Kerala in Style – bike, hike & kayak

  • Bike in the God’s own scenic backroads
  • Walk through backwater fishing villages
  • Hike & camp in the captivating hill station of Munnar
  • Kayak in the mesmerising backwaters
  • 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

Bursting with a variety of experiences, Kerala throws up myriad experiences; deep rooted culture, verdant surroundings, unique food and a slice of India like none other. Experience stretches of biking through God’s own country, hiking and overnight camping at the hill station and kayaking  in the backwaters! The diverse landscape apart, Kerala’s cultural hook is also what intrigues visitors. You can see Kathakali closely or stay in hundreds of years old houses – Kerala throws a cultural surprise at you at every corner.

In this multi-sport trip in Kerala, we have covered as many experiences for you! Be it the history immersed narrow streets of Fort Kochi, floating in the backwaters in a houseboat or a wildlife trip into the thick forests. The blend of exquisite heritage places to stay or experience and the combination of bike, hike and kayak is bound to make this an unforgettable journey.

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    14 days / 13 nights

  • Start

    Kochi | 14:00hrs

  • Finish

    Kochi

  • Hotels

    Casual Inns

  • Riding Style

    Active Rider

  • Average Distance Cycled

    50km or 30mi

  • Total Distance Cycled

    ~ 450km or 280mi

  • Bicycle

    Included

  • Support Vehicle

    Included

  • Group Size

    Min 2, Max 12

ITINERARY

Brief Itinerary

* with shuttle
DayPlaceHotelDurationActivity~ Cycling DistanceNon-Activity Highlights
1KochiFort House1Walking0km / 0mi
Fort Kochi & Mattancherry Tuk Tuk Tour, Cultural Show
2ThattekadHornbill Camp1Biking, Kayaking35km / 21mi*Birdwatching
3 – 4MunnarAranyaka2Biking65km / 40mi*
40km / 25mi*
Mighty & green Western ghat mountains covered with Tea plantations
5MunnarBasic Tent Camp1Hiking0km / 0mi
Grasslands & forests in mountains, Camping in foothills of western ghats
6 – 7ThekkadyWildernest2Hiking, Biking, Walking50km / 31mi*Periyar National Park , Spice plantation visit & learn about spices from local farmer
8VagamonWinter Vale1Biking50km / 30miOffbeat destination
9KumarakomAbad Whispering Palms Lake Resort1Biking45km/ 28mi*Vembanad Lake
10 – 11AlleppeyPamba Heritage Villa2Biking, Kayaking30km / 18mi*Eternal Backwaters – Meandering backwater canals with farms, bird life, paddy fields and mangroves
12MararikulamFlamingo1Biking25km / 15miMarari Beach
13EzhupunnaVilla de Parrai1Biking40km / 25miClassic heritage architecture
14Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Arrival note:

Cochin(Kochi, COK) has direct connecting flights via Middle East & few destinations in Southeast Asia. Domestic flights can be connected to Cochin either from Mumbai or Bangalore. 

Day 1: Cochin

Meet your trip leader post lunch, 02:00pm at your hotel of stay in Fort Kochi and head out to see Fort Kochi by foot.

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, in came a cocktail of religions, cultural practices and diverse food. Kerala owes it cosmopolitan vibe to the traders who braved the seas to come to this land.

Later, in the evening, go to see the traditional dance form, Kathakali (you can also see the face painting before the show). After the show, we will have dinner at a seaside restaurant known for seafood and indian delicacies.

There is a lot to pack in this day, but be well rested for the night as we start early on next day.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2: Thattekad

This morning we start with a 2.5 hours shuttle bus to get out of traffic clogged roads. We start cycling along the canal route to Thattekad. This first tryst with Kerala on the wheels will enthrall you. A scenic route, this smooth road along a canal is perfect to see birdlife and the verdant environs of real Kerala. Our destination is the outdoors camping facility- The Hornbill Camp.

We check into our snug and comfortable Swiss tents and get ready for an activity packed day. Hornbill Camp offers Kayaking in the Periyar River, bird watching and plantation walk around the property. The stay gives you a taste of the wilderness of Kerala along with all the comforts. The camp is situated in the environs of a tropical forest where you have nothing but birdsong for company!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 35km/21mi*

Day 3: Munnar

Today we ride into the countryside and follow the Periyar River. The gradual rising trail winds its way through rubber and pineapple plantations to the Idukki forest reserve. We continue our gradual climb towards our lunch stop at a local restaurant. After lunch, bike amongst enormous grass plants, eucalyptus trees and past alpine tea plantations in the rugged Munnar hills to your hotel.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 65km/40mi*

Day 4: Munnar

After sipping hot tea in your bed, get ready to bike into the wilderness. Overlooking the town, Annamali peak at 2695 m is the highest mountain in Kerala and well worth the ride to Top Station 1,950 m/ 6,397 ft for the fine views over the town and neighbouring Tamil Nadu. You’ll ascend 500 m in this gradual uphill climb.

