Explore romantic India on a cycling tour from the classic cities and history of Rajasthan to the laid-back west coast, cycling through Kerala.

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 the adventure to the next level in the blissful state of Kerala, 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 Keralan Backwaters 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.


Start
Delhi, India
Finish
Kochi, India
Destination
India
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
HHXCC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 16
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • 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

  • 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

Is this trip right for you?

  • To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

  • On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed)

  • This trip covers anywhere between 25 to 90 km of cycling each day, so a reasonable level of fitness is required, although you’ll have plenty of rest breaks.

  • While the cycling distances on this trip are relatively short and the terrain relatively flat, the climate is usually warm so you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy the trip – but remember, there will always be a support vehicle on hand if you need to take a break for an hour or a day.

  • As most of the riding is done on sealed roads with the occasional gravel cycle path there are no technical cycling skills required, but given the hills we do suggest practicing riding downhill so you are comfortable with this once the trips begins.

  • There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – a puncture here and there maybe – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure.

  • The weather in this region can be varied depending on the season. Be prepared to get sweaty and for the occasional rainstorm, which may require a change of plans.

  • We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

  • The Taj Mahal is currently undergoing mud pack therapy to restore its original colour. It is expected the dome will be covered in iron scaffolding during the process.

  • Day 15 of the itinerary (in Trivandrum) is un-escorted - your leader will arrive the following day.

Itinerary

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
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Included Activities
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Walking tour
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - City Palace - INR500
  • Jaipur - Jantar Mantar Observatory - INR200
  • Jaipur - Bollywood Movie at Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Included Activities
  • Pushkar - Walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Included Activities
  • Udaipur - City walk
  • Udaipur - City Palace
Optional Activities
  • Udaipur - Cultural performance - INR120
  • Udaipur - Lake boat ride - INR400
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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
Included Activities
  • Ranthambore National Park - Morning Safari
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Included Activities
  • Madhogarh - Village walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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
Included Activities
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Agra - Agra Fort
Optional Activities
  • Agra - Akbar's Mausoleum - INR210
  • Agra - Additional entries to Taj Mahal - INR1000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.

Please arrange a flight to arrive before 4pm as your next group meeting in Trivandrum is 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 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.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say 'hello' to your bike support team this morning, then get suited up and fitted to a bike before starting your first ride in Kerala. 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 50 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. 51kms/32 miles, flat with approx. 240m/780ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
By support vehicle (approximately 60 kilometres) and bike (approx. 30kms), 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. 30kms / 19miles, flat with approx. 155m/500ft elevation gain
Accommodation
  • Houseboat (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Leave Alleppey and the houseboat behind and travel by support vehicle inland approx. 80 Km (3.5hrs) to Vagamon and start our first ride amoung the hills of Kerala.Today can be a tough but beautiful ride as the route undulates along winding roads and verdant green hills. Ride for approx. 45kms then avoid the really steep sections by climbing into the support vehicle and continuing all the way to the sleepy town of Periyar. In the evening why not soothe your aching muscles with a well-earned traditional malayalee massage.

Cycling distance: approx. 45kms/28 miles, hilly with approx. 750m/2460ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After a leisurely breakfast we enjoy an easier day in the saddle as we cycle through the Kerala high country and the many tea plantations that dot the hills. Enjoy a long downhill into the spice trade town of Kumily, on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and gateway town to Thekkady and the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, before enjoying an evening walk in the nearby jungle.

You also have the opportunity to witness firsthand the fascinating Indian martial art Kalaripayattu, considered to be one of the oldest surviving fighting styles in existence


Cycling distance: approx. 33kms/20 miles - initial climb for 3kms, undulating for 20kms then downhill for 10kms - with approx. 550m/1850ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
What goes up must come down and after an undulating 35kms you have the pleasure of a 20kms/12 mile winding downhill cycle that takes you from the cool hills above 1000m all the way down to sea level itself. The road then flattens out as we cycle the last section across the plains to the busy town of Ponkunnam before avoiding the busy traffic by driving to the beautiful beachside city of Kochi.

We arrive in the early evening, with enough time to wash off the days effort before heading out to dinner and enjoying one of India's most revered classical dances, at a performance of the famed Kathakali.

Cycling distance: approx. 75kms/46 miles - undulating for 35kms, downhill for 20kms, then flat for 20kms - with approx. 820m/2700ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is our your last day cycling in the state of Kerala as we enjoy an early morning ride from Kochi to the popular Cherai Beach (approx 35kms), famed for its Chinese fishing nets, sandy shores and tranquil waters.

After a relaxing dip we say goodbye to our bikes and continue on (by support vehicle) to Athirappally waterfalls. Aptly nicknamed “The Niagara of India”, the nearby 24-metre (80 foot) Athirappilly Waterfalls is the largest waterfall in Kerala.

Enjoy the view and a packed lunch nearby the falls before returning to Kochi in the late afternoon, heading 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. 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 2-3 hours and the rest of the evening will be free to do as you wish, before perhaps meeting for a final group dinner to recount the amazing experience you've enjoyed together over the last 7 days.

Cycling distance: approx. 35kms/22 miles, mostly flat with approx. 180m/590ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
There are no activities planned for the final day. You’re able to depart the accommodation at any before midday.

There is so much to see and do in Kochi - why not book and extra day or two.
Perhaps indulge yourself in a hands-on cooking lesson in the ‘land of spices’ and learn how to cook classic Keralan cuisine with a local. Ask your guide for more information.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

16 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle, Train, Metro, Cycle rickshaw, Aeroplane (not included)

Accommodation

Hotels (15 nights), Guesthouse (1 night), Houseboat (1 night), Heritage Property (3 nights), Deluxe permanent tent (1 night)

Included activities

  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
  • Jaipur - Walking tour
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • Pushkar - Walking tour
  • Udaipur - City walk
  • Udaipur - City Palace
  • Ranthambore National Park - Morning Safari
  • Madhogarh - Village walk
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Agra - Agra Fort

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Important notes

1. The flight and transfers from New Delhi to Trivandrum on Day 15 are not included. See the Transport section for more details.
2. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
3. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
4. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
5. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed)
6. TAJ MAHAL DOME RESTORATIONS
Using mud pack therapy the Archaeological Survey of India is planning to clean the four small canopies around the main dome of the Taj Mahal from the start of April 2018. This will be followed by the cleaning of the main dome but that could take some time as ASI is yet to calculate its load bearing capacity. The ASI’s science branch officials have stated that cleaning the four canopies will take approximately 2 months while main dome cleaning will be completed in phases. We will continue to update as information becomes available.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.