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 September 2019
    Helen Sparling

    Wonderful holiday in Costa Rica

    I loved this trip. I had read many of the reviews before we went and so went with high expectations- we were certainly not disappointed. We saw so much more wildlife than I expected and saw such a variety of habitats/climates from rainforest to cloud forest, Caribbean coast to Pacific coast, plus a volcano to boot! It felt like we had been on holiday for way more than two weeks, we covered so much! I can’t pass a rustling bush now without trying to spot whatever is in there!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed all of it, it I guess highlights were seeing the Green Back turtle laying her eggs and returning to the sea; spotting not one, but four of the elusive Resplendent Quetzals in Savegre; seeing huge crocs; hearing howler monkeys at night ... the list goes on! Particularly loved the rainforest lodge in Esquina Blancas ... you will see what I mean when you go there!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armando was a fantastic guide. He was so knowledgeable about all the wildlife in Costa Rica and took great care to seek out as much wildlife as he could (trying to fulfil everyone’s wish list) and make sure we got good photos through his telescope. He gave us a lot of information about Costa Rica in general too whilst en route on the bus; about agriculture and the economy, history and the education system. He is well organised and has a great sense of humour and was very patient with us! All in all you couldn’t wish for a better guide! Also a big shout out for Maurizio, our lovely driver, who was an integral part of the team!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We went in August ... rainy season. We had one day of torrential downpours so a good poncho was vital. A pair of flip flops that could be wiped dry would have been useful. Other than that day, we were so lucky not to experience much rain! Take walking boots, a couple of fleeces and long trousers for the cloud forest. You need more variety of clothing than you expect to account for hot and humid climates, where nothing dries, to warm clothing for the cooler, more temperate Monteverde. Pack into strong plastic bags to protect your luggage from rain/damp! Optional trips worth doing: the turtle laying trip. Two night walks ... both offering different things to see... in Monteverde and Esquina Blancas. The hot springs in La Fortuna!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my favourite Exodus trip so far. I would recommend everyone to go!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Helen Cordery

    Great adventure - our expectations were blown!

    A fantastic, safe but action-packed way to explore a totally new country. The wildlife was amazing (the crocodile eating a howler monkey was a 'highlight'), as was the white water rafting. A wonderful way for a family to connect to each other and to nature.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many, it's impossible to choose! But I think the Costa Rican wildlife in all its glory was the highlight. Seeing a baby humpbacked whale swim alongside our boat will stay with me forever, as will the crocodile eating a monkey - but in a different way. Our driver spotting a group of scarlet macaws as we drove along the highway, and then spending several minutes watching them with our mouths open was another highlight. On another level, the white water rafting was exhilarating and such fun. But the whole country and its people was inspirational too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gio was amazing - his wealth of knowledge about Costa Rica, its history, geography and nature was amazing, as was his engagement with the group (kids and adults). His lovely last speech as Roberto was driving us to the airport brought tears to my eyes! He was always very mindful of our safety, which was so important when you factor in the excitable kids (and adults) who could potentially forget themselves and make unsafe decisions. I am also extremely grateful to him for just ignoring my travel-related migraine (and vomiting) within minutes of meeting him at the airport!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you, like us, want a real adventure, but are nervous about how to do this when you're not that confident travelling, this is a definite trip to consider. This was our first trip abroad as a family, but has set the bar very high for future trips!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Roberto, our driver, was also fantastic. It was just a shame we couldn't converse with him as he didn't speak English.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Kathryn Hunt

    A memorable trip!

    The wildlife and scenery were stunning. We were not disappointed. Learning more about the country, its habitats and people was very interesting.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights were seeing the green backed turtles laying eggs in Tortuguero, and quetzals in the Savegre valley cloud forest. Also toucans, hummingbirds and sloths. An additional (optional) boat trip along the Rio Tarcoles was very worthwhile - we saw many different birds close to, as well as massive crocodiles.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide was fantastic in every respect. He was very knowledgeable indeed and went out of his way to try and make sure we saw as much wildlife as possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were a little worried beforehand as our trip was to take place in the wet season. However we only had one day when the rain was so torrential it delayed one of our activities (and we got soaked to the skin) so it is not a given that August is a "bad" time of the year to go. It was very very humid though (apart from when were up in the mountains) so I wished we had taken another couple of pairs of walking trousers & T shirts, as changes of clothes were required more often than I had anticipated. And a poncho proved more effective than a conventional waterproof when it did rain.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Catherine and Andy White

    A trip of a lifetime!