Later we head to Munnar town to visit the market.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 40km/25mi*

Day 5: Munnar

A rest day for biking, but never really a rest day. We hike through tea plantations and rainforests. The hiking path is easy to walk through, with less variation in altitude. We reach our campsite located at 1600 m/ 5249 ft. Overnight in a simple tent camp. The camp area are is bordering the grassland and forests. The area is rich in birds and butterflies. With the best position to view the sunset, sunrise, night sky, you will be just lost in time. Oh never to miss is the beautiful and panoramic view of western ghat mountains ranges.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hiking: half day

Day 6: Thekkady

Wake up along with birds, watch the sunrise sipping hot cup of tea. Prepare for the hike to the high altitude forest and grass lands. The hiking ends at the Great escape gap.

If you still have power left in your legs, you can cycle a bit today along a winding country road, passing small hamlets and spice plantation villages to Thekkady.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hiking: half day
Biking: ~ 50km/31mi* (optional)

Day 7: Thekkady

This morning we take a nature walk in Periyar National Park in search of mongooses, elephants and learn about the flora and fauna in Periyar Tiger reserve. Later, we head to a garden of spices and learn about the spices from a local farmer.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Vagamon

This is going to be a beautiful ride – from the Cardamom Hills of Thekkady to the tea gardens of Vagamon, and that too, through the rubber plantations. 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 you can either relax or indulge in the outdoor activities like paragliding, easy hikes or explore nature trails.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 50km/30mi

Day 9: Kumarakom

The ride today takes us near to spectacular Vembanad Lake. Enjoy stunning vistas in all directions. We bike and transfer the rest in van.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 45km/28mi*

Day 10: Alleppey

Today step into a kayak. Soon you will be kayaking the backwaters, through inland canals, with people living very close to the water edges. Enjoy a simple lunch in a local village restaurant. See the village life in action and hear the stories from our local guide.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Kayaking : 6 hours tour

Day 11: Alleppey

Ride through the narrow trails and experience a fabulous bird life, situated right at the edge of mesmerizing Vembanad Lake.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 30km/19mi*

Day 12: Mararikulam

Get the best picture imprinted to your memory on this last day of the backwaters adventure as we slowly head to coastal fishing village called Mararikulam.

Enjoy walk to the white sandy Marari beach in the evening.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 25km/15mi*

Day 13: Ezhupunna

On the last biking day, we ride along the beach road and the journey will be refreshing and easy. We ride past fishing villages and numerous christian churches along the coast will to a small village named Ezhupunna.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 40km/25mi*

Day 14: Departure

Please make your arrangements as per your onward travel.

Meals: Breakfast

*with shuttle – short transfers

REGION

insightful details

Terrain

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


See

Fauna:
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!)

Flora:
Plantations – Coconut, Banana, Rubber, Pineapple, Tea, Eucalyptus, Cardamom
Forests – Bamboo, Figs, Lantana, Trumpet, Flame tree Farms – Paddy farms, Fish farms, Spice farms(pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric)


Experience

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
  • Kerala – land of palms” by I.H. Hacker, a peek into life in Kerala during early 1900

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REVIEWS

from our friends

Kerala in Style - bike, hike, kayak
Average rating:  
 3 reviews
by Philip Hemsted on Kerala in Style - bike, hike, kayak
Kerala in Style - bike, hike, kayak


Wonderful two week experience of Kerala backwaters and mountains. Biking 40-60km day, couple of days hiking and a day kayaking, with plenty of time to relax and explore. Great for wildlife. Highlights include watching sunrise from Western Ghats, nature walk in Periyar wildlife sanctuary, kayaking through backwaters. Additional visits to spice gardens, tea factory, boat builder and toddy restaurant made it feel more than a holiday and more of an education. Knowledgable guides and good minibus support made the daily routing comfortable. Cycling in Indian traffic does take some getting used to, especially frequent use of horns and buses running to a timetable. Our guide Dibin was very safety conscious and had no problems in traffic.

by Linda & Robert on Kerala in Style - bike, hike, kayak
Exceeded our expectations



Thank you for such a well planned, superbly led trip. We learned so much more about Kerala and it’s unique characteristics and beauty than we thought we would. This was our first trip to India and our first “organized tour group”. Both exceeded our expectations. We will surely return.

TOUR GUIDE(s): Dibin – personable, knowledgeable, flexible. Sajib- good natured, patient. Dibin’s style, competence and communication skills were invaluable assets for the success and enjoyment of this trip

BIKES: Good equipment. Bikes were solid — easy to handle and needed for some of the bumpy roads.


by Michael Szilagyi on Kerala in Style - bike, hike, kayak
“Wow!! The 11 day 'Taste of Kerala' bike tour is AMAZING! Exceeded all my expectations!”

