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house boat in the backwaters of Kerala in India

Cycle Kerala 2021

Challenge level: 4 out of 5

When can I go?

12 November - 21 November 2021 On Sale
Duration 10 days

What does it cost?

Registration fee (payable today) Info £299
Remaining amount
Total commitment Info

Cycle Kerala 2021

Cycle through the wildlife-packed Western Ghats, the spicy Cardamom Country and the beautiful backwaters of Kerala to the Mirari Beach, on this exquisite challenge for the charity of your choice.

Setting off from Kochi, we’ll tackle tough climbs through Munnar’s misty coffee and tea plantations, to the top of the Kannan Devan Hills in the Western Ghats.

The breath-taking panoramas and ample wildlife spotting opportunities are well worth the climb.

The Western Ghats is renowned for its vast biodiversity, home to thousands of plants and hundreds of animals, including 325 endangered species. We’ll keep our eyes peeled every pedal of the way. If we’re lucky, we may spot leopards, elephants and nearly fifty different types of butterfly!

We spice up our cycle as we skirt Periyar National Park through the cardamom growing Idukki Region.

Then it’s one last stretch across the palm-lined lagoons, islands and canals of the backwaters. We’ll get awesome insight into the coconut catching and coir communities, before reaching a paradise finish at Marari Beach.

Although beautiful, this is far from a relaxing getaway. Our cycle will leave you with aching legs, unforgettable experiences and a bunch of new friends.

Worried about fundraising? Don't be...

Cycle Kerala 2021 is an Open Challenge – this means you have the option to self fund your participation and there is no minimum fundraising requirement.

You are, of course, more than welcome to commit to a minimum sponsorship target instead and fundraise for a charity, hospice or animal sanctuary of your choice.

Places are likely to fill up fast for this idyllic Indian bike ride, so please register soon to avoid disappointment.

Your itinerary

Days 1 & 2
UK – Kochi – Munnar (1,500m) | approx. 105km

We first meet as a group at the airport in London, where we catch our overnight flight to Kochi International Airport in Kerala, southern India.

Arriving on Day 2, our fab ground handler meets us at the airport and we transfer together (approx. 4 – 5 hours) to the misty tea fields of Munnar (1,500m).

Renowned for its local coffee and spice plantations and incredible range of wildlife, Munnar is tucked in the Western Ghats and makes the perfect introduction to Southern India.

Once we’ve checked in to our hotel, we have our bike fitting and enjoy a short orientation ride through the exquisite natural scenery.

Our day ends with our first group dinner.

Day 3
Munnar – Top Station (1,900m) – Munnar | approx. 76km (+/- 400m)

After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer through the lush valley of the tea fields to our starting point in the Kanan Devan Hills and cycle up to the Top Station.

This first climb is tough but the vistas from approx. 1,900m are more than worth it and it means we’re over our hardest stretch by lunch time.

Then it’s back down we go through spectacular panoramas, stopping along the way at the Mattupetty Dam. The structure itself is unremarkable; but the view of the river flowing amongst lush vegetation and a majestic mountain backdrop is a sure sight for sore thighs!

Looking out over tea gardens, we have the chance to spot a massive array of wildlife. The Western Ghats is home to nearly a third of India’s flora and fauna and the WWF has called it a treasure trove of wildlife. If we’re lucky, we may see some of the 325 different endangered species of animals and plants, including leopards and elephants.

Coming to the end of our day’s ride, we meet our coach and transfer to our hotel for dinner and a good night’s rest.

Day 4
Munnar – Vandanmedu (1,100m) | approx. 80km (+500m/-900m)

Mounting our bikes after breakfast, we bid goodbye to the tea plantations and pedal up and down through the biggest cardamom plantation in India.

This leads us to the breath-taking Lockhart Gap. Standing at an elevation of 2,000m, the panoramas of dramatic cliff faces, rolling plantations and misty blue skies make it one of Munnar’s major attractions.

We end our day with dinner and a good rest at a comfortable hotel, nestled amongst cardamom plantations.

Day 5
Vandanmedu – Vagamon (970m) | approx. 70km

We spice up our cycle, as we move into the outskirts of the national park. Tackling some tough climbs, we pedal through the protected sanctuary of Thekkady/Periyar, home to the critically endangered Nigiri tiger.

The Idukki district of Kerala, which we’re passing through now, is known as "Heaven of all spices" with a spice trade believed to date back three thousand years. If time allows, we have the chance to gain insight into the local agriculture, with a visit to a beautiful spice garden.

