Backroads Of Kerala

Backroads Of Kerala

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13 Days
From

$2590

$2519

Backroads Of Kerala

13 Days Starting in Kovalam and ending in Kochi

Visiting: Kovalam, Varkala, Kollam, Alappuzha, Erattupetta, Thekkady, Periyar National Park, Kuttikkanam, Kochi

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

CKB

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 16

Physical rating:

Easy

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active

Interests:

Beach Tours, Cultural

Activities:

Cycling, Sightseeing

From:
$2590
$2519 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$71
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Tour Overview

A cycling holiday in southern India along Kerala's backroads through a landscape of tropical forests, spice, tea and rubber plantations. Discover village life, search for wildlife in Periyar National Park and relax on Indian Ocean beaches.



Keralan backwaters to the highlands - Pedal along beautiful coastlines, through plantations and tropical forests

Kochi - Explore this fascinating colonial coastal town

Kovalam - Relax on the stunning beaches on the Malabar Coast

Holi Festival - Celebrate while group is in Erattupetta on 18th March

Highlights

  • Keralan backwaters to the highlands - Pedal along beautiful coastlines, through plantations and tropical forests

  • Kochi - Explore this fascinating colonial coastal town

  • Kovalam - Relax on the stunning beaches on the Malabar Coast

  • Holi Festival - Celebrate while group is in Erattupetta on 18th March

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1: Trip Starts In Kovalam
Location: Kovalam
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Arrive in Kovalam, a small coastal town with palm- backed beaches, busy fishing harbour and lighthouse.



For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 2pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Kovalam at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you will need to arrive into Trivandrum International Airport (TRV), which is 30 minutes' drive from Kovalam. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.



If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose wander down to the harbour and watch the fishing boats come or walk to the lighthouse. Alternatively, the beautiful beaches of Kovalam are a good place to enjoy a drink from the numerous cafes overlooking the sandy beach.



Should you flight arrive today, even in the early hours of the morning, you will have check-in on arrival at the hotel.

Day 2: Morning Cycle Ride, Afternoon Free To Relax On The Arabian Coast
Location: Kovalam
Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we try out our bikes and make any necessary adjustments. We start with a short and relaxing introductory ride through some of the local fisherman's villages around Kovalam. In the afternoon you may like to explore the area at leisure; walk along the sandy beaches or take on the pounding surf of the Arabian Sea. In the evening you can sit in a beachside cafe, enjoying the vista of fishing boats sailing out for their evening catch with a backdrop of the setting sun. Kerala is particularly renowned for its herbal care, and you may choose to have an Ayurvedic massage. The science of rejuvenation and purification through natural remedies, the massage uses a range of oils and herbs to treat a number of ailments. There is the option to extend your ride today up to 32 kms passing through fishing villages and along a beautiful coastal road.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 10 kilometres (total ascent 205 metres and descent 175 metres).

Day 3: Drive To Veli Lagoon; Visit Anjengo Fort And Cycle To Varkala
Location: Varkala
Accommodation: Hotel

After breakfast we transfer by bus to Veli, from where we cycle 20 km to the estuary. The lagoon is a large lake separated from the ocean by the narrowest of sandbar spits, where fisherman can be seen working on their boats and nets, or poling across the lake with sand-filled barges. We visit the fishing village of Anjuthengu, where we stop to visit Anjengo Fort, built by the British East India Company in the 17th century and the first British trading post on the Malabar coast. After our visit we carry on towards Varkala, a temple town renowned throughout the region as a pilgrimage centre for the millions of Hindus who come here to worship at the ancient Janardhana Swamy Temple. Nowadays Varkala has grown into Kerala's most popular backpacker hangout with people attracted to the naturally beautiful clifftop setting and relaxed vibe. On arrival there should be time to relax on the beaches of the Arabian coast, wander amongst the palms and perhaps enjoy a stunning sunset before sitting down to a well-earned dinner in one of the local restaurants.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 37 kilometres (total ascent 318 metres and descent 295 metres).

