Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed August 2018
    Natalie Charles

    Amazing Adventure with Teens

    A wonderful couple of weeks focusing principally on the wildlife of Costa Rica. We went at the start of the rainy season and were lucky with the weather, but don't think you'll be suthbathing (much) as Exodus keep you moving!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My thirteen year old son told me that the Pacific coast beach we visited was the most beautiful place he'd ever seen.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, excellent, excellent. Gio has an exceptionally calm, professional and efficient manner. He's also incredibly knowledgeable and endlessly enthusiastic about his country. On top of that, he understands the importance of group dynamics and ensured that we formed a happy group. I really don't think we could have asked for a more thoughtful, organised and all-round nice guy to lead our holiday!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Two things - 1. If you're travelling in the rainy season, ignore the advice to travel light as you cannot dry clothes (everything is constantly damp) 2. Ignore Exodus's terrible and costly advice to take dollars. You need enough dollars to get you to a cash machine, then withdraw local Colones and use them everywhere - otherwise you will be ripped off by terrible dollar exchange rates offered in shops and restaurants.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Caroline Richardson

    Wow, wow, wow!!!

    Costa Rica is a fabulous country and well worth the long flight. We went as a family of 5, parents of nearly 50, my mum in her early 70s and 2 girls aged 10 and 12. We were looking for a change from the usual pool / beach holiday and gosh, it was different!!! The wildlife is nothing short of phenomenal. We saw spiders, snakes, macaws, crocodiles, lizards, fantastic birds, frogs etc...... the list just goes on. The plantlife was great - plants we have at home in pots in the house growing tens of feet high in their natural habitat - it was quite something to see. It was also very educational, not just seeing plants and animals in their natural environment, but also other experiences such as the trips to the chocolate / cacao plantation and the sloth sanctuary. And it was great fun, especially the white water rafting and the zipwiring in Arenal. It was however, quite exhausting. I must admit we were not quite prepared for the pace, the early mornings and the long coach trips, but, in retrospect, they were all for a reason and all worth it for the sights and sounds and experiences in each location. And of course, I must mention our guide Glenda and our driver Mauricio who were quite simply, marvellous. Their professionalism, efficiency and enthusiasm for their country made the holiday very special for us.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think we all enjoyed the quiet boat trip in Tortuguero - how Glenda managed to find a waterway all to ourselves given the amount of traffic on the main river I will never know. But the chance to see turtles, crocodiles, various birds including toucans and macaws, monkeys, lizards etc in their natural habitat with the added highlight of the 2 dolphins was marvellous. The white water rafting and zip wiring were such fun and we all enjoyed the adrenalin rush! And seeing something new almost at every turn was great. Traipsing back to our room one afternoon we came across an armadillo, seeing a coati in the grounds of the hotel, howler monkeys moving across in the trees above the swimming pool... etc. I could go on.......

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nothing short of fabulous. Glenda was so knowledgeable and her telescope managed to pick out things that we could not even see with the naked eye. Mauricio was always there incase anyone wanted to finish a walk early and his keen eye also spotted other treats hidden in the trees. Glenda's enthusiasm for her country and her willingness to share this with us was much appreciated. Our experience of Costa Rica would not have been half as good without her...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is hot and humid in August and clothes all get very damp. Anything that gets wet, stays wet. So pack clothes in ziplock bags and keep them zipped wherever possible. Dry-wicking clothes are perfect and do not bring anything that cannot dry easily. A ball or something for the kids to play with in the pools is a great idea. And test your waterproofs before you travel. These need to be industrial strength as when it rains I mean it really rains!! Stand in the shower for 15 minutes on full blast and check those seams!!! If your kids are remotely travel sick - think about travel bands on their wrists as the roads are windy and bumpy. Connecting or family rooms are rare however if you have young kids the rooms normally have 2 double beds so you could all sleep together although it might be quite tight! A zoom camera is a must and maybe, as we did, another soft bag to throw in the washing and / or hiking boots when these are not being worn will keep the suitcases relatively clean and organised.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Come with an open mind - this is not a five star country and yes it does rain - loads!! However, the experiences are well worth the early morning starts and the requirement to pack up and move on every 48 hours. It is, admittedly, quite daunting. The concept of spending 2 weeks in close proximity with 3 or 4 other families and hoping the kids get on and the parents find common ground. However I feel we were incredibly fortunate on our tour and met some lovely families. The kids had great fun together and the parents did too! Looking at other reviews this seems to be a common theme, so do not delay and book today, you will not regret it!!
  • Reviewed August 2018
    CLARE HUDSON

