Southern India delivers no end of pleasant surprises on this multi-activity trip. Our carefully crafted itinerary offers the highlights of the magnificent hill country of the Western Ghats at handle bar level. With a healthy mix of cycling and walking we pause to savour Bandipur and Periyar wildlife parks where a keen eye may spot tiger and elephant, the English hill station of Ooty and the fine tea plantations at Munnar. As the sweet smell of spices fill the air we descend to the coast and the delightful backwaters of Kerala, where we kayak and cruise through a myriad of channels observing the relaxed lifestyle of rural India. Our final bike ride follows palm lined beaches to the historic town of Fort Kochi where this action packed adventure comes to an unforgettable conclusion.
14 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
Comfortable accommodation on a twinshare basis
Airport transfer on day 1
All internal transport and support vehicle whilst cycling
Local specialist guides
Sightseeing and entry fees as listed in the itinerary
21 gear bikes
Day 1 Join Bengaluru (Bangalore)
Upon arrival you will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the group hotel. The rest of the afternoon is spent at your leisure. This evening we head out for our first group meal, this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members.
Day 2 Drive to Mysore
After breakfast we drive to Mysore, situated at the base of the Chamundi Hills, Mysore is commonly described as the City of Palaces. Upon arrival we will have a sightseeing tour of the city including a visit to Mysore Palace, one of the most famous tourist attractions in India, and the Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. We also visit the Chamundi Hills where we can see two ancient temples and get a panoramic view of the city.
Day 3 Cycle to Bandipur and Mudumalai
Today we make the journey to two of the famous wildlife sanctuaries of South India - Bandipur and Mudumalai. These form a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere. Devoted to conserving the endangered Tiger habitat you also see endemics like the Malabar Giant Squirrel, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Lark and Grey-headed Bulbul. Seasonal streams, along with the river Kabini, are watering holes for the abundant wildlife of the region. We will make our way to a small resort set near the forest.
Cycle; approx 45km
Day 4 Cycle to Ooty
This morning we negotiate the Kallatti Ghats toward the colonial town of Ooty. We drive up the Nigiris (literally blue mountains) to the old hill station of Ooty or Udagamandalam. Many ‘hair pin bends’ later you find yourself greeted with pleasantly cool weather at your destination situated at just over 2,200 metres. Cycling along these mountain roads you can find charming English style cottages blending into the landscape. These cottages with teak floors, art-deco armchairs, red-tiled roofs and chimneys also boast well kept gardens with a profusion of flowers that thrive here. The excellent botanical garden at Ooty which is over 160 years old is home to not only a great variety of exotic flora but also many birds. Cycle; approx 35km
Day 5 Coonoor UNESCO heritage train, cycle to Mettupalayam
This morning we board the historic Toy Train for a remarkable rail journey with spectacular vistas as we descend to the popular hill station of Coonoor. From here we take a scenic bike ride (approx 40km) to Mettupalayam – a small Indian town located at the foothills of the Nilgiris. We then journey by road to a fascinating area near the town of Pollachhi. In the evening we will take a walk through the farm & the nearby village.
Day 6 Cycle, drive to Munnar through tea plantations
One of the longer cycling days, today we hop on our bikes and head towards the tea town of Munnar. En-route we pass by the dry scrub land forests at Chinnar and the sandalwood forests at Marayur before the climb begins to Munnar. The mountain scenery we pass today is spectacular, and we have plenty of time to stop and enjoy the views. Cycle; approx 60km
Day 7 Day trek
Today is a day of trekking. Our journey will take us into the Silent Valley, trekking to Meesapulimala, ‘The Mountain of the Whiskered Tiger’. This is a spectacular walk, passing through sholas (high altitude mountain rain forest, also known as cloud forests), rolling grasslands, and rhododendrons. We travel across mountain streams through spectacular valleys. Sightings of elephants, gaur (large dark-coated bison), Nilgiri Tahr (ibex) are highly likely.
