Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed July 2017
    Melissa Goodwin

    Stunning views. Fabulous food

    We had a wonderful 5 days walking parts of the TMB with exodus. Our guide Mark was extremely experienced and knowledgeable. As a slower walker I found some aspects of the walks a little bit challenging but Mark was accommodating and encouraging as were other members of the group. Back at the chalet our wonderful hosts Sarah and Rich made our stay most comfortable. Sarah is a brilliant chef and her 3 course dinners were up there with the best restaurants we've been to.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's just too hard to decide. The views are outstanding but the flowers were delightful too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Terrific. Knowledgeable and experienced (and amazingly fit).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do some training (there us a recommended training guide) as better fitness will make your walk more enjoyable. And be prepared for some long up and down hills.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our chalet hosts deserve a special recommendation. They provided a wonderful atmosphere off the track and helped enormously to build a cohesive group.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Wendy Fittock

    Immerse yourself in Sicily!

    Sicily is a fascinating treasure trove of history and beauty. This trip allows you to experience the Sicilian way of life using food as a lure to explore its villages, towns and landscape as you move from one side of the island to the other.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mixture of architecture which display Sicily's history through its Roman, Byzantine, Arab (etc, etc) periods, but now sit harmoniously together - is truly inspiring. Also, the endless mosaics at Piazza Armerina which taught me (both visually & by the enthusiastic local guide!), more about Roman way of life and their amazing feats, than any book or tv documentary ever did! I'm not usually enamoured by "old ruins", but the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is a sight to behold! Mount Etna - I hadn't expected it's lush rich vegetation and then the contrast of the stark black ash landscape on areas affected by historic lava flow.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Vincenzo was extremely knowledgeable and his passion for his home land was infectious. He hit the balance just right in telling us about wherever we were visiting that day, without feeling that you were ever getting "information overload". Always cheerful and polite ... the whole week's itinerary was run efficiently and (it would appear) effortlessly. Given we were changing hotels most nights (which had so far put me off doing this trip), we seemed to blend magically from one resort to the next in a very relaxed manner - ready for the next day's adventure! Also a "shout out" to Salvatore who drove our bus for the week - kind and courteous - who even stopped the bus en route in order to pick some fruits from the trees for our enjoyment!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip not only gives you a Food Adventure, it also gives you a taster of Sicily's many beautiful villages/towns. Though our visit was transient, there's a whole list of places I'd like to revisit .... Noto, Ortigia, Trapani ... where do I stop? There's art and courtyards hidden throughout the land - you need to keep a keen eye out, or you'll miss something!
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Ben Wielgus

    Fantastic scenery, great food and central base mean a relaxing trip with plenty of exercise

    All of my previous Exodus trips have involved moving around every 1 or 2 days so this was a real treat to be able to unpack, relax and settle in. Coming back at night felt like coming home - the staff were so welcoming and there was plenty of food around.... we certainly needed it as the walking was strenuous but not overly challenging. The biggest thing to be aware of is the mixed ability of the group which means we needed to be considerate of different speeds and abilities but this meant we got plenty of time to look around, enjoy the scenery and talk to each other.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing Vesuvius and walking along the crater was an absolute highlight for us and brought a sense of adventure to an otherwise relaxed walking trip/

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We loved our guide Satva. She's local and therefore deeply passionate about the history and food. Most of the guides we met were local and that added a huge amount to the experience. Loads of fun too!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's worth doing the side trips whenever possible, even if your legs are a little achy. We chose to go to the ruins of Herculanum rather than Capri but it could even be possible to squeeze in both if you can fit the visit to Herculanum on your last day before your flight.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Helen Gardiner

    Mallorca self guided coast to coast cycling

    This trip is an excellent way to see an extremely touristy island in a different way. The cycle routes are mainly on small countryside roads with lovely rural view's.I was surprised that Mallorca is such a fantastic place for cycling.The respect motorists give you on the roads made it feel extremely safe and such a pleasant change from cycling at home. The maps were much easier for us to follow than the written guide as you have to stop to many times to check your still on route.A digital route would be an improvement but it's actually quite fun getting a bit lost and brushing up on our map reading skills.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling around the central areas of Mallorca seeing quite little towns and villages with very few other tourists.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Ruth Keir