    COSTA RICA FAMILY ADVENTURE

    This was a really memorable holiday. Costa Rica is an extraordinary country with a plethora of fantastic birds, animals, and flowers to see - and the big appeal of it when travelling with children is that on any expedition you ALWAYS see something. Hotel gardens themselves are places where anything can happen - I had one of the most exciting bird sightings (a trogon) in the garden of our hotel in Dominical - where we also saw a boa constrictor in the stream by the hotel. It really did feel like an adventure - the itinerary packs so many experiences into a short space of time. It was great for our 11 year old daughter to have other children in the group to make friends with - that made her braver and more tolerant of some of the long journeys and physical challenges of so much torrential rain. What makes it all work is the style of the tour - yes, there is a busy itinerary but our guide always sought to offer choices of places to eat and things to do, so it felt quite organic and we never felt over-managed or regimented. Her deep local knowledge, and that of the driver made a huge difference. Costa Ricans are friendly, efficient and proud of their country and that made this trip special too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My daughter and I loved the rafting trip at Sarapiqui - which was the "floating safari" rather than the white water version as we felt too nervous to do that. In fact, because of heavy rain the night before the water was quite stirred up so it was actually quite thrilling. The guide on this raft was wonderful - he made it really fun. She also loved the zip wiring at Sarapiqui, and we all enjoyed the hot springs at La Fortuna - absolutely magical in the twilight. But the stars of the show were all the animals we saw - especially sloths and monkeys, and endless iguanas!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Katia was one in a million - so knowledgeable and such a brilliant communicator. Long journeys were broken up with really good background on where we were and what we were seeing, and she gave us really good historical, cultural and social background too. - As a birdwatcher I really appreciated her willingness to take us on 6am bird spotting strolls. I would never have seen half so much if she hadn't shown me it - and her passion for flora and fauna is infectious. I will never forget her detailed description of the social organisation of the leaf cutter ant! She is a born leader - always managing to make things feel organic and informal, while doing masses of contingency planning behind the scenes. She also treated us all as individuals and sought to offer options that would appeal to each of us. Her local knowledge of restaurants was invaluable - she gave us choices and took us to great places.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We went in the rainy season - and boy, did it rain. Not just an hour or two a day, but torrentially for hours on end, especially on the Caribbean side where it rains more or less all the year round. And when it isn't raining it is more often than not very overcast. Once we got to the Pacific side the weather was much better - sunshine for at least half of every day. So be prepared for the weather - it can be demoralising. Others have mentioned the difficulty in drying clothes out - our guide was ingenious and took us twice to local laundrettes where a service wash was efficient and far cheaper than in the hotels. Returned either same day or following morning. Hotels are simple - but we liked the simplest one, at Cahuita, the best because you could hear the ocean from the garden. We had a miserable time on the optional turtle trip at Tortuguero locally run, not organised by Exodus. We had to walk through rainforest to get to the beach and, because of heavy rain, floodwater was nearly up to our knees - the pitch dark and the warnings about going single file because of the risk of snakes resulted in our daughter being absolutely terrified. We did see turtles but by this time she was unable to enjoy and just wanted to feel safe again. It felt very overcrowded and not really in the interests of the turtles. But the river trips made going to Tortuguero worth it. Do consider doing what we did: we booked a hotel on the Pacific coast and stayed on for five more nights after the tour relaxing, swimming and whale watching. Really worth it - after travelling all that way.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a really good way of seeing fantastic wildlife and visiting a tropical country very different from our own, with children. The organisation and the guide take all the stress out of this kind of travelling leaving you all free to get the most out of the experience. The Caribbean coast is wetter but it is really fascinating and shouldn't be missed - its Afro-Caribbean heritage making it very different from the rest of the country.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Tim Newham

