Kerala and the Tropical South

A laid-back backwaters and beaches cycle tour




From $2,260 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Sample the varied and delicious South Indian cuisine
  • Kerala homestay and overnight on a houseboat
  • Free day to explore the old `Portuguese` port of Kochi
  • Free day at the chilled-out resort of Varkala Beach

At the southern tip of India, the states of Karnataka and Kerala encapsulate everything that is magical about this tropical region; traditional towns, a mix of mountain and coastal landscape, endless white-sand beaches and sensational south Indian cuisine. Starting out from Mysore and ending up in Trivandrum, this easy-paced cycling holiday provides a great way to explore this colourful part of the world. After a day-ride to Srirangapatnan, the site of Tipu Sultan's ruined capital, we bike on backroads into the tiger reserve of Bandipur where we have an evening game drive. Those who like a challenge then have the option to bike via 36 hairpin bends up to the hill-station of Ooty at 2240 metres in the Nilgiri Hills. A rolling hill-country ride and amazing descent takes us into Kerala, where we visit the beach for the first time and attend a ‘puja' at the Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayoor. Heading south again, we spend a day in the old port of Kochi and enjoy a homestay and an overnight houseboat cruise on the ‘backwaters', the vast network of channels and lakes that is such a distinctive feature of Kerala. Quiet coastal roads then lead to the laid-back resort of Varkala, the perfect place to spend a final, free day in this little corner of paradise.

Is this holiday for you?

SEMI-SLICK ADVENTURE. A mountain bike fitted with semi-slick tyres is ideal for this trip, which offers a technically straightforward ride on surfaced roads with just a few rough sections. With the exception of the optional 1600 metre ascent to Ooty, there is not a great deal of ascent on this trip, which averages 55 kilometres per day on mostly quiet backroads. There are 3 days off the bikes and the support vehicle is always available. BIKE HIRE AVAILABLE LOCALLY.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Mysore. A group transfer from Bangalore Airport is provided.
  • A tour by bike, to include Srirangapatnan and the statue of Shiva's bull, Nandi. Return to Mysore.
  • Cycle on country roads via the Nanjagud Temple to Bandipur. Afternoon game drive at Bandipur.
  • Optional early morning safari. Then, cycle through the park to Mudumalai. Time to explore.
  • Either cycle or take the support vehicle up to Ooty (2240m) in the Nilgiri Hills. Afternoon free.
  • A great day of biking through the Nilgiri Hills to Gadalur. Tansfer to Guruvayoor on the coast.
  • Coastal exploration by bike and evening visit to the Sri Krishna Temple. Overnight at Guruvayoor.
  • Coastal ride through palm trees and small settlements. Then, island-hopping by ferry to Kochi.
  • A free day to explore Kochi’s market streets and colourful harbour area. A second night in Kochi.
  • Bike along the coast via Cherthala and Vembanad Lake. Overnight near the town of Alleppey.
  • Time to explore Alleppey by bike or on foot. Afternoon houseboat cruise to an overnight mooring.
  • Disembark from the boat and cycle to Valaazhikal. Ashram visit and overnight in Varkala.
  • A free day to enjoy this laid-back resort. A final celebratory dinner and overnight in Varkala.
  • Departure day. A group transfer to Trivandrum Airport is provided.
Sun 20 Dec - Sat 02 Jan Code KEMB/04/15/ Adult$2,260 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 31 Jan - Sat 13 Feb Code KEMB/01/16/ Adult$2,260 Status Available Book now
Sun 27 Mar - Sat 09 Apr Code KEMB/02/16/ Adult$2,260 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 13 Nov - Sat 26 Nov Code KEMB/03/16/ Adult$2,260 Status Available Book now
Tue 20 Dec - Mon 02 Jan Code KEMB/04/16/ Adult$2,260 Status Available Book now
Sun 05 Feb - Sat 18 Feb Code KEMB/01/17/ Adult$2,260 Status Available Book now
Sun 02 Apr - Sat 15 Apr Code KEMB/02/17/ Adult$2,260 Status Available Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Bangalore and departing from Trivandrum. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Bangalore Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' section of the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • bike

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Mysore. A group transfer from Bangalore Airport is provided.

