Turtle, Ecuador

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed August 2019
    Monica Princic

    A fantastic trip with incredible varied sceneries

    The trip is incredible. The scenery varies every day and you'll ride on all possible terrains: sand, rock, gravel, tarmac and every day offers a lot of fun. The landscape of the Moon Valley in Chile is surreal and the Tatio geyser excursion is a stunning experience. Chile and Argentina are lovely countries; the areas visited still haven't been reached by mass tourism and you barely see any other tourists while travelling.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Riding through the hill of seven colours in Purmamarca.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The guide we had on our trip has been working with Exodus for many many years and is very knowledgable of the area as well been born in Argentina. He went above and beyond to make sure everyone had the best time and gave us tips to ride on different terrain, as sand for instance and I felt I've learnt a lot by the end of the week.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just book and go!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Kristen Gilbert

    Perfect blend of cycling and sightseeing

    My husband and I went on this tour in July 2019. We were impressed from the beginning by the excellent organization and by the professionality of our guide Nut. We also had a terrific group, a good mix of more ambitious cyclists and those who desired a more leisurely pace (although I should mention that the tour is somewhat demanding and isn't for total beginners). Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time regardless of their cycling ability. Having experienced guides made things so much easier than if we had tried to organize the trip on our own - which we never would have attempted as a cycling tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many memorable moments, including the temple visits, the Killing Fields, navigating around scooters and food carts, cycling through the Mekong villages with kids shouting hello, trying new foods ...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nut is simply the best. What else is there to say?

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book this trip if you want to combine an active holiday and plenty of sightseeing. Highly recommended.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Neil Thomas

    Llamas and Alpacas: Machu Picchu Dreaming

    It took me a while to love Peru. It didn't help that our flight from Gatwick was delayed nearly 24 hours, resulting in us missing the first part of the adventure, and then enduring two very long travel days. However, once we arrived in Cusco and dealt with the initial impact of the altitude, the magic started to work. Ignore the sprawling, traffic-filled suburbs: the historic centre of Cusco is a magnificent place to spend a couple of days. We enjoyed visiting the market, the Bohemian quarter of San Blas, people watching in the Plaza de Armas and even waiting to cheer a bride into her wedding. Our days in Cusco bracketed our visit to Machu Picchu, which is every bit as magnificent as the guidebooks lead you to believe. Our allocated afternoon time slot allowed us to walk to the Sun Gate before visiting the main site - a rewarding experience affording magnificent views. The downside of MP - the shuttle buses to and from Aguas Callientes. You will have to face lengthy queues in each direction. On our second morning in Aguas Callientes we resisted the urge to visit MP again and instead were taken on a walk along the railway line to Los Jardines de Mandor, a beautiful botanic garden in the cloud forest leading to a waterfall. I would urge all Exodus clients to make this three-hour excursion - it was a highlight for us. After Cusco, there was another sprinkling of magic on Amantani Island, an oasis of beauty on Lake Titicaca. Our visit coincided with an island fiesta, so we enjoyed the riot of flags, dancing and colour displayed by the locals. Our journey across Titicaca also involved a visit to one of the floating island communities. That too was wonderful in a weird way. Next was the trip through the altiplano to the charming town of Chivay, stopping to watch an erupting volcano and a couple of whirlwinds en route. I can also now tell my llamas from my alpacas, as well as vicunas - there are plenty of all three species to be seen en route. Chivay offered a trip to the thermal springs and a rare hour of leisurely self-indulgence. The next day it was an early start to see the Andean condors rising on the thermals in Colca Canyon - another memorable experience. Then it was Arequipa, our visit coinciding with another festival of music and dance, and finally Miraflores, and a belated meeting with Paddington Bear, before our flight home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Machu Picchu, Cusco, Amantani Island, Colca Canyon, the train trip from Ollentaytambo to Machu Picchu. There were more, but you get the drift.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We have been on numerous Exodus trips, all with good leaders, but Giuliano Gallesi was on a higher level than all of them - not just because of the altitude. He dealt efficiently with our day-late arrival and then led the tour with authority and compassion throughout. He was quick to recognise the signs when group members were struggling with the altitude and twice called the doctor as a result. He has a very good command of English, a likeable personality, was happy to answer all our questions and, above all, was available to the group 24/7. A true professional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware of the long distances involved in the itinerary. For most of the route, the bus had a toilet on board, but that is of little consolation if, like me, you are not happy travelling near the back of a coach. We bought Peruvian Soles in advance of the trip and these were easier to use than US dollars. Dollars are accepted, but you are subject to the vagaries of local exchange rates. Food was generally of a very high standard. Our tour leader took us to or recommended consistently good restaurants. Make sure you have a supply of toilet paper handy. Many public banos did not have any available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Essential Peru is a rewarding but tiring trip. And you cannot ignore the altitude. On first arrival in Cusco we wanted to go straight to bed to sleep. The advice to take a short walk for some fresh air and then to have something to eat helped us to acclimatise.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Owain Dobson

