Exploring the singletrack trails of Kerala, South India
The South Indian region of Kerala is host to some of the world’s finest singletrack, and this tour features endless fast flowing trails, challenging technical sections, epic descents and challenging climbs. Through lush greenery, evergreen paddy fields and tea plantations, this MTB experience blends unforgettable sights, sounds and cultural experiences.
Kerala is an area home to its own nature, culture and distinct social structure. The area has much to offer intrepid trail bikers- a mix of really good singletrack, amazing Indian food, incredible nature, beach life, Indian culture and a rich history all combine to make this trip something beyond the ordinary. Kerala lies between the Indian Ocean to the west and the Eastern Ghats with altitudes ranging between 500m and 2700m and makes a perfect winter getaway.
We have created a unique programme that will take you to the best routes and allows you to ride many of the hidden treasures cycle that area hides. The 15 day programme has options built in for shorter trips, for those on tighter time budgets who don’t need the rest and sightseeing days. We love having a few extra days to kick back and take it all in- there’s so much to see here. Kerala is the perfect mountain destination during our winter months, and a perfect escape from the grey, cold Nothern European winter!
In the words of MTB Kerala founder and Pathfinder guide Mike McLean: “we ride our trips because we love the riding. Our Kerala MTB tours are designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers so it is genuine off road riding. The trails are technical in parts so experienced mountain bikers familiar with red and black trails will have loads to get their teeth into. However if you are a recent convert to mountain biking, like a challenge and want to work on your skills we can build up your riding ability as the tour progresses”
Mike is a UK vet rider with 2nd place finishes in MTBHimalaya to his credit. Having pioneered trails all over India and the Himalaya for almost two decades now, he knows every trail worth and not worth riding in the subcontinent. When not riding he writes for MTB publications and occasional pieces for the Sunday Observer in the UK.
The trip day for day
Day 1. Flight to Cochin, Kerala
The tour begins in Cochin. Please ask us about flight options and best arrival times. Once there, we take a private transfer us to the mountains and our hotel in Kuttikanam. We install ourselves, unpack and assemble our bikes and get ready for a first taste of what Kerala has to offer- in terms of singletrack.
Day 2. Kuttikanam
Today we explore the Kuttikanam area and discover incredible scenery and views combined with really good singletrack biking. After a good first day in the saddle our first taste of true Indian food is most welcome, accompanied by an ice cold beer. After exchanging tales about the day’s events we check out for the day and get ready for tomorrow’s trail fest.
Day 3. Kuttikanam
After a leisurely breakfast, we set off in a different direction to the famous Worlds End on endless single tracks. From the is an incredible downhill through cardamom, rubber and pineapple plantations that’s hard to beat! The evening's menu? Food is a real highlight of this trip and you will be amazed at the variety of tastes on offer here.
Day 4. Kuttikanam
The area around Kuttikanam offers so much, and today we head crosscountry to Vagamon, over narrow, winding paths along the mountain sides. We ride on slick granite rock in the area around Kolal Hala Med's grave, amongst incredibly cool surroundings. This awesome ride is topped off with a massive downhill of 1000m altitude fall. What a day!
Day 5. Vandiperiyar
After saying goodbye to the hotel we cycle down through what is known as Ladrams secret valley and follow the river Periyar’s incredibly scenic landscape downhill. From here we head towards today's goal: Vandiperiyar. Our support vechile has already delivered our luggage to the new hotel, and after a shower and a bite to eat we digest the day's impressions over another refeshing cold drink.
Day 6. Vandiperiyar
Today we tackle the Vandiperiyar loop and enjoy some of the most beautiful tea plantations of all Kerala. The singletracks are top class, and riding through the tea plantations an experience difficult to describe. After finishing the ride we transfer to Periyar, where we overnight in Kumily village.
Day 7. Periyar
Ready for somewhat of a rest and calmer days ahead, we can take a boat trip on the river to see if we can track any tiger on strandbankarna. Ask about this option! Alternatively we can have a rest day, and in the afternoon transfer to Munnar. We arrive just in time for a sundowner in the world’s highest tea plantations. It feels pretty good to be able to take a break with a day on the river and a little quieter afternoon. Dinner, bed, sleep. Over and out.
Day 8. Vandiperiyar
We wake up at our hotel, and after a great breakfast receive a briefing on the day's tour. We get ready, fill up with water and a few power bars we set off on a tour that goes under the exotic name: Elephant Pass ride. This tour gives us a lot of what the area has to offer in the form of singletrack- an unforgettable combination of singletrack, cultural landscapes, people and the perfect climate makes the trip so special.
Day 9. Munnar
Day off in Munnar Time for a rest day in Munnar. It's free to just hang out, sleep in and rest your legs. If you think that’s boring we have a backup plan for you- Kolukumailai Descent. Please ask about this!
Day 10. Munnar
Munnar: The downhill. After our rest day we are fully ready for one of the trip highlights, and one of the world's best downhill rides (it really is that good!). You follow the old trails that were first used by the British colonialists in the 1870s. The bare knuckle descent drops more than 2000m of altitude from top to bottom. Energised and exhilerated we arrive in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, ready for the next stage of the journey. Awesome day!
Day 11. Munnar
After breakfast we're ready for biking in the jungle, and spend a full day following wonderful trails through tropical forests,rich with wildlife and incredible greenery- a real life Jungle Book! At the end of the ride we meet our support vehicles and transfer to Allepey. We arrive and check into our hotel and over dinner and beer exchange stories of yet another knock out day.
Day 12. Short program return home.
Should you opt for the shorter 12 day programme this will be your last day, and you will return to Cochin for your flight home. If you choose the longer variant, see below- your tour is not over yet!
Day 12. Allepey- Long program continues
Today, we explore the canals and old trading houses of East Vendeig and later head to Marawi beach for a morning swim in the Indian Ocean. After lunch we take a boat trip on the canals and then spend some wonderful time on one of the traditional houseboats which are peculiar to Kerala. This night we stay overnight also on a houseboat- certainly one of the trip highlights.
Day 13. Allepey - Cochin
Today we have more time to explore the incredible Allepey in the morning and after lunch take a short transfer to Cochin. Here we have the whole afternoon to explore Cochin and discover an incredible variety of historic buildings, old spice souks, restaurants and bars. We spend the night out in Fort Cochin. This part of India breathes history and is an absolutely incredible place, worth a trip just in itself.
Day 14. Cochin - Onward travel
Time to go home, come too soon as always. Maybe you like to continue your Indian experience overland? Or head back home. Either way, the memories of this diverse, unique and captivating bike tour will stay with you forever.