    Rendezvous at the group hotel in Mysore in the morning. A group transfer from Bangalore Airport is provided. KE Land Only package services begin with lunch at the hotel and then, in the afternoon, we have time to visit the central bazaar and the magnificent Maharaja's Palace. Rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century, after a fire in 1897, the palace’s imposing architecture and extravagant interior provide an insight into the wealth of the maharajas of Mysore. This afternoon, we also reassemble our bikes (if we have brought our own) or get fitted out with a hire bike. Overnight at our Mysore hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals ld

  • A tour by bike, to include Srirangapatnan and the statue of Shiva's bull, Nandi. Return to Mysore.

    After breakfast, we have a leisurely ride out northwards to Srirangapatnan, a fortress-town situated on an island in the Cauvery River. Here, we can visit the Ranganatha Swamy Temple (from which the town’s name derives) with its fort-like walls and intricately carved central tower or ‘Gopuram’, dating back to around 900 AD. Also on the island is the Jama Masjid, a mosque built by Tipu Sultan in 1787, as well as the Dariya Daualt Bagh, which is referred to as Tipu Sultan’s summer palace. After spending some time exploring, we ride back to Mysore for lunch. Then, in the afternoon, there is the option to cycle up into the Chamundi Hills on the south side of the city, to see the 5 metre-high carving of Shiva's bull, Nandi, carved from a single block of granite. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 40km

    • Meals bld

  • Cycle on country roads via the Nanjagud Temple to Bandipur. Afternoon game drive at Bandipur.

    A longer ride today, as we head south on country roads, with all of India's colourful rural life on display. After an hour and a half of leisurely biking, we stop off at the town of Nanjangud, to visit the impressive Srikanteshwara Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. At lunch time, we find a suitable wayside restaurant where we can experience a traditional Indian midday meal of rice and curried vegetables. For most of the day, we are passing through an ever-changing patchwork of cultivated farmland, interspersed with scattered villages. This all changes by mid afternoon, however, as we reach the northern foothills of the Western Ghats and find ourselves biking through scrubby forest. Our overnight accommodation is in Bandipur and, after checking in at our hotel, we have time for a late afternoon game drive in the Bandipur National Park.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 80km

    • Meals bld

  • Optional early morning safari. Then, cycle through the park to Mudumalai. Time to explore.

    We have just a short bike ride today. So, there’s no need to make an early start (unless you intend to take an optional, additional, early morning game drive in the park – which is not included in the holiday package). After breakfast and a couple of hours free time, we set off southwards through the well forested park, with the chance to spot animals, such as deer and monkeys amongst the trees that line the route. Tonight, we stay at a simple jungle lodge in the adjacent Mudumalai National Park and have time to explore and to visit a nearby orphanage.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Distance 32km

    • Meals bld

  • Either cycle or take the support vehicle up to Ooty (2240m) in the Nilgiri Hills. Afternoon free.

    High above us in the Nilgiri Hills is the hill-station of Ootacamund (2240m), commonly known as Ooty, which served as a summer capital for the British during colonial days and remains a popular summer and weekend resort. Its stunning beauty and spring-like climate inspired the British to name it ‘Queen of Hill-Stations’. Your challenge, should you choose to take it on, is to bike the winding mountain road that leads, through 36 hairpin bends and with great views at every turn, up to the town. It’s a 1600 metre ascent and there’s always the option to take it easy and let the support vehicle carry you to our pleasant hotel accommodation in Ooty. The afternoon is free to explore this charming town.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 25km

    • Meals bld

  • A great day of biking through the Nilgiri Hills to Gadalur. Tansfer to Guruvayoor on the coast.

    Today is one of the best day’s biking of the holiday, as we meander amongst the tea plantations that dominate this part of the rolling Nilgiri Hills. It’s pleasantly cool at around 2000 metres and we have some far-reaching views. What’s more, the ride is largely downhill, as we are heading out to the coast today. We stop off in Gudalur, at the junction of the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. From this non-descript Indian town, with its collection of shops and inquisitive children, we continue our descent through ever-more-luxuriant vegetation, to a lunch stop at a roadside restaurant. From here, we transfer to Guruvayoor on the coast, to avoid a section with busier roads.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 80km

    • Meals bld

  • Coastal exploration by bike and evening visit to the Sri Krishna Temple. Overnight at Guruvayoor.

