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
    Delia Forester

    Well done Rosario & Guiseppe!

    If you idea of a Mediterranean holiday involves languorous lie-ins & bobbing about on a Lilo with a spritzer, forget it! We were an international group of 16. We were very busy. We visited places we could not have found independently, and discovered the secrets of wine, olive & cheese production. We sampled lots of lovely Sicilian foods, visited food markets, feasted on caponata & pesto made by ourselves, tried street food ("what IS that?" - "Cow spleen-its very popular...."). The trip was quite hectic, Rosario our excellent guide had us whipped into shape from the start- NO lie-ins, no matter how much we consumed the night before. We were on the coach by 8 or 9 am, ready to face what the day presented. It was also full of contrasts, from busy markets to gentle countryside, from chi-chi resorts to the blackened slopes of Mount Etna, we got a real flavour of Sicily, including even a bit of Inspector Montalbarno. Rosario joined in with us and was both helpful and caring of our various needs, and Guiseppe our driver was just brilliant. A kind, friendly, helpful, careful driver who lugged our suitcases as well as driving and looking after us. The relatively small coach easily negotiated roads that would have been tricky for a bigger bus. Most of the hotels were perfect for our needs, and mostly very well located.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention- The excellent Archaeologist/guide at the Valley of the Temples, smoky Mt Etna, sunsets over the Mediterranean, the clubby atmosphere around the street bars of Palermo, the Roman mosaics, paddling across the Causeway to Isola Bella, the amphitheatre at Taormina.....

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was an excellent leader, fully involved with our varied group, caring, fun, sympathetic, well-organised. His English pretty much perfect, and his knowledge of Sicily beyond compare. Crucially he always managed to find us a clean toilet stop without anyone having to ask!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A hat & comfortable shoes, suitable for walking city streets AND climbing Mt Etna, are essential. Don't over pack, you are unlikely to UN-pack. Drink plenty of water. There is a fair amount of time spent on the coach, but it's well divided up. Beware Catania Airport, which is much too small to handle all those passengers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to thank Rosario and Guiseppe for their kind professionalism.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    John Chapman

    A couple of tips

    Previous reviews have covered most things and are worth reading.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are buying drinks for the yurt take the opportunity to buy them for the homestay meal at the same time, alternatively turn right on leaving the Green Yard hotel and in 300yds there is a small shop. I would also advise buying drinks at the supermarket to take to the lakeside resort.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Julie Wood

    Garden Route

    I would wholeheartedly echo what Bev Scammel says so eloquently below. This was a fantastic trip with great guides, wonderful scenery, wildlife and we travelled with a lovely group of people. This was our first Exodus trip and I am certain it won't be our last.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching a Right whale breaching 22 times during our sunrise whale watching trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Justin and Jan were great, so knowledgable and enthusiastic about their country. Justin looked after us so well, ensuring that we had the best wildlife experiences and amazing food. We really appreciated him sharing the political, economic and social aspects of living in SA today. It was the icing on the cake.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Cards are accepted everywhere but consider taking some cash to cover tipping and some trips.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Trip was wonderful, fell in love with Africa and can't wait to visit again.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Michael Eacott

    Comments on Portugal: Walking & Wine.

