January 9-25, 2024
Mountain Bike Odyssey
Let the trail tell the story
World class mountain biking, loads of grin factor, fast flowing singletrack,
outrageously good food, and plenty of fun off-the-bike at our stunningly situated hotels and homestays.
Kajal India Tours partners with Mountain Bike Kerala to offer this amazing experience of mountain biking and exploring a unique corner of the world.
A truly off-the-beaten track journey through tea plantations, spice forests, the hills of the Western Ghats and into tropical jungle. Extraordinary birdlife, wild elephants, monkeys and much more as you discover the gem of "God's Own Country" Kerala, the south-western state of India.
Maximum Group Size: 8
Previous Mountain Biking experience expected
Option to bring your own bike or rent from Mountain Bike Kerala
Cost: $3595 CAD (add $335 with bike rental)
Day 1-2: Arrive to Kochi International Airport in the early hours, transfer by pre-arranged taxi to your gracious guest house Yogalife Homestay (www.yogalifehomestay.com). A couple of days to de-lag and get into the rhythm of India at the traditional Kerala home of yoga master Solaman Joseph. Optional dawn and dusk yoga on the rooftop with healthy meals lovingly prepared by Solaman's wife Priya. Serene morning walks into the countryside, discovering forest temples, rivers, perhaps finding evidence of wild elephants.
Day 3: Houseboat: Transfer to a kettuvellum houseboat for overnight cruise, lazily plying the backwaters, lounging on bolsters, watching life unfold on the banks, acclimatizing your body to the sultry tropical air of Kerala.
Day 4-5: Kumily: Transfer up the mountain to the cool environs of the twin towns of Kumily/Thekkady in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary area, staying at the welcoming Chrissie's Hotel & Cafe (www.chrissies.in), enjoy lounging poolside. Perhaps an ayurvedic massage and
a full day bamboo rafting/trek into the sanctuary on the lookout for wild elephants, nigiri bison and other wildlife.
Day 6: Pre-arranged pick up: Medimix-Transfer to mountains and Misty Mountain Resort hotel in Kuttikanam (www.mistyresort.com). Bike set up, afternoon ride, first taste of Kerala singletrack. Ride 15 km/2 hr.
Day 7: Kuttikanam: Appu Tea Shop-Knockout singletrack, stunning scenery and amazing viewpoints. 35 km/4 hr.
Day 8: Kuttikanam: Rubberdubdub-Field 7 and the waterfall trail, star amongst the singletrack, valley views from World's End, and a mammoth downhill through cardamom, rubber and pineapple plantations. 40 km/5 hr.
Day 9: Kuttianam: Tangalpara-Epic trail to Vagamon and beyond. Endless singletrack, cliff edge ride, test your rock riding skills on solid granite at the extraordinary setting of the tomb of Kolalahmedu. Massive descent to finish. 35 km/4 hr.
Day 10: Kumily: Lemon Soda-Ride through Ladram Secret Valley and follow the river down on sublime trails to the river Periyar and on to Kumily for overnight halt at Chrissie's Hotel & Cafe (www.chrissies.in). 30 km/4 hr.
Day 11: Kumily: Sabrimalla Super-Some of the best singletrack in Kerala is around Vandiperiyar, this day's riding takes in some of the best there is. Overnight Kumily. 30 km/3 hr.
Day 12: Munnar: Pongal-Transfer to Lockheart Gap and Munnar in time for afternoon ride amongst the highest tea estates in the world. 15 km/2 hr.
Day 13: Munnar: Elephant Pass-Climb, climb and again climb to reach Elephant Pass, then it's a magical trail back to Munnar. 35 km/4 hr.
Day 14: Munnar: Meesapullamalai-Ride up to the famed Tiger Moustache Mountain then it's an outrageous descent down to Silent Valley. 30 km/4 hr.
Day 15: Munnar: Top Station-(altitude 1880m) This jaw-dropping descent follows the old pioneer path first used in the 1870s by the British tea planters in search for new lands for cultivation. Technical downhill trail drops 1500 metres in height from Top Station. 30 km/4 hr.
Day 16: Munnar: Rumble in the Jungle Double Bypass-Cheeky tea trails and tropical forests. All the way to Marari Beach for a well deserved swim. Overnight Marari Sea Lap Beach Villas. www.mararisealapbeachvillas.com
Day 17: Fort Cochin (Kochi): Transfer to Kochi to stay at Orion Skywings Guest House in the heart of this diverse town. Visit Mattancherry (Dutch) Palace, the blue-tiled synagogue and antique market all in the spice district. Don't miss an evening performance of the strange and magical Kathakali Dance Theatre at the Cultural Centre before getting packed for the flight home tonight in the wee hours. Wave goodbye to the swaying palms of Kerala.
