Cycle India North & South    *alt*

30 days, from £2682
Intrepid Travel
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The enchanting northern province of Rajasthan is awash with all the colours of India. On our cycling adventure we see all sides of this fascinating state. Cycling means that everything is slower and up close in India. Interact with the wonderful local population of small towns, drink chai under a roadside tree with friendly locals. From the opulence and splendour of Maharajahs' palaces to Holy Lakes and the beauty of the Taj Mahal this cycling adventure has it all. Beyond the crowded sights of northern India lies another world, one where the rhythms of daily life are that bit slower and the surroundings that bit greener - a place that lends itself to leisurely exploration by bike. Take a two-week cycling adventure up the west coast of India, on roads that are sandwiched between the lush forests of the Western Ghats and the golden sands of the Arabian Sea. Ride through incredible countryside with the chance to swap bike for boat and enjoy a river cruise. Explore towns where Portuguese and French influences sit alongside Hindu and Muslim monuments. In this spiritual place, the bike is a place of active meditation, a place to let the brain relax and refresh while roads are navigated and gorgeous surroundings are absorbed. The rewards of hot days in the saddle lie in beautiful beaches, the welcoming waters of the Arabian Sea and the taste of fresh coconut.

* Take the road less travelled as you cycle through the rural villages and majestic countryside of Rajasthan
* Discover the rich history and architecture of Amber Fort, just outside of Jaipur, with the expertise of a local guide
* Search for wildlife in the jungle of Ranthambhore National Park, the best place to see wild tigers in Rajasthan
* Relive the legacy of the Rajput warriors by spending a night in a 400-year-old fort, which is now a family-run hotel surrounded by mango orchards
* Marvel at the Taj Mahal, one of the most recognisable buildings in the world with the power to surprise even the most jaded traveller
* Cycle to the idyllic backwaters of Kerala, where children often learn to row boats before they ride a bike. Experience a unique way of life on the water by spending time on a Keralan houseboat
* Encounter life along the west coast of India with a ride through four different states: Kerala, an enclave of Pondicherry, Karnataka and Goa
* Explore Kochi, a fascinating blend of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences, and witness the peak of local culture in an incredible Kathakali dance performance


 Day 1 Delhi

Namaste and welcome to India. Please attend a welcome group meeting today at 6 pm to meet your fellow travellers and trip leader. You'll also meet your cycling crew and get fitted out for your bike. Please see the important notes section of you trip notes for more information. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive into Delhi early, there are plenty of things to see and do. Perhaps pay a visit to the World Heritage-listed Humayun's Tomb or the 12th-century Qutub Minar. As the former residence of royal families and British soldiers, the Red Fort plays a vital part in Delhi's history and is a must-see. Otherwise book an Urban Adventure to see Delhi through the eyes of a local. Riding distance: None

 Day 2 Jaipur

The day begins with an early morning warm-up ride (approximately 25 km). For the rest of the day, tour the sights of Delhi in a private vehicle. Explore Old Delhi, which has been an important city in India for well over 2,000 years. Visit the Jama Masjid (Delhi's oldest and India's largest mosque), the Sikh temple of Sheeshganj Gurudwara and India Gate, the latter commemorating soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Indian Army in World War I. In the late afternoon, take a five-hour train journey to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Bikes will be transported separately by vehicle to Jaipur. Cycling distance: approx. 17kms/11 miles, mostly flat with approx. 125m/410ft of elevation gain.

 Day 3 Jaipur

This morning explore the 'Pink City' of Jaipur by private vehicle and on foot. Visit the Amber Fort. Set atop a hill overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Entering the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is a particularly memorable experience. You'll also have the option to visit Jaipur's Royal City Palace and/or one of the five astronomical observatories built by the founder, Jaipur Maharaja Jai Singh. At the end of the day you might like to sit back in the iconic Raj Mandir Cinema and enjoy a Bollywood blockbuster. Riding distance: None

 Day 4 Pushkar

Depart Jaipur after breakfast and enjoy a ride to the sacred city of Pushkar. On the way pass several forts and make brief stops to take pictures. Upon reaching Pushkar in the evening, take a guided walk around the town. Pass the holy Pushkar Lake, where pilgrims come to cleanse themselves of sins and disease by bathing along the lake's 52 ghats. As the most important temple of its kind, head to Brahma Mandir - one of India's few temples dedicated to the Hindu creator-god Brahma. The main street of the town is a bustling tourist market and well worth a visit if you want to stock up on souvenirs. Cycling distance: approx. 100kms/62 miles, mostly flat for the first 48kms/30 miles, then undulating, with approx. 465m/1525ft of elevation gain.