Day 4: Cycle Through Traditional Keralan Villages To Kollam
Location: Kollam
Accommodation: Hotel

This morning's ride is alongside palm fringed shores and beautiful blue lagoons with the chance to spend a little time on Kollam beach. On the way we can the see fisherman's village which was hit by the Tsunami a few years ago. Situated on the edge of the Ashtamundi Lake, Kollam is surrounded by coconut palms and cashew tree plantations, indeed the town is the centre of the cashew industry here. Its old wooden houses are typical of the Keralan style and its situation at the southern end of the backwaters makes it an ideal spot from which to explore the network of canals and lagoons.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 36 kilometres (total ascent 300 metres and descent 325 metres)

Day 5: Boat Trip Along Backwaters; Cycle To Allepey- Manarasala Snake Temple
Location: Alappuzha
Accommodation: Hotel

After a short drive on highway we get back on the bikes and the back roads, cycle further south along coastal roads shaded by palm trees for about 15kms. We cross the river by ferry that acts as a water taxi for the locals with their motorbikes or bicycles. Our ride continues for about 22km which completes today's cycling at the Manarasala Snake Temple, located close to the settlement of Thottapally. On the way, travelling through villages we may have the chance to see some traditional coir-making skills (the fibres from the outer husk of the coconut, which is used to make rope and mats), as well as fishing. After visiting the temple we board in bus again for a short drive to Thotappally where we leave our bus and have lunch. We then spend the afternoon on a relaxing exploration through the backwaters by motor launch that leads us to our hotel in Allepey. The journey should take around 3 hours and is the ideal way to explore these waterways, which cover an area of some 1900 square kilometres. The boats are the lifeline for the villages, acting as taxis, mail delivery and even the harvest is carried in boats. You may see great pyramids of coconuts or even the odd buffalo being carried along in this time honoured fashion. Our boat trips ends and we proceed to our accommodation, in the district of the ancient trading town of Alleppey. This evening free to explore this beautiful trading town. Alappuzha - known as Alleppey is the hub of Kerala's backwaters, home to a vast network of waterways, over a thousand houseboats and an important coir industry.





Our total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres (total ascent 308 metres and descent 308 metres).

Day 6: Morning Cycling Through Backwaters' Villages; Sunset Canoe Trip
Location: Alappuzha
Accommodation: Hotel

Today after breakfast we will drive about half an hour towards the Mancombu area from where we start cycling. Our route is through the villages of these myriad backwaters we get plenty of opportunity to interact with the locals, visit churches and temples, before returning to take a sunset or moonlit cruise by canoe. Crafted out of Anjili wood, we take to the waters whilst locals sing traditional songs as they row. The industrious villagers survive on narrow spits of land, keeping cows, pigs, chickens and cultivating vegetable gardens. Even the shells from the fresh water mussels are burnt to make building lime, and coir is used for just about everything. The gardens are generally well tended often with brightly coloured flowers, such as hibiscus, that contrast sharply with the tropical greenery. At approximately 4 pm we board the bus again which takes us to the start point for our village walk and later sunset by Canoe through beautiful Backwaters. After this excursion we go back to the hotel.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 35 kilometres (total ascent 226 metres and descent 235 metres).

Day 7: Drive And Cycle To Erattupetta; Planters Homestay
Location: Erattupetta
Accommodation: Homestay

Leaving the beautiful backwaters behind we use a combination of engine and pedal power to reach today's destination; Erattupetta. This area is famous for its rubber plantations which date back to the early 19th century. The slightly cooler climate is a welcome change from the lower levels as we cycle along rolling hills in the shade of the rubber trees. We stay with a local family, at their homestay. Watch our host to cook up a traditional curry, walk through the gardens or take a swim in natural rock pools.



Planters Homestay is a spacious and comfortable two storey family mansion house, built over 50 years ago. It has bright and airy guest rooms, all en-suite. Some, but not all rooms have air conditioning. The house is surrounded by lush gardens with rubber and tropical fruit trees plus palms and tall teaks and lots of bird life.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 33 kilometres (total ascent 657 metres and descent 648 metres).