    We originally looked at booking the longer Costa Rica Family Adventure as we thought the Family Escape (at 7 nights) may be too much of a whirlwind. However, we liked the fact that there were less distances to travel (as the Family Escape does not include a visit to the Caribbean coast), and that there were more activities included, plus, on enquiry, we found out that on the dates we wished to travel the families booked onto this trip had children of similar ages to our own (16 and 12). We are so pleased we went for this option! From being met at the airport by our wonderful guide, Eduardo, and driver, Cesar, to being waved off as we boarded our transfer on the last day, we enjoyed every minute of our holiday! Costa Rica is an incredible country and this trip gives you a sense of its diverstiy - from the volcanic landscape around Arenal, to the Cloud Forest at Monteverde, and the tropical beaches of Carillo. The mix of activities is great - from the high adrenaline rafting and zip wire course at Monteverde, to fascinating nature walks and wildlife spotting. The itinery is quite pacy - there are activities most days, however, you get at least 2 nights at each hotel (apart from in San Jose) so you do get chance to unpack a little and enjoy some downtime. The hotels all offer something different: Los Lagos at La Fortuna is set in lush tropical gardens with its own resident crocodile and butterfly and insect houses. Plus, it has its own hot springs complete with water slides which our children loved. The Country Lodge at Monteverde is a little more basic, but charming, whilst the Nammbu Beachfront Bungalows are super stylish with spacious rooms and a stunning pool area.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many.... from waking up to the sound of howler monkeys outside your room, being surrounded by hummingbirds and having them land on your outstretched hand at Selvatura Park, conquering your fear of heights on the hanging bridges and zip wires above the forest canopy at Monteverde, seeing a sloth being rescued from overheard cables by the local fire service, hearing the sounds of the cloud forest at night as fireflies flit around around you, seeing a humpback whale for the first time, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean at Carillo Beach.... the list goes on!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    From the moment we arrived at San Jose Airport, our group leader, Eduardo, made us feel incredibly welcome in his country. Knowedgeable and passionate about the history, culture and nature of Costa Rica, Eduardo soon shared his love of his country with us all. Within minutes of meeting us, Eduardo had memorised all our names and, refering to us "family", he ensured we got the best possible experience we could - asking us to write down our wishlist of things we wanted to do and see whilst we were in his beautiful country. Eduardo was an exceptional group leader: great with the children in the group, imparting his extensive knowledge with enthusiasm, sharing his photos with us on the WhatsApp group he created for us, treating us to chocolate and ice-cream on a daily basis and instilling in all of us a sense of the "Pura Vida"! We must not forget our driver, Cesar, either. He made sure we were safe on the roads and waited patiently for us after every excursion, always greeting us with courtesy and a smile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We decided to book a 3 night beach extension - staying on at Nammbu hotel at the end of the trip - which Exodus organised, along with a private transfer back to San Jose airport. We were definitely ready for some rest and relaxation after a packed schedule, so this was really worth doing, plus it gave us a chance to do some additional activies - such as scuba diving (at Samara) and turtle watching at the nearby Camaronal Wildlife Refuge.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is the first holiday we have booked with Exodus, and having never been on a small group holiday before, we were a little apprehensive.... how would the group dynamics work? We need not have worried! We were very lucky to be travelling with 3 lovely families alongside Vicky from Exodus (a bonus to have the Product Manager of this particular trip accompanying us!) Everyone got on really well, the children made firm friends, and the balance between time together as a group and time on our own worked fine. Overall, this was a truly wonderful family holiday in a beautiful country and we have many happy memories along with far too many photos!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Jayne Cordingley

