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Kerala by Bicycle Guided Adventure
‘God’s own country’ or Kerala is epitomised for its traditional roots which are imbibed in every aspect of life be it food, architecture, language, or art forms. Join Unventured on a spice-scented journey through the “God’s Own” Kerala trail – a journey into the heartland of exotic birds, palm-lined beaches, traditional Kathakali dance performances, lip-smacking cuisine, and the quaint countryside lifestyle.
Throughout the journey, you will be smitten by the splendour of ‘God’s own country’ and its culture. Amongst the irresistible attractions in Kerala, it’s the performing arts that will blow you away. On the trail, you will witness a Kathakali and Kallaripayattu performance that will add to the revelry of the journey along with the exquisite sunsets at the shores, backwaters, and mountains in Kerala.
On this 8-day trail, there’s a right mix of cycling, leisure, and exploration. You will experience stretches that challenge your limits, sceneries that indulge your senses, and interactions with the locals that expose you to their culture and ways of life.
Learn more about the Unventured Experience
Who can do this tour?
This expedition is for anyone with a keen interest in exploring and truly ‘travelling’ through God’s own country. You will discover its culture, traditions, and history at a pace that allows you to stop, interact, and enjoy the true Keralan way of life. This is not a physically “intensive” trail and hence, anyone who is initiated to cycling and is keen on exploring and riding with a group of like-minded people can sign up. The terrain in Kerala ranges from flat grounds to moderate climbs. Distances pedalled daily will range from 40 to 60 kilometres on a rolling terrain and the difficulty level will vary from being easy to moderate.
The expedition starts from Fort Kochi, a fort with rustic charm, colonial history, and streets lined with art bazaars.
On the trail, you will traverse through flat land forests, spice-lined loops, and placid backwaters. You will get an insight into the natural beauty of ‘God’s Own Country’, its cultural and religious past, the people and their way of life. Through culinary experiences, like home-cooked meals, you will find delight in their exquisitely flavoured feasts. This expedition combines cycling and driving through the spice trail.
All travellers are expected to arrive at Fort Kochi by 12:00 noon. The evening will be spent riding to the beach and to Fort Kochi and its surroundings. This is best explored by cycling along streets that are abundant with an eclectic mix of history – Portuguese-era cathedrals, Dutch palaces, and soaking in the warmth of Kochi.
Ride distance: 10 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Hotel
• You will meet and greet the other participants.
• We will take a leisure ride exploring the Portuguese and Dutch-influenced town of Kochi.
• We’ll spend the evening gazing at the beautiful sunset over the horizon.
• You will receive a tour briefing.
On day 2, you will ride towards the hills away from the coastline, wandering through small villages and plantations. Your stop for the night will be in Thattekad, which translates to “flat forest”. Your journey to Thattekad will take you through the wealth of Kerala, as you ride past rubber and pineapple plantations, along the trail of the Periyar River. You will halt at a homestay in Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (the richest bird habitat in peninsular India), named after the famous ornithologist who explored the region’s bio-diverse abundance of avian life.
Drive distance: 75 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Hotel
• You will get to ride past rubber and pineapple plantations.
• Take a walk around the bird sanctuary and identify endemic birds.
You’ll start your day early to spot some fine-winged wonders of Thattekad with a trained birder. There are chances of spotting the elusive Ceylon Frogmouth, but you will certainly sight the Drongo, Cuckoo, and hopefully, the Indian Pitta that breeds in the sub-Himalayas and migrates during the winters to this very region. Bring your cameras out and get your hands dirty as you explore a rubber-manufacturing unit and savour some freshly-picked pineapples with salt and chilli powder straight from a farm. Post an early lunch, you will drive out towards Thekkady and begin your short ride. Once you cross the highway, the surreal views of the mountains and cardamom plantations will take your breath away!
Drive/Ride distance: 75/25 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Homestay
• You will have a mix of driving and cycling.
• Head into the mountains and tea plantations to experience God’s own country.
• You’ll ride into spice plantations and check into a quaint homestay.
Rise and shine-wake up to the smell of spices. You will walk through the plantation with a guided tour. You’ll learn about the ‘roots’ of cardamom, pepper, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, and many lesser-known spices that have tingled the taste buds of natives and outsiders alike. Apart from delighting your senses, you will also get an insight into the growing, harvesting, and processing of spices that adorn your plates day-after-day. After wandering through the plantation, you will ride through rolling hills, rejoicing the fresh mountain air and head down to the backwaters of Kumarakom and soak in the dream-like backwaters in an overnight cruise boat. The party begins here and ends as you reach the other side, Alleppey.