Day 8: Optional Cycle Rides Available
Location: Erattupetta
Accommodation: Homestay

This morning we take a stroll through a local plantation and have the chance to learn about the numerous fruits and medicinal plants. Depending on the season, we may bathe in rock pools before an optional visit to see Poonjar Palace, a 900 year old residency of the Maharajah and his family which is now mostly abandoned and can only be viewed from the outside. We can also visit the local town.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 9 kilometres (total ascent 266 metres and descent 160 metres). There is also the option to cycle 32km if you would like more of a challenge.

Day 9: Drive And Cycle To Thekkady; Visit Plantations And Tea Factory
Location: Thekkady
Accommodation: Hotel

Taking the meandering roads through the high ranges today we will drive some of the steeper sections of road, before transferring to two wheels to continue our journey to Thekkady. Our cycle route is through a region called Wagamon where the cooler climate helps you through the seemingly endless tea plantations and rolling hills. Our route takes us past many rubber plantations, and through varied spice gardens. Further on, we may have the opportunity to meet local tea pickers in the plantations to help get a feel for how people live in this beautiful region before arriving at our hotel. Please note the last 10km of today's ride is on a busy road. Thekkady is the spice hub of Kerala and the town has many spice shops. The beautiful aroma in the air lets you know why this region is called the cardamom hills. Today we will also make a visit to the Connemara Tea Factory.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 36 kilometres (total ascent 1176 metres and descent 1506 metres).

Day 10: Forest Walk, Explore Thekkady - Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Location: Periyar National Park
Accommodation: Hotel

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady is one of 16 Project Tiger Reserves in India, with about 40 tigers living in the 777 sq km park, but as they are solitary creatures, the chances of seeing them are very slim. This morning we take a forest walk in search of other wildlife such as the star tortoise, porcupine, elephants Indian Bison, flying squirrel and numerous birds. the park itself is made up of a variety of habitats; open grasslands, deciduous, semi-evergreen and tropical forest - all of which host different animal species. The ecosystem of the tropical evergreen jungle is very interesting - the trees grow up to 40m, and the dense canopy above allows in limited sunlight. At ground level, there are abundant ferns, orchids and airplants - plants that need little light to survive.



No cycling today.

Day 11: Great Cycle Descent To Kuttikanam, Drive To Kochi
Location: Kuttikkanam
Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we have a very beautiful route to cycle, down the winding roads of Kuttikanam where you can enjoy a freewheel ride of nearly 20 kms. We continue our journey by bus (3 hours) to the bustling port of Kochi, with its beautiful natural harbor which earned it the title 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. As well as being the oldest European settlement in India, with its mix of English, Dutch and Portuguese influences, Kochi is also home to the famous Kathakali dancers. Its origins came from traditional temple rituals and from an art form known as Koodiyattam. The dancers can take up to three hours painting their faces - the features are heavily emphasised as it is the facial expressions and co-ordinated eye movements which are important in the dance. The dances usually portray events from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, great Indian epics.



Our total cycling distance today is approximately 30 kilometres (total ascent 540 metres and descent 1524 metres).

Day 12: Tour Of Kochi By Cycle; Evening Boat Cruise
Location: Kochi
Accommodation: Hotel

Today we cycle through the old town of Fort Cochin. As you might expect Kochi was founded on trade, originally with the arrival of the Chinese, Arabs and Phoenicians in the second millennium BC. Its links to Europe strengthened in the 16th century, with the arrival of the Portuguese, closely followed by the Dutch and the English. This has produced an eclectic mix of styles and influences. You can find both the oldest European church and the oldest synagogue in India amongst its winding streets and elsewhere Chinese fishing nets vie for space alongside Portuguese houses and Dutch palaces. After spending the day touring the town we take a sunset cruise around the surrounding islands.





Our total cycling distance today is approximately 10 kilometres.

Day 13: Tour Ends Kochi
Location: Kochi

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Kochi.



There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Kochi at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Cochin International Airport (COK), which is one hour 20 minutes from Kochi.