    The bear necessities

    Overall I was left with the feeling that Sri Lanka is a vastly over-rated destination. To be fair to Exodus, most of the things I was underwhelmed by were nothing to do with the tour itself. We were taken to sites which are recommended in the top things to do on tripadvisor and in all the guide books/travel mags so I can't argue with that but I just felt a bit 'meh' about a lot of the places/sights. The food was also a massive letdown for me. I imagined a sort of cross between Indian food (which I love) and creamy, coconut based Thai curries (which I love) but it wasn't. If I never eat rice and curry again it'll be too soon! Being asked for money constantly and harassed round markets etc gets old VERY quickly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hands down the thing I enjoyed most was visiting Yala. The whole group did a game drive in the afternoon and we were lucky enough to see 2 adolescent leopards. I spotted the first one under a bush having a snooze and was so pleased the group got to see her, for a lot of the group this was their first ever big cat sighting. This was a real treat and very exciting. We had a free morning the next day and I was so fed up by this point with the activities in general that I was going to ask if I could do another drive. Roshan the guide must have read my mind and kindly offered to arrange this for anyone who was interested. 6 of us got up at 5am and never has 'you snooze, you lose' been more fitting. We entered the park at 0600 and saw our first leopard at 0624. The second followed not long after. We then had a glorious 15 minutes with a snuffling, shuffling shaggy sloth bear who was right next to our vehicle and an absolute delight to see. Just when we needed scraped off the ceiling and were on our way to the park gates, we turned a corner to find a lovely, lithe female leopard lounging in the middle of the road. We were the only vehicle there, the driver didn't phone his friends (and got a big tip as a result) and our spotty beauty gave us quite a show for 15 minutes or so. Brilliant. This was all obviously just dumb luck but wow! Climbing Sigirya was fun. The bike ride was also fun as were the local games. I was glad that the family who made our lunch on the bike ride and the banana farmer who hosted the games got to benefit from our visit. Lunch at the tsunami house was a really heartwarming experience and well done to Roshan and Exodus on looking after these people so well in their hour of need. The food here was better than all the boring buffets we had for lunch. Surely there are some more local families on the route we took that could do with a leg up? I'd much rather give a donation in return for some decent food than be overcharged for bland buffets?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roshan was great. Nice guy, excellent sense of humour. I asked what kind of wasps the scary ones at Sigirya were and was told they were noisy woman eating wasps. Everything ran like clockwork and he really did take care of us very well. Myself and my husband have extended an offer to host him next year as we'd love to return the hospitality.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Spice Garden is interesting but don't buy anything, you can get it all in the market in Kandy for much less and the amazing, natural hair removing cream is apparently disguised Veet according to the internet! The gem 'museum' wasn't for me. Some of the things were pretty but pressure selling ain't my bag. Same with the wood carving place. If people are wanting to do this sort of thing they could do it in their own time. You can get drinkable coffee in Natural Coffee in Kandy, Cafe Walk in Kandy (also does epic chocolate cake), Barista Lavazza in Ella and Heritage Cafe in Galle. Otherwise stick to tea. The beach town was a total dump with open sewers and nowt to do. Get a tuk tuk to Galle for the day or Unawatuna where it is much nicer to hang out. Take English pounds sterling and change at the airport. Don't let people take the piss out of you with prices for tuk tuks etc. Agree in advance and walk away if it's too much. Same with the markets etc. Nice shops were few and far between but Odel Luv SL in Kandy at the Queen's Hotel (another branch in Galle), Barefoot in Galle and generally pretty much all of the shops in Galle were really good. Calorie Counter in Galle was lovely for lunch despite the slightly off putting name! Lovely juices. When staying at the massive disappointment that is the Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya, don't bother with dinner there. I was really looking forward to dressing up and pretending to be posh but the meal was the worst of the trip. Go out of the hotel, turn right and in 5 minutes you'll be at the Grand Hotel which has an Indian restaurant which delivered the best meal of the trip. Get the murgh mahkini. The Thai restaurant and coffee shop in the same hotel are also lovely, all have entrances on the road, no need to go into the hotel.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I thought the hotel selection on the whole was a bit rubbish. The first one was especially crap and did not set a good impression for the rest of the trip. Roshan acknowledged this without prompting at the introductory briefing. Hotel Sigirya was lovely, Hotel Thilanka in Kandy was nice and Mandara Rosen at Yala was nice too but the rest were VERY average. The last one at the beach had probably the worst service of the trip and the beach was too narrow to lie on with sea to rough to go into and had really annoying sellers working it the whole time. The Hill Club was a massive mothbally disappointment with well meaning but awful service and fusty rooms. It was a bit like Fawlty Towers - crap service and don't mention the war. I was also not sure why we stayed in Badurawalla not Ella which was nicer and also why we didn't have a full day in Galle which was by far the nicest place on the trip. I booked my own flights as I was coming from Glasgow. Emirates had fares for around £450 return, Exodus seem to allow around £700 in their flight included trip. My advice would be to book your own cheaper flights but book onto the premium trip instead to get better hotels. That should work out about the same price as the basic trip. I felt that the elephant safari in Minnierya was not up to scratch. The game drive vehicles were inward facing.Ours was rusty inside and you were encouraged to stand while the vehicle was moving which was not easy. The roll bars were corroded and the rear window was smashed. How are you meant to spot anything if all you can see is your pal's face?? Our driver literally said nothing to us the whole drive (but probably still expected a tip). The number of vehicles surrounding the elephants was ridiculous and bordering on animal harassment. If you've never seen an elephant and are desperate then fair enough but otherwise I wouldn't bother. At least get vehicles with forward facing seats, it can't be that much extra surely? The turtle hatchery was also questionable in terms of animal welfare. I can see the point of trying to mature the hatchlings a bit so they are stronger when it comes to going into the ocean. I was almost in tears however watching 3 big ocean going turtles each with a missing front flipper being kept in a concrete tank with scummy water in it that was probably 3m x 2m. These guys can live well over a hundred years. Roshan said they wouldn't be released as they wouldn't survive in the ocean. Are they really going to spend 100 years pacing that awful tank? There was also a poor wee turtle with a tumour who couldn't swim level and was head down, bum up the whole time. At what point do we think these guys should be released into the ocean to go out in a blaze of glory in a free environment? I left as I couldn't take it anymore. Please don't take groups there. The train journey was also rubbish I'm afraid. If you want to replicate my experience then I'd just get on the tube, find somebody who looks as if they are from the subcontinent , stick your head in their armpit and smile at each other for 90 minutes while you hang on awkwardly. I am not sure why this is recommended.....The Sri Lankans on the train were very smiley and nice to be around thank goodness otherwise it would have been even worse. I think overall points to improve - sort out the hotels, pay more attention to animal welfare, organise more lunches/activities to benefit the local people directly and try to make the free time in better areas.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Garry Ward

