Nilgiris Cycling Tour
The Nilgiris is a mountain range part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest protected forest in India. It is one of the richest regions in the world in terms of flora and fauna. It is also home to plantations of tea, coffee, cardamom, and many of the exotic spices for which India is known. A combination of high altitudes of around 2000m above sea level and equatorial latitudes that ensure heavy rainfall make the Nilgiris geographically unique. The result is a landscape of misty mountains, verdant forests, and a luxurious outpouring of the most diverse forms of life on earth. The Nilgiris cycling tour takes you on a journey through this breathtaking landscape in which we ride through tea and coffee plantations, hike through forests and grasslands, and get a chance to spot some rare flora and fauna.
Coimbatore | 13:00hrs
50km or 30mi
plantationsCycle through verdant tea, coffee, and cardamom plantations.
|DAY 1||Coimbatore to Coonoor||D|
|DAY 2||Red Hills||B, D||50km||cycling|
|DAY 3||Red Hills||B, L, D||8km||hiking|
|DAY 4||Kotagiri||B, D||50km||cycling|
Day 1: Coimbatore to Coonoor
We begin our journey with a drive from the Coimbatore airport to Coonoor that takes approximately 2 hours. Coonoor is located at an altitude of 1850m above sea level, and latitude of 11.35°N. This combination of high elevation and low latitude is typical of the Nilgiris, giving them their unique equatorial highland climate. The British found the Nilgiris climate so salubrious that they introduced the cultivation of their favorite drink, tea, to this region. Coonoor is thus a town that is surrounded by lush green forests and tea estates that spread out over its mountain slopes like exotic oriental rugs of green velvet. In the evening we meet for a bike fit and a tour briefing. We end the day with a cup of the finest Nilgiri tea, a befitting toast to the commencement of an unforgettable journey.
Day 2: Red Hills
We begin the day’s cycling by heading due west. The terrain consists of undulating hills covered by Shola forests – a tropical montane forest-grassland complex endemic to the Nilgiris. The Shola forests consist of stunted forests and grasslands that occur together covering entire mountains whose monotony is broken only by numerous crystal clear lakes gleaming under a mellow sun, giving the appearance of a patchwork quilt of multiple hues. We ride through villages where forests have been cleared to plant cash crops such as tea, coffee, wattle, blue gum, and exotic spices such as cardamom.
Day 3: Red Hills
Today we exchange our cycling gear for hiking boots as we go hiking into the Nilgiri forests. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is recognized as a biodiversity hotspot and a world heritage site by UNESCO on account of the extremely rich flora and fauna it supports, much of which is not found anywhere else in the world. Some of the rare animals found in this region are the Nilgiri Tahr, a critically endangered mountain goat of which a little over 3000 individuals are left in the wild today, and the Gaur or Indian bison. In the distance, we can spot the Doddabetta peak, the highest mountain in the Nilgiris standing tall at 2637m above sea level. We hike for 3-4 hours through the picture-postcard landscape of the Nilgiris. The rest of the day is free for relaxing and enjoying the fabulous views from your window. We recommended trying some traditional Badaga cuisine today that is prepared by the Badaga tribal community of the region using locally available ingredients and traditional techniques such as cooking in wood-fired ovens.
Day 4: Kotagiri
We get back on our bikes today and cycle towards the hill station of Kotagiri, a quaint town surrounded by tea estates and drenched in an old-world, colonial charm. On the way, we ride through the famous hill station of Ooty. The twin towns of Ooty and Kotagiri, once ruled by Toda tribals, were discovered for the modern world by the British civil servant John Sullivan who wrote that they “resembled Switzerland more than any country of Europe, the hills beautifully wooded and fine, strong springs with running water in every valley”. It is a description that still holds true, the only difference being that the beautifully wooded hills and strong springs have been added the charm of verdant tea gardens and quaint colonial bungalows. As we ride past garden upon a garden of lush green tea leaves glistening under a soft highland sun, kissed ever so lightly by the cool mountain breeze so that the very air is diffused with their pleasing aroma, we know we are in a region that produces one of the finest teas in the world.
Day 5: Coimbatore
We begin cycling from Kotagiri and return to the town of Coonoor from where we had begun the trip thus completing a loop. We then transfer to a shuttle and drive to Coimbatore from where we proceed according to our onwards travel plans.
Dates and Prices
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Open your date as a join-in tour or customize further as private one.
We offer private departures on almost all our itineraries, and for groups of four or more, they cost the same as our standard trips!
All hotels as mentioned in the tour details (subject to availability). All options are personally reviewed.
A Van support that follows the group of riders and carries all belongings.
Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.
Expert Trip Leader(s) who look after your every need and add meaning to your vacation.
Meals as per itinerary. Guests are given the opportunity to dine on their own so that they discover a location independently.
Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.
Airport pickup and drop
We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.
Immaculately maintianed bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.
Some meals may not be included. Please check your itinerary.
Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, juice at a hotel or restaurant.