    A truly awesome holiday

    I started looking at holidays with pre planned itineraries. I had a view of what we wanted, more downtime, flying between locations and some different trips. Asked the question of Exodus who came back and offered a custom built trip. The team who put this together were awesome. Really helpful and responsive, and the local in country teams were also great. I weighed up doing it myself but ended up booking with Exodus. What a GREAT decision. Whenever we arrived somewhere local guides and transport were waiting for us - the whole team were just amazing - so kind and knowledgeable, so responsive to any question whether we were with them or not. Booked restaurants for us, checked up on queries, early and late checkouts, arranged surprise birthday cakes for my wife....literally nothing was too much trouble. Exodus also used all the local teams knowledge to pick great value hotels in the best locations. not the big 5 stars, but amazing 3 to 4 star ones. Our hotel in Ho Chi Min was in the middle of the most luxurious area with rooftop breakfasts. Our Hanoi hotel had a swimming pool and cocktail bar on the 12th floor. In Hoi An our beach boutique hotel was truly special - small and intimate. Trust Exodus, and don't read trip advisor too much would be my advice! We have had one of our best holidays ever. We all loved Vietnam, and we loved how easy Exodus made it for us to be here. Thank you from the whole family - you are awesome!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We could not pick a moment - speed boat trip down the Mekong river to tunnels was great, but then so was our beach paradise in Hoi An and the kingdom of My Son - older than Cambodian relics, food advice and tours, the Halong bay trip, sunset cocktails......Literally all awesome

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Linda, Lu and San were all amazing, friendly and could not do enough for us

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Give yourself time to enjoy the place. Don't be in the go the whole time.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Paul Bailey

    Trekkers Haute Route

    Having completed the TMB last year this was an excellent opportunity to visit the Alps again and push the boundaries a bit farther. Although we started some 5 weeks later in the year, the alpine spring flowers were still in abundance although the recent heatwave had melted the majority of the snow. Because of this the rivers were raging and lively.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Once again our excellent guide, John Briggs, led us to some beautiful lakes where we were able to sample the delights of bathing in glacial waters.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Group Leader and Guide, John Briggs, was motivational and supportive in every situation. A few in our group were apprehensive about climbing the ladders having a general phobia regarding heights. John was always on hand to personally assist, encourage and calm. One of the group was particularly fearful of walking on snow and John took extreme care to accompany the person along this section all the way supporting and encouraging. His dry Yorkshire wit was an infectious delight. I would recommend anyone to go on any trip he is leading.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For those who suffer with vertigo, this is a real test but not insurmountable. Boulder hopping and scree climbing skills are very useful attributes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The camp cooked meals were of a very high standard. Many in our group, myself included, considered these of a better quality than some of those in the refuges. Thanks go to Emily, our excellent cook/van support driver and general help around camp. Some of our bags failed to arrive on day one, but Emily chased and controlled and made sure we had them at the start of the first days full trekking
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Annette Thampi

