The west coast of India receives a solid amount of rain during the monsoons and thanks to this yearly weather phenomenon, the entire belt up the coast changes to a lush green and is a sight to see. Tourists flock to the regular destinations along the coast in Kerala, Karnataka and Goa; however for a really different experience we (MotorScribes along with Mahindra Adventure as our vehicle partner and Hindustan University as our knowledge partner) put together an epic 10 day drive along this very coast, namely the Thunder Run.
The plan was simple – take five Mahindra Adventure Scorpios and drive from Kanyakumari all the way to Goa while sticking to the coastal route for as much of the trip as possible. The only exception being the drive out to Wayanad to experience a different flavour of the monsoon up in the hills.
With the vehicles all tanked up and everybody all set after a good night’s rest in Kanyakumari, it was time to chase the Thunder! Our day began with a glorious 6:00 am sunrise in Kanyakumari right down by the beach where we could see the Vivekananda Rock out in the ocean. While that was an awesome sight, it was the drive that we were really kicked about as we had to make our way out of Tamil Nadu and head towards Kumarakom in Kerala, a 280km journey.
The 1500km journey began in Kanyakumari where we all arrived and checked into Sparsa Resort right at Land’s End. The view was spectacular and it set the mood for what we were to expect in the days to come. The first day of driving was an early start and our trusty steed for the drive was the powerful and mighty Mahindra Adventure Scorpios. The drive to Kumarakom covered a distance of 280 km and it was a fun-filled journey that took us through Varkala, where we got to admire those majestic cliffs right next to the Arabian Sea and then on through Edava where the Sea was to our left and the backwaters were on our right as we drove on a sliver of tarmac between the two! No doubt, the location was such that we pulled over umpteen times to click photographs as each turn and twist along the road offered another majestic view! While this did slow us down a bit, it wasn’t something that anyone complained about and we finally reached our hotel in Kumarakom just in time for dinner.
After a good night’s rest at the Abad Whispering Palms in Kumarakom, the second day was all about relaxing on a houseboat out in the backwaters of Lake Vembanad. As the majestic house boat puttered along at a leisurely pace, we got to soak in the stellar view and enjoy a scrumptious meal on board as well! Since there were participants from all over the country on this trip, the houseboat ride also proved to be a great conversation starter and the beginnings of new friendships were forged on that day. It was a day well spent and well deserved however the lure of what adventures lay ahead was what everyone was most interested in.
The next morning, we were back on the road and made our way up to Kannur. While in Kannur we dabbled in a bit of sightseeing which included a visit to St. Angelo Fort, which incidentally was considered one of the most important seashore forts and is one of the earliest Portuguese establishments on the Malabar Coast.
After that brief history lesson, everyone got back in their Mahindra Adventure Scorpios and made their way to the next stop for the day – Muzhappilangad Drive-In Beach. This 4.0 kilometre stretch of beach happens to be the longest drive-in beach in India and it is rated as one of the best in the world! Yup, we got to take the vehicles out for some fun in the surf and needless to say, everyone had an absolute blast! Gunning through the surf, splashing about and generally having the time of our lives behind the wheel, the scene looked like a pool party for Scorpios and the experience was nothing short of epic!
Leaving the coastline behind for a bit, we made our way up to Wayanad to experience spice and tea country and dabble in some off-roading as well. The weather was way cooler and the lush forests where a visual treat. No doubt, the icing on the cake came in the form of a unique 4×4 experience followed by a small hike right through the dense jungle! The off-road excursion was led by none other than Shibu Varghese (Jeep Captain) who made sure that we had a great time out in the boonies without putting so much as a scratch on our vehicles and we got to indulge in some challenging obstacles. With the Scorpios we tackled slushy inclines, went over large rocks and even crossed a small stream! It was a muddy drive to say the least, yet it gave each one of us a firsthand experience of what a 4×4 can do. The Mahindra Adventure Scorpios are a beast and they really can take on some of the worst terrain.
Post the 4×4 drive, we went on a small hike in the woods. While on foot, we went deeper into the jungle, crossed streams on rickety bridges and also had to deal with leeches! Those blood suckers where everywhere and it took some doing to keep them from drinking us dry! Jokes apart, a little bit of Dettol water was the perfect deterrent and we managed to return back to our resort without too many casualties (some of us did get 5-6 bites, but the scars of war were well worth it)!
The following day we made our way down the mountain from Wayanad and on to a small little town in Karnataka called Malpe, where we broke our journey for the night. The sleepy town of Malpe proved be surprisingly neat and is as quaint as you would expect such a beach town to be. While we did get to sample the local cuisine out by the beach where small shacks serve the catch of the day, we learnt that Malpe has its own backwaters and there are a slew of water related leisure and adventure events that one can do. It is a place that each one of us has marked on our bucket list to return to for a longer stay sometime.
The drive from Malpe to Goa marked our last day out on the road on the Thunder Run. The drive was quick thanks to the fantastic roads that Karnataka has to offer and to give the Thunder Run some closure; we headed out to Cabo de Rama in Goa for a grand finale photoshoot! While the driving was over, the trip wasn’t as we still had two days to enjoy all that Goa had to offer (wink, wink) and it proved to be the perfect place to unwind after having completed the 1500 km journey. Pool parties, great food and a gang of new friends were the perfect ingredients for a gala time out at the Heritage Beach Resort.
No doubt, it is always tough to return back to reality after an experience like this and I know that everyone who was on this epic adventure will cherish the memories for a lifetime and on that note, we do have a small video to share to give you a glimpse of all that went down on Thunder Run 2016!
Thunder Run at a glance
- A unique 10 day self-drive adventure event
- Fleet: Mahindra Adventure Scorpios
- Total Distance: 1500 km
- Organized by MotorScribes (In association with Mahindra Adventure, Hindustan University, The Flour Works, Fork N Spoon and Trak N Tell)
- Annual event open for participants
- All inclusive package covers stay, meals, fuel, tolls, boathouse charges, off-roading experience charges
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