Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

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  • Reviewed January 2017
    Kathleen Ramsey

    Antarctic Circle Quest

    An awe-inspiring experience which exceeded all our expectations. The scenery is truly stunning, as were the encounters with wildlife. Life aboard the Academik Ioffe was very comfortable, the food was good and experts were on hand to help us with all aspects of the trip. After the first spectacular day of expeditions, we wondered how the rest of the trip could even begin to match the early promise, but each day brought new experiences and excitements.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to pick out a single experience. Cruising in zodiacs amongst icebergs and below glacial cliffs, watching penguins porpoising in the sea or making their way up and down snow slopes or across rocky terrain to the rookeries, observing penguin behaviour in those rookeries, experiencing humpback whales surfacing next to our zodiacs, whale/bird/seal/penguin/dolphin-spotting from the deck of the ship, descending directly onto fast ice from the ship after an impressive parallel parking manoeuvre, watching the sun setting (just) across the ice-filled bays......

    What did you think of your group leader?

    David McGonigal was an excellent leader. He was very experienced, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and affable, and amended the programme to make sure that we got the very best experience each day depending on the ice and weather conditions. In addition there were several other experts on board, all of whom shared their knowledge of the environment, fauna and history generously and enthusiastically.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We had good weather most of the time, with temperatures around freezing, but it can get very cold on the outer decks of the ship, especially if you can't drag yourself away from viewing the wildlife and spectacular scenery, and when sitting still on the zodiac excursions for two or three hours at a time. We took heat pads for hands and feet, but didn't need to use them. Sunglasses/goggles and sunscreen are essential. We were provided with good quality binoculars and outer weatherproof garments and boots. Closed toe shoes must be worn in all public areas of the boat; a pair of clogs or similar would have been useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was an expensive trip, but was a fantastic experience,
  • Reviewed March 2014
    David Scott

