16 independent reviews for Cycling vacations in Kerala

Reviews for Cycling vacations in Kerala

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review 15 Dec 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

From start to finish, we had a ball! Vipin and Rodger were great guides, full of encouragement and knowledge about all things Indian. Deepu was a very safe driver and all 3 had a great rapport with each other. Cycling was challenging at times, but very enjoyable and we were able to go at our own pace. Food and accomodation were first class and no ' delhi belly' for either of us throughout the whole trip. The vacation company are a company I will definitely use again and recommend to others. Please pass on my thanks to the company

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Dont hesitate, book it!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

All hotels/camps seemed locally owned and I am happy to support that.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent, first class! This is up there in our top 1 or 2 trips of our life and we have travelled a fair bit over the years.

review 28 Nov 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The organisation of our two week cycling vacation in Kerala with the operator was excellent. Additional activities, our accommodation, our driver support, bike guide and equipment were all well chosen and provided an excellent introduction to Keralan life.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't hesitate. You will get an excellent combination of a varied and carefully considered bike route, decent bikes (all of the spare bikes were being used in a bike event in North India so, unusually, there wasn't a spare bike or wheel available which would have been helpful), faultless driver and bike support and very good quality accommodation in a variety of luxury camps, homestays and hotels. The country is fascinating and takes in tea plantations, jungle, small villages and short stretches of busy towns.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We had the chance to speak with a number of homestay owners which gave far more insight into Keralan life than just staying in hotels. Kerala is perfect for traveling by bike because the distances are not too vast and the roads are generally quiet and reasonable quality.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Wonderful memories.

review 15 Feb 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

To join a Hindu marriage, included to experience the hospitality and kindness towards us. Thanks Jerry!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

That they can expect to join a tour, which is even better than they could expect from reading the introduction to the tour.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, in relation to local economy, and in relation to human relations.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


review 1 Mar 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The cycling was great, having a bike guide and a backup van worked really well for our style of cycling as it meant we didn't have to worry about each other. Francis and Shibu were great fun and we all enjoyed a beer together after finishing a ride. Dewalokam Farm Stay was fabulous we loved it. The riceboat trip wonderful

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Stay 2 nights at Dewalokam if possible. Take minimal clothes, shop at the market at Fort Cochin for long trousers and shirts to wear when not cycling. Don't worry about anything – the operator is absolutely brilliant at organisation. Make sure you take enough photos! Buy tea to take home at the Munnar tea museum. Buy presents before you get to the airport! Eat lots of parotta it’s yummy. Cash all your rupees back at the exchange at the airport just keep enough for that final cup of massala tea. Enjoy it all and don't fuss about hot milk in tea!!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes as we were staying in locally run hotels and using local tea stands etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Brilliant we will be coming again asap.

review 15 Mar 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were so many! The warm welcome at the airport and excellent rapport with the guys who did everything possible to make the vacation as interesting and relaxed as possible. The wonderful days of high level trekking on the Kerala -Tamil Nadu border. The exciting cycling on the country tracks, forest trails, and town roads on top quality machines. Meeting some very interesting people of Kerala, Indian vacation makers and European travelers on the home-stays and enjoying superb home-cooking on the various plantations and farms. Joining in on some of the many processions/pilgrimages on the vacation festival days and seeing & hearing the colourful costumes and amazing drumming. The friendly greetings everywhere from adults and children and the welcomes into tribal villages and schools. The visit to the highest tea plantation and factory and sampling the delightful organic teas; a Kathakali make-up, preparation, rehearsal and performance; the wonderful nature reserves; the kayaking at Thekaddi; and the relaxing days on the rice-boat on the backwaters - all were memorable.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring a gel-foam saddle. A simple face mask might also be a useful stand-by on dusty roads/tracks if heavy lorries are around. Cycling gloves were good. Top quality quick-wash/quick-dry gear is a really good investment. Try to change currency soonish (difficult at week-ends but ATMs could be useful). Try to suss out the tipping culture - quite complicated and sensitive on the social barometer and almost bound to go either too low or too high until the niceties are divined - but don't get fazed. Torches were useful and as advised a fleece is very good at altitude. Don't expect to see much wild-life when approaching in a convoy of jeeps packed with excited humans. A small, quiet, walking safari is well worth the extra fee (built into the overall plan) and much more likely to produce a surprize sighting - we were enthralled to see the relatively rare great hornbill glide by gracefully, serenely and majestically up a long secluded valley in the forest. The distance and timing of a kilometre in Kerala varies +++ with spatio-temporal perceptions of the teller!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes - to both of these. This is attributed to the well thought out planning by the team at the tour company with years of experience and excellent local contacts to draw on.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Not quite the Annapurna Circuit, Patagonia or the GR20 but certainly right up there in the top five - and for human interest, variety of activities and expert organisation one of the very best. And finally… the personal qualities of the guides were absolutely first class: they were friendly, courteous, patient, very well informed and informative, punctual, good-humoured and very helpful throughout our trip.