    We had booked our holiday with Headwater. We had to wait for 3 hours before we were collected from Porto airport by A2Z local representatives despite phoning them in Portugal and Headwater in the UK. It appears that Headwater had not informed A2Z of our arrival time at the airport. The guiding Lina and Antonio were excellent. Lina was very knowledgeable and kept us informed, and entertained, about what we could see during our walks. Antonio was diligent ensuring that were were all kept safe where walking was difficult such as down steep rocky terrain and narrow edges of the levada. Some evenings they took us to excellent local restaurants where we enjoyed the food. The accommodation The first accommodation, #1 Hotel Cristal in Porto. The room was well laid out, beds comfortable, pillows supportive. Just a little gripe about the “fashionable” flat based hand basins that needed more water than round based ones and also drained very slowly. Very little leakage from shower into the bathroom. Buffet evening meal was good and so was breakfast. The second accommodation, #2 Douro Scala Hotel. This was a case of fashion before function. Navigating to the fitness room and other facilities was difficult due to the complex layout. Out room had an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. The beds although comfortable had pillows that were not at all supportive. The hand basin was in the same room space as the bed , being a peninsular design with a flat base rectangular hand basin that filled slowly and did not drain effectively. The toilet was separated from the bedroom space by a sliding door, shared the same areas the bedroom and did not have an extractor vent or fan. So toilet odours permeated the bedroom. The bath and shower were also in the same air space as the bedroom so that the humidity after showering entered the bedroom space. (I despair of the triumph of fashion before function) One of the waiters, possibly the senior one, at the evening meal ignored the guest next to me when he politely asked for some wine/beer. The third accommodation, #3 Mondim Agua Hotel. Another one of those silly flat rectangular shallow hand basins. The “click-clack” basin plug did not seal the water in the basin and the water slowly drained away. When the plug was opened the water drainage from the basin was slow and incomplete. The shower floor was raised above the bathroom floor so leakage of water out of the shower was inevitable. The acoustics of the meeting room where the guides gave their daily feedback and next days briefing were absolutely appalling, making it very difficult for Lina and Antonio to be heard clearly above the echoes from the hard ceiling and walls. Summary We enjoyed the guiding, walking and companionship of the walking group very much. It is a pity about the fashionable impracticality of some features of hotels #2 and #3.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting Porto

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lina was excellent, communicative and had a great sense of humor.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Christopher Witt

    Amazing Brazil

    Long journey to get to the Pantanal but worth it! Three jaguar sightings on the first trip made everyone very happy for the forthcoming adventure. Hotel Baiazinha is the perfect location for trips into the wetlands. Accommodation and food excellent and staff very friendly. Plus around the hotel so many birds. Seven boat trips was tiring in the heat, thankfully the boat has a cover. Finally saw nine jaguar sightings, some repeats, plus two giant otter encounter.......and so many birds. Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge is a nice wind down with good accommodation. Trips out to spot wildlife are good but toucans and hyacinth macaws can be spotted in the grounds early morning!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing my first hyacinth macaws on the drive in to Hotel Baiazinha and then in the afternoon seeing jaguars!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was knowledgeable on the wildlife and environment but poor on keeping us updated on plans for the trip.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Deborah Elwen

    A True Escape

    This was a great trip for really getting away from it all and into nature. Not that is was basic, the lodges were very well appointed and we were looked after very well. It was a photographers' paradise and we got to see Quetzals and Sloths out in the wild; one of the many wonderful moments was having Squirrel Monkeys come down from the trees and play around our feet. Even the local Guide said he had never seen that happen before. If you want to bring out your inner David Attenborough, then take this trip!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Possibly being woken up for the first time by Howler Monkeys. A truly eerie sound and one difficult to describe. At this point I clearly knew I was away from the madding crowds and in the middle of no where surrounded by nature.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos is excellent and justifies the many plaudits he has gained. He has a dry sense of humour and is very approachable, but remains dignified and professional at all times. "I want to maximise your day" he said, and we certainly did.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Due to the humidity, everything you own will feel damp so don't take anything you really care about. The many biting insects are vicious so use repellent even if you normally are not susceptible; trekking leggings seemed better at keeping the things at bay than trousers or loose clothing. You may need waterproof sandals at Luna Lodge to cross some rivers on the big walk there. If the water is running low, gortex boots will suffice; bare feet (too stony underfoot) and flip-flops (risk of twisted ankles) are not advised. For these crossings, a small trek towel is advised to dry your feet before putting boots on again - you will need to wear boots for the walk. Closed toe footwear is advised in nearly all places due to the possibility of bites from forest bottom crawlers. NB: the luggage limit on the transport to Luna Lodge is more size than weight - your bags will be put into black bin bags and then into the back of a Toyota Hilux (under a cover). The tap water is all safe to drink, but consider using a filter water bottle if you are sensitive to the effects of a change in water.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you can, take advantage of the direct flights, which means spending a few extra days at the start/finish Hotel Bougainvillea. This hotel has superb gardens, spa and pool - ideal for getting over the journey; also, you can arrange your own trips to explore San Jose and its environs which is quite a contrast to the rest of the trip.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    christine midgley

    Russia by trans Siberia railway

    Excellent holiday with really good guides. A great group and as always with exodus holidays, all good company.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In Yacatherinburg at the church of the spilled blood

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Great holiday, Russia is far more advanced than we in the West tend to think

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Mandy McEvoy

    Superb walking in Spain with a fantastic guide!