    Far exceeded my expectations

    This trip far exceeded my expectations. Offering two levels of hike a day was perfect for gaining confidence and challenging myself under the expert supervision of the group leaders . Be prepared for some incredible views of the pristine glacial lake, and the breathtaking sights from the highest peaks in the Austrian Tyrol. This trip offers challenging hikes with lots of opportunities to safely go out of your comfort zone balanced with discovering the best cake and beer huts on the mountain . The hotel and food were fabulous and the staff were always friendly and obliging. Austrians take politeness to another level . The area is well connected with transport so there are plenty of options for the free day . This trip offered challenges , camaraderie , excitement and serene moments at the summits . If you are lucky enough to have Paul McDermott and/or Louise Russell as your leaders expect to come home healthier, stronger , happier and a little heavier ( all muscle of course ) ! This trip will not disappoint .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of each level 5 walk to take in spectacular 360 degree views of the Tyrol. Making friends with people from all walks of life and sharing this incredible journey together.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Having fantastic leaders who clearly love their job and care about ensuring your enjoyment of every aspect of the trip was probably the best part of this holiday . We were given full briefings every night of what to expect and were never disappointed . Paul McDermott is clearly very experienced and knowledgeable in his field and despite having never hiked before I was managing the challenging level hikes in his group from day 1. Both our leaders joined us for meals and were constantly on hand to offer advice and help plan activities even on the free day . Louise Russell always had a smile on her face and ensured everyone got what they wanted from the trip . These two leaders make a great team and I would highly recommend going on one of their trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is useful to read the trip notes and 'what to bring' as they are accurate and informative especially if you are a novice hiker.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was one of the best holidays I have had and the organisation from start to finish by Exodus and particularly by the group leaders could not have been any better .
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Annette Thampi

    Far exceeded my expectations

    This trip far exceeded my expectations. Offering two levels of hike a day was perfect for gaining confidence and challenging myself under the expert supervision of the group leaders . Be prepared for some incredible views of the pristine glacial lake, and the breathtaking sights from the highest peaks in the Austrian Tyrol. This trip offers challenging hikes with lots of opportunities to safely go out of your comfort zone balanced with discovering the best cake and beer huts on the mountain . The hotel and food were fabulous and the staff were always friendly and obliging. Austrians take politeness to another level . The area is well connected with transport so there are plenty of options for the free day . This trip offered challenges , camaraderie , excitement and serene moments at the summits . If you are lucky enough to have Paul McDermott and/or Louise Russell as your leaders expect to come home healthier, stronger , happier and a little heavier ( all muscle of course ) ! This trip will not disappoint .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of each level 5 walk to take in spectacular 360 degree views of the Tyrol. Making friends with people from all walks of life and sharing this incredible journey together.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Having fantastic leaders who clearly love their job and care about ensuring your enjoyment of every aspect of the trip was probably the best part of this holiday . We were given full briefings every night of what to expect and were never disappointed . Paul McDermott is clearly very experienced and knowledgeable in his field and despite having never hiked before I was managing the challenging level hikes in his group from day 1. Both our leaders joined us for meals and were constantly on hand to offer advice and help plan activities even on the free day . Louise Russell always had a smile on her face and ensured everyone got what they wanted from the trip . These two leaders make a great team and I would highly recommend going on one of their trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is useful to read the trip notes and 'what to bring' as they are accurate and informative especially if you are a novice hiker.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was one of the best holidays I have had and the organisation from start to finish by Exodus and particularly by the group leaders could not have been any better .
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Helen Downs

    Walking in the Austrian Tyrol

    Wonderful week spent walking in the Tyrol. The hotel is perfectly placed by the lake and run with care and consideration by Crystal. The food was hearty and plentiful with buffet breakfast , self made packed lunch and a 4 course evening meal . 2 levels of walks were offered each day , some of which started or finished at the hotel and always allowed for plenty of stops for rest and refreshments . A complementary travel pass was included which allowed independent exploration of the area on the free day by bus, steam train, ferry, cable car or ski lift .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Looking back down each day at how far I had ascended and realising that each of us , in our own way could “ climb a mountain “ ! The feeling of achievement at the summit and the knowledge that I would sleep soundly .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Paul McDermott and Louise Russell were fantastic - reassuring , encouraging , helpful , patient and knowledgable .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for wet weather just in case and remember walking poles ! It’s helpful to be a regular walker already and if you enjoy the Lake District or Snowdonia you will be perfectly capable of completing each walk .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In summary - breathtaking scenery in great company with apple strudel - what’s not to like !!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Peter Gomes

    Tour du Mount Blanc Hotel - terrific two week Alpine trek through three countries

