Cycle Kerala & Tropical India - Premium Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium Adventures, Tailor Made Adventures
Destinations:
India
Programmes:
Cycling
Trip Code:
MIKP
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Moderate / Challenging

You are moderately fit and have an interest in remote or challenging environments. Some previous experience is required for activity based trips.

15 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

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.

At a Glance

  • 11 nights hotels, 1 night lodge and 1 night houseboat, all en suite
  • 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
  • Countries visited: India

Trip Highlights

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

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), 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) 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 standard 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.

Group

Our Indian team of leaders have proved very popular with their incredible knowledge, passion and hospitality adding greatly to the experience. There is no better way to experience Indian culture than letting an Indian guide show you around their country.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
14

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Mysore
End City:
Varkala

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • 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. 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 to the local market. 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.

    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 multiple small portions of curries, 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, 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. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 37 km / 23 miles
  • Day 3

    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. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 42 km / 26 miles
  • Day 4

    Ride to Mudumalai N.P; free time

    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 our resort. The afternoon is free to  relax at our resort.  Later in the afternoon, there will also be the opportunity to go on a village walk on the outskirts of the forest and visit a local farmhouse, where you could join a local family for Tea.

    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 20 km / 12 miles
  • 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. 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 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). 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 27 km / 17 miles
  • 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 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. 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 th ehuge 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
    Distance covered: 86 km / 53 miles
  • 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. 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. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 62 km / 38 miles
  • 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 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. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 42 km / 26 miles
  • Day 9

    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.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Cycle past old Portuguese houses; continue to Vambanad Lake in Alleppey.

    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 Alleppey, famous as the start point for backwater trips. Here we stay in a comfortable hotel overlooking Vembanad Lake. 

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 60 km / 37 miles
  • Day 11

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

    After a lie-in you can enjoy an optional short 10km bike ride to explore the village. 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, 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
    Distance covered: 10 km / 6 miles
  • 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; 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. 
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 88 km / 55 miles
  • Day 13

    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.
    Comfortable 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

Accommodation

Hotels, Lodge, Houseboat

11 nights hotels, 1 night lodge, 1 night houseboat.

On Premium 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. All rooms have toilet facilities and houseboats benefit from a communal/dining area. 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. 

 

Please note that due to limited accommodation options, we stay in the same resort in Mudumalai N.P. as the one on the standard itinerary.  In Guruvayoor we stay in a 3-star hotel.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £770.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 5 dinners are included.

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. 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.

Transportation

The group will be accompanied by the support vehicle as well as an air-conditioned vehicle that will be able to accommodate the whole group if needed.

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

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.

Weather Information

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.

Weather Charts

Mysore, India

Cochin, India

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Jet Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Mysore and ending in Varkala

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Mysore in the morning of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Accommodation check‐in times are normally from around 12 noon.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it. 

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

The start hotel is in the city of Mysore, which is 4hrs drive from the airport. If you do choose to take a local taxi to the hotel then the cost will be approximately £70. There are also public busses and train services available to Mysore.

Location start:
Mysore
Location end:
Varkala

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Cycling helmet (compulsory on this trip)

Loose overshorts

High factor sun-cream

Warmer layers for the evenings in the hills

Cotton trousers

Dull coloured clothing for the game drive

Swimwear and towel

Favourite energy snacks

Sandals with toe protection

A water bottle - this should be a standard size to fit into a normal water bottle cage on the bike

Optional Equipment

Bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack

Equipment Hire

Local Bike Details: Specialized Cross Trail, Specialized Hardrock or Trek 4300 mountain bikes with front suspension.

Discount for bringing your own bike: £150.

A quality local hire bike is now included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.

Conditions

1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.

2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.

3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment

4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Bringing Your Own Bike

If you prefer the familiarity of your own bike, you may of course bring it along. Please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount off the price of the holiday, as specified above. You will be responsible for any extra baggage charges, please speak to our Sales team for individual airline fees. Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure they have adequate cover for loss, damage or theft under their travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. If Exodus is confident that we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the safety of your bike, in the rare event of loss, damage or theft you will need to claim under your own insurance policy.

Extra Bike Bits

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets

Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.

For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries we travel to wearing a helmet is already a legal requirement.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

Recommended Cycling Clothing

Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack.

Please be aware that you will be passing through some remote villages where the locals are unaccustomed to seeing people in tight lycra - we recommend you wear baggy shorts or loose 'over shorts' so as not to cause offence.

Reading List

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, 1995
Nine Lives by William Dalrymple, 2009
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, 1981
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, 2008
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, 2003
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, 1997
A concise History of India by Francis Watson (Thames & Hudson, 1974)

Practical Information

Passport

India

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

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).

 

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

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.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The Travel Health Pro website recommends to have a rabies vaccination on this trip, as cycling is considered a higher risk activity.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

India's Timezone:
Asia/Kolkata IST (GMT +05:30)

Electricity

India's Electricity:

230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz.

230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz. There are recharging facilities at all the hotels, the electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time.

Money

India's Currency

The national currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (February 2019) of approximately 90 to the UK£ and 70 to the US$.

It is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. Please ask for low denomination notes of 100 and 500 Rupees as the new 2000 Rupee notes can be difficult to use out of Delhi. You can change money back from Rupees into Pounds or Dollars at Delhi airport (before going through security), but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

ATM Availability

ATM machines are now widely available and are generally reliable (Visa and MasterCard are best); you should not rely on these 100% of the time though so please take some cash with you as well. Please inform your bank before departure that you are travelling to India and carry the relevant telephone number with you in case they put a block on your card. You can pay with credit cards in bigger shops all over India. Well known brands of travellers cheques can be exchanged but this can take time and banks are not always open when you need them. Cash (Sterling/US Dollars/Euros) is easier to change.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

It is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. Please ask for low denomination notes of 100 Rupees, as 500 Rupee notes will be more difficult to use. You can change money back from Rupees to your chosen currency on departure from India, before you go through security and immigration, but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

It is recommended that you allow at least £5 (US$8) per day for personal expenditure such as stamps, postcards and soft drinks. Shopping opportunities throughout this tour are endless and we suggest that you take as much as you can afford for souvenirs - even if you are generally not a keen shopper we have found that most people succumb to some of the wide variety of handicrafts on offer.

Many sights now charge a small fee for cameras and you should allow approximately £5 (US$8) for these.

Tipping

Tipping is very much part of the culture in India and is usually expected. Tipping can often be an awkward affair, especially when in an unfamiliar country where you are not sure when or how much to tip. As such, your tour leader will offer to arrange and look after a group tipping kitty which will be used for cold drinks and to tip hotel staff and local sightseeing guides. Your leader will suggest how much to contribute, depending on group size, but it is usually in the region of 5000 INR (approx. GBP£50 US$65) per person. At any time during the trip your leader will be happy to show you an account of how the kitty is being distributed. Please note that the kitty does not include tips for the mechanic and bus driver used throughout your trip and is at your own discretion. Tipping of the tour leader is not included in the kitty either and is also at your own discretion. Our local leaders are paid fairly for their work with Exodus, however, if you wish to show your appreciation a tip of around £2-£3 (US$3-4.50) per person per day would be appreciated. By definition, gratuities are not something that can be included in the tour price.

Responsible Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.