 Day 5 Udaipur

Spend the day cycling to the 'White City' of Udaipur. Known as the 'Venice of the East', Udaipur is often regarded as the most romantic city in India. Set amid the Aravalli Hills, the city curls around Lake Pichola, the two palaces of Jag Mandir and Jag Nivas rising out of the water in their own reflections. Cycling distance: approx. 68kms/42 miles, undulating for the first 17kms/10 miles, then flat, with approx. 490m/1610ft of elevation gain.

 Day 6 Udaipur

Spend the day touring the sights of Udaipur with the group. Wind through narrow streets to the City Palace complex on the banks of Lake Pichola, which is the largest palace in Rajasthan. Pop into the impressive Jagdish Temple, dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. If time allows, perhaps visit the rose gardens of the Gulab Bagh, take a boat trip across Lake Pichola or participate in a Sitar lesson. Cycling distance: approx. 14kms/9 miles, flat with approx. 90m/295ft of elevation gain.

 Day 7 Paangarh

We start our day with a 50km ride through the Chittorgarh countryside before boarding our support vehicle and driving towards Chittaurgarh itself (55kms, 1.5hrs) then climb back onto our bikes and cycle 22kms through the hills towards Bijaipur. From here we avoid riding on a main highway and transport south to Pangarh Lake, spending the night sleeping in a comfortable permanent tent camp. On arrival, unwind with a cup of chai while watching the sunset over the lake and serene Vindhya Range. Enjoy a view out to the 15th-century Pangarh Fort, perched atop a hill to the north side of the lake. Ride 1 - Cycling distance: approx. 53kms/33 miles, lightly downhill/flat with approx. 390m/1280ft of elevation gain. Ride 2 - Cycling distance: approx. 22 kms/14 miles, uphill for the first 15kms, then downhill, with approx. 210m/690ft of elevation gain.

 Day 8 Bijaipur

This morning, leave the campsite and cycle through farmland to the village of Bijaipur. On the way witness local rural life in action and, depending on the season, opium poppy fields in harvest. In Bijaipur stay in the 16th-century Castle Bijaipur, which is now a heritage hotel within the original fortified walls. Enjoy the palace's blend of colonial and Mughal architecture as you relax by the pool or in the gardens, pampered by the Mewar hospitality of the hotel's owners. Cycling distance: approx. 17 kms/11 miles, undulating with approx. 150 m/490ft of elevation gain.

 Day 9 Bundi

After breakfast, cycle on to charming Bundi. On arrival, explore the town on an orientation tour. Wander narrow streets packed with blue Brahmin houses, bazaars, temples and shops, and mingle with locals in the downtown market. Visit Bundi's ancient and ornately carved baoris (step wells), which once provided water to the city. Imposing itself over the town is the 17th-century Bundi Palace, where you can check out some exquisite murals. Cycling distance: approx. 70 kms/43 miles, undulating/hilly with approx. 720m/2360ft of elevation gain.

 Day 10 Ranthambhore National Park

Today, ride to Ranthambhore National Park. Once a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur, today it's a major wildlife park and the best place in Rajasthan to see tigers in the wild. The group will reach Ranthambore by late afternoon, so you'll have plenty of time to rest up for an early start the next day. Cycling distance: approx. 70 kms/43 miles, undulating with approx. 540m/1770ft of elevation gain.