review 21 Mar 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The things that happened by chance, like cycling into a town on the day of a huge procession that the whole community was involved in, dancing, singing and drumming their way through winding roads up to a temple - or seeing elephants on the roads with the rest of the traffic. Kerala is a beautiful, friendly place to cycle and every day offered something different - scenery, accommodation and food included.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't expect to lose weight! The food is fantastic. March is quite hot and humid for cycling, so not advisable for people who find the heat difficult. As others have said, a couple of changes of quick drying cycling clothes are important, and don't forget the mosquito repellent and sun screen.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Almost all the accommodation and services were small-ish businesses that were run locally and most of the food was fresh, locally grown and often organic. There was some use of low-energy light bulbs and solar. In some cases, maybe it could be possible to be offered greener options at the planning stage - e.g. instead of staying on a housboat, to stay in town and travel on the backwaters using small, non-motorised boats? Or in Periyar, to spend a day doing a trek on foot/rafts, rather than the large tourist boats? The vacation can't be that green, though, whatever you do when you're there, as it's necessary to fly from the UK and there is a back-up car to support the cycling.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The organisation and service provided was excellent and great value for money. The guide and driver were very knowledgeable, friendly and supportive, particularly on hot, difficult days. There were small details that were particularly thoughtful, like booking us into the airport hotel for a few hours when we arrived and left, as our flights were at awkward times. I'd definitely recommend the vacation and tour operator to others.

review 4 Jan 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The assistance and help throughout the trip from the guide and driver, (Binu and Dahz) was first class, and when my wife fell from her cycle and was injured the professional and human approach by both of them will be remembered. Our trip to hospital was made much easier by them although the staff, and the hospital staff, were also most helpful

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

As well as taking pens for the local children I would suggest some low value UK money and stamps would be appreciated as many of the children have collections.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We did feel that local people benefited financially. I am not so sure about the environment as we travelled by air to India and, while we cycled a vehicle support was with us at all times. (This proved its value when taking my wife to hospital after falling from the cycle)

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was very well organised and I would have no hesitation at all in recommending it to anyone who wants to see the real rural Kerala.