    After breakfast at our hotel, we take a morning ride out to the coast at Chavakkad Beach, where we see colourful fishing boats on the beach and may also see groups of fishermen hauling their nets directly onto the sand. We will be spending a second night at our hotel in this town, so there’s no rush to go anywhere. However, we will have a second guided ride from the hotel, this time seeking out some of the quieter backroads of this laid-back rural district, which is known as Thrissur. This will give us a good opportunity to meet some of the local people and, with luck, we might also encounter some of the many ceremonial elephants that are associated with the Sri Krishna Temple at Guruvayoor. This is one of India’s most important pilgrimage sites and every evening a 'puja' or ceremony is held at the temple, which includes the illuminating of a 7-metre-high pillar of oil lamps. We will be able to attend this ceremony – a great experience.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 40km

    • Meals bld

  • Coastal ride through palm trees and small settlements. Then, island-hopping by ferry to Kochi.

    Another splendid day of cycling, as we follow the coast road southwards, amongst palm trees and through small settlements, with the sea at all time on our right. We will take the opportunity to stop for a swim at a suitable beach and then, at lunch, we will find a restaurant with a sea-view and have the chance to sample some of the superb sea-food that plays such an important part in Keralan cuisine. In the afternoon, we meet an impass in the form of one of the waterways that links through into the ‘backwaters’ and, from this point, we have to board local ferries to journey into the heart of the city of Kochi. Overnight at a hotel in the city.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 80km

    • Meals bld

  • A free day to explore Kochi’s market streets and colourful harbour area. A second night in Kochi.

    This is a welcome day off the bikes and a chance to take it easy. We have a full day to explore the city, to wander through the winding streets crammed with 500-year-old Portuguese houses, synagogues, palaces and forts and spread over a charming cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas. Accompanied by a knowledgeable city guide, we will visit the Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese for the Raja of Cochin in 1557 and watch the Chinese fishing nets in action from the waterfront Vasco da Gama Square. Made of teak and bamboo, these picturesque fishing 'engines' are believed to have been erected here as early as the 14th century. There is plenty of opportunity too for souvenir buying today. After the tour, the rest of the afternoon is free for relaxing or further independent exploration. Lunch on this day is not included and there will be the opportunity to buy a snack from one of the many food stalls in the harbour area. We spend a second night at our Kochi hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Bike along the coast via Cherthala and Vembanad Lake. Overnight near the town of Alleppey.

    Heading south out of the city, we find ourselves on a narrow strip of land between the Laccadive Sea and the Keralan ‘backwaters’. We bike along the quiet coast road, taking it easy and stopping off in small fishing villages and watching the local men tending their nets or hauling their boats up onto the beach on wooden rollers. In this part of India, many of the people are Christians and we pass a number of churches, the largest of which is at Cherthala. This is a convenient place to stop for lunch, before we head inland to our overnight accommodation at a traditional Keralan house near the town of Alleppey. We can spend time in the garden of this simple lodging, looking out over the expanse of Vembanad Lake.

    • Accommodation Homestay

    • Distance 60km

    • Meals bld

  • Time to explore Alleppey by bike or on foot. Afternoon houseboat cruise to an overnight mooring.

    Alleppey is one of the centres for exploration of the Keralan backwaters and, after breakfast, we have time to bike around the town or to explore on foot. At around midday, we will go to the jetty in Alleppey and board the houseboat(s) which will be our home for the night. Based on the large traditional cargo boats known as kettuvalloms, these houseboats provide surprisingly luxurious accommodation. There are usually either 2 or 3 twin-bedded rooms on each boat. There are almost 2000 kilometres of 'backwaters', interconnected lakes, lagoons and canals, inland of the Kerala coast. This is a unique and fascinating water world, enclosed by palm trees.. Setting off on our cruise, we will traverse wide canals and shallow lakes, with isolated hamlets and houses on the banks. The way of life on the backwaters is based around fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts and cashew nuts. Birdwatchers will have a great opportunity to spot lots of exciting species, such as kingfishers, bee-eaters, bulbuls, darters, herons, cormorants, kingfishers and 2 types of kite. We will cruise for a couple of hours and then find a quiet spot to anchor up for the night, possibly in Vembanad Lake. Each boat has its own cook. Meals are traditional Keralan fare, using fresh local produce.