Highly recommend this bike ride – I had a great time every day of the tour! The 'Taste of Kerala' bike trip is one of the best vacations I have ever taken, if not the best of them all! It was my first multi-day bike tour (11 days total), and Art of Bicycle Trips made the entire trip a truly unique and wonderful experience! Kerala is referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’, and after all the sights you will discover on this tour, the description is true to word. The biking itself was fantastic, but all other non-biking aspects of the tour were just as delightful. From start to finish, including initial correspondence prior to arrival, Dibin responded promptly to my inquiries, answered all my questions, and half way through the trip was very helpful in extending my stay in Cochin to include a beach side stay with some kayaking along the backwaters. And best of all, he is an AWESOME bike tour guide!! I cannot say enough about how great and truly amazing it was to be a rider on his bike tour. Dibin’s English is excellent and being from Kerala, he has an impressive knowledge of the history and culture of the area. And the van driver Shajee, was also very supportive and equally great in his job bringing up the rear via the support van. I felt very safe, was well looked after by both guide and driver, and in good hands through the entire journey. The ride itinerary as posted on Art of Bicycle Trips webpage is exactly how the ride went, and all accommodations, etc. were as indicated on the itinerary. I appreciate the fact that Art of Bicycle Trips was also able to outfit me with an XL bike frame, which made the ride much more comfortable for someone of my height. Dibin is also a good teacher - though I do exercise extensively, I do not bike ride regularly, and Dibin taught me a lot about biking technique and methods all along the rides. The bike rides were a perfect mix of city, country, mountain, and coastal riding through the many beautiful parts of Kerala. I especially enjoyed the rides through the tea plantations and the ride up and over the border with Tamil Nadu to Top Station – where it becomes nicely cooler at 2,000 meters as well! They drive on the left side of the road in India, and traffic can be a bit intimidating at first if you are not accustomed to it, but I always maintained the line behind Dibin, who was very good at pointing out potholes, bumps, heavy traffic, etc., along the way, and after a day or so I felt like I fit right in with the all traffic flow around me – rickshaws, cars, scooters, motorbikes, etc., and even cows - all of which are a unique part of the Indian experience. Road traffic in Kerala is minimal compared to Delhi or other large cities I visited in India. The traffic diminished significantly after leaving Cochin early on in the tour. I did not fall down, run off the road, or crash into a cow or anything else – not once! As I requested, Dibin kept the pace just challenging enough to keep me at my best riding form. I loved every kilometer of this 500km bike tour, even the uphill rides, and anxiously looked forward to each new day of riding and the adventures it would bring. I did this trip in August, which can be rainy season, but my trip was only interrupted by heavy rain once, and for less than two hours one afternoon. I was lucky in that sense as it could have rained much more. We rode in some misty rains for short periods, but with rain jacket, it was all good, and just as fun – most of the trip had plenty of sunshine. The accommodations were unique, charming, and always pleasant. It was so nice to stay in such comfortable places after a good day of biking! The overnight stay on the house boat and cruise through the backwaters was one of the many ways Art of Bicycle Trips made the trip special. All the meals were delicious, as I found the many foods of Kerala to be highly agreeable with me. The non-biking activities provided alternate and enjoyable breaks after riding - tea museum tour, spice garden visit, etc., but I especially liked the hike through the nature preserve via a park guide -- it was a good way to get some different outdoor activity on a non-biking day. And everyone in Kerala is super friendly too, which further enhanced my love of the place and its people. I took my own gel bike seat cover, which helped minimize any saddle soreness for me. I wore dri-fit athletic clothes which worked perfectly. And laundry service was often available at most of the stays, and for an inexpensive price too. WI-FI too was available in every stay except the house boat. Knowing what I know now, I would have used pedals with toe cages, to help maintain a better cadence and let my top of leg muscles assist the uphill efforts versus solely pushing down on the pedals, but even without the toe cages, I did just fine. Beyond that, all equipment on the bike was perfect and functioned great. Helmet and water bottle were also provided along with a small carry case on the handle bars, and snacks along the way (loved the soft peanut brittle snack). I opted to carry a very small and lightweight waterproof day pack type backpack on the rides, in which I kept my wallet, rain jacket, insect repellent, small camera, etc. – but not much more as I wanted to stay light. Other belongings can be kept in the van, and no day pack of any kind is needed as you bike, as the support van is never more than 10-15 minutes away – so just personal preference in this respect. Thank you so much Art of Bicycle Trips, and Dibin, for all you did to make this an amazing tour!! I will have many lasting memories of my Kerala biking adventure as a result of your tour and the fine work you all do! I look forward to doing another bike tour with Art of Bicycle Trips again on a future trip to Asia. If you are relatively bike fit, no need to be a hard core rider, just fit enough to ride a bike at least 25-30km a day and open to the challenge of some longer rides, with some uphill trials here and there for 2-3 days of the trip, then I highly recommend this Kerala bike tour!!! And the uphill climbs are nicely rewarded with downhill coasts all along the way. And as always, the support van is always there, to pick you up if you want to cut a ride short or take a break and ride in the van for a bit on longer bike rides. Apologies for the lengthy review, but also an indication of how much I enjoyed and recommend this tour! :))))