Turtle, Ecuador

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

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36 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2019
    kristina kelly

    A must for wildlife lovers

    Fabulous trip , so much wildlife : insects , frogs , snakes, wonderful birds , mammals and beautiful plants and wonderful rain forests Monkeys everywhere so lucky to see Orang Utangs in the wild and a Gibbon doing Acrobats. We saw the bats coming out of Mulu cave while we were still in it - amazing Our guide found the tiny dear-mouse crouching in the forest on our night safari. Fabulous river trips at Kinabatangan Manuel our guide was brilliant too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    so lucky to see Orang Utangs in the wild and a Gibbon doing Acrobats. We saw the bats coming out of Mulu cave while we were still in it - amazing Our guide found the tiny dear-mouse crouching in the forest on our night safari.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel was brilliant wildlife guide and spotter

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring plenty of insect repellents! Long trousers an umbrella and rain coat
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Karen Morrow

    Borneo: Lovely but not quite what I'd hoped.

    I have mixed feelings about this trip. On the positive side, my husband and I joined a very lovely and friendly group and a delightful guide (Sheila). The accommodation, although more basic than on some trips we've done, was mainly fine and some of the restaurants Sheila took us to were in lovely positions and had good food - although rice did tend to dominate the menu! We also saw some lovely things, such as Lang's cave, with its stalactites and stalagmites, and Bako national park, where we saw silver leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, macaques and bearded pigs. I also particularly enjoyed the river trips and going to the 'sun bear sanctuary' as well as watching flying squirrels 'fly'! However, overall, there was a lot less wildlife around than I have seen on previous holidays (especially our visits to Africa and the Galapagos). On some walks we saw virtually nothing, certainly in the way of larger mammals or birds. I think the trip notes - and even the very name of the trip! - implies that you'll see a lot more. Like most groups apparently, we did not see elephants at all ('A rare thing to see around here' according to the guide). We also did not see rhinos (I've never seen one in 22 years...'), or, of course, more elusive animals such as leopards or wild sun bears.. We fortunately did see wild orangutans but only briefly on two occasions and at a distance. A necessary evil in such trips is the travelling. However, in Africa, we would often see interesting animals 'en route'. In Borneo, for a large majority of the time, we were travelling through endless miles of palm oil plantations, which have been planted where rain forest used to be, and virtually no animal life - or wildlife of ANY type except for the trees themselves - exists in these massively impoverished environments. It was very sad to see, as well as being, frankly, tedious. If you, like us, would like a trip based on special scenery and fairly frequent sightings of larger/interesting mammals or birds, then I personally feel this trip is probably not one to choose.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were a few. I particularly enjoyed watching the flying squirrels 'fly' and the proboscis monkeys were lovely to watch. The sun bear sanctuary was interesting and watching thousands of bats emerge from a cave in the late afternoon and fly off 'in formation' was also fascinating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Sheila, was very sweet and kind. She worked hard, was anxious to please and was very concerned about our safety and wellbeing. Her only slight fault was to under-estimate how long each activity would take, so we invariably were running late and time to shower, or relax, was often considerably reduced.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The animals and birds we did see could often be a long way away, so take a good pair of binoculars and a camera with a lot of zoom. We did not have a lot of rainy days, but when it rains, it POURS, so also take a good waterproof and NEVER go out without it! (We did on a visit to a restaurant and would have been soaked through, if Sheila hadn't been able to beg a lift back for us.) You will also need a lot of insect repellent, as there are many mosquitos and sand flies. In some jungle areas, there are also a lot of leeches, so leech socks (or a good pair of long socks such as football socks) are also a 'must'.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a good holiday for people who are generally interested in being in a rain forest environment, or have a particular interest in insect life or plant life species. It also gives you a realistic chance to see such lovely (and funny!) animals as proboscis monkeys or the stunning silver leaf monkeys. However, if you want to see many different animals, be aware that most species are very elusive and you may see a lot less than you'd like over the two weeks.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Tracey French