review 11 Nov 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Our vacation - cycling in Kerala - has surpassed our expectations. There are so many memorable moments - the beautiful scenery of the tea plantations around Munnar and the charming homestay on the Talliar tea estate; the camp overlooking the elephant reservoir in Surynelli; the magical day and night on a houseboat on the Vemband lake backwaters; the wonderful heritage homestay on the Alleppey backwaters; the homestay on Mararai beach with the most attentive hosts. And so many experiences: buying a sari with the assistance of the whole shop staff; fishing with local fisherman surrounded by dolphins; plucking tea and drinking our own freshly-picked brew; evening bonfires in the hills listening to the crickets, music from local temples and local dogs; seeing life (bathing, washing up, laundry, fishing) happen on the backsteps of people's homes in the backwater. And the warm smiles and waves that we received everywhere. And the food - simply amazing. I don't think that I can ever go back to our local Indian restaurant now that I've experienced real Indian home cooking.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Look into the time of year that you travel. End October/early November, we caught a mixture of the backend of the second monsoon and some unseasonal rain. We got wet most days - but you soon dry off when cycling once the sun comes out. So that didn't bother us too much. In fact, it was quite funny cycling in the most torrential rain I've ever seen. It did however mean that Periyar - nature reserve - was a bit disappointing. With the wet weather, the wildlife had no reason to come down to the lake for water so our bamboo-raft wildlife safari spotted nothing more than elephant dung and lots of wild boars! And we got miserably muddy plodding through the rain forest. Don't expect luxury accommodation - as clearly some people did from comments left in some homestay visitor books. Expect very good accommodation with buckets of charm, wonderful food and the most friendly, attentive guides and hosts. Sometimes you'll have to wait a while for hot water; sometimes you'll share your bathroom with a colony of ants. But it's great fun. Expect fairly tough cycling. We're no athletes but we do a cycling vacation every year and visit the gym a few times a week but we found the hills and the pot-holed roads fairly challenging.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Some may disagree with this statement but the fact that we cycled from point to point didn't really make it an eco-vacation because we did have a vehicle that followed us - transporting our baggage. All of the accommodation - from hotels to homestays - appeared to be run by local people, rather than large chains. And they all employed the services of local people. The location of the accommodation was often quite remote so we'd buy things from small shops/stalls in towns that clearly didn't see tourists very often. Most of the homestays had energy-saving techniques such as low-energy lightbulbs, solar-heated water etc. Food was all sourced locally, often from the homestay's back garden.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Superb. I cannot fault this operator and their guides. I feel so privileged to have met the wonderful people that we saw upon our travels and have experienced such a beautiful part of the world. We will definitely go back to stay in some of the homestays again.

review 9 Oct 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing the varied scenery, vegetation, experiencing varied climate and weather- all from bicycling; and the smiling and courteous people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

None other the advice already in the operator's frequently asked questions' and literature

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

This depended in my view on the type of accommodation. In the case of homestays it would have benefited the family there, but as many of our overnights were at very good hotels it appears no benefits arose compared with any other organised tour.-other than the giving of employment. Environmentally I don't feel there was any minimisation actual or possible and- sorry- but I have always seen this as merely a marketing device to sell such a vacation. And there was nothing seen to change my mind. There is of course nothing irresponsible about this operator - far from it – but I am under no illusion before or after our trip about the impact on the environment of taking a plane 10,000 kilometres, and then undertake a vacation mostly on a bicycle supported by a car. This in no way diminishes our enjoyment of the vacation or of recommending it to others.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent! The itinerary was well-planned and the organisation of the tour efficient. The staff were friendly and helpful.

review 25 Feb 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were so many memorable moments: seeing wild elephants at Hornbill Camp; the view from PJ's tree house; dawn over the tea plantations of Munnar; the landscapes of the Western Ghats; the changing landscapes culminating in the beach near Aleppey. One of best memories and best surprises was the food, which was notable for a wonderful succession of fresh vegetables and fruit. Perhaps most memorable of all was the happy welcoming people we met throughout the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Do a little exercise before starting the trip. Go native with the food at every opportunity.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

To some extent yes. The vacation did benefit the people where we stayed. The operators have to concentrate hard on ensuring that there is no contribution to the ubiquitous litter problem. Even better, the operators take on a role of positively reducing litter wherever it is seen. The camps were indeed spotlessly clean and our guides carefully cleared up after all our picnics. We appreciate that the litter problem is almost overwhelming, however the possibility of making small changes was brought to our attention during our stay at Emerald Isle in the back waters. During an evening boat trip we remarked on how clean the small canal was compared to some of the other areas we had seen. We were told that until recently the canal too had been choked with litter but a local education program had resulted in a much cleaner environment. During our travels all our food and services were sourced locally which hopefully helped the local economy.

