip. In summing up there is nothing not to like about this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Well some might say completing the 36 hairpin climb which was a sense of enormous personal achievement however 2 things stand out for me....seeing and managing to get some really good photos of a leopard, truly amazing to see this amazing creature in the wild. Also the ride after leaving Ooty where you have a long downhill, the bit before this as you pass through the tea plantations, the peace and array of colours did it for me.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Safi, an experienced rider who has done this trip 70+ times I believe. He was organised, friendly and sorted out any issue or request we had. He was well supported by Vipen our other biker and Maneesh who was our water and banana man along with being the driver of the bus in which all our bags went. They were a really good team together. They joined in our fun and made the trip so much better for it. I felt safety was high on the agenda and always felt so at all times.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good camera, one with a zoom lens and one you can carry on the bike, also get a cheap handle bar bag to carry it in too. Handy for phone, hand gel, sun protection etc. Padded shorts are essential and a gel seat or seat cover will help too. Hand gel/wipes at every opportunity! Travel light, don't take any super smart clothes, you won't need them! Buy clothes and haggle but be reasonable.Take cash £ to change, its easier as sometimes an ATM is not always available. India is cheap for most things so your money will go a long way. Do the kitty the notes advise, makes for much less hassle and is in fact good value on reflection. Don't delay..book it!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We arrived a day early to get the best flights and took the opportunity to do a cooking course in Mysore, time well spent. Travel from Bangalore to Mysore is a good 3.5-4 hours, taxi from airport is best way if traveling independently. Sun protection absolutely essential

Dates & Prices

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]

Call us on 0208 772 3936