    • Accommodation Houseboat

    • Meals bld

  • Disembark from the boat and cycle to Valaazhikal. Ashram visit and overnight in Varkala.

    After breakfast on the boat and a short cruise back to the jetty, we disembark and begin the final leg of our bike journey. Again following the coast road, we head south to Valaazhikal, where we cross the river mouth on a local fishing boat. Five kilometres later, we have the chance to visit a well-known spiritual retreat, known as the ‘Hugging Mama Ashram’. We take a break for lunch in the vicinity of Kollam, before completing the ride to our seaside hotel in Varkala.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Distance 88km

    • Meals bld

  • A free day to enjoy this laid-back resort. A final celebratory dinner and overnight in Varkala.

    We have a full day to chill out at this laid-back resort. A chance to swim and to stroll on the resort's 2 beaches and to watch the fishermen hauling their nets. To allow the flexibility of choice, lunch is not included today and you can pick a beach-front restaurant and buy a snack. We have a final celebratory dinner and a second night at our Varkala hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bd

  • Departure day. A group transfer to Trivandrum Airport is provided.

    KE Land Only package services end with an early transfer to Trivandrum Airport.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A professional local English speaking biking leader
  • Sightseeing guides in Mysore and Fort Kochi
  • A single group transfer from Bangalore Airport on the first day of the itinerary
  • A transfer to Trivandrum Airport at the end of the holiday
  • All land transport involved in the itinerary
  • Support vehicle / driver and mechanic
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • 1 game drive in Bandipur National Park and park fees
  • Monument entrance fees as per itinerary

  • Travel insurance
  • Indian Visa
  • Airport transfers (other than a single group transfer on arrival and departure days)
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Tips for local staff
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc
  • Bike carriage on flights - please check with your carrier for charges

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A single group transfer is provided on day 1 of the Land Only itinerary, from Bangalore Airport to Mysore. A transfer from Varkala to Trivandrum Airport is also provided on the final day of the Land Only itinerary.

The group will use a mix of hotel and lodge accommodation on 11 nights. There is also 1 night in a homestay and 1 night in a houseboat. All accommodation (except at the homestay) is allocated on a twin-sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself, you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Depending upon availability it may also be possible to arrange single rooms. For additional hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the Dates and Prices page of the trip on our website.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

The food in Kerala is terrific. Rice, vegetables, fruit, seafood and a range of delicious spices are the main staples of Keralan cuisine, traditionally served on a banana leaf. Whilst at hotels, we will have the opportunity to try the local fare, although other options with a more western flavour will usually be available also. Our night on the houseboat will provide an excellent opportunity to sample Keralan food at its best.

All meals are included except lunches on each of the 2 free days - in Kochi and at Varkala.

We suggest that £150 (or equivalent in US dollars, euros etc.) should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including approximately £5 each for the two non-included lunches, as well as £30 to £40 for tips for local staff and hotel staff. This will also allow you to buy soft drinks and/or beer. if you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of currency rather than travellers cheques, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival in India, either at Bangalore Airport or in Mysore. Sterling and US Dollars are equally acceptable for exchange. India’s unit of currency is the Rupee.

The trip will be led by an experienced local English-speaking biking leader. In addition the group will be accompanied by one or more support vehicles and a designated mechanic.

Tipping is an accepted and expected part of Indian culture, although you should only tip for services which are well done. The total amount that you can expect to pay in tips for your local guide, drivers and other support staff, as well as hotel staff etc. is approximately £30 to £40. Your local guide will help to coordinate these payments and he will choose an appropriate time for the group to get together to pay the team. He might also ask you for a few rupees from time to time to pay tips to a sightseeing guide or a Forest Service employee who is with the group for just a short time. It is also a good idea if the group asks the local guide to look after the day to day tipping of hotel staff. This will do away with the need for you to be finding small numbers of rupees on a daily basis. The group will then reimburse the guide on account of these miscellaneous tips at the end of the trip.