    Borneo

    Borneo, beautiful scenery, abundance of wildlife, interesting food & a wonderful people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    First sighting of orangutans in their natural habitat. Surviving the bamboo longhouse. Conquering, albeit temporarily, my fear of heights on the non too safe looking canopy walkway in Mulu. Surviving the bamboo longhouse. Climbing up to, & then looking down from, the viewpoint over Danum Valley. Surviving the bamboo longhouse.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel had to leave after a couple of days due to family illness & was replaced by Talia. Both were knowledgeable, patient & extremely professional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If it isn't there already put Borneo on your bucket list.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Sandakan War Memorial is very moving. I hadn't previously heard about the death walk.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Ronnie van der Ploeg

    It’s a jungle out there!

    A very enjoyable two weeks spent in the company of 15 other Exodus travellers who embraced the spirit of adventure and discovery in Malaysian Borneo. Together we journeyed the length of Sarawak and Sabah by minibus, coach, plane, boat and jeep visiting spectacular locations including breathtaking caves, stunning rainforests and acquainting ourselves with the local wildlife and bird life.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife highlight was undoubtedly spotting our first orangutan in the wild, followed by the sight of the clouds of bats leaving their cave in Mulu National Park at dusk. Although not as imperious as the Mulu Caves, a visit to Gomanting Cave is also breathtaking, and not just because of the overwhelming smell of guano! Meet bats, swiftlets, mosquitoes, cockroaches, mouse deer, spiders... and you may also see some of the locals who have set up bases in the caves to sleep and guard the swiftlets nests. You will enjoy the thrill of the river cruises along the Kinabatangan River looking out for the wildlife before returning to the Borneo Nature Lodge to enjoy the friendly hospitality of the staff. The long journey to the Danube Valley will be worth it once you arrive at Borneo Rainforest Lodge - fantastic location, impressive accommodation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Friendly and ensured that all the trips ran smoothly, and that everyone felt comfortable with the activities we undertook.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t touch the handrails in the Gomantong Cave! The longhouse facilities are basic and the food is ‘local’, so don’t be surprised when the fish stew arrives with a fish skull lurking below the surface - but the visit to the longhouse is actually an enjoyable experience and part of the adventure you all undertake together.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I personally would have liked some more commentary on the country, customs, language and history of Borneo as we travelled for ,one periods on the buses. Instead I read about it myself in a guide book.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Leo Murphy

