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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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4 Reviews

  • Reviewed November 2019

    Wow. Loved every second.

    I'm recently back from the November trip. This was my third Exodus holiday. The other two were great, but this one took it to another level. Literally. Those climbs ..... Our tour leader, Loc, was brilliant. This was the best, and hardest, cycling I've ever done. I'm still proud that I managed every section without swapping the bike for the bus. Apparently, our group was the first for this trip where everyone cycled every section. We lucked out on the weather, and most road sections had been repaired (compared to the trip notes warning us otherwise), but I'm still proud of myself!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being able to cycle up such long climbs, motivated both by Loc (leader) and the rest of the group. The views were rewarding. I like to think all the motorcycle tourists who passed us were jealous. They certainly should be.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing. Seriously. For a youngish guy, he took control and co-ordinated us perfectly. Everything went to plan. One of our group thought cycling and taking photos at the same time was a fun way to break a collarbone, and the way Loc handled it was very comforting to witness. In fact, that comment goes back to the Exodus team in the UK too - they seemed to genuinely care.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The rest of our group seem to cycle up mountains for fun. Not me. I found it hard going, but managed it all. Do try and get in some hill climbs before you go. I did, and I tracked the gradient % so I knew roughly how hard each day would be based on the (very accurate) trip notes. Also, I was the only one not in proper cycling gear. My arse suffered because of it. Bring one or all of ... padded cycling shorts, gel seat cover, your own saddle. I did none of those which at least motivated me to stand on the pedals occasionally!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus, and the support team, planned this ride well. Not every hotel was spotless, but it was good to know that Exodus had scouted out the towns and picked the best hotel available. Bring plastic/washable sandals or flipflops (I have plastic Birkenstocks which I highly recommend) for the communal bathrooms in the homestays, and in case you end up wandering around Hanoi in the rain. I'm not sure what's going to happen with the Ha Long Bay part of this tour (or the HCMC to Hanoi one) as they seem to be simultaneously banning over-night stays on the boats (for pollution reasons) and turning Ha Long into some kind of awful theme park concept. If that happens, I doubt it'll be worth the 8 hour return bus trip.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Bridget Slater

    Hill tribes of Vietnam

    Excellent trip well off the beaten track. Our leader, Loc, was exceptional

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful climbs, challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Views to die for

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Forst rate. Thoughtful, organised, committed - couldn't fault him

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Christopher Hogge

    A glorious adventure.

    A truly fantastic two week adventure, that saw us vist some jaw dropping scenery, eat some delicious food and cycle up some seriously big hills.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It’s only been a week since the trip ended and it would be hard to pick only one inspirational moment. The people of Vietnam that we encountered had an incredible approach to life.... the landscape of the North East is stunning.,,, some of the cycling in hard ... very hard.., Ma Pi Leng pass will not be forgotten in a hurry .... or the ride into Meo Vac or Bac Ha.... Surviving Hanoi traffic was another great cycling acheivment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long Le was without doubt the greatest cycling tour leader I have ridden with. Exceptional on every count. 10/10

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good quality, lightweight rain jacket.... handy for the chillier mornings and moments of rain/ mist. Bike lights..,, mist and low cloud are more common than you’d imagine. Wi-fi was available everywhere except on boat trip. Bring enough jerseys etc.... drying of kit after ride can be a problem because of humidity.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip.... cycling can be tough..., 10.% ascents very very common. Wonderful food..,.wonderful people.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Pauline Cornthwaite

    The Hilltribes of Vietnam

    For my husband and I this was our first venture into SE Asia. The appeal was to be among the first group to cycle this tour at a Catagory 5 'challenging' level. We are active retirees and enjoy the unobtrusive nature of cycling as a means to learn about new places. We chose to fly to Vietnam three days earlier to recover from jet lag and get a flavour of this country. There was immediate impact on reaching Hanoi. The sheer numbers of people travelling on thousands of scooters intermingled with regular road traffic in a cacophony of noise. I had read that there were no road rules and that certainly seems true, however in three weeks I only witnessed two toppling bicycles possibly due to their heavy loads. We moved to the tour hotel after three days and met our group leader Long Le, his trainee Lok and 9 other riders. Next day we were supplied with our hybrid bikes and adjusted them to fit before an easy cycle around Lake Hoi Tay. The following day we left Hanoi and headed to the mountains. For the next 10 consecutive days we cycled, moving on each night in a variety of accommodation described as 'basic' hotels with one home stay (my favourite) which was owned by an ex serviceman of the Vietcong. This lovely gentleman was kind enough to tell us a little about the second Indochina war and his role in it. He gave us an unique audible window into the past from his experiences. He told us that very many men and women never returned home, his parents didn't expected to see him again and there was no way to keep in touch. He didn't return to the farm for 10 years. I was humbled and in awe of him. In all the places we stayed we always had hot water, showers and clean beds. The meals, eaten locally, were often variations on the same and some were better than others, but these were non tourist areas and we ate what was available. Wherever we went, people particularly children, not used to seeing groups of cyclists or visitors at all, would call out cheering us and waving. In the north, close to the border with China, we were woken up at 6 am to loud propaganda broadcasts, then another loudspeaker playing pop music (we guessed to drown out the propaganda)! Cycling away to peaceful countryside from towns was always welcome. The rice paddy fields and tea plantations are picturesque with workers, often carrying babies on their backs and always waving saying 'Hello.' The cycling became progressively harder with gradients in excess of 10% for 18 and 19 km and roads often broken, leaving large rubble to cycle over. Some of these rides were absolutely brutal and fellow cyclists, having done Tour de France routes told us these were much harder! This was cause for debate at the end to determine whether to upgrade the 'Challenge' level to 6 in future. On the upside views, when not misty, were spectacular and descents very welcome. My only disappointments were in an absence of any wildlife and our group leader told me that everything gets eaten in Vietnam. One unfortunate Weasle was skinned and cooked when we stopped for snacks on a ride through remote Hoang Su Phi. Wild birds are very few but when seen are stunning with delightful songs. Unfortunately most are heard from cages. Litter too is everywhere unfortunately. On the overnight stay in Hanoi however, there are small boats out collecting floating litter with nets.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Vietnamese people were welcoming, happy and friendly. They display a calm tolerance to the noise and business of city life and are openly affectionate and caring with their children. Whole families seem to share in the care of youngsters, who are delightful, as they go about everyday trade on the streets. A visit to a women's refuge for victims of trafficking. Mrs Mai showed us her textile workshop and demonstrated tools and equipment used for printing art work. Her shop gave us a variety of beautiful items to purchase. Trio get Xuan resort. Holiday cabins lakeside. Exhilarating views after torturous climbs. Halong Bay.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long Le was excellent as group leader with superb linguistic skills. He was informative, decisive and humerous. Looking after us collectively and individually he was most attentive. Always keen to make us as comfortable and well fed, ready and willing to answer any questions. His authority with the staff accompanying us, with restaurant/cafe staff and hoteliers was sound, smoothing the way for us wherever we went.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Best not to be squeamish on this tour. Meat products form a large part of the Viet diet and places where animals are killed aren't sound proof. Personally, I tend to visit new countries without preconceptions and just absorb it as it comes. I'm very glad I went there, I keep a journal which helps me enjoy the experience more. Photos serve as memories to paint in watercolour when home. The cycling was the hardest I've ever done but now home, I find the Warwickshire hills much easier! That's got to be worth it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I enjoyed the whole experience as I like to learn the truth as seen and experienced. I've already booked our next excursion with Exodus.