Turtle, Ecuador

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

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448 Reviews

  • 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
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Sue Pemberton

    Pura Vida

    This was a 'special treat' holiday for me, I had been looking forward to it for 9 months and had very high expectations. These were more than met. Costa Rica is a fascinating country which we could learn a lot from. This tour gives you a really good introduction to the country, staying at 6 different locations all completely different. Wildlife was amazing. The journey was shared with a wonderful group of people - so much fun and friendship.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose, there were so many - a wonderful close view of a sloth on our way to Tortuguero, staying at Esqinas Lodge, the monkeys at Manuel Antonio, the scarlet macaws.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It's easy to see why Johnny is an award-winning leader. His knowledge of and passion for his country was impressive and he taught us so much in his gentle way. He knew the best places and times to find wildlife, which always seemed to appear bang on cue! His organisational skills were exemplarary and he always had 'a plan'. We also came home ardent supporters of the Herediano football team!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go prepared for a wide variety of weather and remember to take your camera and binocluars with you wherever you go!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    John Burrows

    Brilliant introduction to Sri Lankan wildlife

    I’m writing this from my Sri Lankan poolside as just about to embark on a more cultural highlights tour but having completed the Wild Sri Lanka trip I’m even more excited about what’s in store, this is a wonderful country. If you arrive with realistic expectations of hotels, food and especially wildlife sightings, you will not be disappointed. All accommodation has been clean, tidy and comfortable. Kithala resort was idyllic and a real treat, whilst at the other extreme Talalla retreat was eclectic and not my cup of tea but an experience none the less. It was fun watching the monkeys in the trees while I showered in the open roofed area but I did wonder if they may come and grab my shower gel! The game drives were varied and generous, each being at least 3 hours giving as much opportunity as possible to view the animals on offer. Being “Wild”, nothing can be guaranteed, but our trip did see a Leopard, Sloth bear, multiple close encounters of Elephant, several wild boar, hares, mouse deer, ever present displaying peacock a Civet cat and, for the bird lovers, in excess of 140 different species. Food has been plentiful, of an acceptable standard. Not surprisingly, curry has been a staple, but be prepared for them to be spicier than their Indian counterpart. There are some long days of travel (as identified in some earlier reviews) but this is clearly stated in the itinerary and.........Sri Lanka is a big country and this trip sees a lot of it. For a real taste of wildlife from the Tropical rainforest to a coastal game reserve this trip offers it all.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being in close proximity, as in 1 metre, to a male Tusker elephant who was completely at home in his natural environment and so much better than “Woburn”.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An excellent leader, endlessly patient, organised and knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Arrive with realistic expectations, prepare to be hot (if used to UK conditions) and treat long journeys as an opportunity to relax and soak in the wonderful varied scenery.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed November 2019

    Discover Costa Rica

    A great trip to get an idea of the different environments in Costa Rica, we saw a huge amount of wildlife in such a short space of time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one moment; seeing a sloth in the wild for the first time, the tiny turtle heading out of its nest down to the sea, the hummingbirds, the perfectly named resplendent quetzals, the macaws, the ever changing scenery, never ending laughter with the group of strangers that quickly became friends ……..just so many wonderful moments to remember.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic! Carlos Calvo is an excellent guide, his passion and knowledge knows no bounds, spotting animals and birds that we would have very easily missed. He is an amazing photographer and was more than happy to share his photos with the group. He is well organised and had a great sense of humour, interacting with everyone in the group with ease. Our driver Henry Fonseca was great too, he kept the minibus super clean, drove very carefully and always had a smile on his face.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely read the previous traveller notes, nothing to add as they are pretty comprehensive

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go - it's an amazing place!
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Julie D

    Discover Costa Rica

    Fantastic insight into this beautiful and fascinating country. Brilliant guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the baby turtles hurtling towards the incoming tide at Tortuguero

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant guide - very friendly and very knowledgeable about everything from the plants and wildlife to the history of the country

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring an umbrella !
  • Reviewed November 2019
    David Phillips

    Costa Rica is an amazing country

    This was a great trip which we enjoyed thoroughly. Having wanted to visit CR for some time, I was hoping to see a lot of the wildlife and to experience its rich biodiversity. The itinerary was perfect and allowed plenty of time to enjoy these aspects. The transport and accommodation was comfortable and of a high standard. Our guide was superb.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many enjoyable moments throughout the trip, but for me the most thrilling moments were 1. witnessing a green turtle lay and bury her eggs on the beach at Tortuguera, and then return t o the sea on the second night in the country. This was a real privilege. 2. Spotting and photographing Resplendent Quetzals in the cloud forest at Savegre right at the end of the trip

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres Zuniga is an absolutely superb guide. His knowledge of Costa Rica and its wildlife is astonishing and his ability to find and identify birds and animals is absolutely astounding. We would not have seen a tenth of what we did see without him. He instantly identified scores of birds by their calls. He found quetzals for us with little effort. He also has an impressive knowledge of the flora. He made our experience of Costa Rica an incredible one. Not only that, but he was pleasant at all times, interesting in what he told us, and was a great host and ambassador for his country. We also had a very capable, friendly and helpful bus driver, Geraldo. Between them they looked after our party extremely well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are at all interested in birds and animals and enjoy seeing them, you will enjoy this trip. Costa Rica deserves its reputation as a country that has gone to great lengths to restore and conserve its forests and biodiversity and this itinerary will give you many wonderful experiences of what it has to offer.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary was perfectly paced - 2 nights each at 6 destinations, with no more that a half day between them, meaning that we arrived at each place midday and then had the afternoon and all the next day to experience it before moving on. Thus we did not feel rushed and each destination was comfortable and welcoming.
  • 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
    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.
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