    Borneo wildlife adventure

    This is a truly amazing holiday. If you have an interest in wildlife, then this is the trip for you, because the diversity of wildlife is bewildering. I went in early October, and on every walk we did we saw something. We saw Orang Utans almost every time we went out. Be prepared for rain. When it starts, it can come down in biblical proportions, though it doesn’t usually last for very long.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Almost too many to mention. As a keen photographer, I had to make myself put the camera down so I could take in what I was experiencing. Seeing Orang Utans, Broboscis Monkeys, Pygmy Elephants, Mouse Deer, Pit Vipers, Bearded Pigs, Hornbills, and various lizards and insects in the wild, is not something you should just view through a camera lens. The Bat Exodus from Deer cave in Mulu NP is a wonder of nature. The sanctuaries we visited offer a closer contact with some animals, which some people will probably prefer to the hit-and-miss nature of the jungle, but the necessary glass divide between you and the Orang Utans in Sepilok is undoubtedly a distraction. By contrast, in Labuk Bay where there is no divide, the Proboscis Monkeys charge around the decking area showing the visitors who’s boss. But for me, the sightings in the wild were the really special moments. Holding a huge male Rhinocerous beetle in your hand, with its fish-hook legs gripping on, is not something you experience every day. During a visit to Gomantong Caves which teemed with cockroaches, a Skink dropped onto my shoulder and hitched a ride with me out of the caves.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nostalia (Talia), is without question, one of the best guides I have ever had. Extremely knowledgeable and articulate, she did not shy away from thornier topics such as Palm Oil cultivation and deforestation. Always smiling and cheerful, she bound the group together with assured ease. Our “Exodus Group” quickly became our “Exodus Tribe” much to Talias amusement and delight. She consistently went the extra mile, in my case sitting with me on two occasions to go through my photographs so I could make accurate notes for a book I have planned. She brought us to out of the way places to eat that we most likely would not have considered on our own. One such meal at a non-descript looking outdoor Chinese in Kuching, for me, was probably the best meal of the entire trip, and cost next to nothing. A special mention must also go to our three guides in Danum Valley. Along with Talia, Aldrin, Syafiq and Helen were exceptional. We did several walks over two days and nights, and were amazed at what they spotted for us. They were all equally enthusiastic, and genuinely loved spotting wildlife and sharing stories with us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a poncho, or buy a cheap one when you get there. It gives you much more freedom than a rain jacket. Always carry a spare, medium sized dry bag. You’ll be surprised how much you use it. Bring a day-bag with a waterproof covering. You will need it. Drink as much water as you can, and top up at every opportunity. Free top-ups are available almost everywhere you stay. A reservoir for your day-bag is very useful. Bring a hat with a brim. The sun can be unrelenting. For photographers, only bring a tripod if you really need it. This is quite an active holiday, and you will be constantly on the move. Stopping to set up a tripod is not just impractical, it is unfair on your fellow group members and guides. (I brought a Gorilla tripod, and it never came out of my bag.) Again for photographers, bring spare batteries for the camera and a charger. This may seem obvious, but remember you will be shooting a lot of wildlife and will probably be using multi shot mode, and that chews up your battery. The humidity also seems to drain the batteries more quickly. Mosquitos were not as big an issue as I thought they would be. Normally I get eaten alive, but not in Borneo. But bring plenty of repellent. Likewise, leeches were rare. Two people from the group did get bitten, but otherwise the leeches were hard to find. I had leech socks with me which certainly helped, but long tight socks will work just as well. If travelling solo (With a single supplement), be prepared to have to share a room for maybe a couple of nights. Travel light and do laundry when you can. Try the Durian. Don’t let the smell put you off.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Something that is not mentioned are the suspension bridges. While the canopy walks are optional, some bridge crossings are not. If you have a problem with heights, you may want to take this into account. On the other hand, unless it is a serious problem for you, I wouldn’t let it put you off going. Do everything on offer. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Daphne Dawson

    A lot more than utang-utans

    I'd been to this part of the world before, but not to see the rain forests. This trip let me see all the incredible wildlife of the region - from insects to elephants. We had amazing guides who saw and named everything long before most of us had noticed a thing. It was a continuous revelation! It was also interesting to meet local people and see their way of life - even experiencing longhouse accommodation briefly. An exciting and thoroughly enjoyable trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting the Sepilok Urang-utan Rehabilitation Centre (I'd expected to enjoy this), but also seeing elephants in the wild.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Rony, was so consistently helpful. He really knew his wildlife and I learnt a great deal during the trip in consequence. But he was also fun to be with, and saw that we experienced local food and saw a number of things tourists might not notice normally. Great company and an excellent leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I'd got pretty worried about leeches and high humidity before going. Don't let these things put you off. Although we saw the leeches, they weren't such an issue. I invested in leech socks which were a good buy for the occasion: I left them for other travelers in the end, as I don't expect to use them again. Showers were good, so it was relatively easy to deal with the humidity too. Just pace yourself.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    ROBIN JONES

    borneo

    Very enjoyable well organised trip to a fabulous country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Orang-utans and proboscis monkeys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronnie was super.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to experience high humidity - book extra days before and after if you can.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only small problem was that certain travelers we very selfish in take the best coach/boat seats repeatedly without considering treating others fairly. Stay at Myan 'Resort' was disappointing (poor food and no room servicing).
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Patricia Ratcliffe