    A really good trip

    This was an excellent first rip to the Azores for me. The itinery is full and varied without feeling hectic. At first glance I thought the trip itinery only included two whale watching trips, which for me would have been the bare minimum for a holiday headlined as a whale watching holiday. As it happens the first full day in Horta is a whale watching day with boat trips in the morning and afternoon, so effectively two trips in one day. There is then the chance to go on another whale watching trip on the optional activity day which kept me happy anyway. Spending time on three islands made me feel I was having as good a look around as could be done in a week. You could say four islands if you count sitting on the aircraft for 20 minutes or so while it made a stop on Terceira. The hotels are good, in Horta we stayed in the Hotel Do Canal on the sea front road at one end of the harbour. In Ponta Delgada we stayed in the Hotel Do Colegio, much smaller and older than the Do Canal but with more character set in the narrow old town style street of Ponta Delgada. At first I didn't appreciate how close the hotel Do Colegio actually is to the centre of town but it is very well placed even if that isn't apparent when you first arrive. The itenery includes dinner if you're a northerner like me or lunch if you're not, which was always huge portions, usually of a local speciality. The first day includes a visit to Peter's Cafe Scrimshaw museum. Scrimshaw is artwork on the teeth of Sperm whales which were of course hunted from the Azores in times gone by. As a whale and conservation fan I still don't know how I felt about that but I appreciate it is a part of the history of the Azores.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It had to be spotting a blue whale. I hadn't seen one before and it was one of the main reasons I chose to visit the Azores. So to see one on the first day out on the boat was the jackpot. What a huuuge beastie they are! The Azores and it's people also very positively impacted upon me, I just liked it there. I will be back.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nuno is/was a fantasitc and very experienced guide. He has a great sense of humour that was never far away. He communicated the important stuff to us well, we were never left wondering what happens next or what is the plan for the day or the next day etc. He was as flexible when necessary without compromising the itinery. Of course being from the island of Pico in the Azores he knows what he's talking about. Exodus do very well to employ his services.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Azores experiences very changable weather, even more so than the British Isles. The temperatures remained mild throughout our early June trip but cloud and rain could come and go out of nowhere in minutes. I would suggest bringing some light weight packable waterproofs. That changable weather can also impact upon the view at scenic sites. On the way to somewhere it could be blue skies ahead but 15 minutes later upon arrival thoroughly cloud covered.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes state there are greater chances of sighting blue whales in June. Although we saw one off the coast of Pico and Faial (on the 12th June) the boat captain told me it was a lucky spot since blue whales aren't often seen that late in the year in the Azores. April and May is apparently the time with the highest chance of spotting blue whales. The Azores Airlines flight from Gatwick currently arrives very late at night in Ponta Delgada, even later if you have a delay in excess of an hour like we did. I understand Azores Airlines changed their schedules after this holiday's itinery was created. We consequently arrived at the hotel in Ponta Delgada in the early hours and then had to be up shortly after 5am for the onward flight to Pico and then ferry to Horta/Faial. I got about 3 hours sleep after a long day of travelling. I don't think any of the group felt particulalry great that day. If that flight schedule persisits it might be worth Exodus considering altering the order of the holiday to spend a couple days at Ponta Delgada/ Sao Miguel first rather than Horta/Faial.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Jim Carder