What's Included

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

    Breakfast: 12

    Lunch: 3

    Dinner: 2

  • Accommodation

  • Fully Guided

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • Bike

    No e-bike available on this trip

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • Country Entry Visas

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

Why Book this Tour

Unlike many other operators, we include the hire of your bike in the overall cost of the holiday: you don't need to bring your own or pay extra to hire one locally. We also provide a support vehicle, spare parts and take care of day to day bike maintenance. All you need bring is your own helmet.

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Check out our Q&As

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    Easy

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • What is the maximum group size?

    16

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    Yes

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    2 nights simple homestay

    10 nights comfortable hotel

  • Are e-bikes available on this trip?

    E-bikes are not available on this trip but there is a support vehicle

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Trasnfers are included on the first and the last day of the trip

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Sarah  

Backroads Of Kerala

The additional guide, Deepak was also excellent. A

The additional guide, Deepak was also excellent. All the staff were very nice and helpful.

Andrea  

Backroads Of Kerala

As always Explore have excelled and we will be loo

As always Explore have excelled and we will be looking for our next trip soon.

Penelope  

Backroads Of Kerala

Would like to put in aod word for Deepak as well w

Would like to put in aod word for Deepak as well who was our cycle leader on the whole. Also a very friendly and responsible young man, andod company.

Howard  

Backroads Of Kerala

An excellent holiday!

An excellent holiday!

Matthew  

Backroads Of Kerala

It was like having four holidays in one.

It was like having four holidays in one.

Tracy  

Backroads Of Kerala

Great trip. Looking forward to doing another cycli

Great trip. Looking forward to doing another cycling trip with explore soon.

Jane  

Backroads Of Kerala

Possibly my best holiday ever....in no small part

Possibly my best holiday ever....in no small part to the wonderful group of people and Nish Rana who worked extremely hard to make it a great trip for everyone. A true asset to your company. You should really get him on a educational trip to the London Office.

Michael  

Backroads Of Kerala

nice to see no expensive excursions !

nice to see no expensive excursions !

Robert  

Backroads Of Kerala

This was our first trip with Explore and one of th

This was our first trip with Explore and one of the best holidays we have been on. Deepak made sure we saw as much as possible and enjoyed the whole experience. We are looking forward to more trips with Explore!

Janet  

Backroads Of Kerala

I really can find little fault with the trip apart

I really can find little fault with the trip apart from the grading as Easy! The accommodation was as you’d expect in India. The programme interesting and the optional extrasod. The cookery class was brilliant and such a laugh too. The massage too was an experience, as was the martial arts show! Unfortunately the word Backroads conjures up a rather quieter image to the British, so the amount of traffic we came across was unexpected! But the local drivers were considerate and our ‘team’ very efficient at awkward junctions! Stopping the traffic as necessary! Don’t expect to lose weight though! The food everywhere was just brilliant. We had some unusual lunches en route, once served on a banana leaf, and at crazy cheap prices! The group were all easying and with the leaders led to a down-played Christmas which suited us, and has left me with many special memories.

Read all 19 reviews

Dates & Availability

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Saturday - Thursday

Oct 12, 2024 - Oct 24, 2024
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$71 (USD)

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Oct 26, 2024 - Nov 07, 2024
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Nov 09, 2024 - Nov 21, 2024
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Nov 23, 2024 - Dec 05, 2024
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Dec 21, 2024 - Jan 02, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$71 (USD)

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Saturday - Thursday

Jan 11, 2025 - Jan 23, 2025
$2690 $2616 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Jan 25, 2025 - Feb 06, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Feb 08, 2025 - Feb 20, 2025
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Feb 22, 2025 - Mar 06, 2025
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Mar 08, 2025 - Mar 20, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Mar 29, 2025 - Apr 10, 2025
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Oct 11, 2025 - Oct 23, 2025
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The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Saturday - Thursday

Oct 25, 2025 - Nov 06, 2025
$2690 $2616 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Saturday - Thursday

Nov 08, 2025 - Nov 20, 2025
$2690 $2616 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Saturday - Thursday

Nov 22, 2025 - Dec 04, 2025
$2690 $2616 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

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Saturday - Thursday

Dec 20, 2025 - Jan 01, 2026
$2690 $2616 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$74 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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