 Day 11 Ranthambhore National Park

Embark on a 4WD safari before dawn in search of leopards, wild boar, hyenas, nilgai, birds and of course, tigers. Deep in the jungle of the park is Ranthambhore Fort. Founded in 944 AD, few buildings have survived the ravages of war and time, but the ruins of Badal Mahal and Hammirs Court pavilions hint at its previous grandeur. In the late afternoon, explore a different sector of the park via 4WD to increase the chance of tiger sightings. Notes: Ranthambhore National Park is closed between 1 July and 30 September each year. On the trips affected, we'll visit nearby Mansingh Sanctuary instead. In 2015 Intrepid returned to Ranthambhore National Park after suspending our visits in 2014 due to vehicle safety concerns. The majority of vehicles have now been assessed and upgraded. As the safety of our travellers is our highest priority, your group leader has the authority to reschedule or cancel the safari tour if they believe the vehicles available do not meet our safety standards. Cycling distance: none

 Day 12 Madhogarh

Today is the final day of cycling. Depart Ranthambhore and reach your destination of Madhogarh by late afternoon. After saying goodbye to the cycling crew, explore the small village with your group. Enjoy famous Rajput hospitality when you spend the night in the 400-year-old Fort Madhogarh, built by Madho Singh Ji and once the battlefield of the Kachwaha Rajputs. In 2000, the fort was converted into a family-run hotel in order to finance its upkeep. Cycling distance: approx. 31 kms/19 miles, flat/lightly undulating with approx. 320m/1050ft of elevation gain.

 Day 13 Agra

Today, travel by bus to Agra. Agra is a city of temples, gardens and palaces and is rich in Mughal heritage. Visit the Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz. As described by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, this 'teardrop on the face of eternity' never fails to amaze. If you like, continue on to Akbar's Mausoleum. Cycling distance: none

 Day 14 New Delhi

In the morning, tour the spectacular Red Fort. Founded by Emperor Akbar in the 16th century, its sandstone walls once enclosed the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. Wander around the fort's palaces, mosques and halls before the afternoon drive back to Delhi. Cycling distance: none

 Day 15 Trivandrum

Please note the flight and transfers from New Delhi to Trivandrum are not included in the cost of the trip and must be purchased separately. You will need to purchase your own flight from New Delhi. You can arrange a flight to arrive at any time as your next group meeting in Trivandrum isn't until 6pm on the following day. Today is a free day in Trivandrum with ample time to wander around Kerala's capital and admire its British colonial architecture, visit an art gallery, or stroll through the intricate Puthenmalika Palace, which was previously closed to the public for 150 years. Cycling distance: none Please see the Accommodation section of the Essential Trip Information for the hotel name and address in Trivandrum.

 Day 16 Trivandrum

Welcome to Trivandrum, locally known as Thiruvananthapuram. Your Indian adventure continues with an important group meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. Today is another free day in Trivandrum. If you are keen to continue your exploration why not start your day with a coffee at the historic Indian Coffee House, check out the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, the oldest in India, visit the sublime Padmanabhaswamy Temple or gain an insight into the cultural history of Kerala at the Napier Museum. In the evening, maybe head out for dinner with your fellow travellers. Cycling distance: none

 Day 17 Varkala

Say 'hello' to your bike support team this morning, then get suited up and fitted to a bike before starting your first ride in South India. Leaving from Trivandrum, head straight towards the beach on the flat road that takes you all the way up to the Varkala. The scenery is memorable, with Kerala on your right and nothing but long stretches of sand, palm trees and the Arabian Sea on your left (approximately 45 kilometres). Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast and is home to some of the whitest and most pristine beaches in the whole country. Even though this is a popular destination for Indian tourists, the beaches are quiet and laid-back. The town itself, a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels, will be explored on an orientation walk. If you want to get active, there are plenty of water sports on offer. If you have time, perhaps take the bike and cycle through fishing villages to Varkala Lighthouse. Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here. Cycling distance: approx. 45 kms / 28 miles

 Day 18 Kerala Houseboat

By support vehicle (approximately 60 kilometres) and bike (approximately 40-50 kilometres), ride to the backwaters of Kerala this morning and discover sleepy Alleppey. Once a significant trading port, the town is now famed for the long 'snake boats' races that take place in August every year. Here you will board a typical Keralan houseboat (Kettuvallam) to cruise through the complex system of beautiful lagoons and canals. These floating cottages have western toilets, private bedrooms, a dining area and sundeck for you to relax on. The backwaters are best explored by boat as life revolves around the water here ' children often learn to swim before they can walk and they row boats before they ride a bike. Float down the waterways, try your hand at fishing, and just lay back and enjoy this unique landscape. Notes: The houseboats cruise through the backwaters the whole day. As per the local administration rules, at around 5:30pm the boats are supposed to be put aside for overnight stay. Air conditioning is available only from 6pm-6:30am. Fans are available throughout the day along with options to recharge your gadgets. Each houseboat will have 3-4 rooms so the group will be split between a few houseboats. Cycling distance: approx. 50kms / 31miles

