This outstanding tour covers some of the most scenic, exotic and diverse areas of southern India, from steamy coastal water worlds to the cool air and uplifting vistas of Kerala’s mountains. You will be riding through the pristine forests and jungle gorges of Kerala’s many national parks and have the opportunity to spot many of the region’s wild animals along the way. Highlights of this trip also include a night on the backwaters in a luxury houseboat and time to explore the historical trading port of Cochin. The riding on this trip is superb – twisty and generally well surfaced – and the accommodation is of a high standard, while retaining a genuine Keralan feel. If you want to experience the best motorcycling destinations that South India has to offer, with the level of back-up that only Contes Asia delivers, then this is the trip for you.
As a participant in this tour you will fly to Cochin’s international airport to be met by Contes Asia and escorted to your hotel. Here you will be briefed on the adventure ahead and introduced to ‘your’ 350 cc Enfield/ Bullet/ Himalayan and its eccentricities.
The following morning we will leave the heat of the coast and head up into the relative cool of the mountains. Whenever riding there will be a leader and ‘outrider’ guiding and trouble-spotting. A ‘sweeper’ rider, a support vehicle with spares and an extensively-equipped medic will travel at the rear.
The trip includes few long days in the saddle, but does take in some challenging mountain chicanery. These twisty rides will require skill and concentration, so we ask that you have a minimum of two year’s riding experience before joining this tour. Once away from the coast, there should be little traffic, but that which we do encounter is likely to be behaving ‘erratically’ compared to vehicles in the West. The general condition of the roads is, however, very good for this part of the world and the riding experience extremely rewarding.
Weather ranges from very warm/hot on the coast, to a cool UK autumn’s evening in the hill stations, where we will venture as high as 6500ft above sea level. We would not expect it to rain at the times of year that we run tours in Kerala, but precipitation is possible in the higher reaches of the mountains.
The two-night stops on this tour offer the opportunity to have clothes laundered while you get out and explore. So try not to over-pack, as you will want to leave some space for mementos, spices and gifts.
This trip is generally characterised by the quality of the riding, the accommodation and the stunning natural settings in which you can enjoy them. We love riding on this tour and are sure you will too.
Arrive in the morning (flight time permitting) for a transfer to your hotel in Cochin for lunch. Here you’ll receive a briefing on the trip ahead and be introduced to your 350/500 Enfield and its eccentricities.
We head inland and up into the cool of the hills, covering some 150km in about five or six hours. The ride is fantastic, with long straights passing through shady tropical forest and sweeping bends dipping into verdant valleys. Lofty hairpins then climb ever upwards to reach the stunning emerald tea plantations that tortoise-shell the high Western Ghats around our destination, Munnar. At nearly 1500m above sea-level, anyone who isn’t a walrus may choose to don a fleece.
A day for both rest and exploration. Possible activities include a ride out through the tea plantations and up to Kerala’s highest point. There will still be lots of time to get out and explore town, or just kick back and relax.
Heading down and out of the Nilgiri range, we cross the plains before heading up spectacular switch backs to the Palani Hills and the religious fervour in the temple-town of Palani itself. This is an all-day ride and among the best in the world. The views will redefine your understanding of the word ‘beauty’. Kodaikanal, at 2100m above South end, is the geographical high point of the trip. Unless you happen to behalf penguin, a fleece is a good idea while taking in the evening views from the heights of our hotel garden.
A chance to explore this historically interesting hill station and its surroundings – we’d recommend simply walking around and taking in the vertiginous mountain views and colonial architecture. More ‘serious’ trekking intovirg in forest canal so be arranged. The less energetic may prefer a stroll in the botanical gardens, to bob around on the boating lake, or even swing a club on the town’s golf course
A day covering about 175km in some six hours. Yet more sinuous twisties carry us back to the plains, then up over the Keralan border to descend through lush cardamom plantation and forest to our destination, the tiny village of Vandanmedu. Here, deep in a forested plantation, our luxurious hotel features a swimming pool, so don’t forget the cossie.
A short but twisty, twisty little minx of a road delivers us to the edge of India’s largest national park, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Our hotel, set in the village of Thekkady, is near the sanactuary entrance and has great views over the forest. Take advantage of the sanctuary’s proximity and an evening boat trip out onto the lake, where it’spossible to see a huge variety of Indian wildlife.
A whole day to get stuck into Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, or a bottle of wine. For the former option, there are a huge range of wildlife-based activities; for the latter a number of hotels and eateries. Should on ere main self-supporting come dusk, then even night treks can be arranged in the park.
Heading down out of the mountains and back to the coast, we wind up at a lovely coastal backwater resort near Alleppey
A short hop takes us to Kumarakom, where we will be boarding one of the famous Keralan barges, our accommodation for the night. Our mobile floating luxury hotels will chug out into the backwaters before mooring for the night. Utter peace and relaxation.
Heading north, a short ride takesus to the Marari Fisherman’s Village beach resort. The beach here is one of the cleanest, quietest and least spoiled on the whole coast and swimming in the warm waters, with the golden beach stretching the the horizon is a very special experience.
Another chance for a quick dip in the morning, before a short afternoon ride takes us back to Cochin, where the remainder of the day can be spent wandering the hundreds of bars and restaurants, serving both traditional Keralan fare and international cuisine.
From your hotel in Fort Cochin, venture out on a fullday of exploration this fascinating city, home to the famous Kathakali dance. You won’tbe short of things to do, especially if you like to shop for antiques, spices, or textiles. There are also museums and market places through which to stroll, plus an impressive fort and the old estchurch in India to visit. In ‘Jew Town’, a bustling trading enclave is a 16th Century synagogue and the Portuguese-builtpalace, containing beautiful murals, is another fabulous sight worth taking in. Boat cruises around the harbour, decorated with the famous Chinese cantilever fishing nets, may even afford the opportunity to see dolphins close by.
A transfer to the airport for your onward flight.