    Colourful Costa Rica Cycling

    A superb holiday in a wonderful country: jaw dropping scenery, brilliant cycle routes, unbelievably beautiful and abundant wildlife, friendly locals and a really professional and dedicated guide and his team. I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves cycling, nature and great company. I would not hesitate to go back to this awe-inspiring county.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the Orosi valley with its lush vegetation and beautiful views, along with experiencing fantastic wildlife so close up in its natural habitat, that has inspired me to see and learn more in the future. Not to mention, casually riding or driving by several of the country’ s volcanoes ( Arenal, Poas, Turrialba and Irazu) peeping out of the clouds was stunning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres and his crew were always helpful, patient ,informative, had a high regard for safety and were just generally good fun. Andres’ knowledge of wildlife was second to none. He inspired us all. Nothing was ever too much trouble and he always maintained a professional manner at all times. It was no coincidence the group ‘ gelled’ so well together from the first instance - instead that was credit to Andres and his personal and helpful nature. He is an excellent, yet modest cyclist too. He was always encouraging people up the hills and trying to keep the group together at all times.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take more warm clothes for the low season as there was around three much cooler mountain evenings ( not cooler necessary for cycling though in the daytime ) , plus a good few pairs of decent cycling shorts and a hairdryer to dry them off last minute as it’s very humid! Take lots of DEET and a decent camera, SLR or compact. There is no need to take your own snacks or rehydration tablets for cycling as their was always ample supply in the mini bus during frequent stops. Roads are good quality tarmac with few pot holes , there is little traffic on the planned cycle routes and the drivers are courteous often given a friendly ‘pip’ to cheer you on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is my 4 th Exodus trip and it won’t be my last. It was the best so far. The holiday began my proper education in wildlife and has inspired me to research more. Costa Rica is such a unique, beautiful and unspoilt country and one everyone should visit at least once, although somehow I don’t think once is enough. Do not hesitate to book this fantastic holiday.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Claire Newman

    Costa Rica Cycling

    A wonderful holiday - great and knowledgeable guide, fantastic group, enjoyable cycling, great wildlife and scenery! I would definitely recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was probably seeing a sea turtle laying eggs - it was amazing! However, all the wildlife and scenery was incredible. .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas was an excellent group leader - extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife, an excellent cyclist and we were always clear what we were doing and when.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember to take some layers for the mountains - there are 3 evenings which are definitely cooler! When looking at the distances it's worth noting there are quite a few hills in there! If you are weighing up going away on your own, just do it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my first Exodus trip and I would definitely do another!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Ian McDonald

    Excellent trip

    A really enjoyable trip with plenty of cycling and with options to increase on certain days if you have surplus energy. A great way to see 3 countries in 2 weeks. Sometimes the cycling was quite challenging - particularly some of the muddy trails in Nicaragua ( which were great fun) and some of the hills in Costa Rica. Weather was varied . Sometimes really hot and humid and sometimes very wet due to rainy season . So be prepared and keep changes of clothes close to hand. Raft ride was great . Guides and support team were great . Nice balance between open evenings and meals as a group . Highly recommend this trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved looking down into the active volcano at night . Awesome sight . Enjoyed the raft ride and the crocodiles.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roberto was top class . A really nice guy who got on well with everyone and nothing was too much trouble. He gave really good briefings prior to setting out Each day. He also had excellent local knowledge at each stage of the trip. Perfect English too and really easy to chat to .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To enjoy the trip you need to be reasonably fit .. have plenty of changes of cycling clothes. Roberto can advise on the 2 or 3 places over the route where you can get laundry done ( very cheaply) . A few casual clothes ( t shirts and shorts ) are all that are needed for evenings .dont forget mosquito repellent .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Although the accommodation was always clean and tidy there were a few instances where the rooms were quite small and basic . Having been similar trips to Vietnam and Cambodia , their accommodation levels were better .
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Paul Sanders

    Fabulous.

