I have always been a fan of South India and the opportunity to drive from Kanyakumari to Goa during the monsoons sounded like it would be an experience of a lifetime. The Thunder Run, a unique self-drive experience, meant that I could enjoy the joys of a road trip and have all the benefits of being part of a group tour. The trip itinerary mentioned that the route would take us through Kumarakom, Kannur, up to the hills in Wayanad and then on to Malpe, before we reached our destination in Goa. The entire 1,500 km journey would be covered in 10 days which included short breaks at different locations to soak in the sights and dabble in some adventurous activities. As part of this tour, we would be driving Mahindra Adventure Scorpios and I was looking forward to that experience as well.
Boat to beach-bashing
While the driving days were long, they were enjoyable and the convoy looked so good as it snaked through the narrow roads of Kerala. On our first day off, we got to go out for a relaxing ride on a houseboat in the backwaters of Lake Vembanad. As the majestic house boat puttered along at a leisurely pace, we enjoyed both the scrumptious meal on board and the view. The biggest highlight for me, however, was the day we left from Kannur and stopped at Muzhappilangad drive-in beach before heading up to Wayanad. This 5.5 km stretch offers over 4 km of hard packed sand that can be driven on. It is the longest drive-in beach in India and has also been rated as one of the best drive-in beaches in the world! Located in Northern Kerala, the entire area is lush and scenic. When the opportunity came to take our Scorpios out for a bit of beach bashing, I couldn’t resist getting my tyres wet. That the place is kept clean and tidy is an added bonus.
After the adrenaline rush at the beach, I was looking forward to the off-roading excursion planned in Wayanad. I am an off-roading enthusiast myself and the thought of leaving the tarmac behind and venturing up into the jungles of Wayanad in the Scorpio wasn’t something I wanted to miss. Since it had rained the night before, we were advised to be careful and follow the instructor’s directions. The challenges we faced along the way involved crossing a stream, going over some big rocks and tackling steep slush covered inclines as we snaked through the jungle. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that vehicles such as the Scorpio can make it through hell and back. The beauty of being out in the dense jungle with just your vehicle to rely on added to the excitement. Despite the fact that we got attacked by leeches out in the woods, all of us agreed that this excursion was definitely worth it.
Cue to unwind
From the hills and back to the coast, the Thunder Run convoy finally pulled into Goa eight days after we had set out from Kanyakumari. As we reached our hotel, I couldn’t believe that the trip had come to an end. No doubt, we did have two days to unwind in Goa and enjoy all that Goa is famous for, but the biggest takeaway for me was the friends I made on this trip and the memories of an epic adventure.
Where to stay
Kumarakom: Abad Whispering Palms
Kannur: Kairali Heritage
Wayanad: Lakkidi Village Resort
Malpe: Paradise Isle Resort
Goa: The Heritage Village Club
? Muzhappilangad is India’s longest drive-in beach. Of the 5.5 km stretch, you can drive on 4 km. ? Located between Kannur and Thalassery, Kerala ? Access through well-maintained road with clear markings ? Dharmadam Island appears during low tide and you can walk to it
? Always go off-roading in a group, you never know when you might need help ? For novice off-roaders, it is important to listen to the advice of seasoned veterans in the group
? Carry a first-aid kit with you ? Wear covered footwear
? Pack light and appropriately ? Your personal kit should include your driver’s license, cash and your insurance card ? Make sure you carry all your personal medication as such trips involve being in remote areas ? Always stay hydrated
— Vikram Gour