As we leave Periyar behind, we’re in for plenty more up-hill cycling; but with an array of wildlife to look out for as we go and constant lush panoramas, we’ll love every second of it.

Finally, we reach our hotel in Vagamon, a gorgeous town set amidst green hills of meadows, pine valleys and tea fields. We’re likely even to smell the fresh tea growing around us.

Day 6
Vagamon – Ettumanoor – Kumarakom (50m) | approx. 85km

Our hilly but heavenly day’s route takes us to the backwaters of Kerala. Starting off with some climbs after breakfast, we head towards the major town of Ettumanoor.

Known for its magnificent Shiva temple, this town also hosts the historic Ettumanoor Mahadeva temple, which, according to myth, was established by the five acknowledged sons of the king of Hastinapur, Pandu.

Before we reach the town, we stop off at a nearby hidden lake for amazing views and a stretch of the legs. Then we hop back on our bikes to ride along a mix of roads via Ettumanoor Junction.

As the day goes on, we meet some more flat terrain and enjoy the last stretch to our hotel in Kumarakom.

It becomes clear why Kerala is known as “God’s Own Country”, as we reach this idyllic destination by the fresh water Vembanad Lake, the largest lake in Kerala.

Days 7 & 8
Kumarakom – Marari Beach | approx. 50km

We’ve made it to our last day of cycling and our route doesn’t disappoint. Setting off after breakfast, we enjoy a fairly gentle ride through the rustic Kerala backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons, fringed with palm trees.

We get an extra feel for the local lifestyle as we cross the serene island of Alleppey. We pass right through the quaint coir village resort for a chance to see the local crafts and coconut catchers. Our challenge ends when we reach our finish line at the Marari Beach.

Rated as one of the world’s top five Hammock Beaches, Marari offers white sand, refreshing waters and hundreds palm trees.

Needless to say, we can well and truly relax here. Tonight, we celebrate our achievement with a delicious dinner.

Day 8 is then free for you to spend as you wish in this slice of paradise. Kerala is renowned for its stunning beaches and having just conquered an awesome challenge, you'll enjoy it all the more!

To give you maximum flexibility, you’ll need to arrange and buy your own lunch and dinner today – a great chance to try one of the local restaurants.

Days 9 & 10
Marari - Kochi - UK

After breakfast, we transfer to Kochi for a guided walking tour of the historic city.

With chances to pick up any last-minute souvenirs, we explore the Jewish streets and spice markets, and visit St Francis Church and the synagogue.

We end the day with a last delicious Indian dinner, before transferring to Kochi Airport for our flight back to the UK. Touching down in London on Day 10, we part ways and you make your own way home.

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Funding options

Self Funded

Pay your registration fee and your challenge costs yourself.

£1,799

Pay the balance

  • Pay a non-refundable registration fee, which is used to administer the challenge and secure your seats with the airline.
  • Pay your challenge cost yourself 12 weeks before the challenge starts.
  • The challenge costs cover flights (not including airport taxes and the fuel surcharge, approx. £325), your food, accommodation, transfers, entry fees, guides, bike hire, mechanics and medical support, including two doctors.
  • Please also remember to budget for your visa and your airport taxes and fuel surcharge (approx. £325).
  • Choose to fundraise as much as you can or make a personal donation to the charity of your choice.
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Sponsorship

Pay your registration fee and raise the minimum target for your chosen charity.

£3,600

Minimum sponsorship target

  • Pay a non-refundable registration fee, which is used to administer the challenge and secure your seats with the airline.
  • Fundraise the minimum sponsorship target for a charity of your choice at least 12 weeks before your challenge starts.
  • Providing you have raised the funds, the charity you are supporting will pay the challenge costs on your behalf.
  • The challenge costs cover flights (not including airport taxes and the fuel surcharge, approx. £325), your food, accommodation, transfers, entry fees, guides, bike hire, mechanics and medical support, including two doctors.
  • Please also remember to budget for your visa and your airport taxes and fuel surcharge (approx. £325).
  • Please note that not all charities are happy to commit to the minimum sponsorship option. If you choose this option, we contact the charity you want to support on your behalf. If they are not happy with the minimum sponsorship option, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
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FAQs
Cycle Kerala 2021

With even the government unsure how exactly the coronavirus situation will eventuate, we can't make any guarantees; but we can promise you that we will always put your health and security first and will always be just and flexible in any decisions we have to make, regarding postponements and transfers.