    An absolutely excellent trip and a great way to see three countries in two weeks. There was a real mix of cycling, from rough, tough, dirty stuff, to long smooth straights as well as everything in between (it's essentially a road trip though). A few hills were quite demanding (not least in the heat), so the gravity downhill afterwards was welcome! There was some stunning scenery and it's pretty green and lush everywhere. Beyond the cycling, the other activities added to the sense of holiday, while also giving greater insight into what each country has to offer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the cycling was excellent and just the right level. Peering into the Masaya volcano was a lifetime moment and the visit to the school in Nicaragua really resonated.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roberto was excellent on every level. From leading the front riders to congratulating those for whom rides were a bigger challenge, he was personable and professional with everyone. Morning briefings were helpful to all, outlining how each day would work, from the cycling to ordering food in advance etc. etc.. Every day ran smoothly and organisation was excellent. His knowledge and experience showed and nothing was too much trouble. What could possibly go wrong?

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go. Have a change of (cycling and/or casual) clothes in a rucksack on the bus. Be prepared for very flexible lunchtimes (there are always snacks available).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Highly recommended. Pura vida!!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Heather Kerr

    Discovering Costa Rica

    Exceeded Expectations Excellent Guide Extraordinary range of wildlife and flowers

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a quetzl flying

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Holiday of a lifetime - do it before you die !
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Melanie Costello

    An amazing holiday!

    We had spent a long time saving for and planning this trip for myself and my boyfriend. It did not disappoint. It was even better than we expected. From the moment we stepped off the plane, everything was organised. We got the direct flight from Gatwick. The flight was 10 hrs and went very quickly. The rest of our group went via Miami and unfortunately got delayed so ended up arriving at the hotel in the early hours and only had a few hours sleep before the tour started. If you get the direct flight you also stay an extra night at the end of the trip so you get a day to explore San Jose which we did but we felt there is not a great deal to do there. We had 8 in our group and it was a nice mix of ages and we all got on well. The minibus is nice and comfortable with aircon and plenty of room.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a turtle laying her eggs on the beach at Tortuguero and watching Humpback whales with their calves in Drakes Bay. We also loved watching the hummingbirds in Savegre. This was something I was not prepared for, they are beautiful. Getting to see scarlet macaws up close. A pair landed in a tree right above us and posed for quite a while. Tree frogs, sloths, jesus lizards, basilisks, crocodiles, caiman, birds, bats, turtles, monkeys (howler, spider, squirrel and white face capuchin), coatis.........the list goes on!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Guillermo was excellent. His knowledge of the wildlife was amazing and he spotted things we would never have seen. His enthusiasm was infectious and we were soon all trying to spot and recognise different birds and animals. It's worth noting that the leaders are 'on call' for your whole trip so they work incredibly hard. We were so impressed. One day we stopped for lunch at a tradional Costa Rican restaurant which we would never have gone to withour our leader taking us there. Olman (not sure if I spelt that right) was a lovely driver. His skill driving our bus on some of the mountain roads was impressive. Guillermo and Olman obviously got on very well and made a great team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a book, there are some long bus journeys and plenty of time to relax in the afternoons. Taking a suitcase with wheels is ideal as there are a few times where you need to move it. I would recommend a hard case or a decent level of water resistance as they may get wet if it rains on the way to Tortoguero. Savegre is cold! Take warm clothes. The temperature difference really is noticeable. I slept with 3 blankets the first night we were there. Take an umbrella. We had ponchos but sometimes they were too hot and a bit too much. US dollars are fine. You can use them everywhere. We had a travel currency card which we used to withdraw dollars as we needed them. ATMS are easy to find and your leader will take you. We thought the food was fabulous. Vegetarians are well sorted and the portions are huge. Prices are about the same as the UK for eating out but we thought that snacks in the supermarket where expensive but probably because we were buying "British type" snacks. Take dry shoes and "water shoes". You have to jump in the sea a couple of times so it's handy to have these. Also a dry bag is useful for the boats to keep cameras dry but also if it rains. All the usual that everyone else has mentioned: sunglasses, hat, suncream, insect repellent, bite cream,torch,

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    At Drakes Bay, the hotel will do your washing for free each day which is very useful if you are running out of clothes. They will also dry out all your shoes so you don't have to put wet shoes back in your suitcase. It's worth mentioning that all the boat journeys are by speed boat and can be pretty bumpy especially when first going out to the hotel from the river. Not for the faint hearted but so much fun. The boat drivers are highly skilled and we felt perfectly safe on every trip.