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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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592 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2019
    Iain Maclean

    A real doze of Fresh Air !

    What a great week, despite the unusual cold for late January (reaching below -30), the still fresh air was envigorating. Great mix of activities, in a stunning landscape, especially under the sun with its relative low point in the sky. And to top it off, we saw the aurora, never guaranteed, but on a clear night, a genuinely spectacular show of colour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really enjoyed the dog-sledding, a 10km spin through the forests and over the lakes. Even on a cloudy day, spectacular scenery, under deep powder snow, with hot soup in a teepee around a roaring fire to finish (ahem) it off, hosted by Lauri, whose sharp wit had us all at ease and in great humour. And of course, seeing the aurora, never guaranteed, but on a clear night, a genuinely spectacular show of colour.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The team were first rate, whether out on activities or at base camp in the kitchen, helpful, friendly and informative.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Except for skin layer thermals, all the winter gear is provided, from hats to socks and base, mid and outer layers, and worked for us even in temperatures just under -30, so no need to overpack, though hand and foot warmers might be welcome ! And sensible to have some shampoo with you too. Accommodation is as you would expect for base camp, simple and functional, with underfloor heating and plenty hot water. The communal area is large, and on really cold nights (there that means below -30) a warm jumper or fleece is needed despite the roaring fire. If you don't fancy the free day, the Little Bear snow trail (12km/5hrs) is very worthwhile.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thursday was the least satisfying day for us. The reindeer trip was interesting, but the one short circuit we did on the sleigh was well short of the fun we had had with the dogs the day before. And Ruka, while an impressive winter resort, was such a contrast to the wilderness feel at Base Camp we so enjoyed. We hiked the Little Bear on Friday, it was a great day out, it would be a good addition/alternative to the programme if it could be fitted in, but it is a full 5hr outing ...
  • Reviewed February 2019

    Magical week in a snowy wonderland

    Thoroughly enjoyed a fantastic week at base camp. Scenery is absolutely stunning and activities are varied and fun. At the end of January/ early Feb there was plenty of daylight to make the most of everything on offer. There are superb snowshoe walks right from the front door, the little bear trail in particular. Accommodation is comfortable with plentiful tasty food and good variety. All staff work hard to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible. Although the clothes provided are perfectly acceptable, if you already own your own cold weather gear ( ski jacket / fleeces) you can wear these too. Lucky to share our holiday with a friendly bunch of fellow travellers who helped make it extra memorable. We would highly recommend this holiday to anyone thinking of going.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to say - so many but the scenery and tranquility was splendid.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All base camp staff were friendly and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you live near Birmingham airport do enquire about the Birmingham flight (we found out about it after we arrived) Take plenty of warm woolen socks, not necessarily all thick ones you will probably need to wear 2 or 3 pairs at a time. If you like downhill skiing the slopes in Ruka looked very quiet.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As others have said before if you are thinking of booking this trip then do......you will not regret it.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Veronica Smeaton

    Snow-shoeing in Catalan Pyrenees

    As the snow did not arrive until the 3rd day we had 2 days' hiking and 4 days' snowshoeing in a beautiful, remote area. Our guide, Miguel, was able to alter his planned routes to suit the vicissitudes of the weather and always provided us with scenic and culturally interesting hikes. Early evening talks were an exploration by Miguel of Catalan history, economy and culture with two opportunities to taste cheeses, sausages and wines of the area. The hotel was welcoming and provided an excellent selection of food. Rooms were warm and comfortable though corridors and the restaurant were often chilly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to choose one but the climb up to the Pla de la Font mountain hut through the woods and the descent in which we each took a turn at leading the way was very memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel was remarkable in his versatility at selecting routes to suit the weather. He inspired us with his love of and pride in Catalonia and managed to convey a vivid picture of life in remote areas, both past and present. He has a good sense of humour and was always very sociable with the group. Nothing was too much trouble and he was very aware of his responsibility for our safety and keen for us to enjoy experiences.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of warm layers which you can remove easily and stow in a rucksack. A good level of fitness is required as some routes are both long and challenging.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was a most enjoyable and informative trip with a largely cohesive group of people who were very positive about their experiences.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Abby Willcox