Ride distance: 85 kilometres
Accommodation Type: House Boat
• You will get a tour of the spice plantations and learn about medicinal plants found on the plantation.
• You’ll ride down from the hills.
• Spend your evening on a houseboat and enjoy the views of placid and serene backwaters.
After you have experienced quintessential Kerala on the serene backwaters through Vembanad, disembark from your cruise at Allepey, best known as “Venice of the East”. You’ll have a leisurely day for you to explore the canal-like pathways, perhaps even ride up to the Marari Beach or sit back and enjoy a massage and saadhya meal or relax by the gliding over placid backwaters.
Drive Distance: 0 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Resort/Homestay
• Indulge in some well-needed TLC with an Ayurvedic massage at the spa.
• Sit back or explore glassy lagoons and soak in the sights.
• Pick up the oars and paddle your way through the canals that connect the villages across the Keralan countryside
After you have enjoyed the backwaters, you’ll gear up to ride by the coastline from Alleppey to Fort Kochi. Expect stunning views of the beach to your left, witness the sandy pathways and get a glimpse of the Kerala way of life as you ride past picturesque villages-perhaps even play a round of cricket with the locals. Of course, scrumptious seafood on your platter will add to the thrill of your ride.
Drive distance: 60 kilometres
Accommodation type: Resort/Homestay
• Take the last ride along the coastline and breathe in the fresh country air.
• You will stop by at the local village churches or take a detour into the village and out on to the beach.
• Get ready to play a game of volleyball by the beach.
We explore the culture, heritage and the arts as we draw close to the end of our journey.
Perhaps, sip on some toddy as you walk past beaches, lined with cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, antique stores on Jew street and the spices at Mattancherry. You have the option to spend the day taking a cruise to Vypin Island, the largest fishing harbour in Fort Kochi, and return to spend an evening exploring vintage bars, charming art cafes and enjoy a Kallaripayattu and Kathakali performance, exclusively set up for you or indulge the ‘artist’ in you and sign up for a Kathakali makeup session.
Drive distance: 15-20 kilometres
Accommodation Type: Resort
• You will ride along the coastline and breathe in the fresh country air.
• You’ll get to walk through fishermen villages and quaint roads leading to art cafes.
• Catch a Kallaripayattu and Kathakali dance performance.
You will bid goodbye to new found friends and take home memories of the mesmerising and idyllic Kerala. The tastes of local cuisine, the local’s pride in their traditional roots and picture-perfect images of palm lined-beaches and surreal sunsets will stay with you long after this journey.
Our “God’s Own” Kerala Cycling Trail is a good blend of all things Kerala has to offer, giving you a unique experience of “Gods Own Country” on a cycle. Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or a regular city commuter, the trail has a good combination of challenging climbs, rolling hills, and whimsical countryside roads for you to ride leisurely.
You will be covering about 300 kilometres by cycle over 6 days, trailing through quaint countryside roads, villages, forest trails, and plantations soaking in the life of the locals in God’s Own Country. What’s more? Your tour leaders will introduce you to the cultural, historical, gastronomical, and natural essences of “Ente Keralam”.
Preparedness – Physical & Mental
This tour is graded medium intensity in terms of distance and gradient climbing; most of the rides will be done on 100% tarmac roads. We suggest that you familiarise yourself with mountain biking in your home country. This is to ensure you take away the unfamiliarity with mountain bikes that occur due to lack of practice and physical unpreparedness and you don’t hold up the other prepared participants. This tour will include a personal guide, mechanic, and a designated driver.
Your tour will be supported with a “support vehicle”, the cycles are 21-speed, aluminum 6061 alloy frame mountain bikes. You will also have a well-trained mechanic accompanying you, and a full repair kit with essential spares. We will also be carrying a back-up cycle along the expedition; just so that nobody misses out on the riding experience, should his or her bike have a serious breakdown.
Accommodation: Accommodation will be in quaint homestays and hotels with good hygienic bathrooms offered on a twin-sharing basis.
Transport: A team of 10-12 riders will be supported by a minivan and a pick-up truck for cycles along with a spare cycle, lunch packs, and water. Through the day this vehicle will trail with the riders.
2nd year in a row we had asked Unventured to make a week long ride for our group of 12 60-ish year old men. This time we did a 800 km roundtrip from Cochin covering “houseboat” – Varkala – Vagamon – Munnar – Valparai – Fort Kochi. The tour was a huge success and Unventured and Guru did a superb job in organising the tour and taking good care of us all along. It is a great way to experience India. Thanks a lot!