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

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133 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2015
    Angela Edwards

    Picos de Europa

    An excellent week's walking. Jim and Pilar and the staff at the hotel were welcoming in a relaxed and sociable style and the food was outstanding. Alvaro the guide was lively and informative and passionate about his local area. The Picos offers wonderful scenery and we were lucky to see Griffin Vultures close up as well as chamoix, red squirrel and salamander.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was all inspirational, each day offering a new highlight. The mountains are starkly white and rugged and set against a blue sky (of course) are impressive. The sea in background adds another dimension and from a height seems vast. The Carres Gorge is quite breathtaking in it's scale and the canal a mindboggling feat of engineering.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alvaro was inspirational. He was passionate about the environment, informative about local geography, flora and fauna and took an interest in each member of the group individually. A great guy!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Binoculars an asset if you're interested in wildlife.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A good choice of destination.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Jennifer Boyd

    Picos de Europa, 3 - 10 October 2015 (grade 5)

    Our first visit to this area; wonderful varied walks ending in two fairly hard days which very well worth the effort. Limestone peaks, lush meadows, autumn colours in all the different trees and all this mostly to ourselves. First two days misty, warm and windy so programme adjusted to suit that, otherwise sunny and warm but cool at night.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lunch above the Col de Pandebano with stunning views across to Naranja with a distant accompaniment of cow bells. Scrambling up and down a limestone cone that I never thought I would manage on the last day. Mugs of tea at Jim's (hotel owners) house after muddy descent through meadows and woods on second day!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent! Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, patient and a great sense of humour. Skilled at keeping the group together enough for reasons of safety but not too restricting. All the benefits of a local guide but with fluent English. Marked our hikes on several of the group's maps and sent us all his photos afterwards.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go! Think of the Lake District, but less manicured and crowded, plus Alpine meadows and jaw dropping limestone peaks. For grade 5 you need to be fit, we trained for 3 or so weeks beforehand (mid 60s).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Jim, Pilar and all the staff very welcoming and helpful, producing a birthday cake for one of the group, hotel comfortable. Food very good, including packed lunches. Perhaps a lack of salads and vegetables for my taste. Enjoyed trip to Llanes on day off and the coastal walk, but everything shuts between 1.30 and 4.00 so unable to visit exhibition about whaling or art gallery.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Una Dixon

    Walking the Picos de Europa

    The picos de Europa are really beautiful. We had a fabulous week of weather at the end of September and got to enjoy them at their best! The scenery was magical – I kept thinking I must be on a Hollywood set, it just seemed surreal! We saw lots of animals – many birds of prey; chamois; a wallcreeper; lizards; goats; rats! Some people saw a salamander one day although sadly I missed that! Each walk was in a different place – we did one in each of the central, eastern and western massifs as well as the cares gorge and Juan Robre. Our guide for the week, Alvaro, was excellent. The hotel was very relaxed and it was handy to be in a little village.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really all the walks were fabulous! The twin summits of Mancondiu were something really different for me and I greatly enjoyed that. It was a good bonus seeing the chamois in the distance one day. We had a really nice free day at the seaside - walking along the cliffs into the seaside town of Ilanes.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It is difficult to praise Alvaro, our local guide for the week, enough! He was excellent!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a lovely place, I can only recommend it! A few people seemed to have issues with their hiking boots. A suggestion: maybe do a few trial hikes at home with your hiking boots before you go to make sure they are fine.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel was just on the edge of the village of Arena de Cabrales which is really handy and there are really lovely views from the hotel. The hotel is family run and there is a very relaxed atmosphere. Everything was very well organised logistically by Jim & Pilar.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Philip Whitby

    Picos De Europa

    Excellent week of walking in the Picos De Europa.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the length of the sensational Cares Gorge.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alvaro was fantastic. Extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the region.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy it all and sample the local food and drink. You should give the Asturian Cider a try.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Michael Foster

    Walking the Picosde Europa

    Really excellent walking in a surprisingly quiet area of Spain, good food, very good guide and great company.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the village of Tresvisio after climbing up the zigzag track for three hours. The view of Neveron de Urriellu from Cabesa La Mesa