 Day 19 Kochi

Continue riding through the fragmented countryside, which is broken up by lakes and waterways, to Kochi (approximately 60-80 kilometres). Spread over several islands, Kochi is a fascinating place full of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences. Some of the sights to see include St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and the famous Chinese fishing nets. To gain better insight into this intriguing town you'll take a cycling tour of Fort Kochi. This is the historic heart of the city where crumbling mansions line streets of antique shops and spice markets. Tonight you'll attend a Kathakali dance performance. This classical dance is a powerful drama that combines devotion and physical virtuosity with symbolic storytelling. It requires rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and emotional sensitivity to be able to render all of the dance's subtle facial expressions and hand gestures. Cycling distance: approx. 60-80 kms / 37-50 miles

 Day 20 Kochi

Take a break from the bike today and head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Kochi for a guided walking tour. Explore the Dutch Palace (Kochi Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch in 1663. The Dutch improved upon the existing palace before presenting it to the rajas of Kochi. Continue on to the Jewish quarter ' the Jewish community here has roots going back as far as 1,000 AD, and you'll see the Jewish synagogue in the city. The tour will take around three hours and the rest of the day will be free to do as you wish. During free time, why not join one of our Urban Adventures such as Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food & Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you would like to book one of these tours and they can assist in making arrangements. Later, perhaps take a sunset cruise around the harbour to see the Chinese finishing nets against an orange sky. Cycling distance: none

 Day 21 Trissur

Continue up the west coast and head a bit inland to Trissur (Trichur). You'll drive around 10 kilometres today but have a full ride of 60-80 kilometres. Trissur has a history deeply rooted in the spice trade but it is also known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala. Trissur's thriving cultural traditions date back centuries, and it supports several institutions that are focused on preserving the dying classical Keralan performing arts. On arrival you will take a short orientation walk, covering the main sights that this delightful town has to offer. Centred around a large park and temple complex, Trissur is home to a Nestorian Christian community dating back to the 3rd century AD, as well as many other religious sites, such as the 1,300 years old Hindu Vadakkunnathan Temple dedicated to Shiva. Aptly nicknamed "The Niagara of India", the nearby 24-metre (80 foot) Athirappilly Waterfalls is the largest waterfall in Kerala and is well worth a visit. Cycling distance: approx. 60-80 kms / 37-50 miles

 Day 22 Kozhikode

Travel approximately 50 kilometres by support vehicle and 60-80 kilometres on bike to Kozhikode (Calicut), once the capital of the Zamorin dynasty. Kozhikode has been a prosperous trading town ever since the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama first landed near here in 1498, opening the trade route between Europe and India. Northern Kerala's largest city sits proudly between the Malabar Coast and the Wayanad hills, providing easy access to serene beaches and the nearby Kadalundi Bird Sanctury, which is home to over a hundred species of native birds. On arrival you will take a short orientation walk, covering the city's main sights, including the Mananchira Lake and square. While you're here, don't forget to head over to Sweet Meat Street and try the famous Kozhikodan Halwa ' a local sweet dessert delicacy. Cycling distance: approx. 60-80 kms / 37-50 miles

 Day 23 Kannur

Today you spend your last day cycling in the state of Kerala. First drive two hours then cycle 45kms towards the northern coastal city of Kannur. Once named by Marco Polo as a 'great emporium of spice trade' the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial influences still linger although these days it is better known for its weaving and cashew trades, as well as some excellent beaches. The temples around Kannur make for some fascinating exploring, including the revered Shiva Rajarajeshwara Temple and the Hindu Parassinikkadavu (Muthappan) Temple. It is here you can experience the stunning fire-inspired Theyyam ritual dance performance first hand. Despite the myriad cultural opportunities the sandy beaches of Kannur are an ideal place to unwind, relax and enjoy the sunset over the Laccadive Sea. Cycling distance: approx. 45 kms / 28 miles