    A Journey Back in Time

    This trip gets you out into the Romanian countryside which does not see a lot of tourism. It was like taking a step back in time with ancient Saxon villages where they still cut grass with scythe's, draw water from wells and use horses to work the fields. I enjoyed the food and the accommodation was much better than expected varying from modern to rooms that looked like they had been in a time capsule for a couple of hundred years - and they were the best.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    climbing the spires of fortified churches for great views of the countryside and cycling through the rolling countryside on quiet roads.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    n/a

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you want a cup of tea or coffee in the daytime you will need to take your won - and get a flask of hot water from the accommodation before you depart in the morning, you will not come across any coffee shops on most days.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It's worthwhile having an extra night or 2 in Bucharest. The old town is fantastic and the newer Russian influenced zones have their own charm. Make sure you visit the Palace of the Parliament which is a great building to wonder around.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Greg Shaw

    Cape Town to Victoria Falls - Camping

    A tremendous introduction to Southern Africa! If you aren't a particularly confident traveler or you've traveled the world several times over, this is the trip for you. With a dedicated crew who establish a relaxed feeling throughout the entire journey, this trip has something for everyone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It has already been addressed in previous reviews, but the sheer variety and diversity on this trip was my highlight. Just read the trip notes - there is something for everyone. Those who love a thrill can take on the Namibian dunes quad-biking in Swakopmund. Fancy a boat trip? This holiday is jam-packed full of aquatic adventure! Alternatively, those who seek a more relaxed scene can enjoy a quiet evening by the bar, reading a book and observing the African wildlife. Whilst there are some structured activities, holiday-goers can cherry pick and manage their very own African adventure.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader (Justin), along with his team (Sam and Nyaha) are a 5-star crew. I couldn't ask for a better set of guys to help me travel across the African terrain. These guys not only do what is stated in the trip notes, but also what is above and beyond the call of duty. African holidays can sometimes get a reputation for being particularly 'hairy' at times, however these guys made it a smooth and relaxed journey throughout. Whilst they do indeed put up your tents for you, cook for you and hold your hands through the border crossings - it is their knowledge of the local area and respect for ethical tourism which makes them stand out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Simply put, if you are considering an African holiday - go on this one! This trip can be enjoyed by both new nervous travelers and experienced adventurers. Whilst you shouldn't expect 5* accommodation, the tents and tent-beds provided have been some of the best I have used. Lastly, it can get quite chilly in the mornings, please bring some gloves and a hat!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Remember to give yourself enough time to get properly vaccinated and make sure there is enough space in your passport for all the border stamps ;)
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Murray Dee

    A Leisurely Week of Walking on Beautiful Elba

    A great mixture of leisurely walking and beach time. The walks range from following the coast to summiting the largest mountain on the island, Monte Capanne. For those wishing not to do anything too strenuous, it's possible to take a cable car to the top. As expected from Italy, the food and drink is great. Many local wines and produce to try throughout the week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed the trek up Monte Capanne and was rewarded with spectacular views of Elba, Corsica and the rest of the Tuscan Archipelago.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Stefano was a extremely knowledgeable about the island and always happy pass this on to the group. No request was ever too much and he was continuously making sure all of the guests got the most from the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember to bring your swimming costume as there are many opportunities to swim in the crystal clear sea or the pool at the hotel.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Danny Bell

    Self-Guided in Tuscany

    Great food, great wine and beautiful rolling Tuscany scenery. A lovely place for a relaxing weeks walking.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Most of the old historic towns are set on hills that gave great views out towards the surrounding countryside. Montepulciano was in particular a highlight of these little towns.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    N/A

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take notice and are up in time for the morning train from Siena to Buonconvento at the start as after that the next one is not until around midday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would like to say thank you in particular to the staff at the third hotel in Montepulciano as they were so lovely and welcoming all round. :)
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