Sat 03 Mar - Sat 10 Mar 2018

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

INFORMATION

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Money

Visa

Vaccinations

Flights

Insurance

Group Size

Leadership

Climate

Terrain

Luggage allowance and valuables

Responsible Tourism

Typical Day

Accomodation

Food & Drink

Clothing and Equipment

Bikes

Toilets

Phone and WiFi

Safety

Emergencies

Training

Training Weekends

Level of Difficulty

This challenge has been graded ‘Challenging’, This is the perfect challenge for participants who are of an adventurous spirit and an open mind, but perhaps haven’t taken on a strenuous challenge event before and are hoping to push themselves out of their comfort zone. You can tell your supporters that on your Kerala Cycle, you will be:
•    Cycling between 7-9 hours per day.
•    Cover an overall distance of 300 kilometres.
•    Hitting the tarmax in extremely hot conditions.
 

Money

Currency: The currency is the Rupee, abbreviated as Rs. For up to date currency exchange, go to: http://www.xe.com/. Foreign currency regulations are strict. No Rupee currency may be imported or exported. You may be able to purchase rupees from some UK exchanges prior to travel; however, please note importing currency must be done at your own risk. We recommend you to bring sterling or dollars to exchange at the airport in Delhi.
Credit Cards: A growing number of hotels, restaurants and shops in the major cities are beginning to accept credit cards, the well-known and more accepted ones being American Express, Access/MasterCard, Diners Club and Visas. However, credit cards are not the most convenient form of payment or cash withdrawal.
ATMs: Please note that ATMs are not always available and that when they are they do not always work. It is generally easier to visit a bank, but your local guide will advise.
How much to bring: You will not need large amounts of money during this challenge, and other than at the start and end of the trip, you will be in the mountains away from any foreign exchanges or banks. You will only need money for tips, additional food & drink, gifts & souvenirs, and for any other additional activities that you may wish to do. On average, we recommend around £200 in cash, plus a credit card for emergencies. Keep in mind that you will not be able to buy Rupees before entering India, and so you are advised to take a sufficient amount of cash that you can change at the airport or in Cochin.
NB: By changing at the airport while some of the group collect the luggage you will save time – the Indian Exchanges are generally the fastest.
Tipping: Tipping is personal and at your sole discretion. You should only tip if you feel that you have received good service. We recommend approx. £10 per person per challenge day and this should be given to the challenge leader/sherpa guide at the end of the trip who will advise how to distribute it among the support team at your final celebration. NB: You may be approached by local porters at the airport. Their tips are not included; if you agree for them to take your bags to the transfer vehicle, please be prepared to tip them a small, nominal amount. However, our team will be there to help you.

 

Visa

You must hold a full ten-year passport with at least six months to run from the end of your challenge, and at least one blank page for your visa and entry/exit stamps.
All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. British Citizens are now eligible to get an online visa before arrival to Indian.
Important note: British passport holders of Pakistani origin will still have to apply for a paper visa (not online) and they may have difficulty in obtaining a visa for India and should check the requirements with the Indian High Commission before signing up to this challenge.

 

Vaccinations

For up to date vaccinations information please visit the NHS website ‘Fit for Travel’ at: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx. To avoid mosquito bites, we recommend wearing long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and socks at dawn and dusk. You should also wear plenty of insect repellent.

Flights

You will be flying from London Heathrow to and back from Cochin, India. Your flight tickets will be given to you at the airport by our airport representative, who will meet you at the airline check-in desk. If you choose to book your own flights you must confirm with the Charity Challenge office before paying otherwise you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance).

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.
For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Group Size

The group is intended to be a minimum of 16 people in order to run and a maximum of approximately 30 people due to the wilderness environment in which the challenge takes place. We will be able to run this challenge for 12 to 15 people by charging a small group supplement, which will be added to your final balance invoice (self-funders) or charged to your charity (minimum sponsorship or flexi).

Leadership

We employ a number of first aid qualified challenge leaders, all of whom speak fluent English. They will be ultimately responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group.