    Amazing trip in a beautiful country

    We had a fantastic time in the Finnish Wilderness. Basecamp was great, the staff were all lovely and really helpful. We enjoyed trying out a wide range of activities and then being free most afternoons to do the activities on our own or just relax or have a wander around the forest. Having the marked trails was really handy for independent exploring. The food was varied and we always had plenty to eat. The constant availability of free teas, coffee and juice was nice, as was the lovely log fire in the main lodge for warming us up after a chilly day out. The equipment and clothing provided was excellent, much better than I'd expected.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me it was husky dog sledding, without a doubt one of my favourite activities ever. My partner enjoyed seeing the northern lights twice and having an endless number of photography opportunities, albeit very cold ones!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Elina was great, our favourite exodus guide so far. She was so friendly and approachable with a really good humour. The only down side is your guide is not with you every day as you go off to do different activities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As with other reviews, you don't need to take many of your own clothes. We washed our quick dry base layers in the sink every other day. Be prepared to pay a lot for the optional activities, of which there were many more available than those listed in the trip notes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go, enjoy yourself. Spend a week in another world doing fun activities, meeting nice people and eating lots of food. Nothing not to love about this trip.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Sally Williams

    Magical Tatras

    This was a truly magical week in the High Tatras. So different to the alps, more of a fairytale setting. Apparently this was the best winter they have had in 7 years and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. Loads of snow, blue sky, and although extremely cold you don’t stand still long enough to feel it. If like me, you can’t face a whole week of skiing, then this is a great opportunity to try some different winter activities and really appreciate the scenery and culture in a place that is not spoiled by mass tourism.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The dog sledging was fantastic. It was a fun, yet relaxed experience. The dogs were so friendly, and obviously enjoyed their work, it was a pleasure to meet them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was an inspiration. He obviously enjoys his work and his mountains. It was a real pleasure to meet him, to hear his stories and marvel at his many talents.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Vegetarian options are limited but it is possible to make up a meal of starters and sides. We did find a restaurant with a lovely veggie pasta dish but it did get a bit repetitive! Possibly take a little more Polish currency and about €100 less than recommended. There is very little opportunity for gift shopping. The best places are the souvenir shops where you do the cross country or downhill skiing. There is no kettle in the hotel room so if you’d like a hot drink before breakfast (or any other time actually) suggest you pack a travel kettle. And take some tea bags! Don’t expect bars and restaurants like in the alps. The place is very quiet which we enjoyed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The thermal baths were a bit of a disappointment, more like a very busy leisure centre. But it was nice to soak in the warm water following two days of activity, once you’d battled through the crowds. Don’t recommend dinner in the hotel even after the long day out. Better to brave the elements again for a good meal.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Graham Walters

    Great Skiing and Traditional and Welcoming Hotel

    Kamben offers a well signposted and maintained network of tracks, many of the closer ones we used during the week. At each junction there is a good map and posts indicating the direction and distance to the next junctions and further destinations. Our trips varied from about 15 to 25 km each day. Not too hilly either; many tracks were graded blue, some green and red. We skiied up the red ones. The Hotel is excellent, with charming and welcoming hosts, very good food, and a comfortable, traditional atmosphere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I hadn’t skiied for 13 years, but soon felt at home again. The relaxed and accommodating leadership style helped.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Albert showed a “light touch” to leading. Friendly, communicative and inclusive in style.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The only downside for me was the long travel time back on the return day. I hope Exodus can review the logistics for this. An earlier flight back to the UK would be welcome, even though that might increase the price a bit. I would hope the increase would not be significant.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    M and C Palmer

    Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

    An enjoyable and interesting trip that gave us an insight into the local landscape and culture. Snow only truly arrived 2 days into the week and our leader Miguel adapted well, staying true to the themes of the itinerary and giving us good walks without snow and then in fresh snow of depths up to 3 feet. Note – some stamina is needed, especially in the deep snow! Local villages, remote valleys in a national park and peak summits were all sampled, together with insights into local history and culture such as the Freedom Trail escape route, and Catalan wine and cheese tastings. A very enjoyable week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the unspoilt beauty and power of the Catalan Pyrenees.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A dedicated guide able to make decisions at short notice as the weather conditions necessitated a change of plan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the Trip Notes, they give a good guide as to the walking level required.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Caroline Simmonds

    From no snow to lots of snow!

    When we arrived in Rialp the area had seen no snow for more than a month, so the first couple of days were spent walking rather than snowshoeing. This was not necessarily a disadvantage because it enabled us to do longer walks to different villages and, at least on the first day, enjoy the sunshine! Then on Wednesday the snow arrived with a vengeance, so the snowshoes got thoroughly tested as well, often in deep virgin snow. I had no idea about the history or culture of the area and learned a lot from our leader, Miguel, during the week. The local wine and cheese sampling sessions he laid on for us were also much appreciated!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Enjoying the views and snowshoeing for miles without seeing any other people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel is a very friendly and knowledgeable guide. On one or two occasions he headed off a little too fast (the group left my husband and me behind in a cafe on the first day - luckily we managed to work out where they had gone and catch up!) but 14 is quite a large group to have only one leader. He willingly gave up his free day to lead us on a very enjoyable additional walk, even if we did need to up the pace towards the end in order to catch the bus back to Rialp! He was also very flexible as the weather conditions required.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect this to be an easy trip, with or without snow - but it is a good combination of activity and culture in a really fascinating area.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Johnny Corn

    Should be on everyone’s bucket list

    This is a trip every Exodus traveller should do! So many different activities in a week based at the wonderful Oulanka Basecamp with its great facilities, gear and staff. The day light is short but you sure make the most of it and have plenty of time to unwind and relax. Laugh at yourself as to try and tackle most things that you would have never tried before but after a taster would want to do most of them as holidays in themselves- husky sledging, snow shoe walking, cross country skiing and driving a skidoo. The final day in the enchanted snow covered National Park of Riisitunturi is one I will never forget as one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to! Did not see the Northern Lights which would have put the icing on the cake but will just mean I will have to come again! Everyone seems to do the Petra trip but I suggest this is a most do trip too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Husky sledging and the snow shoe walk in Riisitunturi.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Elena was a brilliant guide and leader and supported by all the team at the camp! They were all so enthusiastic, professional and fun and clearly love what they do.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you do the river floating do not wear your glasses as they like the clothes you are provided with freeze! You hardly need to take a thing as the gear they provide is better than the gear I have and I am a real wimp in the cold! Take plenty of good socks, hipflask, buy duty free as my bar bill was horrendous ( my own fault but enjoyed it all!), if your clothes get wet of sweaty dry them out on the floor of your room with underfloor heating! No soaps etc in rooms so take your own!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Did not get time as day light short but try and do Bear walks from Basecamp!
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Conor Carr

    A great intro to snow-shoeing in a really beautiful place

    A great intro to snow-shoeing in a really beautiful place, with 'warm up days' to learn how to do it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful scenery and lots of snow was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, helped by a nice, friendly group of people, great leader and hospitable, generous hosts at the Vila.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good! Thomas is a great leader, he looked after everyone well, and knows a lot about the area and history and has good humour too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget your yaktrax, gaiters and lots of layers of clothing! You will be cold at the beginning of the treks but warm up quickly so it's good to have the option of taking layers off. Although the breakfast and evening meal are substantial (plenty for everyone), I advise taking extra snacks for lunch and a thermos flask for hot tea.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great trip for those wanting an intro to snowshoeing. This is a beautiful area, full of history.. I'd also suggest a day or two in Bucharest to visit the parliament building and museums (history museum was interesting)