Cycle Kerala & Tropical India

14 days
from
2 285 €
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Traveller ratings
4.6 / 5 from 92 reviews >
Trip code: 
MIK
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Group size:
4–14
Min age:
16

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:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

10

Days of Cycling
Pace:

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

Terrain:

Low altitude; 90% tarmac, 10% rough sections

Day by day breakdown
Day 237.0km/22.0miles
Day 342.0km/26.0miles
Day 420.0km/12.0miles
Day 527.0km/17.0miles
Day 686.0km/53.0miles
Day 762.0km/38.0miles
Day 842.0km/26.0miles
Day 1052.0km/32.0miles
Day 1122.0km/14.0miles
Day 1288.0km/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

Mysore
to
Varkala
  • Day 1

    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 2

    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 3

    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 4

    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 5

    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 6

    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 7

    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 8

    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 9

    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 10

    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 11

    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 12

    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 13

    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 14

    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.

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

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

Accommodation

Hotels, 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:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

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

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

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  • Reviewed March 2019
    Keri L

    Wonderful cycle trip through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

    This was my first trip to India and it was a fabulous experience. I loved the cycling, which was mainly moderate with a few tough days, and we packed in so much that it felt like an amazing introduction to the country. We had wonderful guides, our group got on famously and the food was delicious. It was a very memorable holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    That's genuinely hard to narrow down, as there was so much to be inspired by. Getting to the top of Ooty ( sooo hard) watching the sun rise from the houseboat, Mysore palace illuminations, the temple at Guruvayor, the beach at Varkala - there were so many lovely moments.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shibu, Shegar and Sandosh (apologies for spelling) were a great team that looked after us so well. There's no way we would have packed so much into our limited time without their guidance, and we certainly never went hungry or thirsty. One of our group was celebrating a big birthday and they made it a very special experience for us all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Really I'd just say go for it. There are challenging days on the bike so be as prepared as possible, but with some training, you can do it. I'd been worried about stomach upsets and mosquito bites and wasn't troubled by either. In fact as a vegetarian I've never eaten so well in my life - the food was glorious, and plentiful - we all worried whether we'd squeeze into our Lycra by the end of the holiday. I honestly don't have any notes of caution. One of our group did the whole trip on a Brompton, so anything is possible!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to thank our guides, and the rest of our group, for one of the best holidays I've been on. It was a total blast and I wish I was there now!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Sharon Reuben

    A Perfect Balance!

    My first time using Exodus for long-haul...I've traveled independently all over the tropics so was reluctant about this, wondering if it would be worth the money, but compared to the European trips I actually think it's great value & I loved this trip It's a perfect balance of cycling & sight-seeing with the best food I've EVER eaten in India, which I put down to our guide Safi. As a vegetarian, you can't eat better than Southern India :-) Lots to do, heaps to see, great variety of landscape, architecture and more...people are warm and friendly towards cyclists here...use your bell in the busy areas and enjoy the glorious peace of the quiet out-of-town rides. The backwater trip was lovely & peaceful, most hotels very good & a few excellent. I'm an experienced distance cyclist so wasn't daunted by the itinerary...most days are leisurely, a few more challenging which keeps it interesting -without question, the climb to Ooty is a serious challenge so be prepared. That said, a few folks used the support vehicle, that's what it's there for so don't be proud! * Would definitely recommend *

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a tiger in Chamundi was unexpected and magical...Seeing the sign for the last hairpin bend up to Ooty was a different kind of magical!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was great - very good company, didn't push the group too hard but also kept to time and delivered a great trip with lots of variety, heaps of local interest, incredible food etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You don't need many clothes - bring light thin layers as it gets v hot as you head south, but the few days around Ooty including the long descent after it are properly chilly, particularly flying back down to sea level out of the sun! The bikes are good...bring a little saddlebag or similar to hold a few items (phone etc) There's nothing you can't buy locally but ideally bring mossie spray / sun cream from home.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Sue Jones

    An unforgettable experience

    The cycling was challenging at times due to ascent and temperature but the local guides were realistic and supportive. The trip through three Indian states showcased the amazing friendliness of the local Indian people. The trip demonstrated the wildlife of Indian, the heritage of the area, history and heritage of the locals and the cycling challenges. Recommended as a great way to see the real India. Please don't see each day as a race and get into the Indian time zone and slow down and enjoy the time cycling rather than try and finish first.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing tigers and elephants in the wild.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Joseph is a Kerala local who cares deeply about his clients and has great local knowledge.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Sue Jones

    An unforgettable experience

    The cycling was challenging at times due to ascent and temperature but the local guides were realistic and supportive. The trip through three Indian states showcased the amazing friendliness of the local Indian people. The trip demonstrated the wildlife of Indian, the heritage of the area, history and heritage of the locals and the cycling challenges. Recommended as a great way to see the real India. Please don't see each day as a race and get into the Indian time zone and slow down and enjoy the time cycling rather than try and finish first.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing tigers and elephants in the wild.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Joseph is a Kerala local who cares deeply about his clients and has great local knowledge.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    David Netherwood

    Tough in places, but a great holiday

    This is a really good holiday with chance to see some very different bits of India, from the illuminated palace of Mysore to the tigger reserve (we saw a tigger), to the 36 hairpin bends on the mountainous road to Ooty (1200m accent), the glorious tea plantations (that actually smell of tea), then Kerala itself, with its palm trees, beaches and backwaters. If you are worried about the recent flood (2018), don't be everything is open, schools, roads, hotels, pools, etc. In fact there is no trace of it at all and we stayed in places that had flooded. You do need to be prepared, some parts (especially Mysore) are dirty, smelly and noisy. The driving in India is downright scary - you will find vehicles coming round bends on the wrong side of the road, but it all somehow works,and speeds are lower that the UK. The food (I'm vegetarian) with very few exceptions was outstanding. Worth booking for the food alone. The bikes were perhaps not maintained as well as I would have liked, and were a little heavy, but were mostly up to the job. Some sections of the cycling are tough! We had rain in the mountains were it got quite cold, but left it behind as we descended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the top of Ooty hill, at last. Spotting a tiger on the jeep safari The hindu temple at night, with dancing, fire and elephant. Swimming in the brakes of the Arabian sea The food! The glorious tea plantations, they are so pretty

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Put in a bit of training. Pack warm clothing too. Bring a pen! Book it.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Gerry Roberts

    Fabulous experience

    India remains much as I saw it almost forty years ago; more traffic though! The people are lovely and the food is fantastic Kerala itself is well over the recent floods, so don’t let this hold you back. It’s truly beautiful. Our guide, Joseph, was lovely; calm, confident and informative at all times. Thoroughly recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Descent from Ooty Quite stunning

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thoroughly good man Knew just how to keep the group together and safe. Reliable and calm

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t worry about the recent floods The food is fabulous and safe!
  • 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!

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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