Find your ideal cycling holiday
India - Kerala & Tamil Nadu (London Heathrow flight)
6th February 2020 - 23rd February 2020 (18 days)
This popular moving-on tour, with full vehicle support, uses mid-range/good hotels and guesthouses. It takes in the highlights of Kerala: Kovalam Beach, Cape Cormoran, the hill stations in the Western Ghats, the Cardamom Hills, the inland waterways and Cochin on the Malabar Coast. In Tamil Nadu see the famous temple in Madurai, a World Heritage site, and the pilgrim town of Palani. On most cycling days much of the day will be spent riding, but there are some days with little or no cycling and lots of interesting sightseeing. Fly London Heathrow to Trivandrum, returning from Cochin.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Sheila Simpson
- Grade Moderate
- Booking Status Places Available
- Accommodation Hotel & Guesthouse
- Board Basis Half Board
- Travel Arrangements Air
- Road / Off Road Road
- Holiday Style Moving-on
- Vehicle Support Full Vehicle Support
- Holiday Ref 03343
Thursday 6th February
Fly from London Heathrow to Dubai on Emirates flight EK002 departing at 1345, arriving 0025.
Friday 7th February
Continue to Trivandrum on Emirates flight EK520 departing at 0410, arriving 0930. Transfer to guesthouse. Assemble bikes, short local ride then short vehicle transfer to/from Kovalam Beach. Stay 1 night.
Saturday 8th February
Cycle through pepper and rubber plantations to Chittar Lake at the foot of the Western Ghats. Afternoon free to explore or enjoy the infinity pool. 41km. Stay 1 night.
Sunday 9th February
Cycle to Kanyakumari (Cape Cormoran) via west coast fishing villages. Explore the Cape sea front, holy meeting of three oceans and view the sunset over the Arabian Sea. 70km. Stay 1 night.
Monday 10th February
Short vehicle transfer to Nagarcoil for the train to Madurai. Afternoon visit on foot to the magnificent Meenakshi Temple and local markets. Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 11th February
Vehicle transfer to Batalagundu. Cycle through jungle and tribal villages to Thandikudi (1,200m) in the Western Ghats. 39km. Stay 1 night.
Wednesday 12th February
Cycle to Kodaikanal (2,000m), a steady climb with views. 41km. Stay 2 nights.
Thursday 13th February
Free day to explore Kodaikanal, the lake, botanical gardens and Coaker’s Walk.
Friday 14th February
Cycle lots of downhill to Palani, a pilgrim town. Optional guided temple tour. 60km. Stay 1 night.
Saturday 15th February
Cycle to Munnar via sugar cane plantations and a crocodile sanctuary. 30km. Vehicle transfer through the Indira Gandhi Tiger Reserve and the Chinnar National Park then cycle through a sandalwood forest, coffee and tea plantations. 54km. Stay 2 nights.
Sunday 16th February
Free day to explore Munnar and visit the Tea Museum, or out and back ride to Top Station, 72km.
Monday 17th February
Cycle to Kumily, in the Periyar National Park, through the Cardamom Hills. 84km. Stay 2 nights.
Tuesday 18th February
Rest day. Guided tour of the spice plantations and walk to the elephant camp for an elephant ride. Afternoon at leisure to explore or enjoy a rejuvenating ayurvedic massage.
Wednesday 19th February
Cycle through tea plantations with a long descent from the Western Ghats. 84km. Vehicle transfer to the Backwaters. Stay 2 nights.
Thursday 20th February
Cycle to/from Alappuzha for a leisurely houseboat cruise of the beautiful inland waterways, one of Kerala’s highlights. 50km.
Friday 21st February
Cycle to Fort Cochin, on the Malabar Coast, through shady coconut palms and sleepy fishing villages, prawn farms and rice paddies, with an opportunity for a dip in the Arabian Sea. 60km. Stay 2 nights.
Saturday 22nd February
Free day to explore Cochin, the Dutch Palace, spice warehouses and antique shops. Afternoon at leisure and prepare bikes for the return journey.
Sunday 23rd February
Early morning transfer to Cochin Airport for the 0930 Emirates flight EK531 to Dubai. Continue to London Heathrow on Emirates flight EK003 departing at 1430, arriving 1815.
Accommodation & Meals
Rooms will be in mid-range/good hotels and guesthouses, equivalent to 2- and 3-star, with air conditioning or ceiling fan and ensuite facilities. All rooms are based on two people sharing. Breakfasts and evening meals will be taken at the hotels/guesthouses. Vegetarian and fish options are usually available. On moving-on days the support crew will provide light lunches and mineral water to be paid for from a kitty.
