After finishing up on the Zanskar with plenty of time to spare, we started the long trek south to Kerala, the spice garden of India.
To save some pennies we decided to take the 3 day train from Delhi, and assumed that getting the kayaks on as luggage would be potentially difficult but people have done it before.
With no idea what to do we just turned up and tried to find the luggage office, however the station staff were far from helpful so we ended up just standing next to the train pleading to get them on.
The normal luggage for the train had been overbooked anyway so there was a huge fight for what was getting on, with parcels being thrown on and off by various people. Just as we were resigned that our boats weren’t getting on, a guy helped us stick them in the passenger carriage, and with trains not being super big, blocking the toilets for a whole carriage, but we managed to tie them up so you could get to one at least.
The conductor wasn’t very happy with this, and said we would have to move them at the next stop, which we were more than happy to, if he could tell us where to.
At the next stop the train staff had a good argument, which is how all things are sorted in India, got back on the train and said we should move them at the next stop again.
This repeated several times until we gave up watching, and eventually the staff did too, so we settled down to life on the train.
It’s surprisingly good, in the AC classes it’s nice and cool, with tea and byriani being brought round all the time.
A few days later we ended up in Calicut with no idea where we were heading. Luckily we found wifi and a message giving us a village name to head towards, and got dropped straight outside a cafe full of kayakers.
Getting straight into it, we put on the local Chalipura river with some local guys, and got our first taste of Kerala rivers.
They were a lot more British in style that anything we’d been on in a while, but once you got used to being able to just paddle over the trees it was a lot of fun.
As more and more people arrived for the Malabar festival, we ran laps on the local sections of the Chalipura and Irvangirpura rivers, with fluctuating rain giving some interesting levels.
Rory and I went for a full flood blast down the Chali, which ended up with me having one less paddle, which was a pretty lucky outcome in the end.
The paddling around was super fun, warm weather and water made for a nice change from ice cold water at 4500 meters.
There are countless rivers in the area, and doing first descents was sometimes even just a matter of putting on further up (or paddling some choss between sections).
As the festival started, the rains eased up and more people arrived to compete for some pretty serious prize money.
Things went as expected, with Mike Dawson smashing everyone in the races and coming out on top, and even did his best to win the party as well.
Post festival a group of us went on an exploration mission further south, however the monsoon decided to stop so all of the rivers were bone dry, or flat with mega waterfalls, so we ended up being touristy and riding around on scooters before heading away from Kerala to another leg of our tour to deepest Chhattisgarh the least touristy state in India, and totally unexplored for kayaking.