*Bring your own bike or rent dual-suspension mountain bike for the duration from Mountain Bike Kerala ($335 CAD)
-11 days mountain biking with guide and support vehicle
-All accommodation (double occupancy) from the night of Day Zero (Jan. 10, 2024) to the night of Day 16 (Jan. 26, 2024)
-3 meals at Yogalife Homestay; Breakfast/lunch on mountain bike days; breakfast in Kochi; 3 meals on houseboat
-Private ground transportation
-Pre-trip info session and preparation
-Assistance with flight booking and Indian visa application
-International flight to India return
-Travel health insurance
-Indian tourist visa
-Dinner on mountain bike days, lunch/dinner in Kochi
-Free time excursions, tips, souvenirs, personal items
Energy Requirements: Whether you're an expert rider or new enthusiast looking to build your skills, Mountain Bike Kerala matches the trails to keep you fit and increase your level as the trip progresses. You should keep well hydrated as the climate is hot and humid (day temps range from 26C-32C). Bringing electrolytes is essential. We build in a few days at the start of the trip to acclimatize.
Hotels: Our stays range from homestay B&B to moderate standard 3-4 star accommodation in peaceful, quiet areas. Rooms have western attached bathroom, showers, ceiling fans (some A/C) and two single beds. You share a double room with another participant of same gender unless travelling as a couple. Accommodation included starting night of Day Zero (Jan. 8) to night of Day 17 (Jan. 25). Arrival expected in the early morning of Jan. 9, 2024 and departure in early hours of Jan. 26, 2024.
Meals: 3 meals included at our arrival guest house. Breakfast/lunch included on mountain bike days (dinners not incl.) Breakfast included in Kochi. Those with special diet need, allergies or those with diet restrictions (except Keto Diet-very difficult to accommodate in India) can manage well with a little planning and communication with hotel hosts.
Transport: We have private vehicles for all our transport. Support van is included on mountain biking days. Airport transfers are included. For those extending their stay in India, airport departure transfer is not included. You can bring your own mountain bike or rent (extra) a dual-suspension from Mountain Bike Kerala.
Health: Travel health insurance for the duration of the trip is mandatory, ensure that mountain biking is either covered or not considered extreme sport on your policy. Pre-trip immunizations are optional. Covid-19 vaccinations not required to enter India.
Getting There and home: Cost of flight not included. There are many options through Asia, Europe or Middle East. Example: Emirates has Victoria-Seattle-Dubai-Kochi which avoids stopping in other Indian cities. Or Air Canada Vancouver-(maybe Toronto)-Delhi-Kochi. Singapore Airlines also flies directly into Kochi without stopping in another Indian city. If bringing your own bike, check the fine print on extra or large baggage. Some are free and some are expensive. Some airlines consider a bike case your second checked baggage. As well, Mountain Bike Kerala has a list of the tools and extra equipment you must bring. Bike rental for the duration is available from Mountain Bike Kerala. www.mountainbikekerala.com/kerala-singletrack. Kajal India Tours can help you decide on a flight when the time comes for booking. Please share flight information with Julie before booking to ensure dates/times are correct if booking on your own. Kajal India Tours can assist with designing travel before or after the planned itinerary or share ideas and suggestions for onward adventures.
Cancellations and Refunds: Greater than 60 days prior to departure-receive 100% of trip fee as refund (<Nov. 10, 2023)
Less than 60 days prior to departure-forfeit deposit (return of balance)(>Nov. 10, 2023)
On or after departure-forfeit entire trip cost paid (January 7, 2024)
Kajal India Tours/Mountain Bike Kerala reserves the right to cancel a trip at our discretion and monies received by us will be fully refunded.
Passport/Visa Requirements: Canadian citizens require a valid passport for travel to India. Ensure the expiry date is more than six months from date of departure. Visitors cannot enter India without a current tourist visa, obtained online prior to travel. Detailed instructions are given closer to application time frame.
Travel Health Insurance: It is mandatory for participants to have travel health insurance prior to departure. Ensure your policy either covers mountain biking or purchase extra coverage for extreme sports. No vaccinations are required to enter India (including Covid-19).
Baggage/Trip Cancellation Insurance: is an optional insurance purchased within 48 hours of flight booking. Alternatively consider purchasing flights with a credit card that includes trip cancellation insurance.
Currency: Indian currency is the rupee with the exchange rate approximately Rs 60 to CAD. We suggest changing some cash at the airport Currency Exchange kiosk in arrivals hall on arrival ($200). ATMS are available but don't always work. Ensure your PIN is 4 digits. Hotels and guest houses also offer currency exchange at a good rate. Another option is to obtain rupees from a bank before departure. Maximum RS to bring into Indian is 25,000 (about $400 CAD). Credit cards are handy to have for emergencies.