4. Any other comments?

Our vacation mountain biking in Kerala was great. Weeks afterwards we are still commenting on what a wonderful time it was. A 4* experience. It was excellent and we felt we were treated like royalty. We have no hesitation in recommending this operator and the vacation in general. It really was a magical vacation and the organisation were brilliant.

review 23 Mar 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Cycling through the tea plantations was amazingly beautiful and peaceful. The scenery through the mountains was stunning, and gave us the opportunity to see villages and meet people that other tours just don't offer.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring your camelback and some good sandals and be prepared to sweat! Also a flashlight!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Of course, cycling is a green way to travel. The homestays were especially low-impact and gave one the feeling of contributing to an individual and a rare way of life not a faceless resort corporation.

4. Any other comments?

Great people at this operator: Binu, Das, Sam, Thomas, and Peter. Very dedicated, helpful, and pleasant people. Thanks!

review 12 Mar 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We went to India for a month traveling out to Mumbai and back from Kochi. We took four overnight train journeys from Mumbai to Hampi, Hampi to Mysore, Mysore to Madurai and Madurai to Kochi. This was our temple and historic ites part of our vacation. We had a rail pass for 15 days arranged through an operator in London. They also arranged some of the accomodation for us. All the arrangements went well and we loved the Palace and temples at Mysore and the Sri Meenakshi temple at Madurai including the ceremony where images of the gods are put to bed at night - which has to be one of the highlights of the vacation. The rail journeys were an experience in themselves with vendors hawking food and drinks, curry meals and the train hooter in the distance through the night. When we got to Kochi the arrangements for the next forthnight had been made by this operator, a local company based near Kochi. Everything they did was quite perfect. We were picked up from our hotel by our guide and driver ina Toyota 4 x 4 and taken to the hills to the tea plantations for three days cycling (part of a trip that normally takes 14 day) staying at one of their camps, a bungalow in the grounds of a hotel and another within the Nature Reserve at Periyar. We were well looked after with good food and attentive support. We struggled a bit with the hills (I am 58 and Jeny 65) and our guide adapted the route to take acoount of this and the driver would atke the bikes up the steepest hills for us to cycle dwn the other side. We went on an interesting boat trip at Periyar watching wild elephants and other wildlife. We were then transferred to the Backwaters for an overnight stay on a riceboat and finally to a beach homestay at Arrakal south of Aleppey where we were spoilt with lovely home cooked food and stayed in pleasant huts just a few hundred metres from an idyllic beach.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

This operator cannnot be too highly recommended. I made my arrangements with Thomas Zacharaias by E-mail and he was most helpful in making suggestions and then providing prices. The arrangements with the London operator for flights, rail pass and bookings and hotel bookings also went very well (they also made helpful suggestions aboyt arraning visas).

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Staying in Homestays in Kerala seemed to be a direct benefit to local people.

4. Any other comments?

Our vacation was one of the best we have ever had. It provided a whole range of experiences in a stuctured way which still left room for a feeling of adventure. Traveling on our own by train gave us a sense of independence while the support in Kerala enabled us to do a whole range of activities that might not have been so easy to organise off the cuff.

review 2 Jan 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Just to say that the cycling vacation in Kerala with this operator was pretty close to being five stars. The most memorable part of the vacation was the welcome from everyone that we passed when pedalling away. The children in particular were so happy to see us and kept waving and shouting out hello. The scenery was gorgeous, the food was excellent and lots of it, the roads were appalling (which I guess is why it was a mountain bike trip even if we didn't really go off-road) - and the traffic just plain exciting. The guide and the driver couldn't have been more helpful and kind and all the arrangements worked like clockwork.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Tips for other travelers - you will see so many birds and butterflies that you will really want to know what they all are - and at night there are so many stars that you will wish you had Patrick Moore with you. For the girls I would just say that on balance Kerala is probably not quite ready for tight lycra cycling shorts but you certainly get yourself noticed.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We stayed at small local places which were all traditionally built and fitted in with the local environment and serviced by local people - this is clearly bringing in economic benefits without making too great an impact on their traditional way of life.