Day 8 Cycle the Cardamon Hills, transfer to Periyar National Park
The Cardamom Hills are famed all over the globe as the spice centre of the world, and today we cycle through the shadow of these hills. We ride around Anaerangal Lake (‘Lake where the elephants come down’) and along wonderful mountain roads to Nedungandom where we stop for lunch. We pass through thick forests, cardamom estates, and spice gardens that have given these Cardamom Hills their name. In the afternoon we drive to Periyar and check into an eco lodge or a homestay where we can relax or explore the jungle. Periyar is one of the best wildlife reserves in India and has large herds of Asiatic elephants, Indian bison as well as tigers. For ornithologists it has over 330 species of birds including the majestic Great Hornbill. Here we have an opportunity to meet some of the local people and see their fascinating way of life.
Cycle; approx 60km
Day 9 In Periyar
Early this morning we venture into the national park. Mannans are among the oldest indigenous group of people to inhabit Periyar. As late as the 1940’s, they lived in the remotest areas of the reserve seeking out a simple life, fishing in the lake and cultivating a few crops, today they are the main conservators of the forest. They will escort us through the forest and help you discover the remarkable flora and fauna of the region, there is also the opportunity to do bamboo rafting for those that are feeling adventurous. In the afternoon we visit the Natural History Museum, and the
cardamom and pepper plantations.
Day 10 Cycle through Western Ghats to a spice farm
From Periyar we will cycle downhill part of the way and head to Thodupuzha - a picturesque little town. Our ride takes us through winding roads running through scores of spice farms and rubber plantations. Our destination today is an exceptionally beautiful farm on the banks of Kannadipuzha in the lower ranges of the Western Ghats. On arrival we can explore the spice and herb gardens, visit the rubber plantations, walk through the forests, or visit the local village. Cycle; approx 50km
Day 11 Cycle amongst villages
Today we will discover the small spice growing villages and by lanes of a typical Keralan village visiting the rubber plantation workers, spice growing farmers and also the children of the local school. A visit to the forest nearby with a picnic basket is also a possibility. We also have the opportunity to learn about Keralan cooking from the kitchen here. Cycle; approx 30km
Day 12 Cycle and transfer to Alappuzha (Allepey), kayak through Keralan Backwaters
An early start sees us cycle & drive to Alleppey where we will commence our kayaking through the famed backwaters. Here we explore the many lakes and lagoons, meet the friendly local people and observe their way of life. We spend the night in a small cozy family owned resort in the midst of the backwaters.
Cycle; approx 40km, kayaking
Day 13 Backwaters cruise, overnight on houseboat
We start our cruise on the world-renowned rice boats – a luxurious way to see the backwaters & the life in the backwater countryside villages. We will explore the enchanting landscape of dyaks, canals, rivers and deltas fed by 3 major rivers that flow down from the Western Ghat mountain chain. The backwaters extend far into the countryside as deep or shallow canals or channels, and are navigated by ketuvallam or boats, ranging in size from a one person ketuvallam to large open goods transporters. Like most waterways in India, life encroaches and daily activities such as washing are centered by such waterways. Coconut oil extraction is one of the main industries on the backwater. There will be opportunities during the cruise to stop at village tea shops to sample the refreshing green coconut juice or tea, and visit churches, sacred groves and market places.
Cycle; approx 20km
Day 14 Cycle to historic Fort Kochi
We end our journey at Fort Kochi with a fabulous beach side ride. After a chance to relax and freshen up we have lunch, and then spend the rest of the afternoon discovering a little of this amazing city. Its historic links can be seen in the Colonial Bungalows, an old Synagogue, Chinese fishing nets, the oldest European Church in India and a medieval Portuguese Palace. The city was founded in 1341 following a flood which created a natural and safe harbour and quickly became the chief port on the Malabar Coast. From the 1400’s it attracted Jewish, Arab and Christian settlers from the Middle East as a result of the Royal Family’s move to the city from Muziris, 50 kms north. The Europeans began settling from 1500’s as the Portuguese, Dutch and English competed to control the port and the lucrative spice trade. The city has three distinctive regions – Ernakulam, the modern region to the East, and the older districts of Mattancherry and Fort Kochi located on a peninsula in the west. We are staying in the heart of the historic Fort Kochi, India’s Oldest Indo – European town.
We will discover a little more off the rich cultural history of this place during our visits to museums and temples that dot the city and surrounding areas. In the evening we can enjoy traditional Keralan dances like kathakali and mohiniattam.
Cycle; approx 60km