South India Coast To Coast
Our South India coast to coast cycle tour takes in the tropical South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. We pedal on idyllic back country roads, stopping overnight at places of special historical and scenic interest giving enough time to take in the temples, tea plantations, backwaters, historic cities and the best of the sights that make Mountain Bike Kerala’s Coast to Coast cycle ride so unique
“Just to say thank you so much for a fabulous trip, lived certainly up to expectations… organisation, logistics, route and above all fun….a good challenge but with the correct element of a ‘holiday’
James Allan, U.K November 2017
Take on India’s ultimate cycling challenge
Take in the best of south India’s boutique Hotels, resorts and homestays
1000km off stunning back road cycling
Sublime South Indian food, get ready for a marvellous Masala Dosa
Group Size 4-12
15 Day/14 Night Fully Supported
Flights Into Chennai/Departures Kochi
1000KM/13 Days Riding
Tour Bolt-Ons Available
SOUTH INDIA COAST TO COAST: CHENNAI-KOCHI
Many people have asked us over the years if we could organize a cycle tour in India for those not from an off-road mountain biking background. The tour would have to be a challenge, take in the best of the sights and the scenery and allow time to soak up India’s delights.
For us at Mountain Bike Kerala one route sprung to mind that would provide all that and more; a cycle tour from the Bay of Bengal over the mighty mountains of the Western Ghats to the palm fringed beaches of the Arabian Sea. South India Coast to Coast.
Your cycle ride takes in the tropical South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala pedalling on idyllic back country roads, taking time to explore places of special historical and scenic interest on route with the region having a wealth of temples, tea plantations, backwaters, historic cities and some hidden gems on route that only we know.
We start in Mahabilapuram with its wealth of history and UNESCO listed stone carved monuments that provide a fascinating and stunning starting point for the challenge ahead. From here its cruisy riding to French colonial Pondicherry that feels a world apart from the rest of south India. We move inland to Chidambaram with its paddy and palm fringed temple complex which is home to one of the most extraordinary sunset ceremonies in India. Landscapes change as we make our way into the Tamil heartlands and the ancient cultures and monuments of Tamilian heritage and the other-worldly temples of Thanjavur and Madurai. From here we move into the rock strewn landscape of Thenni district with the mighty mountains of the Western Ghats making up the next few days riding as we ride into Kerala and the lush green landscapes of Munnar and Kuttikanam with a rest day to give us time to take it all in. From Kuttikanam we roll down through the spice mountains to the coast and the tropical paradise beach of Marwari which is our ride journeys end. Now its time to relax on the houseboat and explore historical Fort Cochin and take in its unique atmosphere.
Day 1: Arrive Chennai. Transfer to Mahabalipuram and the poolside restaurant at our hotel. Unwind, relax then join us on a short walk around Mahabalipuram’s world famous rock carved temples.
Day 2: Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry. 110km. The cycle touring kicks of with a flat ride along the stunning scenic coastal road to the former French colonial colony of Pondicherry visiting new age Auroville on route. Join the locals on the promenade for an evening stroll before a fantastic evening meal.
Day 3: Pondicherry-Chidambaram. 82km. More cruisy coastal riding as we continue our journey south to the temple town of Chidambaram. Endless palm fringed paddy fields will provide the backdrop. Take a step back through the ages as we visit the temple complex at sunset and join the pilgrims in an unforgettable ancient ritual.
Day 4: Chidambaram-Swamilmalai: 83km: We leave the coast and head inland onto the vast lush Tamil plains. Stunning rural scenery reveals a Tamil heartland almost unchanged over centuries taking us to Swamlimalai and an overnight stay in our award-winning heritage hotel.
Day 5: Swamimalai-Thanjavur. 47km: A relaxing morning then it’s a short ride to Thanjavur as we head further inland. Bullock carts and cycles are more common than any other vehicles as we ride to another South Indian gem; Thanjavur, and the World Heritage listed Brihadeshwara Temple.
Day 6: Thanjavur-Kannadukathan: 101km: A simply super day on the bike as we ride deeper in
to the heart of Tamil Nadu and the famous Chettinadu region abound with mansions and palaces, testimony to the success of the Chettiyars in years gone by. Sample the famed Chettanadu food and explore the now near deserted villages.