4. Any other comments?

Altogether - one of our best vacations - so I would say 5 stars. Best wishes and thanks for putting in contact with this operator.

review 23 Mar 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

It was all memorable. The vistas were incredible - particularly in the tea plantations and glimpsing the wild elephants in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Food was just superb every time.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure you specify how you like your food. If you like Indian food and you like it spicy, then TELL them over and over again. Otherwise, you may get what they THINK you want - a sanitised Western version.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, I think the choice of locations was superb, but it also appeared that we were supporting the local people and businesses far more than on traditional vacations.

4. Any other comments?

I think there could be a danger if a group was created that had different levels of cyclist performance and also wildly different interests (especially food such as veg/non-veg). Our group was small and we were all (amazingly) vegetarians. So it worked out well. But it could have been problematic over 2 weeks in a group of 4 or 6 if those people don't know each other. I'd give it 4 stars. We've done many cycling vacations around the world, and this ranks among the best. It was certainly the best value we've had. Your 5 star level is pretty demanding and we couldn't quite put it at that, but really I'd have not hesitation in recommending Responsible travel and this operator to a friend (indeed we've already done that several times.

review 5 Mar 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Periyar and the tribal visit, the guides were brilliant.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be very specific about your ability level. Before we went we said that we are not cyclists as such, but wanted to do a cycling vacation as it seemed a nicer way to see the country. We asked if it was suitable and were told it was. A couple of the days were definitely not suitable unless you were very fit and could do some serious hills! We couldn't do them, there is always a back up car though and we had to use this option which was a bit of a shame. The guide was fantastic though and made every effort to accommodate us and the rest of the cycling was very enjoyable. Take lots and lots of Mozzy spray for the backwaters bit!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

4. Any other comments?

The people we met were all very friendly and really keen to try out their English on you. A lot of the children request pens for school. The operator were very helpful and when we were delayed (twice) they rearranged the accommodation so that we didn't miss key points of the vacation and met the new flight times etc. I would definitely recommend them. The home stays are good fun, we met some great people and the properties we stayed at were just that bit more interesting than your average hotel.

review 21 Nov 2005

A big thank-you for organising one of the best tours I have done for years - everything was perfect from your brilliant guide Binu, to drivers Peter and Das, the bikes, the vehicles, the food and accommodation. The itinerary was about right - Jon and me could have gone a bit further and faster, but Aimilia would have struggled ,so it was a good compromise, average about 50km per day. We did 420km in all. The route was all interesting, but the highlight was the backroad from Thekaddy to Vagamon, where we only so 2 or 3 vehicles in hours, and amazing views. The homestays were great - so friendly and welcoming, and the heritage homes had a lot of character and interest. If I was doing the trip again, I would add a rest day at Periyar River, to explore the birdlife and maybe do a rafting trip, and another full day at Thekkady, again for wildlife, and also time to get laundry done etc The riceboat was a welcome rest and luxury, and the food the boatmen cooked was fantastic. I was pleased at Bamboo grove that we were supporting the forestry project and the ladies there (all widows) were very glad of their jobs there cooking, and very happy to work with tourists. The welcome at Marari beach was also memorable, and Abi and Minnie could not have been more friendly and helpful. My only suggestion to reduce waste a little, would be to try and use the big refillable water containers in the support vehicle, rather than disposable water bottles, and maybe washable containers for the take away lunches, rather than plastic bags/paper plates. Binu was patient, prompt, polite, and always helpful, and aware of our needs, and always with a smile. He is a credit to your company, and I hope you pass on our compliments. I would be happy to recommend you to anyone, if they wanted reassurance. I have travelled a lot so can't quite give it ***** but at least ****! Kerala is beautiful, and the people exceptionally friendly.

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

It was good from start to finish.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take quick-drying clothes - hard to dry things in the humidity

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Direct benefit to many small homestays/eateries esecially the forest department cottages at Bamboo Grove, where the women employees personally thanked us for staying there, as they were all widowed and totally dependent on their wage there to support their children.

4. Any other comments?

Excellent - local operator provided exactly what we wanted and superb service.

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