 Day 24 Bhatkal

Shake off the sleep with a morning ride along the seaboard (approximately 40-60 kilometres). Leave Kerala state behind and enter Karnataka, heading for the small but prosperous port town of Bhatkal. As the town is quite a way up the coast, there will also be a drive of approximately 260 kilometres today. The town is best known for its imported goods markets ' the Dubai Market and the Mirchi Gully ' and is home to some of the finest mosques in the country. Take a walk about town and see the main sights, including the famous lighthouse and the Shiva Temple. Bhaktal is also renowned for its mouth-watering seafood dishes and the famous Bhatkal Chicken Biryani, both of which are great options for dinner. Cycling distance: approx. 40-60 kms / 25-37 miles

 Day 25 Gokarna

Leaving Bhaktal behind, cycle to Murudeshwar (approximately 13 kilometres north of Bhatkal) to see the magnificent Shiva temple. Built on top of a small hill and surrounded by Arabian Sea, the world's second-tallest statue of Lord Shiva sits between the shore and a huge 20 storey Gopura. Continuing north, discover the massive yet abandoned 16th century Mirjan Fort on the banks of the Aganashini River. End a good day cycling (approximately 60-80 kilometres) in Gokarna, one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centres. Mahabaleshwar Temple is considered as holy as the Shiva temple in Varanasi, and it houses the 'Atmalinga', which is said to bestow vast blessings to those who merely glimpse it. Gokarna is also home to India's most beautiful beaches, a small but lively bazaar, and some of the best eating Karnataka has to offer. There are incredible all-you-can-eat thalis, excellent street food (try the bhel puri), and of course there's the local fish ' served fried, roasted or curried as you like it. Cycling distance: approx. 60-80 kms / 37-50 miles

 Day 26 Gokarna

Get your bearings on a short orientation walk in the morning. The rest of the day is free for you to explore beautiful Gokarna and its spiritual vibes. Head to Gokarna's main beach or take the winding path that leads to Kudle beach. If these don't take your fancy then there's plenty more to choose from with the south-facing Om beach, Half-moon Beach and Paradise Beach all accessible. If you're looking for something more active, you can try your hand at surfing at Gokarna Beach or kick back with a beachside yoga class. If you feel like some extra cycling, your leader will be able to advise you of the best local routes to follow. Cycling distance: none

 Day 27 Palolem

Cross into the state of Goa and cycle to the beautiful beachside town of Palolem (approx. 60-75 kilometres, plus an approx. 25 kilometre drive). Today is an undulating ride with numerous small rolling hills but the views of forested mountains on one side and pristine waters on the other make for an enjoyable day. Once we reach the town of Palolem you will be amazed by the beautiful Palolem Beach ' if you feel like you've seen it before then maybe you have as it was featured in the film The Bourne Supremacy - if it's good enough for Jason Bourne then it's good enough for us! After a short orientation walk you have ample time to enjoy the pristine beaches during the day before retiring to our remote accommodation for the night for a quiet night's sleep. Cycling distance: approx. 60-75 kms / 37-47 miles

 Day 28 Panjim

This is your last official day of cycling so enjoy your time in the saddle. Ride between 40-60 kilometres, plus a 15 kilometre drive, to the capital of Goa ' Panjim. This laid-back city is famous for its sandy beaches, including the legendary Miramar beach, but there's more to discover than just the beautiful coastline. Packed with Portuguese influences, the old quarter of Panjim features colourful villas, cobbled streets, and the stunningly white Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. Be sure to visit 18th June Road, a popular thoroughfare shopping area in the heart of town. Cycling distance: approx. 40-60 kms / 25-37 miles

 Day 29 Goa

Get to know this unique World Heritage-listed city on a half day guided walking tour of Old Goa. The city is best known for its churches, including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa) and the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which contains the relics of St. Francis Xavier. The rest of the day is free for more sightseeing, shopping up a storm, or simply relaxing on the beach. Gather together your fellow cyclists tonight for a celebratory final dinner, looking back on how far you've come on this Indian adventure. Cycling distance: none

 Day 30 Goa

Today is departure day and there are no activities planned. You are free to depart at any time. Cycling distance: none

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