Taking a bike on an aircraft is usually straightforward. Different airlines have differing policies with regard to baggage allowances and transporting bikes. We strongly advise that you check the current policy of your chosen airline for carrying bikes and their baggage allowances before purchasing your air ticket. The baggage section on your chosen airline’s website will usually contain this information. We suggest that you are aware of the weight and dimensions of your intended check-in baggage in advance of your arrival at the airport as airlines may charge for both excess and oversize baggage, or refuse to carry oversized baggage. If you are using a domestic flight to connect with your International flight then it is likely that a different baggage policy will exist for the domestic and international flight sections. Again you should check the baggage policy with your chosen domestic airline prior to booking your domestic flight tickets. Any additional charges incurred for transporting your bike on any of the flights required for this adventure (international, domestic and internal flights within the trip itinerary - if applicable) are the responsibility of each individual client.

We recommend SEMI SLICK tyres for this trip. You can ride this backroads route successfully on a mountain bike such as a Specialized Rockhopper or a Trek 6500. Alternatively, you could choose to use a 'hybrid' type bike or even a 'cyclocross' bike. Please call us if you are unsure about the suitability of your current bike. We cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that your bike is in perfect working condition before you start this trip. You are depending on your bike to transport you throughout your trip, across at times rough roads. It is VITAL to ensure it is THOROUGHLY SERVICED to guarantee it is in good mechanical order before departure. If you are not mechanically minded, get your local bike mechanic to service it for you. For home mechanics, points to note particularly are:

a) Check rims and if they are worn / cracked / dented replace with a new rim / wheel to avoid wheel failure. It is especially important to check that the rims on rim-braked bikes are not worn concave by the brake blocks - replace them if they are.

b) Check wheels are true and spoke tension is tight.

c) Check and, if required, adjust / grease ALL bearings and quick release skewers.

d) Check and, if required, replace brake and gear cables.

e) Check disc / brake pads, mounts and cables / hydraulic lines - replace if necessary.

f) Check - lube / threadlock & tighten - all bolts (esp. suspension pivots, bottom brackets, disc rotor bolts & disk mount bolts).

g) Check chain, cassette and chain rings for wear – replace as necessary.

h) Make sure you have the right tyres, inner tubes and BIKE SPECIFIC SPARES for your bike.

Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs to your bike e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally our bike guides will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and the inconvenience of waiting for assistance.

Travelling with a bike is usually as straightforward as travelling with any other type of baggage -providing you have packed it adequately. We have many years experience of travelling with our bikes, and nowadays we think that the best way to travel and fly with a bike is to partially dismantle it and put it into a purpose made soft bike bag. Although more expensive than a cardboard bike box, they are smaller in size to transport and are considerably easier to handle. To pack your bike you simply remove both wheels and pedals and prepare it for travel as follows. Obviously, extra care when packing your bike can minimise the chances of accidental damage occurring in transit. Ask your local bike store for plastic wheel hub protectors (which will prevent damage to your bike bag) and plastic fork and frame spacers, insert the spacers into the dropouts, tape them in place and then put extra padding over this area. Use pipe insulation lagging (from your local DIY store) to cover frame tubes, forks and seat post. If required, remove your bars from the stem and attach them carefully to your frame/forks using plastic ties or pvc tape -ensure that your Ergo/Sti levers are well padded to minimise the chance of damage. You may also wish to remove your rear gear mech, pad it with foam and tape it to the chainstay out of harms way. Finally, you should partly deflate your tyres, but leave some air in them to help absorb any impact on the wheels. Don’t forget to pack wheel skewers, pedals and any bolts you have removed, these are the items that tend to get left behind. Finally, find an old cardboard bike box and cut out panels to fit inside your soft bike bag for extra protection. Don’t forget to bring sufficient packing materials to pack your bike on the way home.

PLEASE DO NOT USE a purpose-made rigid bike box -these are heavy (which can put you over your baggage allowance) and are also too bulky to be easily stored or transported on the group’s support vehicle.

