Get to see the very best of Kerala – sandy beaches, meandering backwater canals, the lush green hills and thick wilderness
Local food is an integral part of this trip and you will get plenty of this
Get acquainted with the remnants of a historically rich period of Kerala in Fort Kochi, specially the colonial trading history and performing arts like Kathakali
The narrow strip of land in the South West edge of India, straddling the sandy coastline and being thrashed by waves from the Arabian Sea, is hard to ignore. Bursting with a variety of experiences, it figures in top ‘travel to’ destinations for its plethora of culture, verdant surroundings, unique food and a bite of India like none other. From pristine beaches, lush interiors, coffee and spice plantations, misty hills, and the famous backwaters, Kerala is a marvel of exotic landscapes! Added to this, the access to its traditional art forms and culture makes it even more exquisite!
In this inland cycling trip in Kerala, we have spiced the challenge of riding in myriad landscapes, with plenty of ‘not to miss’ experiences. You will be cycling through roads flanked by thick forests, breezy seashores, tea & coffee carpeted hills, and by a long canal. Apart from the diverse topography, this cycling trip will be a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Keralan life – learn how to cook a few local dishes, watch captivating Kathakali performances and take a walk in the spice & tea plantations with experts. Be it the history-soaked streets of Fort Kochi, a relaxing day in the backwaters, or proximity to wildlife in thick forests, you will love the plethora of experiences Kerala throws at you. The amalgamation of comfort in luxurious atmospheric places, sweat and sinew on the road, and fresh experiences will enthrall you.
Explore the white sandy beaches and see the sun setting into the Arabian sea.
Watch the local fishermen go by with their daily life
Cochin (Kochi, COK) has direct connecting flights via the Middle East & few destinations in Southeast Asia. Domestic flights can be connected to Cochin either from Mumbai or Bangalore.
Day 1: Cochin (Kochi)
Arrive in Ernakulam, the commercial capital of Kerala, and make your way to the satellite town of Fort Kochi, from where we will start the trip.
Meet your trip leader at your hotel around 13:00hrs. If you arrive early, we recommend heading out in the morning to explore the town.
One of the foremost trading hubs on the western coast of India, Fort Kochi drew colonial interest with its aromatic spices. Along with traders from China, Portugal, Arab and Holland, came a cocktail of religions, cultural practices, and diverse food. Kerala owes its cosmopolitan vibe to the traders who braved the seas to come to this land.
Fort Kochi is dotted with remnants of the past, which you can discover on foot/ bike. Step out to see the Vasco Church, Basilica, Dutch Cemetery, and the famous Chinese fishing nets, which lie within a 2km radius.
Afternoon, we get on to the bikes! Caught between the backwaters and the Arabian sea, this is simply the best rural biking trail combined with village life experiences around Kochi. It’s a day-cycle ride that lets you feel the charm of simple Kerala backwater villages. We ride through vast paddy fields, fish farms, coconut tree canopies to reach one of the backwater edges. Later, take a canoe through a backwater village and connect yourself to the traditional ways of villagers. Learn about fish farming, traditional boat making, and other local traditions. What you take back from this beautiful ride is a true village experience spiced up with few untold local stories.
Meals: Dinner Distance cycled: ~ 28km / 17mi*
All flat roads
Day 2: Munnar
This morning we start with a 2 hours shuttle to get out of traffic-clogged roads. Today, the initial 25km is an easy ride, on a smooth plain next to rubber and pineapple plantations, also with a stretch along an irrigation canal. Post lunch, we will be greeted by a long stretch of the gradual climb. For miles ahead, you can only see a ridiculous amount of green! Seeing this, you are sure to forget the weary legs. We stop cycling as the climbs start to challenge us and take a transfer to Munnar. As the hills of Munnar start emerging, you will be simply amazed to see the neat hills and mountains carpeted with tea bushes.
We head straight to the British-styled farm retreat, Windermere Estate. Stylish cottages with their plantation ambience intact are inviting after a hard day of cycling. Enjoy the copious cups of tea, relax in the library or if you are feeling energetic enough, head out for a plantation walk. Enjoy a goodnight’s rest here so you are ready to explore Munnar the next day.
Munnar is a pleasant contrast to the beach-lined destinations or lagoon backwaters of Kerala. A hill station, which has been immortalized by movies, Munnar is great to cycle in. The routes are undulating and sometimes challenging, but you will find an equal amount of downhill slopes to bring relief to steep climbs.
Enjoy a morning of Yoga if you please and head out to Top Station, a viewpoint of great touristic eminence. The riding stretch to Top station is one of our favourite cycling routes in Kerala. As we ride all the way up to Top Station, you will be stunned by a brilliant view of the stacked mountains and deep valleys below. After this ride, you would have certainly earned yourself a hot crisp cup of tea.
Roll down the hills to then visit the Tea Museum – this is a historic treasure and takes you through the journey of Munnar’s metamorphosis as a tea destination in the late 1800s when A.H. Sharp planted the first sapling. You can also pick up the handmade jam, tea leaves, and recycled paper products as souvenirs.
We bid adieu to Munnar and head towards the cardamom hills of Kerala, a small town of Kumily. We take in the spectacular views of tea-clad western ghat mountains, near Lockhart Gap. As you are riding, the 360 degrees view of the lush tea plantations will be forever etched in your mind. The smell of cardamom draws you quickly from the tea-lined mountains to the unmanicured mish-mash of cardamom plantations, interjected by pepper vines clinging to silver oak trees. The last stretch is covered in the shuttle before we reach the wonderful award winning property of Spice Village.
Eco-conscious nuances of Spice Village seamlessly bound with modern comforts is what makes Spice Village special. If you have the energy, head out for a short spice plantation walk. Else, you can relax by the pool or get a drink at the historic library bar of the resort.