    This trip proved to be a brilliant way to hike five valleys, three countries, and enjoy stunning Alpine scenery en route. Accommodation is generally good, and the food hearty & plentiful but it is all about terrific walking territory in the shadow of the Mt. Blanc massif. Lots of "Wow" moments. Do not underestimate the hiking fitness required with each walking day being 10-12 miles (16-19 km) with ascents of 1,000 m - 1,600 m (3,000' - 5,000') and corresponding descents. However the pace set by our guide Kim was sensible throughout so we had time to chat as we walked, take photos and enjoy the wonderful views. Trekking time was generally 6-8 hours each day albeit actual walking time was consistently around two-thirds of this. The other third being photo stops, coffee/ice cream stops (lots), two lunch stops (eating little and often was good advice), etc. Rest days were well placed in the timetable and meant that we all completed the 110 mile (180 km) circuit in good shape.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In terms of hiking, probably ascending the 2,500 m cols which took us across the frontiers into each of Switzerland, Italy & France, plus the steep (600 m) ascent of the Col du Trichot on walking day 9, and the sumptuous views of Mt Blanc as we ascended 1,600m to Brevet on the final morning - celebrated with champagne at the top. Aside from the hiking were two "Must Do"s. One was on the first rest day - taking the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car from Cormayeaur up to Punta Herbronner and then the frankly fantastic 5km panorama trip over to the Aiguille du Midi. Absolutely superb views over the glacier and of Mt Blanc itself. Kim suggested we get there for 06:30 when it opened which proved great advice as we had the viewing platform to ourselves & avoided the later crowds and queues. The other was the tramway from St Gervais up to Nid D'Aigle. Impressive engineering, great views and a chance to hike to the Bionnassay glacier. Do both. Take layers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kim was an experienced IML (International Mountain Leader) and clearly knew the area like the back of her hand - she didn't consult a map once across the whole trip. Her briefings each evening were comprehensive - almost too much so. She was up early each morning to set out food so we could select content of our lunches before we went into breakfast, and her timetabling meant we had plenty of time at every point despite the scale of the hiking each day. She set a steady sensible pace on the ascents and was a demon on the descents - we had fun trying to keep up with her, despite her being older than all the trip participants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes liken the walking to ascending Ben Nevis or Scarfell Pike. This is not an exaggeration as we coincidentally did both three weeks before the trip. You need to be hiking fit to cope with repeated 10+ mile / 1,000+m hikes. Take layers - the weather can change quickly. Carrying gloves, woolly hat, down jacket, rain top, & over-trousers seemed OTT until the sudden thunderstorm on the Col du Bonhomme. Good boots, walking poles plenty of sun screen are also recommended. Finally, those with water bladders proved more adept with keeping hydrated than those us with water bottles. I picked one up in Decathlon (£10) on our return to Chamonix.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We would certainly recommend this trip to anyone who enjoys hiking. The route well chosen, food plentiful, accommodation sound and guide knowledgeable. The scenery is simply glorious.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    J C

    Fantastic walking and first class accommodation

    This was my fourth Exodus holiday, all were excellent but this was probably the best overall in terms of consistently excellent accommodation, food and walking routes. Our Agriturismo was beautiful, delicious food and wine all locally produced, plus a lovely large pool. Rooms were very comfortable. This is a mountainous area with unpredictable weather, so come prepared for some heavy downpours/thunderstorms mixed with hot sunshine, even in July. Our guide Tony was very professional and knowledgeable, and provided a good mix of encouragement and flexibility to enable everyone in the group to get the most out of their trip. Thoroughly enjoyed the free day in Lucca, hired bikes and rode around the ancient city walls. Don't believe the trip notes which suggest Cinque Terra is do-able on the free day, it is too far away.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking for 2 hours up a mountain in torrential rain , thunder and lightning, drenched to the skin despite all my rain gear, then coming out at the summit to blue skies, hot sunshine and jaw-dropping views across the peaks in every direction. Magical!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was excellent - highly experienced, a great leader and a wonderful mixture of Yorkshire grit and Italian charm.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare for varied weather - this part of Tuscany can get very wet even in July.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Some issues pre-trip with incorrect information about travel arrangements but this was sorted out by Exodus to my satisfaction.
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