    Excellent intro to Costa Rica - outstanding guide Edward

    Wow, just back from our 2 week adventure. I don't usually do reviews but this one is definitely worth a few lines! Firstly, our guide Edward absolutely made the trip for us. Enthusiastic, unfappable, great with kids. Very knowledgeable about all aspects of the country, particularly wildlife and specifically birds (Edward is a trained and expert ornithologist and took keener members on a couple of early morning twitching trips). Edward gauged the needs of our diverse group really well, and made just the right number of decisions for us to keep it relaxing without being constraining. A special word for how he dealt with a favourite cuddly toy being left in a hotel (when we noticed about 200 miles away). Edward's connections, organisation and determination led to a reunion the next day! Costa Rica, generally, delivers exactly what it says on the tin. Amazing wildlife and landscapes. The big highlights for us were the additional paid-for trips. White water rafting was exhilarating, with just enough thrills to feel edgy for our 9 and 11 year olds, whilst feeling completely safe and in control. Zip wire near Arenal volcano was similarly exciting. As someone with an intense dislike of heights (I feel wobbly in thick socks - and seriously, struggle to stand on a step ladder) I'd encourage anyone like me to go for it. The start and interim platforms are deep in the trees, so don't feel at all exposed or high. And the "zippy" bits are, yes, high above the valley, but high enough for the drop to be abstract and so fast there's no time to look down! The only slightly tricky bit for me was the walk (down a spiral staircase - think of a fire escape) at the end. Tips: - Everyone accepts dollars, and debit cards work everywhere too (including all the restaurants). - It's wet in August! (as everyone kept reminding us - it's a rainforest...). Doesn't interfere with the enjoyment at all but anything that gets wet, will stay wet and then smelly. If we went again we'd take 7 days worth of clothes and get them washed (i.e. and also dried) at a couple of hotels. This was fast and efficient when we tried it. - We travelled 1000 miles on fairly slow roads (so, a bit more than 20 hours in total) over the 2 weeks. For younger kids, bring activities for the coach. Feedback for Exodus (other than the obvious "it was all great and Edward is amazing") Cahuita didn't really do much for us and also featured the weakest of the set of hotels. Nothing specifically bad about it (so don't worry, prospective bookers!) but maybe drop that (and the 2 long-ish transfers) for more time around Arenal? The last 36 hours felt a bit flat/wasted. Maybe have an early start, drive straight from Dominical to the airport on the last day, and have an extra night in Dominical? Overall, and excellent trip, well worth the money, and we'll be back for more in the future!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing our first sloth in the wild!
  • Reviewed August 2018

    Costa rica family adventure

    What a fabulous experience only made possible by our wonderful guide Glenda Araya, our fantastic driver Mauricio and 3 families who met as strangers and ended the 2 weeks as one big, happy family. It may have rained every night (and when it rains it really rains) and we may have witnessed some of the most amazing thunder and lightening I have ever seen, but that didn`t detract from the scenery which was stunning and the wildlife which was up close and fascinating. Every day involved a new experience whether it was gliding slowly on a boat through the deserted waterways of Tortuguero ( made possible by Glenda`s expertise in managing to capture a quiet time of day) or chewing on raw cacao beans on the chocolate tour then sampling the finished product or white water rafting, something I always said I would never do but somehow it seemed right to be brave and give it a go. You lose track of the days of the week and really it isn`t important- just let go and enjoy the experience as everything is organised for you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Gliding slowly though the waterways of Tortuguero National Park with no other boats around us- just the forest,the water and us. Glenda, our guide, and Jeffrey, our boatman, helped us spot dolphins, turtles, a host of birds and iguanas. Magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Glenda was approachable, fun and also had an extensive knowledge of her country and it`s flora and fauna. Armed with her trusty telescope she allowed us to capture amazing videos and pictures and spotted wildlife which, quite frankly, I would never have seen had she not been with us. She was very patient even when the group were dithering about the rafting and what grade of river we would be on as some of our insurance didn`t cover certain grades of river. She made several phone calls to try and clarify this for us and found out the information and came with us for the experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a poncho ! Bring lots of quick drying underwear as nothing dries if you wash it. There is a laundry service in most hotels the cheapest was at Montechiari at Arenal. Everyone took suitcases - I only mention this as I was unsure when it said `pack light` whether it meant rucksacks or not though you still need a day rucksack, and definitely bring walking boots or shoes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are wanting a relaxing holiday to put your feet up by a pool this may not be the best trip for you. If you want to see this wonderful country and pack as much as possible in and still have a few afternoons or mornings to relax then this is the best way to do it.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Peter Whittle