    A fabulous and varied trip, walking the hills of Andalucia and the breathtaking Caminito del Rey. With a free day in the absolutely stunning city of Seville and the knowledge of an expert guide, Michael Newcombe... this trip is a must.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Caminito del Rey.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Michael Newcombe was the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and conscientious guide that I’ve ever experienced on an Exodus tour. He has a vast knowledge of the flora, fauna, geology and history of Andalucia. It was a pleasure to walk and listen to his expertise in all fields. On the last day at airport drop off, I had several hours to wait before my flight. Michael helped me to store my luggage in the secure left luggage department and buy return tickets for the metro train into Malaga. He described how to get to the Picasso museum. I had a great few hours instead of a long boring wait! Nothing was too much trouble for Mike... he looked after all of us on the tour, so well! Thank you Mike!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t expect luxurious surroundings at the Cortijo Rosario, it is a very rural, converted farmhouse. The food is plentiful and the place is clean. There are lovely friendly staff and the loyalty bar is well stocked. Evenings are spent here as the walk into the village is long, dark and hilly. The bedrooms are small but adequate. Our shower had plentiful, hot running water but other guests said that their showers had a slow flow and the water was cold. My only moan was that the towels were only changed once in the week. I think twice would have been better. You do get quite dusty and hot walking in Andalucia, sometimes requiring two showers per day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Michael deserves to be voted guide of the year ! He certainly is a star guide who looks after his guests tremendously!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Louise ParrMorley

    Mount Fuji - Japan - excellent trip

    First getting to the top of Fuji (tick) this trip does everything it says - it delivered on all fronts from experiencing Japanese food, hotels and mountain huts.. to visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and traditional villages. Free days were packed with the best things to see organised by our tour guide. Travel around was by the ultra efficient rail and bus networks. This is a hot and humid climate and in the last two weeks of August there are local festivals to add to the experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The number of shrines and the commitment and honest beliefs of the Japanese - this is a friendly and clean country. The trail of lights climbing to the top of Fuji at night - amazing. and the strange practice of displaying plastic food.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mayuko was a fantastic leader, she had everything organised was really friendly and ensured we experienced as much as possible of Japan and its culture. We had two additional leaders taking us up Fuji and Yagatake - they did everything possible to get us there safely including managing the 'weather' - they were friendly and helpful .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You are travelling with your luggage constantly - travel light and wheels are a must, not all stations have lifts! .. We were really lucky with weather and got to the top of Fuji and Yari despite torrential downpours and strong winds. your boots will get wet! bring a folding umbrella that fits in your day pack and some light weight summer shoes comfortable for walking on non hiking days. It really is cold and 'windy' on top of Fuji at night !! base layer, alpine + lightweight rain jacket for wind. - gloves a must.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The two weeks we were there there were a number of local festivals going on that added to the enjoyment. Try out the food wherever you are, the castle in Matsumoto at night is worth the 10 minute walk for a photo and worth a visit in the morning.... find time to walk around the castle (1 hour) you might regret it otherwise, In Tokyo the samuri museum is worth a trip on a free day and the Kimono design museum a the Fuji lakes also worth a trip if you like art and fashion.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Benjamin Alan Teece

    The Balkans

    This was an excellent trip with excellent trip manager Jolita and good local guides. Very hectic on the go all the time. Covered a great deal of history and would recommend it highly. One major problem the Hotels are not up to standard of the rest of the trip. Standard Double Rooms were very small and dark and bathrooms miniscule. An option to upgrade should be offered. We upgraded at one Hotel for 20 Euros per night and had a fantastic light and airy room with a balcony and large bathroom fully equiped . This would change the package for the better. One night is OK but 2 / 3 night stays is not on.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tallinn was an inspiration not to be missed its buildings and culture was first class. Trakai castle was a surprise in such a beautiful setting and not too many tourists.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The best, Jolita's ready smile and extensive knowledge made the trip. Her ability to handle any situation that occurred was something special. Her energy was inspiring to us all

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Upgrade hotel rooms on 3 and 2 night stays.