You can explore the small town of Kumily at your own pace today. We recommend that you try and spend as much time at the Periyar National Park in Thekkady. One of the best managed in India, the national park is known for its innovative sightseeing options. We recommend a short Nature Walk through Periyar National Park, which gives you a glimpse of the wildlife in the area. Later, we head to a garden of spices and learn about the spices from a local farmer.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6: Kumarakom / Alleppey
This is going to be a beautiful ride – from the Cardamom Hills to the tea gardens of Vagamon. A hilly ride, with both dips and steep climbs, but the cool weather helps you grapple with this challenging ride better. Vagamon is an enchanting hill station where we will stop by for lunch.
From Vagamon, we take a van transfer to Kumarakom. Kumarakom is one of the finest backwater destinations of India, as it lies at the edge of the massive Vembanad Lake.
Trade bike with the boat today that takes us through hyacinth carpeted canals, which meander close to the villages; a great way to see the backwater countryside and habitat near the water.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Marari Beach
This is not a hectic day except for the humidity in the air, which may exhaust you a bit. Arrive at the Marari Beach Resort, one of the poshest addresses on this serene fishing village. Check in and immerse yourself in all the comforts of the world – massage by experts, delicious local food, even a dance performance in the hotel. What you are going to love here most is the proximity to one of the loveliest beaches on this stretch. On this day, you can just relax by the pool or walk on the beach, watching the fishing boats coming in and the place bursting with activity as the catch is sorted.
The tour covers mainly two landscapes of central Kerala, the lowlands and highlands. The lowlands stretches are flat and are very close to the coastal line and backwaters. Highlands includes hills and mountain with moderate to challenging climbs for a beginner, followed by refreshing downhills.
Altitude range: From below sea level in backwaters to 2000m in western ghats
Overall ride distribution:
25% through low land areas with 0% slope gradient
50% through hills with 1-4% slope gradient
25% through the mountains with 5-8% slope gradient
Egrets(little, moderate, large), Cattle Egrets, Cormorants, Brahminy kites, Pond Heron, Kingfisher, Mynah, Ducks, House crow, Goats, Cows, Water buffaloes, Bonet macaque(common monkey), Wild boar, Asian Elephant and a Great Hornbill(if lucky!)
Forests – Bamboo, Figs, Lantana, Trumpet, Flame tree Farms – Paddy farms, Fish farms, Spice farms(pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric)
Food: Keralan spicy fish curry along with boiled tapioca sauteed with little turmeric and mustard Kerala vegetarian meal on banana leaf, variety of spiced-up local side dishes and curries prepared with beef, chicken, mutton, clams or prawns
Drink: Chaaya(milk tea), Sulaimani (a black tea), toddy(naturally fermented sap brewed from coconut flower bud)
Art: Cultural show with traditional dance forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Theyyam, Ottanthullal and Kalaripayattu, Kerala’s own martial art
Culture: Hinduism, Fort Kochi with its fusion of 7+ communities, profuse influence of Christianity along the coast, backwater village life, tea plantation culture.
Recommended Reading List
“Nine Lives: In search of the sacred in modern India” by William Dalrymple – explores the lives of 9 people in India and their religious paths.
“Portrait Kerala” by Aruna Nambiar – presents Kerala, it’s land, people, faith, rituals, art forms through more than 200 photographs
“God of small things” by Arundhati Roy – a story set in backwater village of Kerala, capturing aspects on communism, Kerala Syrian christian way of life and caste system
Classic Kerala was a great adventure!!!!!!!! The sights, smells and scenery were all unforgettable. The trip description promised "a ridicous amount of green" and we were not disappointed. We enjoyed the variety of bicycling experiences through many different terrains. Dibin was impressive as a superb guide. He and the driver, Dipu, were both very knowledgable, helpful and shared their culture freely. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TRIP!!!!!!! "
Feb 25, 2017
by Gina Cadenasso on Classic Kerala Premiere Bike Tour
Trip of a lifetime
My ten day tour with ABT in Kerala was truly a trip of a lifetime. Incredible views, challenging rides, luxurious accommodations, and a crew who could not be more kind and attentive. It was a wonderful way to take in a small part of such a vast country. I hope to do more tours with ABT and am so grateful to have come across them. Their friendly manner and small groups are just what I was looking for. I would recommend their trips wholeheartedly!
Sep 4, 2015
by Nancy & Richard on Classic Kerala Premiere Bike Tour
Classic Kerala was a great adventure!!!!!!!! The sights, smells and scenery were all unforgettable. The trip description promised “a ridiculous amount of green” and we were not disappointed. We enjoyed the variety of bicycling experiences through many different terrains. Dibin was impressive as a superb guide. He and the driver, Dipu, were both very knowledgeable, helpful and shared their culture freely. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TRIP!!!!!!!
Jan 29, 2015
by Gina on Classic Kerala Premiere Bike Tour
I feel great! It was a dream vacation for me. I would do it again (but don’t feel like I need to be pampered quite so much!). I didn’t hold any expectations going into it, just curiosity, but had I held any expectations the trip surely would have surpassed them. I am a little afraid that future tours I may take may not be as delightful, challenging and balanced.
Dec 31, 2013
by Suzanne & Family on Classic Kerala Premiere Bike Tour
Wonderful Family Cycling holiday
It was a great experience and a wonderful family cycling holiday for us – cycling in Kerala enabled us to feel so much more part of the place than seeing it through the car window! Some of the route was quite challenging in the heat but also rewarding. It was especially great when we arrived at or departed from the overnight stays on bike. I would certainly recommend this to others.