India cycling tour, north and south

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Date
Price
Basis
09 Feb 2019
£2240
£1904
excluding flights
On Request
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13 Apr 2019
£2240
excluding flights
Departure Guaranteed
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12 Oct 2019
£2240
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02 Nov 2019
£2240
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16 Nov 2019
£2240
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07 Dec 2019
£2240
excluding flights
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11 Jan 2020
£2315
excluding flights
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08 Feb 2020
£2315
excluding flights
Available
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07 Mar 2020
£2315
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11 Apr 2020
£2315
excluding flights
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10 Oct 2020
£2315
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31 Oct 2020
£2315
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14 Nov 2020
£2315
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05 Dec 2020
£2315
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: India cycling tour, north and south

Environment

A core part of our company’s commitment to responsible travel is to actively avoid (and discourage people from visiting) any establishment that participates in or condones the riding or mistreatment of elephants. On this trip you'll see elephant rides on offer – we strongly discourage you from partaking in this activity and our group leaders will not assist you in organising it.

We also visit Ranthambore National Park and Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, where animals such as tigers and elephants can be viewed in their natural environment. To help minimise the impact on the animals and their habitat we endeavour to use smaller, quieter vehicles and stick only to the official roads.

Cycling requires constant hydration making it is easy to use plastic excessively, especially in hot climates or during the summer months. Rather than use single-use plastic bottles we refill our water bottles from a large drum kept on our support vehicle. We also encourage people to snack on fresh, seasonal fruits rather than processed fruits in plastic wrappers, and avoid unnecessary items like plastic straws.

On this trip we stay in several heritage properties, including the 16th-century Castle Bijaipur, which is now a hotel within the original fortified walls. As well as the 400-year-old Fort Madhogarh, also converted into a family-run hotel in order to finance its upkeep. By staying in these unique properties, we aim to help to preserve the cultural heritage of Rajasthan, as well as highlighting to locals the value we associate with their history and way of life.
Our greatest contribution to minimising our transportation's impact on the environment is to travel by bike, avoiding any use of energy or fuel. When we do use a vehicle, we are committed to providing local experiences and as part of this philosophy we use local forms of transport wherever possible. Where we use private transport, we stick to the small back roads minimising our impact on locals using the main roads for daily routines. Where we do use a support vehicle, we will always ensure that it is an appropriate size to suit the cyclists it supports i.e. no using a 16-seater minivan if we only have five people travelling.

On this trip we use our own local India-based supplier who shares our commitment to responsible business, from waste and water management to ensuring we are leaving as minimal a foot(tyre)print as possible. Where we use a third party to assist in the running of the trip, we ensure they are educated on all aspects of responsible business and supported in making any changes they need to improve in this regard.

Community

An important part of travel is mixing with the locals and experiencing “real life” in your chosen destination. On this trip, along with staying in locally-owned hotels and guesthouses, we visit small cafes and restaurants and buy locally produced crafts and fresh produce. This gives locals the opportunity to earn money directly and our travellers the chance to interact with locals in Rajasthan and Kerala in their everyday environment.
We also use only Indian cycling guides and support staff, as well as local guides in many destinations.

We source local activities which we believe are sustainable to the economy in that they allow the flow of income from visitors to be distributed to a greater audience. This could be as simple as spending time in a local café, to cooking classes in a home and shopping at small local stores.
As well as visiting Rajasthan and Kerala’s many cultural icons, on this trip you have the opportunity to go shopping in Pushkar’s market, spend a night on-board a typical Keralan houseboat (Kettuvallam) and learn about life on the Kerala Backwaters, visit local markets, be introduced to countless locals by your tour leader during guided walks and even perhaps participate in a sitar lesson.

All aspects of this trip (on the ground) are operated by Indians (most of whom live locally) including all our cycling guides, support vehicle drivers, local site guides, and accommodation providers. We provide our already experienced local suppliers with cycling training so that they are up to speed with the needs of our travellers as well as building their skills. As our local experts we are also careful to ensure that we consult them about the itinerary, and consider any concerns they have, or improvements they may suggest.

Locals know where the best food, souvenirs, local crafts and entertainment can be found. This trip is operated by Indians and we ensure any shopping opportunities, from the larger centres like Trivandrum and Kochi to the small villages along the way, offer authentic experiences that showcase Kerala’s rich and unique culture and crafts.

Food is often a highlight in Kerala (known as the Land of Spices) and we offer a variety of opportunities to sample the full range, including the region’s classic curries. Fresh fruit is abundant and delicious in Kerala with mango, banana and coconut being perennial favourites in the local markets we visit. But, for a truly local experience we also recommend trying the traditional delicacy Karimeen pollichathu (fish). Being so close to the sea the seafood is amazing here and our local leaders and guides always know the best places to find it.

Kerala also has a rich arts and craft culture, with a special emphasis on handicrafts such as brass works, cane products, lacquer ware, wood carving, and textiles. Rather than shopping in larger tourist shops we recommend checking out the small village morning markets that often feature the work of local craftspeople. You also have the opportunity to witness first-hand the fascinating Indian martial art Kalaripayattu, considered to be one of the oldest surviving fighting styles in existence.

Our cycling trips usually have a maximum group size of 16 to minimise our impact on the smaller Indian communities we cycle through. We believe this is the perfect size for a cycling trip in Rajasthan and Kerala while respecting the capabilities of the destinations we’re in. Over tourism is an issue we are very conscious of and we are taking measures to ensure our impact on the communities we visit and their environment is our top priority. We encourage our local cycling leaders to always give us feedback on what we can do better in this regard.

Along with the environment we strongly believe in helping educate our travellers about the culture of the region, and they will often share their own stories and perspectives with you. Along with visiting India’s iconic highlights on this trip we also make a visit to the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) in Delhi to gain a greater understanding of India’s fourth largest religion and the holy lake in Pushkar to learn about its significance to the Hindu majority.
As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity and wider community. A bicycle means you can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load, providing a profound and lasting positive effect for the individual as well as their community. Bicycles for Humanity collect donated (used or new) bicycles, repair them if needed and send them to Africa. Along with donated bicycles each of the 40ft shipping containers that Bicycles for Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it's placed, helping the community to move away from aid dependence.

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