Throughout this trip we have the back up of one or more support vehicles. Each morning our main baggage will be loaded onto the support vehicle which will follow the group on the day's ride. The local biking leader and the support vehicle driver will watch over the group and will carry mobile phones, allowing you to contact them in the case of a breakdown or other incident. We want everyone to enjoy their cycling experience on this trip and we recognise the importance of group members being allowed to cycle at their own pace. On most of our biking holidays it is usual that there can be a fair distance between the front and rear cyclists in the group and there may be times when other group members, vehicle support and biking leader are out of sight. However, our regular stops mean that it's never long before we regroup. The support vehicle will pick up any group members who wish to take a break from cycling at any time.

One option is that you take your own bike on this holiday. After all, it is the bike you know best. However, you can also hire a bike locally. Our local agent has a range of Merida (Matts 40 and Matts 20 hardtails), as well as Trek (3500 / 3700 / 3900 / 4300 hardtails). These bikes generally have Shimano Acera and Altus components. They either have Tektro V-Brakes or, in some cases, Tektro Disc Brakes. They have 100mm front suspension and 26 inch diameter wheels. They are available in a range of frame sizes - from 13 to 21 inches. Bikes can be reserved, subject to availability, at a cost of £90 (Oct 2014 – subject to change) for the duration of the holiday. This cost will be paid locally and does not cover you if you lose the bike or damage it beyond 'fair wear and tear'. Contact the KE office if you want us to reserve a bike for you. Your hire contract will be with our local agent and KE cannot be held responsible for any issues arising from bike hire. If you do hire a bike, we recommend that you take your own shoes, pedals and possibly even your saddle, which will go a long way towards making it feel like your own bike. You must also take your bike helmet, which you will wear whenever you are biking. One final issue with regard to the hire bikes is that they are fitted with regular knobbly tyres. If you would prefer to ride on fast-rolling, semi-slick tyres (the great majority of this route is on tarmac) you should consider taking a pair with you. These can be fitted to the bike for you before the first day’s ride.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

The altitude attained on this holiday is not extreme and the maximum altitude attained is no more than the equivalent of a pressurised cabin on an international flight. You may ‘feel’ the altitude as you bike up to Ooty, at just over 2000 metres, but all that is required is a slower pace to compensate. You should pay particular attention to your hydration whilst spending time above 2000 metres.

All nationalities need to obtain a visa for entry into India. You must have a machine-readable passport with at least 6 months validity at the time of your arrival in India and your passport must have at least two blank pages.


e-Tourist Visa Application

If you require a Single-Entry visa for a visit of up to 30 days, we recommend that you use the e-Tourist Visa Application process which has been available to UK nationals since 15 August, 2015. You should make your application at

Most nationalities, including travellers from the UK, USA and many European countries can apply for their Indian Visa online through the e-Tourist Visa system.

The e-Tourist Visa is valid for entry through 16 designated Airports: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi.

This visa is cheaper than the Regular Indian Visa and does not require that you send your passport to your nearest India Visa Application Centre (IVAC).

Please note: If you travel on an e-Tourist Visa, your passport will be stamped and your biometric data (fingerprinting and retinal scan) will be processed on arrival in India.

You must make your application a minimum of 4 days before your arrival and a maximum of 30 days before your arrival in India. You must also remember to print a copy of the e-Tourist Visa and take it with you to India for processing on arrival.

The validity of the e-Tourist Visa is 30 days from the date of arrival in India.

The e-Tourist Visa fee is $60.

Instructions for making the application are provided at the above link, including details and specifications of the passport and passport photo scans that you need to provide.


Filling out the application form
Where you are asked to state ‘Places to be visited in India’, please write “Delhi” or the port of entry as the destination you are travelling to in India. Please do not mention any restricted areas such as Sikkim or Ladakh as this may result in delays to the issue of your visa. Answer ‘no’ to the question about visiting Sikkim. Note that when applying online, most of the questions have ‘required fields’ (denoted by a red asterisk). This means that you will not be allowed to submit the form without filling in these fields. If the question is not applicable to you, please type ‘NA’ into these fields.

For ‘Sponsor’ use KE Adventure Travel; first UK referee use KE Adventure Travel; Second UK referee use a friend or relative. For the first Indian referee please use the name and address of our Ground Agent as listed on your Booking Confirmation. For ‘address in India’ and also for second referee in India, please use the name and address of the group hotel as listed on your Booking Confirmation.