    Borneo wildlife discovery

    The trip started a little slowly but after a few days was just wonderful.nthe exodus guide, Maniel, was superb. We saw all of the wildlife anticipated - and more!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wonderful local guides who were incredible at spotting wildlife including the nocturnal tarsier.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Maniel cannot be praised highly enough for his organisation, knowledge and patience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just follow the advice of the group leader and go at your own pace. Take plenty of insect repellent and travel everyday with a small towel because of the extreme humidity. Carry a cheap, light plastic poncho to cover up quickly when the rain begins. Take a good camera and binoculars.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Susan Mann

    Excellent wildlife

    A fantastic trip to a beautiful country. My main purpose was to see orang utans in the wild, although I was prepared to be disappointed. However expectations were exceeded and we saw several in the Danum Valley and at Kinatabangan. Also many monkeys, birds, amazing insects and reptiles. Seeing the pygmy elephants was the icing on the cake, although it was a it disturbing to see how close all the boats got to the elephant that was in the river - I think they stopped her going where she wanted to go.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick one as always, but watching a couple of orang utans making their nests for the night and the next day watching a mother orang help her baby by holding onto tree branches so you could get from one tree to the next are both special memories

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Beverley was very good, extensive knowledge of Borneo culture and history that she shared with us. She went out of her way to organise extra activities for us to increase our wildlife spotting. She took us to some excellent and very cheap restaurants that the locals frequent, which is actually what we want as tourists.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    July is the dry season so our trip was not affected by the few torrential downpours that we had, most of which happened during the evening/night. Maybe that's a good time to go. Even so, a poncho is a must. When it rains, it rains! I was glad I took my walking boots, though I had thought long and hard about it. Prepare to be hot and very sweaty a lot of the time! I'm not a mad-keen photographer myself, I think you can spend so much time and effort trying to get a photo that you don't actually watch. However, if you are a photographer, remember the light is low in the forest and also a lot of the wildlife is high up so a good zoom is needed for good photos!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Make the most of it and join in with everything on offer! This is a very enjoyable trip
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Maureen Pinder

    Great trip to Borneo

    I've been on plenty of Exodus hiking holidays, but this was my first wildlife trip. I was a bit nervous in case my fellow travellers were a bit serious about both wildlife and cameras, but they weren't at all. I bought a new bridge camera for the trip, but found some people just had compacts and I needn't have worried. We were lucky and had great weather throughout apart from one of two quick downpours. We saw loads of orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, various langurs and macaques, pygmy elephants, squirrels - flying and otherwise, a crocodile, 4 types of snake, monitor lizards, and loads of birds, bats and insects. All the destinations were great - Bako, Mulu, Sepilok, Danum Valley, Kinanbatangan River. We did definitely see the highlights. We spent more time in Sabah than in Sarawak, but I guess that's the most dramatic bit. All the accommodation was excellent - Danum Valley reminded me of a game lodge in Kenya. Got to admit I skived watching the second orang-utan feeding session at Sepilok and spent a couple of hours by the pool instead. The food was very good throughout, and I probably put on half a stone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Rushing through a villager's house to catch sight of pygmy elephants in the back garden. Or, seeing a flying squirrel glide from one tree to another (at Sepilok).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Beverley Chin was great. She knows the country inside out, is unflappable, and a great organiser. She's travelled a lot herself, and thoroughly understands what westerners need.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took football socks to act as leech socks, but we were lucky and didn't really see leeches because it had been dry. The shop at Danum Valley does sell leech socks. Ponchos seemed to be the thing for keeping the rain off. You definitely need a sun hat for the river cruises at least. I'd agonised about taking trainers or hiking boots, but was glad I decided on hiking boots. Take your swimming costume - I swam 4 times in various places. The Deet was disgusting, so most of us gave up trying to use it after a few days. We only got a few bites, again maybe because it was dry weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I stayed on for an extra week after the holiday ended and climbed Mount Kinabalu with a local agency (Amazing Borneo). It was very good, but very steep - wish I'd trained more beforehand!
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