Cycling holiday in the Maikal Hills, Central India
Description of Cycling holiday in the Maikal Hills, Central India
This nine day tailor made cycle tour of Central India allows for a truly unique travelling experience in regions, thankfully, untouched by mass tourism. The absolutely gorgeous Maikal Hills provide the backdrop to the holiday with swathes of forests and jungles adding to the excitement of game drives in local tiger reserves, such as Kanha.
The Maikal Hills are home to untold indigenous Indian animals with overnight camping sites and village homestays increasing access to some wonderfully wild locations. Cycling to the tribal villages of the Baiga and Gond people invites authentic cultural introductions as well as enjoyable evenings, out of the saddle, listening to the sounds of the jungle.
In the main, the cycling tracks are pretty easy going although you will experience some reasonable gradients as you cycle through villages and forests.
As a flexible tailor made tour we want cyclists to choose a pace and agenda that suits rather than forcing them to continuously pedal all day every day. With this in mind we want to know if you’d prefer a more cultural cycling tour, perhaps, or would a more natural experience be better?
We can adapt the itinerary below to also include alternative wildlife reserves, such as Bandhavgarh, Pench and Satpura, as well as including more cultural focus in locations like Gwalior, Agra and Khajuraho. This is your holiday so get in touch and let us know your wishes.
1 Reviews of Cycling holiday in the Maikal Hills, Central India
Reviewed on 05 Jan 2016 by Jonathan Drori
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
My wife and I went on this trip with our 17 year-old son. Even as seasoned travellers to India, we would never have been able to do this trip on our own because this part of central India really doesn't have much tourist/traveller infrastructure. Cycling from village to village was absolutely fantastic. Our wonderful guide, Saurabh, based in Raipur, was not only brilliantly organised and wonderfully knowledgeable about wildlife, architure, people, plants, birds, customs etc. He also enabled us to visit families and villages in a way that was really rewarding and not the slightest bit 'icky'. We stayed overnight in one village, which was a fantastic experience - we learned so much. I especially enjoyed being taught how to make herb chapatis over a fire.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
You really don't have to worry about anything. We were happy and healthy the entire time, and very comfortable indeed! We met so many lovely people! My only advice would be to make sure that if there are things you especially like or don't like then let them know in advance. Actually, Saurabh and his team were remarkably flexible but I guess it helps if they know in advance.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
All the places we stayed were clearly creating local employment in a resepctful way. They were all careful to use local materials and produce and not to create lots of waste. What was really special is that in each place, the people working there seemed happy and cheerful and had a good relationship with the owners/managers. On our visits to local villages, there was none of the horrid 'rich tourists turning up to buy tawdry tat'. It was mutually respectful and rewarding and huge fun, I think, for all. For example, there was a dance performance for a group of us staying but clearly the performance was hugely enjoyed by the entire village and the fact that we were there meant that the dancers have yet another reason to keep their culture alive. Importantly, we all went to the village, where the performers would be on home ground with all their families and friends, rather than them coming to where we were staying. The home stay with a local doctor and his wife was just delightful - all the financial side is taken care of separately and spread properly around diffferent hosts. We just exchanged small souvenirs with each other.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Our trip was everything we wanted it to be. I have said to Saurabh and his team that he can give my email address to you if you're thinking of booking this trip, or one like it, and I may be able to give you some extra tips.
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for your wonderful review. It was our pleasure to show you little known area
of India where not many people go. Cycling with you was great and we are glad it was a
best holiday you and your family have every been on.
We hope to show you other hidden gems of central India soon.
Planet1 We operate with small group sizes which not only maximises interaction within the group and guides and local community but also minimises the impact on environment.
2 We use home stays, lodges and hotels which are safe, comfortable and operated in a sustainable way. We specifically pay attention to the lodges and camps, located around national parks for their waste disposal and eco-tourism policies.
3 Tiger reserves and national parks are covered in majority of our tours and with the increasing number of tourists in these reserves can put extra pressure on the local flora and fauna. However, we believe wildlife tourism can be an important conservation tool if used responsibly. Travel to national parks and wildlife areas can bring positive economic benefits as entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation of local flora and animal species, while visitors benefit from the educational aspects of the area and take away with them an increased awareness of the need and place for conservation. Equally important tourism helps the local communities living around these reserves by providing jobs and helping them realise the importance of the forest.
PeopleWe believe there are two fundamental factors in creating a successful and socially beneficial holiday: slow travel and placing value on local knowledge. All our guides on treks in the hills are local herdsmen (yadavs) or farmers; they not only know the best routes and the food and medicinal uses of every plant and tree, but also whether it is worth a diversion to see a leopard footprint, to bypass a village where private ceremony is taking place or drop in on one where a baby welcoming party will enjoy the presence of some extra guests. It enables real relationships to be established between guests and host nationals. We ensure that there are multiple languages speakers on all our tours to avoid cultural faux pas and to enrich the exchanges between everyone. Our guides ensures that same villages are not visited by foreigners more than once in any month and that all supplies are brought along so no strain is put on the local resources. We encourage guests to bring small but useful presents; jumpers or shawls for children (central Indian winter nights can be bitterly cold) and fresh fruit and vegetable for longer stays (50% of Indian people do not even eat one fully balance meal a day). All our accommodation providers employ the vast majority of their staff from local villages and encourage the learning of English, interaction with guests and opportunities for promotion. All our accommodation providers support the education of the children of their staff and the health needs of staff and their families.
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