If you need help with your e-Tourist Visa Application
A visa processing company such as Travcour can help with your application. Travcour charge £20 to process your application and a further £9 (for postage) if you want them also to handle the scanning of your passport and photo.

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements and charges are subject to change.

The following is a basic checklist to help you with your packing. We recommend using the layering principle of clothing for predominantly warm climatic conditions during the day. Good padded cycling shorts are essential.

Your bike will normally be a mid level Mountain Bike such as a Specialized Rockhopper or Trek 6500. Front suspension is recommended. You could also ride this backroads route successfully on a good quality ‘hybrid’ or ‘cyclocross’ bike. It is vital that your bike is THOROUGHLY SERVICED and in perfect working condition before the trip.


  • Stiff-soled cycling shoes or SPD’s
  • Base-layer - short sleeve cycling top (x 1)
  • Mid-layer - long sleeved cycling top (x 1)
  • Outer layer - lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Light fleece jacket or jumper
  • Regular biking gloves
  • Padded cycling shorts (x 2)
  • Baggy overshorts for modesty
  • Eyewear - Biking glasses
  • Cycling helmet - mandatory
  • Travel and apres biking clothes
  • Training/Leisure shoes for apres biking
  • Wash bag, towel, toiletries, including anti-bacterial handwash
  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
  • Swimwear
  • Headtorch/Headlamp

Daypack and contents



(Note: If you are hiring a bike, you do not need to bring any spares. Although it is still a good idea to take a couple of 26 x 2 inch inner tubes with Presta valves).

  • You should bring the following with you as a minimum. Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally the bike guide will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and inconvenience waiting for assistance.
  • Tyres – for this trip you will need: 1.9 to 2.2 inch semi-slick tyres suitable for predominantly dry conditions.
  • Pump
  • Plastic tyre levers
  • Spoke key
  • 2 x inner tubes
  • Liquid chain lube (bottle not aerosol)
  • Multi-tool with Allen keys
  • Chain link extractor (if not on multi-tool)
  • 2x puncture repair kits
  • A rag and brush for cleaning bike and drive train
  • Spare chain links
  • Spares specific to your bike if applicable (e.g. disc brake bleed kits, shock pumps etc)

KE tools and spares

  • On all of our trips we carry a toolkit and a basic range of spares for emergencies. As bikes become increasingly part specific it is impossible to carry a comprehensive range of spares compatible with all makes and models of bike.

Energy Gels/Sports Drinks/Power Bars

  • Our back up vehicle will carry ample supplies of water, snacks and lunches but if you like a particular energy gel, sports drink or power bar we suggest you bring a selection of your preferred choice along.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Visa India

All nationalities require a visa. The visa fee is $60 and you need to apply for this online prior to departure at Please download the detailed information document: Visa PDF India

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

The better conditioned you are the more you will enjoy your trip. We suggest that you adopt a sensible weekly exercise regime and fit in a number of long cycle rides in hilly country to ensure you are physically capable of taking part in this trip - this will also provide you with an opportunity to make sure all your riding kit is tried and tested before you travel. Cycling is obviously the best activity to prepare for this trip, however, running, squash and swimming are also good for developing aerobic fitness and stamina.

You should contact your GP or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

The most important influence on the annual climate of the south Indian states of Karnataka and Kerala is the monsoon, which brings a great deal of rain during the period from May to October. Outside of these months, during the period that we run this holiday, we will experience maximum daytime temperatures at sea level of between 25 and 32 degrees centigrade, falling to around 20 degrees centigrade at night. It is, of course, cooler at higher elevations, with daytime maximum temperatures of between 15 and 22 degrees centigrade at Ooty, where the evenings can be cool.

  • South India. Lonely Planet
  • South India. Rough Guides
  • India Guide. Footprint Guides
  • India. Fodor's Travel Publications

India: TTK State Road Maps - Karnataka and Kerala Sheets

Fairly basic maps showing main towns, roads and railways. Relief is not shown but administrative boundaries are marked. Intermediate driving distances are marked on major roads. In the jacket of each map is a reference booklet giving background information about the state's geography, history, cultural aspects and main towns.

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