Luggage will be transferred, and there will be sufficient space to assist riders if necessary.
Passports, Visa & Health
EU citizens must hold a passport with at least six months validity remaining at the end of the tour. A Visa is required, and you are responsible for completing your own visa application.
There are no compulsory vaccinations for foreign visitors although it is strongly recommended that you be vaccinated against Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A and B. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain these vaccinations and the latest advice to travellers.
Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in our Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.
The price of £2,950 is based on a minimum number of 10 people taking part in the tour and is calculated at a rate of 88.2 Rupees to £1 sterling (based on exchange rates published in the national press on 2 January 2019; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 28th November 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the tour may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- Flights from London Heathrow to Trivandrum and from Cochin to London Heathrow
- All transfers in India to and from the airports
- Vehicle support and baggage transfers
- 13 nights hotel, sharing room, half-board
- 3 nights guesthouse, sharing room, half-board
- Services of an English speaking guide throughout the tour
- Porterage and assistance with baggage and cycles
- All visits/trips as per the itinerary
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Travel to and from London Heathrow
- Drinks, including mineral water, other than those supplied with meals
- Lunches and refreshments during the day (though these will be provided by the backup crew on moving-on days, to be paid for locally, budget £120)
- Guided temple tour (approx. £10)
- Visa costs (approx. US $100 in 2018)
- Gratuities (these are at the discretion of tour participants, allow £60)
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel insurance
- Single occupancy supplement (£500, subject to availability)
A deposit of £800 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £2,150 per person is to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 28th November 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 28th November 2019
From 28th November 2019 through to departure
The Area Covered By The Holiday
Kerala is India’s most southerly state and the country’s most developed region, and as such it is an ideal introduction to Asia. Standards of literacy, education, health and hygiene are high compared to the rest of India. English is widely spoken, and the tourist infrastructure is well established. However, road surfaces are sometimes poorly maintained. It is diverse in flora, fauna and physical geography, due mainly to the considerable changes in elevation, from the narrow coastal plain at sea level with its unique network of tropical lagoons and canals, to the cooler high country in the north where conditions are ideal for the cultivation of coffee, tea and exotic spices.
Rides & Rest Days
This tour is suitable for experienced cyclists capable of distances up to 85 kilometres and cycling on consecutive days. There are, however, rest days and half days, and support vehicles will be with us for the duration of the tour. The terrain is hilly in the Western Ghats, but the climbs are well graded. On riding days an early start will be made to allow cooler conditions for most of the ride. It is not practical, or enjoyable, to ride together as one group. The navigation is straightforward, so you may cycle at your own pace and stop for photographs etc. The drivers will indicate if you need to accept a vehicle transfer to reach designated refreshment stops or destinations. In theory, traffic drives on the left, though in practice in built up areas it is chaotic. In busy areas cycle single file and well-spaced, allowing room to manoeuvre. Organised sightseeing to places of interest is included in the cost of the tour, and there are extra options on some days. You are, though, free to do your own thing if you wish.
Accommodation & Meals
In mid-range/good hotels and guesthouses, with air conditioning or ceiling fan and ensuite facilities. South Indian food is mainly vegetarian and spicy but not hot curry. There is an abundance of fresh fruit and fish. Mineral water is widely available and will be carried on the support vehicle, to be paid for from the kitty.
The maximum number of participants will be 17 excluding the Tour Manager, plus local guides who have worked for CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours for 19 years.
Weather & Clothing
It will be hot and dry with daytime temperatures up to 32°C. Sun cream is very strongly recommended. Head and eye protection are also essential. A light windproof/fleece might be needed in the evenings when visiting hill stations and for early morning descents. Modesty is expected in towns and temples. Ladies should cover their legs and shoulders when not cycling (a beach wrap is ideal for this; knee-length cycling shorts are also useful).
Cycles & Equipment
Most roads in Kerala are in reasonable condition. A lightweight mountain or touring bike will be suitable so long as you are able to carry a daypack or rackpack. Equipment must be in good condition as spare parts will not be readily available, so ensure your bike is in good order, paying particular attention to wheels, tyres and brakes. Use good quality touring tyres, at least 28mm and preferably 32mm. Each participant will be expected to carry sufficient spares and tools to deal with punctures and minor repairs. An accurately calibrated cycle computer or GPS device is advisable.
Maps & Guides
Maps of Kerala are available from all good map shops. Some of the minor roads we use will not be shown. You will be provided with gpx tracks, route sheets and/or sketch maps, and be guided by the drivers.
Travel Insurance & Advice
Before booking you should check the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.