Day 7: Kannadukathan-Madurai: 105km: The lush landscape becomes more arid with rocks and ridges becoming a common sight. Idyllic rural riding brings us to perhaps the most famous of all of Tamil Nadu’s towns, Madurai and the unforgettable riot of colour that are the gopurams of Sri Meenakshi temple. Evening guided stroll round the temple complex.
Day 8: Madurai-Thenni. 89km. Landscapes change, the first signs of an undulating road and the mighty mountains of the Western Ghats beckon on this delight of a ride as we make our way to rural backwater district headquarter capital of Thenni. Scenery simply outrageous.
Day 9: Thenni-Munnar. 85km. Its time to climb. A gentle warm up for 20km then climbing legs start to whirr as we embark upon the near 1500 meter ascent to Bhodimet and the Keralan border. Switch back after switch back give us the elevation to look back over the vast Tamil plain and see what we have ridden. Truly mesmerizing views. As we head into Kerala we ride through tropical jungles and tea estates on what must be one of the most stunning roads anywhere in the world.
Day 10: Munnar-Kumily 105km. We ride the forest road through cardamom and pepper plantations and ancient rain forests on an undulating road to our jungle retreat at Kumily near the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Day 11: Kumily-Kuttikanam 50km. Option of an early morning visit to Periyar Tiger Reserve with a chance to spot elephants and deer. Mid morning hilly ride through Tea-Estates and magical scenery onto our resort at Kuttikanam, set amongst rolling hills.
Day 12: Kuttikanam-Thaneermukkom. 110km. A beautiful day in the saddle as we traverse through the cardamom hills before descending through rubber and pepper plantations to the Kerala lowlands and on to the stunning backwaters.
Day 13: Thaneermukam-Marwari Beach. 25km. A delightful short ride to one of Kerala’s hidden secrets; the near deserted tropical paradise beach of Marwari. Dive into the soothingly warm sea for a well deserved bathe. Overnight on Marwari beach or take in the option of a luxury houseboat and overnight cruise on Vembanad Lake.
Day 14: Marwari Beach- Fort Cochin 45km Breakfast on the beach or boat then it’s a short transfer or even better a superlative 45km gentle ride into historical Fort Cochin. Join us on an evening guided walk through the wealth of historical buildings and spice bazaars or take the chance to embark upon a bit of shopping.
Day 15: Transfer to Cochin airport and your flight home.
2019/20 South India Coast To Coast (Chennai/Kochi) 14 Nights
2019 September 08th £1295/£1495* Limited Places
2019 November 17th £1345/£1545*Available
2020 January 12th £1345/£1545* Available
2020 February 9th £1345/£1545*Available
2020 September 6th £1345/£1545*Available
2020 November.15th £1345/£1545*Available
Itinerary is subject to change as we discover even more gems to explore. We also adapt the route to give us more downtime or to make it more challenging depending on who is on the trip. Contact us now for details of the latest itinerary for your date.
Are you are a party of 2 or more and are interested in dates outside those above? Looking for a tailor-made tour or options on or increasingly popular self-guided tours? Then please contact us.
We look forward to welcoming you soon on our South India Coast To Coast cycle tour. Riding from the Bay of Bengal over the mighty mountains of the Western Ghats to the palm fringed beaches of the Arabian Sea. The tour takes in the tropical South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. We pedal on idyllic back country roads and overnight in outstanding hand-picked accommodation.
South India Coast To Coast Info
WHO SHOULD COME?
The tour is suited to enthusiastic cycle tourists with a keen sense of adventure and ready for a challenge. Riders should be of a good cycling fitness. Some stages; especially in the mountains are quite challenging with big climbs and some long days in the saddle. Stage distances vary day to day with the maximum being just over 100km.
Tours start in Chennai and finish in Cochin so an open jaw ticket would work best. Both Chennai and Cochin are well served by international carriers with Emirates amongst others offering well priced deals. Check airlines for luggage allowance and what their policy is regarding cycles.
You can apply for an E-Visa with a 60 day stay-limit
If you are visiting India for a longer duration then a 6 month tourist visa could be worth considering but they are more expensive.
In the UK the link is below.
Get in touch with your GP well in advance of your departure for latest information on vaccinations and any other medical considerations.
