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Turtle, Ecuador

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

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1051 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020
    Stewart Allan

    Great wildlife

    The scenery and wildlife were wonderful and the team who looked after us on safari did an excellent job. Stonetown was fascinating and the 3 days by the beach were a relaxing end to the trip. The camping was very basic - small tents in muddy fields with primitive toilets.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing lions and vast herds of zebra on the Serengeti.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Patrick was extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a lantern, not just a torch, so that you can see what you are doing better in the tent and read it you want to.
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Audrey Morgan

    Gorillas and Masai Mara

    Saw the most incredible wildlife, expert and professional team in Gilbert, Albert, Stoney and James and a wonderful road trip across E. Africa.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention but the Gorillas next to us was special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was professional, fun, accommodating and a joy to travel with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it. The best trip yet!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Jean Smith

    A ‘must do’ for the ‘bucket list’!

    An excellent trip with Edward our leader, Felix our driver and Primo the very best boatman in Tortuguero. Our 2 days in Tortuguero were a highlight with the boat trips and we were very lucky with the weather. You definitely need plenty of thin cotton clothes - nothing dries in the humidity and layers for the cooler areas. We felt well prepared having read the trip notes and the recent reviews. Plenty of bug spray, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat. Excellent food especially the fruit and fish and accommodation better than we had expected. The spa at the last hotel was an unexpected bonus - well worth having a massage and jacuzzi after a busy holiday! We enjoyed the happy hours to sample local cocktails (some more than others!). Our group of 16 was an eclectic mix who got on extremely well, always ready for a laugh and a challenge and got on really well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    5.30 am boat trip down the water channels at Tortuguero looking for wildlife - superb!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edward was very professional, personable and smart both in appearance and knowledge. He was flexible, wanting to meet the whole group’s individual needs and good fun. He was always willing to organise extra things for us to give us the best experience of his beloved country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and recent reviews and make sure you have a good camera, binoculars, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
  • Reviewed January 2020

    Best Experience of all of my travels so far!

    Best experience of travel I have ever had. Gorillas just WOW. Chimps were amazing and we saw our first one in 5 minutes. Queen Elisabeth park gave us not 1 but 2 sets of tree climbing lions!! And we spotted a Leopard. Lots of other fabulous game that was not so expected from Uganda. Friendly people everywhere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Wow, seeing the gorilla family in the wild was the best experience I have ever had, just breath taking! It was very hard work getting to them (and we were lucky it took just over 1 hour) so hit the gym before you go, make sure you take those gardening gloves and hire a porter. Don't bother taking walking poles (take up room in your luggage) and they will give you a big stick on site that does just as well (and you don't have to worry about loosing since you have to leave your poles when getting near the gorillas).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide David was fabulous, kept us entertained throughout and nothing was too much trouble. Love him!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Gorilla mist Camp is a bit cold and damp (you are in a rainforest at high elevation after all) so I wish I took another warmer jumper for the evenings (but they do put lovely hot water bottles in your bed). One point I would make - I didn't book the extra Gorilla permits due to money restrictions - the way it is worded on the site is to book them as you are not guaranteed to see the gorillas on one treck, however when you go for your treck they explain that if your group does not spot the gorillas then you can go back on the same permit the next day. (this did not happen to us so no idea if they do keep this promise given the restricted permit numbers).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want to see Gorillas go and do it! This experience was better than I ever imagined it could be
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Julie O'Donnell

    Discover the whole country

    I booked the trip as I expected to be surrounded by wildlife, it wasn't the case.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The second day in the river boat. One of the trips out we saw possible 70% of all the wildlife we saw during the whole two weeks. I witnessed a few (about 10) sea turtle hatchlings make their way into the sea, this was the highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader (Ed) was brilliant, knowledgeable, funny and went out of his way to ensure we all had a great time. He did everything he could to find the wildlife we all were desperate to see.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be under the impression that you will be surrounded and see wildlife other than birds. Yes you will see mammals, reptiles, insects etc., but the majority of the time.... birds.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been so much better to have stayed in the river and rainforest areas longer. The last two days were a total waste of time in the grubby city and we were moved from place to place far to often, having to leave some beautiful places! This was no failing of the guide but the schedule.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Charmaine Cook