Safeguarding Valuables: Transport valuable documents and currency in a light cotton waist-style money belt under the clothes. It can be locked in luggage in guest house rooms. Safes are not available. Make a copy of all important documents and keep in separate place from money belt, such as daypack or purse.
Staying Healthy: Bring all current medications in original bottles plus extra prescriptions for important ones you cannot do without. If you carry a syringe (for diabetes or allergies) have a letter from your doctor to avoid problems at customs. Ensure you are healthy before your trip, that your teeth are in good repair and you have an extra pair of glasses if you wear them. A small medical kit is essential and can be shared between roommates (see the What to Bring section).
Immunizations: At this time, no vaccines are mandatory to enter India and stay at our accommodations. If you choose to consult a travel clinic, make an appointment 6 weeks prior to travel.
Other Health Concerns:
Insect Bites: There are mosquitoes, although they are not prevalent enough to require bed needs. However, prevention is always a good thing. Dawn and dusk are the active times. Consider a bug repellent spray for ankles around dusk, or rubber insect repellent wrist bands (child-safe ones are non-toxic) that can be worn or placed beside beds. Carry treatments for bites and infections, resist the urge to scratch insect bites to avoid infection.
Dehli Belly: Simple traveller's diarrhea is a common complaint among travellers worldwide. Any upset in routine, food choices and bowel habits can cause a bout as well as extra spicy food. Keeping hands clean, choosing freshly cooked food, eat yogurt (curd), and probiotics are all recommended practices. Number one preventative is frequent hand washing and avoid drinking local tap water, including ice cubes. Bottled water is widely available and filtered water is available at our accommodations. We enjoy delicious home-cooked food at our arrival guest house and cleanly prepared meals at our hotels. Keep well hydrated.
Climate: October-March is the less humid season up in the hills of the Western Ghats. Days hover around 26 degrees C and the nights can plummet to 22 degrees C! With the global weather changing, it could be around 32C during the days. In the tropical lowlands, it will likely be around 30-32C. You'll feel very comfortable in short sleeves and light pants.
Respectful Travel: Modest behaviour and dress for women in the norm in India. As we are guests in a relatively conservative country, our dress signals a respect for local culture. For women this means wearing tops that reach the hips such as an Indian tunic over pants or a skirt. Men have less restrictions, most local men wear trousers and dress shirts. For biking attire, women will get less unwanted attention with baggy mountain-bike shorts (as opposed to road bike tights) and bike jerseys with long or short sleeves.
What to Bring
suitcase/backpack-consider the airline weight restrictions
money belt-cotton, light, waist-style
change purse-for the day's need of money
daypack/bag-small one for daily trips
earplugs-indispensable! India can be loud
eye shades-for plane ride
water bottle-bring empty and fill up in departure lounge. Avoids using many plastic bottles.
4 undies-quick dry, we will be able to do daily hand washing.
2 bras-your most comfy
1 pair socks
1 pair sandals/walking shoes-ensure you can walk in them for 4 hrs per day without pain.
1 pair flip flops for short trips and around town
1 sun hat
2 pairs pants-loose comfortable, capris are acceptable.
3 long shirts-short or long sleeves, hip length or longer tunic style
1 sweater/hoodie/fleece for plane
tank and tights for yoga
1 pair compression socks for DVT prevention on the flight
toothbrush/paste/floss-manual brush as sometimes no outlet for electric toothbrushes
travel size travel wipes/moist towelettes-individually wrapped (Wet Ones)
shampoo/conditioner-2 in 1 are great, small containers
moisturizer-for the plane
feminine hygiene products
Medical Kit Consider splitting the kit with your roommate.
Gravol or Gravol ginger-if you get motion sick in vehicles
eyeglasses/sunglasses-bring an extra pair of prescription specs and a hard case
contact lens gear-if you wear them, bring all the solutions
moleskin/molefoam/bandaids-for blisters or rough spots on feet
alcohol prep pads, tensor, dressings, polysporin in case of biking spill
sunscreen-SPF 35 or more
masks-cloth or medical style for plane if you wear
chamois buttr or similar anti-chafing product
Emergen-C or similar vitamin powder-to keep strong immunity
Electrolyte powder-for your water bottle
Energy bars-for that mid-ride boost
phone/camera-bring charger, adapter for plugs
flashlight or headlamp-small one
journal-write down your thoughts
12 foot length of string or laundry line/pegs
helmet (MBK also has)
Hydration pack such as Platypus or Camelbak
2 pairs mountain bike shorts
chamois liners if not in shorts
1 pair light socks
3-4 riding jerseys-bring separate arm sleeves if shirts are short-sleeved. The sun is HOT!
buff to protect neck from sun
Check out mountainbikekerala.com/kerala-singletrack for advice on what equipment to bring if bringing own bike.