For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries
Get insured. It is a condition of our trips that you are adequately insured. Policies must cover mountain biking and the potential risks of a mountain bike holiday. If your usual insurance doesn’t cover mountain biking then consider specialist coverage such as
We need a copy of your insurance ready for us on arrival or send us on a copy via e-mail prior to the trip.
All our accommodation has been hand-picked to be just about the best there is. Boutique hideaways, plantation stays, converted palaces and luxury hotels all feature in our tour. All rooms are based on twin or double occupancy. Single rooms are available on request. If you are a single person and have not requested an “own room” option we will endeavour to match you up with a compatible room-mate for the duration of the trip.
Our tours are schedules when the south India climate is at its best with daily sunshine almost guaranteed. Temperatures will be up to 30c during the day while nights maintain a balmy air. Temperatures drop considerably in the mountains where evenings and nights can be cool.
South Indian food is a highlight of any trip and simply does not get any better than the hidden eateries that we have discovered over our last 20 years of India riding experience. If you fancy a break from Indian food then there is a wide choice of western food to keep your taste buds happy.
We have full vehicle support for the duration of the tour. Riders who are tired or just wish for a quick break from the cycling will be able to take time out in the support vehicle.
The roads are in good condition by Indian standards with the majority of the roads being recently metalled and smooth. We would recommend you bring a hard tail mountain bike or touring bike with fast rolling tyres or you can rent one of our fleet of Scott Hardtail bikes.
RENTING A BIKE
Please bring your own pedals and consider bringing your own seat if you have a saddle that you are comfortable with. Bikes are available in S/M/L/XL and are priced at £140 for the tour duration. Please contact us for availability.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE/BIKE KIT
As ever make sure your bikes are in tip-top condition before bringing them out. If you are unsure a part will survive the trip then replace or get it serviced by a bike shop. Performance bike parts are hard to obtain in India but we do have small stocks of spare parts.
Let us know before you come about what bike you are bringing out and if there is anything specific to your bike that we might not have spares for.
Spare Mech Hanger
Spare sets of brake pads
Spare spokes specific to your wheels
If you have any doubt on what you need to bring out with you as spares then just let us know.
Best to ride in touring attire so ride shorts are best. Exposed lycra cycling britches without over- shorts can bring attention.
We would also recommend bringing both long sleeve and short sleeve tops, temps can vary day by day but rarely cold or cool.
We would also recommend shoes that you can also walk on so non-exposed cleats and non- aggressive tread patterns works best; so comfortable for photo stops, the odd walk out to view points and tackling the odd tricky sections if you don’t fancy riding them.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
•All scheduled transfers
•Tour leader, guide costs.
•All scheduled entry fees
•Personal travel insurance
•Evening meals, snacks, soft drinks etc
NON RIDE KIT TO BRING ALONG
Head torch in case of power cuts
A set of warm clothes for nights spent in mountains
Mix of long sleeve and short sleeve riding tops in case of sunburn
Universal electric plug
High factor sun-cream
ATM’s are available in all our destinations. Visa is the most widely accepted. Food items, snacks, gift items are all well priced so expect to pay £5 for an evening meal or just over £2 for an alcoholic drink.
Airport exchange rates are usually very poor so if you are exchanging money here then just change small amounts. There are money changing facilities at our 1st night destination in Mahabbalapuram.
India’s Timezone: (GMT +05:30)
India’s Electricity: 230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz. 2 pin type.
There are recharging facilities at all the hotels, the electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time.
LOCAL EXPENSES, KITTY AND TIPS
We use a kitty system to be collected at the start of the trip of 2000Rs per person for hotel, restaurant tips, evening meals, energy snacks, and other non included expense etc We will keep a log so anyone feels the need to see were it’s going then please feel free to ask.
Our Mountain Bike Kerala team do not expect tips but our riding guides, drivers and local staff would greatly appreciate them if the service is excellent. For a rough guide then consider from £50 to cover riding guides and back up team and £1-£2 per day for hotels staff etc if the service, food has been great.
We have a great range of MTB clothing available including long sleeve and short sleeve tops, t-shirts, buffs, shorts and socks available for sale.
All our great looking ride gear is designed and made by our in-house Greenfrogindia team and is available both on tour and from our online shop so you can buy anytime before or after the trip. Look out for these and our great range of cycle-recycle products including sleek looking wallets, purses and ride-pouches made from reclaimed innertubes.