If the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against travel to India in 2021, the tour will either be postponed until a safer time or cancelled.

In this situation, we will email all participants registered for the challenge with options you can take, such as transferring to the postponed date or another challenge.

All tour operators and holiday insurance providers, including us, take our guidance from Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice. Dream Challenges is also proud to be a member of ATOL and ABTOT, which means your money is always protected.

This challenge is not designed for Olympic athletes – it is designed for people looking for an amazing goal to train and get fit for.

A number of the people who will take part will have a low level of fitness when they sign up. This challenge is the perfect motivation to get fit, help your favourite charity in a big way and have the experience of a lifetime.

The toughest aspect of our adventure will probably be the humidity. We also recommend that you incorporate hills into your training rides, as the route is almost entirely undulating hills.

We'll cycle on a mix of roads.

Please don't be! The majority of people will sign up for Cycle Kerala on their own.

Once you've signed up for the challenge, we'll send you a link to a private Facebook group for everyone registered for Cycle Kerala 2021.

Please feel free to use this space to swap questions, advice and updates with your fellow cyclists on your training and fundraising.

You may also want to reach out to the other participants in this group to see if there's anyone in your local area you can meet up to train and fundraise with.

Absolutely not! One of the amazing things about the challenge is that people of all ages will come together to do something very special. Everyone aged 18 or over is welcome to join the ride!

A cycling helmet is essential. Cycling shorts are also recommended and everyone will need their own water bottles or a Camelbak-type hydration system. Apart from that, no specialist equipment is required.

We'll supply you with a list of everything you will need to take before you go. Cyclists will have the use of 18 or 21-gear mountain bikes and we suggest you bring the saddle or gel cover you're used to riding on.

We'll be staying in comfortable hotels on a twin sharing basis throughout this challenge.

Yes of course! If you wish to extend your stay you will need to come out of our group flights. Please let us know at least fourteen weeks before the challenge start date and we can arrange this for you.

Your registration fee of £299 per person is used to administer the challenge and secure your seats with the airline.

Your challenge costs of £1,799 (ie. 50% of the sponsorship target) cover:

  • Your flights (not including airport taxes and the fuel surcharge, approx. £325)
  • Meals throughout the challenge (except for your lunch and dinner on Day 8)
  • Accommodation
  • Bike hire
  • All transfers in India, as detailed in the itinerary
  • A team of first-aid trained local guides and Dream Challenges staff
  • Full support from the Dream Challenges office in the lead up to and during your challenge
  • Medical support, including two doctors, who will accompany us throughout the challenge
  • Mechanical support
  • Your Cycle Kerala 2021 medal and t-shirt

In addition to paying your registration fee of £299 and either fundraising the sponsorship target or self funding your challenge costs of £1,799 you will need to budget for:

  • Your airport taxes and the fuel surcharge (approx. £325 but subject to change – up or down)
  • Your lunch and dinner on Day 8
  • Your personal travel insurance
  • Your visa for India. You will need to arrange this yourself. We'll send you details of this in the lead up to the challenge.
  • Gratuities
  • Optional tours
  • Personal expenses

Travel Insurance

You will need to take out your own personal travel insurance covering health, accident, loss and repatriation. Dream Challenges has a recommended policy, which we will send you details of.

You can however take out your own insurance providing it covers you for a charity cycle ride in India. 

Visa

All participants will need a tourist visa for India, which you will need to arrange yourself. Please don't apply for your visa until we advise you to do so. We will send you all the relevant information about how to do this before the challenge. 

Please make sure to apply for your visa on the correct website: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/

This is the only website the High Commission of India uses and other sites are likely to be scams and/or charge unnecessary fees.

The Dream Challenges team are here to help you achieve your challenge and will support you all the way.

We are on hand from the minute you sign up to answer any questions that you may have about your training or the challenge itself.

Once you have registered, we will send you a realistic training programme to help you get fit for the event. The programme builds up gradually as the event gets closer.

During the cycle, we'll have two qualified doctors accompanying the group from the get go and at all times throughout the challenge, along with a team of experienced challenge guides and porters.

We’ll have an event leader, plus two event doctors, who will be with you the whole time.

The group size is likely to be around 30 people for this challenge.

As we're not medically trained, we're afraid we can't offer you advice on this. We recommend you contact your GP or your local travel clinic, who will have the latest travel health advice.

We also recommend you visit the NHS Fit for Travel website here, to keep up to date with current travel health news and advice on staying healthy abroad.

NHS Fit for Travel website: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home

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