    Antarctic circle quest

    One of the best experiences of my life. Icebergs, whales, seals, penguins, historic huts and awe inspiring (in the true sense of that overused term) scenery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were inspiring moments every day: spotting the first iceberg on the horizon, whales surfacing next to the zodiacs and boat, being served hot chocolate on a zodiac in the middle of an ice choked bay, stepping inside the time capsule of a historic hut, crossing the circle. I could come up with many more.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The experts on board really contributed to the pleasure of the voyage. They gave illuminating and interesting lectures during the sea days and then worked hard to ensure that excursions were a memorable experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good quality down jacket will keep you comfortable when standing on deck while wildlife watching. Also a pair of binoculars is essential. They don't have to be expensive.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is not a cheap trip, but it never will be. It was a life changing experience as much as a holiday. Everything about Antarctica is as spectacular as it looks on TV or in books and was worth every penny. Go !
  • Reviewed February 2014
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    The trip delivered everything promised - and more.   The scenery and wildlife were as hoped for and the Zodiacs got us to the right places.   The programme of talks on passage days and in the evenings were excellent.   The ship (Ioffe) was better than I expected - comfortable, quiet, well maintained, and with a helpful crew.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It would be unfair to pick a single moment from so many!   Whale watching from the Zodiacs?   Sailing up the Lemaire Channel?   Observing life in a penguin rookery?  Visiting the huts of earlier explorers?   The variety of sizes, shapes, and colours of the icebergs?    Entering the harbour at Deception?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chad was very effective at running the programme, which of necessity had to be flexible, and keeping us informed.   He was well supported by his helpers including a number of knowledgeable and approachable experts on the polar regions and their wildlife.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You will need warm clothing - obvious, but you may be sitting for three hours in a Zodiac with temperatures around freezing and in a chilling wind.   Walks ashore are less of a problem.The waterproof clothing and boots supplied on loan on the Ioffe were of good quality, there is no need to bring your own.    Take some coloured clips to identify your boots amongst the 90 other pairs!This is a very photogenic trip.   Takes lots of memory, particularly if you intend shooting movie clips of whales and penguins.The Ioffe rolls very little because it has effective stabilisers but if you are prone to seasickness it would be wise take medication for the Drake Passage. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I hesitated before booking because of the cost.   I don't regret it now - it was the right itinerary and the right size and style of ship for me.If you are a cautious take a spare camera and maybe a portable hard drive for downloading your camera.   It would be a shame to have a camera problem and no record of the trip! 
  • Reviewed February 2014
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    An absolutely exhilarating experinence cruising on Akademik Sergei Vavilov whilst being surrounded by large white and deep blue icebergs, pushing through the ice trying to cross the Antarctic circle..An unforgetable experience observing and photographing colonies of penguins - those guys are so curious! They ask you to stay away at least 5 meters from the wildlife but nobody told the wildlife to respect that distance!! 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A lonely Adelie penguin stuck on a large iceberge, right on the top, trying to figure out how to get down again. Oh my! We watched that guy good half hour from our zodiac, whilst he was trying to find his way down, all of our frozen fingers were crossed for him in a hope that he'd make it down. We lost the count of how many times he run up and down, gliding, running, the poor Adelie must've been exhausted.When our time was up, we had to leave and none of us will ever know whether he made it down to the safety and found his colony but our thoughts were with him for the duration of the trip and even so after our return home. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour leader - Jonathan Chester was very knowledgable, always taking a great regard to the safety of us all and to the environment that was surrounding us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, when you meet up wildlife, stop clicking the camera for a while. Stop, sit down and watch - things will happen.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Ensure that you visit your doctor prior to the trip and ask for the strongest anti-sickness tablets there are, because, lets face it, there is "The Drake!" to cross!!!!!!
  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    The scenery was as breath- taking as I expected - if not more so: the animal life fantastic.  What made the journey was the informative guides, the high quality food and the friendliness of all concerned.  A fabulous trip that involved crossing the Antarctic Circle and visiting several historic sites and preserved huts of past years.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most outstanding memory is of the orca pod feeding off a whale: Anoux's beaked whale is rare itself but watching the orca pod surrounding it, taking chunks to eat and arcing as they did so, is a something I will not forget.  But this was just one of many fantastic moments.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He, and the whole guide staff were very good.  They were all polar experts who had personal experiences to talk about and were always happy to answer questions.  I felt they dealt with the unfortunate incident of the death of the Japanese lady extremely well and should be commended for this.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take twice as much digital card space as you think  you will need - and then more!  There is so much to film both in stills and on video.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Not really - I would sound as though I was an advert as the trip! It was such an amazing experience that I cannot do anything else to potential travellers but - GO!
  • Reviewed March 2013
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    I was introduced to Antarctica in the most amazing way. When we arrived there was a blanket of heavy fog the team got us on the zodiac and navigated on compass bearings. Suddenly like the curtain of a stage being pulled back we sat in sky of blue surrounded by a wild and pristine environment.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above. Watching whales breech. Smelling penguins before you could see them. Filming Leopard seals with my gopro. You truely need to be awake 24hrs a day and have eyes in the back of your head for this trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shelly and the team were amazing. Their passion and commitment and tirless effort to show what they love and care about the most was amazing

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do take European travel plugs for Ushuaia as well as American.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy everything this trip has to offer. Remember this is an expedition and not a five star hotel as some travellers on my trip thought. Things can go wrong and weather is unpredictable. A real once in a lifetime trip.
  • Reviewed March 2012
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    Another fantastic trip to the wilderness that is Antarctica. Brilliant from start to finish with awesome scenery and wildlife experiences throughout on a fantastic ship.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Experiencing the beauty of both Oraca's and Humpback whales upclose to to zodiacs and a brillient night spent camping on the Ice of Antartctica.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Woody was excellent from start to finish, extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Antarctica, friendly, open and worked brilliantly with the Ships Captain/Crew to get us lots of fantastic landings and cruising opportunities. He was ably assisted by the rest of his expedition crew who were all also fantastic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go... A definite must do atleast once in your life. Antarctica is awesome.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Although some people might conside this type of trip as being expensive, I'd qualify it by saying this was my second trip to Antarctica and althought it is not a cheap holiday it is great value for money, I wouldn't have returned otherwise.The Ship is fantastic, food was excellent and all the crew were so friendly, helpful and ofcourse knowledgeable.
  • Reviewed March 2012
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    A holiday that exceeded all expectations. Stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, a great team and a superb boat and crew