    Brilliant trip around an Amazing country

    A trip that transports you from different areas in beautiful Costa Rica. Six different ecosystems visited but the travel between destinations was only half a day and spending 2 nights at each place meant we had plenty of time to explore. My trip was bird watching lead guide. So every morning had an optional early start to go out and look for birds. Some of the people on the trip were not that sure at the beginning but by the end of the trip, they were keen about what we saw and more knowledgable. Frankly I was in phographers heaven!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hummingbirds galore - the speedy devils were a challenge to photograph but I managed some cracking shots that I was pleased with. I was not expecting to see any turtles at Tortuguero so watching the hatching turtles scurry down to the sea was special. Maybe the premise of a new beginning was why it was magical - we all were blown away by that. Personally I just loved the quiet time I had in Santa Elena Cloud Reserve standing in the rain, being harassed by a hummingbird and looking at the beauty of nature surrounding me.It was the sheer variety of plants, flowers and birds on our trip that allowed me to just enjoy nature and relax.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres was a master of bird identification- he just listened, watched and studied to show us an impressive array of birds on this trip - 230 or so. He was thoughtful and made sure he knew why we were doing this trip - ensuring that why we were here was covered. His patience was unlimited and he had information with quick wit and a smile all the time. Our driver, Alexandros was a laugh, an amazing driver who kept us safe, brilliant evasive control when needed and was always keeping the bus immaculately clean.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go. Costa Rica is beaches, rainforest, towns, cloudforest, canals and very friendly people. I took colones and US dollars as purchased at home but US dollars was regularly accepted and change given as colones. Take a good lens and plenty of memory space - I took over 8000 photos. As a vegetarian, usually easily catered for in our hotels or when we ate out. Tropical fruit, good quality food everywhere - not gourmet but tasty. If you are wanting partying, late nights and cities - this trip is not for you. If you want open area dining with the local animals watching you eat, marvelling at the beautiful nature and early nights/ possibly early mornings - then this is more your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is a country that is a leader in the way of eco tourism. They also as a nation are very environmentally aware so it makes you realise that supporting the country is supporting the environment too.
  • Reviewed December 2019

    Fantastic way to see Nepal

    Booked this as wanted to see Nepal without roughing it. Far exceeded my expectations. A great taster of several regions, the culture, fabulous scenery and wildlife of this incredible country. It may not be heavy trekking, but you still need to have a good fitness level for all the uneven steps and relentless ups and downs. It is pretty full on if you make use of the optional trips in free time, but there is so much to see. Kathmandhu is pretty much as you imagine, and as little time spent there as possible is probably a good plan, it was the least impressive hotel, dirty, crowded and polluted, but still has areas of culture and history worth a look. When the new airport in Pokhara opens, that might mean you can fly there which would reduce the long and 'exciting' road trip. Pokhara was a much nicer place all round and could have spent longer there. Chitwans wildlife was also amazing, we just skimmed the surface on this trip, could have easily spent longer there. The lodges are of a great standard, although unheated, so you need to dress accordingly. The food was far better than I anticipated, and with happy hour, I failed to lose weight or detox on this trip! The trekking was mainly off the main paths and as it was end of season, we saw very few other tourists either on the paths or in the lodges. It was only a group of 7 and felt like a very personal trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many to choose from! 1. The beautiful mountain scenery. We were very lucky to have 3 days of clear blue skies and stunning snow capped peaks. 2. the rural scenery of terracing and little villages with in depth viewing of the culture and local communities 3. The fabulous Nepali food, if you like curry and spicy, this is foodie heaven. There is plenty of it and all great quality, I had no stomach problems at all which was a nice surprise. 4. The lodges were amazing, so hospitable and well catered in stunning locations 5. Rhino viewing in Chitwan, some great encounters and some beautiful bird life plus the gharial breeding programme

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Keshar was a very experienced leader of 20 years. He was calm and competent with an amazing knowledge of everything that Nepal could show us, from the culture, food, restaurant suggestions and paths through the mountains. Couldn't fault him. He is very passionate about his country and supporting a lot of community projects. Would highly recommend him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fit for the trekking else you won't enjoy it. Be prepared for all weathers, pack light but need clothes for freezing to sunbathing! We had from 18degrees sunshine, to relentless rain and thunderstorms in Chitwan. Be open minded as things don't always go to plan with travel in Nepal. The roads are rough, the traffic is completely terrifying and whilst distances are short, travel times are long. We had a car accident and had to spent half an hour waiting for negotiations into who's fault and who should pay! As the Dhalai Lama says, cultivating patience and tolerance is the key to happiness...…...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a trip of a lifetime, it's cultural, physical, and spiritual all rolled into one. It opens your eyes, and exercises the body, mind and soul. Highly recommended. Not a softie trip, this is still trekking...…..but be prepared to be blown away.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Louisa Green

    Life-changing!