    Family Adventure

    This was an excellent family holiday to a magnificent and inspirational country full of adventure opportunities and wonderful wildlife. Our tour guide, Hector, was excellent and very knowledgeable. There was a lot of travelling, but the destinations were worth the time spent travelling. It was the wet season, but the rain didn't cause any real difficulties or stop the planned activities. Accommodation was good, mainly in lodges, and the food everywhere was better than expected from the guide books. The wildlife is amazing and generally so close to hand.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the turtles laying eggs at night time, although the scenery, the oceans and the wildlife are all inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour guide, Hector, was excellent, very knowledgeable, good English, gave us options to consider, and dealt with the few problems that arose very well. He made sure that we did as much as we wanted, gave good commentaries and has very good knowledge of the birds, animals and insects. He was very patient with the children. The two drivers we had were also professional and drove safely.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A great family holiday, the children of various ages all got on well together, but the humidity can make drying clothes almost impossible. However the laundry services offered by the hotels were generally cheap and quick.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our third Exodus holiday, all have been excellent. Exodus policy of using local staff is very good.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Anonymous User

    Costa Rica Family Adventure

    Family adventure trip - you moved on every couple days so you needed to pack wisely. There was a lot of boat trips and travelling around the country. There was a huge amount of wildlife to see so a pair of binoculars is good. Highlights were Tortugero National Park - truly remote location, beach at Cahuita and seeing Buttercup.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    White water rafting at Sarapiqui - instructors were great - really good with the kids and great lunch provided afterwards.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was inspirational - his knowledge of the wildlife was exceptional. He was great with the kids.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A plastic poncho - raincoats even the highest tech do not shelter you or backpacks enough from the torrential downpours, and invariably it takes jackets a long time to dry out. The luggage is packed onto a minibus so we found that smaller wheelie cases worked well.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would like to remain anonymous
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Ann T

    Brilliant family adventure

    We travelled with children aged 11 and 14 and found ourselves in a lovely group of 4 families from across the UK. We totally lucked out with our amazing coach (and driver, Ohman) and our wonderful guide, Gustavo. Every day was different and we learned so much about where our food comes from, nature, and all types of wildlife. Accommodation was slightly basic at times but we coped and all pools were lovely. The 14 KM white water rafting is not to be missed and we also enjoyed the night walks and boat trips. Had an amazing trip on a catamaran and swam with tropical fish and the kids jumped off the boat back into the blue sea. We always felt very safe and well looked after with Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the green turtles lay their eggs and watching the kids follow her back to the Caribbean sea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing: Gustavo looked after us so well and knew so much.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take warm clothes, when it rains it's quite cold (we went in Aug) - it rained most days but was manageable. If you need special diet food take your own.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Katharine Baker

    Costa Rica family adventure - fantastic

    The trip was an excellent way to see a sample of the best bits of Costa Rica. We had an excellent guide (Jorge) , who managed to find loads of animals and birds for us to watch.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me, this was being in the cloud forest and rain forest - being able to see all those things you have heard about on nature programs and geography lesson!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was a superb leader. He was very knowledgable about the country, the wildlife and the places we visited . He was really good at considering and involving the children and teenagers. Restaurant choices were good value and suitable for our family group. Jorge was very friendly and considerate. I would like to thank him for his excellent tour and personal dedication.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Guidebook temperatures are only that - a guide. We travelled in early April and temperatures were over 30 degrees C. Mosquito repellent is important . Drink bottled water. Do go if you can as it is fascinating country with lots of wildlife to see.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Well organised trip with good hotels although I would suggest the last hotel in Playa Hermosa could be substituted. It was beach side but not on a stretch of beach which was OK to swim at. Would have been good to visit a coffee plantation and factory.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Frederick Ibbotson

    Family holiday in the rainforest

    The holiday was superb. Lots of lovely animals to see and of great interest to both kids and adults alike. Our guide and driver Antonio and Theodore were superb. Antonio super knowledgeable and a top bloke. Company of the fellow travellers and kids also made the trip-superb bunch of people. Animals,scenery and wildlife was great to see. Kids are still talking about the things they have seen

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the rainforest downpours and all the great animals.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was first class, amiacable and helpful. He listened to people's needs within the group and was always enthusiastic to show us the scenery and wildlife. Nothing was too much bother.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget your going to the rainforest. At times it may be wet and difficult to dry things but the weather is warm

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A couple more local eateries would be nice but realise that sometimes have to stick to a schedule.
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