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing that being a penguin parent is true dedication!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape....." A quote from a member of the group that sums up Woody. Excellent does also.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book it NOW!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I knew we'd see a lot of wildlife and had hoped I'd see an albatross - there were 6 gliding around the boat on the first day! The excesses just got greater each dayafter that!
  • Reviewed April 2011
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    This was an expedition that promised much but delivered rather less, though I would have given it 3 stars out of 5 if there had been no description of the categories. We weren't told in advance that our Photographic and Whale Special had been amalgamated with another trip because of insufficient bookings, and this really diluted its value, particularly as the expedition leader was from the non-photographic trip and did not appear particularly sympathetic to the needs of photographers. The quality of the catering was poor compared with previous trips: contracting out the catering to the lowest tender was not sensible and will not encourage repeat bookings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Excellent landings on Petermann Island and Danco Island which gave good photographic opportunities and just about adequate time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She spoiled the trip with excessive over-caution with regard to Health and Safety, and inflexibility with regard to landing times. We were not allowed out on deck if the decks were wet or the sea was even a little rough, thereby preventing us from experiencing the full atmosphere of the Antarctic. On our previous Exodus Antarctic trip the leaders did their utmost to allow us the genuine Antarctic experience, but with this one we might as well have been in an enclosed capsule for much of the time. Often only half the ship's zodiacs were deployed for landings, when to deploy the full complement would have given us significantly extra time on land.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Inevitably there is a huge of travelling involved on this trip - from the UK or wherever to Ushuaia and thence to the Pole side of the Antarctic Circle. Be prepared for long roughish days on board ship across the Drake Passage and don't expect too much in the way of wildlife sightings, though we did have very good views of whales (particularly humpbacks). Leaving late in the season (late February) means that there is a good chance of achieving the objective of crossing the Antarctic Circle but does mean that the penguin breeding is completely over apart from a few stragglers and the majority of penguins seen will be moulting.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Ioffe is not the ideal polar ship. The layout of the Vavilov with an open deck behind the lounge/bar on deck 5 is much more conducive to the polar experience. Do try to travel with the ebullient Paul Goldstein - wherever - Svalbard is a very good option. The odds against Paul may have been just too great this time for him to ignite the trip, but he will always try his best to maximise the viewing and photographing experience and he's an annoyingly good photographer to boot (not that I'm jealous).
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST

    An absolutely amazing trip!  It had been a long time coming as I booked it 18 months previously, but it did not disappoint.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so much that was fantastic....the sheer beauty and enormousness (don’t know if that is a real word) of it all, unspoilt by humans, but the most inspiring moment was watching an iceberg calve, and then because its’ centre of gravity had changed, virtually turn over.......and I think I was the only one sitting there watching it!   And yes, Paul, I do have photographic evidence!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kirsten was professional, and made the best of the weather conditions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travelling to Ushuaia is very long and tedious, especially if you are on the early flight from Gatwick to Madrid (8 hour wait at Madrid), and even if you have been checked straight through to Ushuaia, you need to collect your baggage, even if you have the domestic flight from the international terminal (very confusing....nearly left my luggage at BA airport). 3 days travelling on board without setting foot on land, can seem a long time, but there are presentations given by various members of the expedition staff that give you an insight to the Antarctic region, its wildlife, and history. You can also go on deck if weather permits, or up to the bridge viewing platforms to pass the time of day and take pictures of the birdlife, or icebergs on your journey south.Once you make your first zodiac trip though, everything previously is forgotten, and take Paul’s advice....don’t have your viewfinder surgically implanted to your eye, make sure you take stock of where you are, and enjoy every moment of it.We were lucky with the weather, and only missed 1 landing, but be prepared that if the weather is bad, you will not be able to go ashore or do the zodiac cruises, and be prepared for some ‘iffy’ moments on the zodiacs if the sea is a bit rough.  It was my first time on zodiacs, and now feels that I could cope with anything. It didn’t happen to me, but remember the Aerolineas  Argentinas weight restrictions for hand-luggage; 5kg.  If you can put your camera equipment in a backpack and have it on your back, they don’t seem to mind.  Also, leave room in your case/bag for the Quark Parka.  I wore the inner fleece for flying and packed the outer shell, but still fairly cumbersome.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just book it!!  You’ll not regret it.  This was my first polar trip, but certainly not my last!!
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