    I had not been on holiday for over a decade before I embarked on this trip, so suffice to say I had high expectations! Costa Rica had been on my list ever since a colleague visited the country two years ago, and it was well worth the wait. We were fortunate enough to only have eight travellers, which meant that our guide, Jonathan, had ample time to answer all of our questions. If you are looking for a holiday which will give you eight hours of sleep a night then this trip is not for you. We were up for breakfast before 8am every day and despite there being several optional extra activities listed on the trip notes, we didn't have time to do any of them as we were constantly on the go! I felt as though I was away for six months or more, and I enjoyed moving to a new area of the country every few days. Each hotel we stayed at had a different style suited to the area of the country we were in - rainforest lodge, spa resort, mountain hotel, ranch, beach hotel. The food was wonderful - all breakfasts are included and on the days when our lunch and/or dinner weren't included, we never felt hungry.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I thoroughly enjoyed our turtle nesting tour in Samara and after three hours of walking up and down the same stretch of beach, we finally witnessed a female Lora turtle making her way up the beach, dig her nest, lay her eggs, cover them up again and return to the ocean.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jonathan, our tour guide, was absolutely brilliant. He even managed to squeeze in a few extra activities which weren't on our itinerary such as a visit to a fruit market with a tasting session, a stop in Nicoya town en route to Samara, a trip to the man who produces "the best coffee in Costa Rica" and also a slight detour to another of his friends who has their own pottery business. He knew the calls, English and Latin names of every bird we saw, gave a debrief at the end of each day, made sure we knew the plans for tomorrow, took us to local restaurants for the not-included meals and consistently went above and beyond for us. He made an incredible trip into an unforgettable one.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip is currently (Dec 2019) tagged as a culture trip, but in reality it is definitely a wildlife adventure. Some days we saw in excess of 30 different types of birds and reptiles, and were very lucky to find sloths, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, spider monkeys, spiders, frogs, snakes, toucans, macaws, crocodiles, turtles, caimen, lizards and iguanas every single day. The trip notes state that the average lunch is around $15 and $35 for a dinner - in practise we found that we paid nowhere near this much. Hotel meals are expensive, but local restaurants often charge half the price for a more authentically Costa Rican meal.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I could give this trip 10 stars, I would, and I will be booking all my future adventure holidays with Exodus :)
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Andrew Patchett

    A birding bonanza

    This was the most wonderful adventure and our experience was just as all previous reviewers, simply amazing. Lots of great scenery, beaches, forests, countryside and birds. Lots and lots of the most amazing birds. Costa Rica is green for a reason so be prepared it can rain a lot at any time but it is always warm/hot!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the turtles hatch on Tortuguero beach and seeing the amazing Resplendent Quetzal in Savegre Cloud Forest at such close proximity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas our group leader was one of the best we have travelled with and we have had a few! His patience, knowledge and enthusiasm was just simply amazing and never seemed to be phased by the groups constant questions. Our trip had a birding bias and Andreas’s ability to locate, see and identify them was just simply amazing. We would not seen a fraction of them without his expert knowledge and guidance. Thank you!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Costa Rica is not a cheap country so be prepared for normal UK prices or above however the food and drink are really good with lots of fresh local fare. Just the best. The coffee it goes without saying is fantastic. ( We liked the iced coffees the best. Mmmmm!) ATMs are safely available so no need to carry lots of cash and dollars are always used with change given in local currency. You can also pay on credit card everywhere and great internet access even in the remotest of stays. How do they do it! Everyone says it,however it is worth mentioning, you do need a lot more travelling clothes than you would normally take. When washed they do not dry quickly because of the humidity. A fold out umbrella is an essential item. We found sealed bags for cameras etc useful and check your ‘bins’ are sealed, they may steam up inside otherwise! It is all about the beautiful green countryside, so clean and litter free. This is a very different Central America more akin to the North and generally you will have no language barriers at all. Try to get a direct flight! Going via Miami is a complete nightmare with immigration, lines, and just general inefficiency with little or no signage. In our experience you need at least 3 hours between flights if you do and that will be tight. It was a real challenge and took the edge of what was an amazing adventure. A great pity. However ....... Go and enjoy!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Miriam Carpenter

    Fabulous holiday

    How many times can I say the word amazing? We had high expectations of this holiday & we weren’t disappointed. It’s a busy holiday, moving on every 2 days, but there was time to relax in the afternoons & it meant that you feel you’ve seen so much of this varied country. The drives are about 4 hours, broken up with stops in interesting places, & the views are always amazing. We saw so much wild life, and the atmosphere in the rain forests was a great experience We had a couple of good fish meals at restaurants but Costa Rica isn’t really a ‘foodie ‘ destination. Prices are similar to England.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Boat trip on the Laguna at Tortuguero was magical. The atmosphere of the rainforest at Aquinas lodge was special, especially on the night walk At every location, there was so much wild life. Particularly loved seeing the colourful birds, especially the flocks of toucans and the resplendent quetzal, and the iguanas, and of course the sloths and howler monkeys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos well deserves his tour leader of the year award. He is a naturalist to his very core, and his passion is infectious. he is incredibly knowledgeable, not just about the wildlife, he told us so much about the history, the politics & the economics of his country. On top of that he’s warm & friendly, he’s witty & he is very humble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light, there’s some hoofing your case around but pack wisely as you’ll go from a hot & humid rainforest where you want to shower hourly, to the cool mountains where you need a jumper & jacket. All within a 4 hour drive. Beg steal or borrow a good pair of light weight binoculars. Set up a WhatsApp group to share photos with your group