Climate

India is so vast that the climatic conditions in the far North have little relation to those of the extreme South. Kerala enjoys a moderate and pleasant climate. The mean temperature in the warmest month (April) is 27.1°C  and in the coldest month (January) is 20.4°C The temperature during the day rarely exceeds 35°C in summer (April and May) and seldom falls below 8°C on winter nights (December, January and February). The atmosphere is neither very humid nor very dry.
Early morning fog occurs between October to February but mainly in December and January. An important feature influencing the climate of  Kerala is the low cloud which covers almost the entire sky during greater part of the day from June to September. The morning hours in these months, with overcast skies, little or no rain and a fresh breeze with temperature of the order of 21°C to 25°C are the most pleasant in the year.

 

Terrain

Most of the bike trip is on tarmac roads with some cycling on dirt roads also. They are ‘Indian’ tarmac roads so do have potholes and can be bumpy. The terrain is very mountainous so be prepared for some tough days but the stunning views, ambience and welcoming nature of the Keralan people will be ample reward for all your hard work.

Luggage allowance and valuables

As no formal clothes are needed, luggage should be kept to the absolute minimum – details on what to pack are provided in your Kit List. Your rucksack (suitcases are not appropriate) must not exceed 20kgs in weight. Your luggage will be transported in our support vehicle from hotel to hotel.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

 

Typical Day

You will wake early (around sunrise) in time for a hearty breakfast. Cycling days will last between 4-8 hours, including breaks and snacks. You will have a leisurely break for lunch around noon – packed or cooked lunch will be provided. We will head on at around 1-2 pm. You will arrive at your accommodation before sunset. Supper will be prepared and you can relax as the stars come out.

Accomodation

During the challenge sector you will be staying mainly in hotels and heritage accommodation. If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with please let Charity Challenge know in advance.

Food & Drink

You will be served a variety of European and Indian food. All meals are healthy, nourishing, and plentiful. Please let Charity Challenge knows prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Clothing and Equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For your cycle challenge, padded cycling shorts and comfortable footwear are essential, and helmets are compulsory throughout. Training with your cycling shorts is definitely advised! You can bring equipment like clip-in pedals or a gel seat, if desired, in order to adapt your bike in country, and we would also recommend technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here, once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoorhire and Cotswold Outdoor.

Bikes

The bikes are new, 18-gear Trek or Firefox bikes. They are some of the best bikes available in India; however, they probably do not compare to your bike at home. We add removable bar-ends to the bikes. We also add bells and water bottle holders. Please bring your own toe-clips and peddles if you prefer and we can add them. We take plenty of spares and our mechanics are on hand at all times for repairs or adjustments. The maximum frame size available in India is 19-inch.

Toilets

You will be staying in hotels or guesthouses, with good toilet facilities.

Phone and WiFi

During the Kerala cycle, phone and WIFI connection will be available almost throughout the whole challenge.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of its participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. In a nutshell, Our Challenge Safe brand formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the activity itself. Your welfare is paramount!
In terms of your Kerala Cycle challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:
•    Riding in the heat of India is a major challenge in itself so make sure you are well hydrated throughout.
•    This trip involves dirt tracks with lots of loose stones and rocks so concentration while riding through these areas is essential
•    Smoke alarms are not compulsory in India, and as such very few accommodations will include them. Your tour leader will explain the emergency procedures.
•    You will be riding on the right-hand side of the road, through occasionally busy areas. Make sure that you are paying attention at all times.
•    The brakes on the bikes may be on the opposite side to what you are used to in the UK. Take the first morning slow and steady until you get used to this.

 

Emergencies

The event is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people’s cycling ability, which is allowed for. There will be a staff member at the back of the group at all times to ensure that you are not left behind and can take things at your own pace. If we find that somebody is unable to cycle at all, then we can transport them from one location to the next by our support vehicle, but only as a final option (due to often poor weather conditions this can be difficult). Contact will be maintained between guides and the support team allowing for emergency evacuation if necessary.

Training

A good level of fitness is definitely required. Anyone who leads an active and healthy lifestyle and cycles on a regular basis, with training, should find this a manageable challenge. As always, however, the more you exercise before the challenge, the more you will get out of it. To train, cycle for a full day at a time or even a whole weekend in order to build up your stamina. Don’t forget that the climate is different to the UK, and that you will be exercising constantly for a number of days in the heat and sunshine. You will only be expected to carry water and any essentials that you would carry on a day ride – our support team will take care of the rest of your luggage. Also see the Fitness Training Advice notes.

Training Weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page here.

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ATOL protected

We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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