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very knowledgeable, keen to ensure everyone got the most out of the trip and good fun

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good level of fitness is required to fully appreciate this level 5 week

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Stanstead Airport was extremely busy both on the outward and return journeys and was the worst bit of the travel experience.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    gary collard

    Walking in Picos de Europa (challenging week)

    This was an amazing week of walking with stunning views which just got better and better as the week went on. There was a bit of rain at the start of the week but this also improved as the week went on and the last 3 days were spent in the glorious october sunshine. You really felt on top of the world at times and apart from the Cares Gorge we barely saw another soul on the walks so felt like we had the whole Picos to ourselves. Jim and Pilar run a great hotel and really make you feel at home. The rest of the staff are great too. Jim was great with giving everyone all the info for options on the free day and was happy to do anything to make sure everyone could do what they wanted even if only one person wanted to do a particular thing. Really enjoyed the hotel food, some of the best I've had on an Exodus trip which is no mean feat. A fantastic part of the world of which i knew little about and would love to go back to at some point.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing the twin summits of Mancondiu which was a bit of a challenge but not as difficult as it looked.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alvaro was a brilliant leader full of enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for the area. He was a very friendly and funny chap to have lead us during the week and must have walked so much further than us with all his running round checking the group were all ok from front to back and making sure everyone was enjoying themselves. He even carried extra water in case anyone ran out which was rarely needed but showed he was doing everything he could to look after us all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you feel you can do the challenging week then do it as I think you will be missing out on the full experience although I'm sure a standard week would be amazing too. Vegetarians need not be worried about food choices. The 2 vegetarians on our group thought the food really good. My favourite main of the week was actually the vegetarian choice on the last day. Make sure you are in the bar for some of Jim's evening tales.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have enjoyed the Dolomites or Julian Alps you will love this trip... book now!
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Stephen Ormrod

    Picos de Europa

    An inspiration week in stunning mountain scenery. Good accommodation, excellent guide and we had good weather to cap a wonderful week

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting on the high peaks under a clear blue sunny sky in stunning mountain scenery and those amazing views

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Álvaro One of the best guides I have known. Fun, warm hearted and helped to make our trip so memorable. Everyone was important.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be warned. You will fall in love with everything this trip has to offer and go home with many good memories

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book this trip! This is the best Exodus trip I have done.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Danny Weddup

    A fantastic week in the mountains

    I went on the Grade 5 (Challenging) week in early September. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding week in all respects - the hotel, the food, the scenery, and the superb guide Alvaro. Of the 3 Exodus trips I've been on, this was my favourite, for 2 main reasons. 1 - Jim and Pilar who run the Hotel Torrecerredo go out of their way to make you feel at home, as do the other staff their. They explicitly said we should treat the hotel as our home for the week and their warmth and friendliness, as well as their relaxed attitude to guests coming and going, popping into the kitchen to ask something, relaxing on the terrace, or making themselves tea when they wanted it, really did make it feel like home. Reason 2 is the guide Alvaro, who for me was the ideal group leader.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are several! Reaching the twin peaks of Mancondiu and traversing between them on an exposed ridge which was exhilarating and fun with incredible views. Completing the 24km Cares Gorge walk which was incredible throughout. Making the long descent into Bulnes down an ancient Roman path, and having a cold beer at the bottom. Seeing chamois running across the rocks on the descent on the last day. Seeing a rare wallcreeper on the rocks near the Mancondiu peaks.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent in all respects. Alvaro was sensitive to the differing needs of a varied group, which I can appreciate is no easy task especially on the Challenging weeks. He was extremely supportive and encouraging if people were struggling and displayed a rare sensitivity and empathy for which he should be commended. He also truly brought the region to life for us by telling us about the history, politics, religious traditions, flora and fauna, and cuisine of Asturias, always guided by the interests of the group! I have never met a group leader who is so attentive to the group as individuals, recognising everyone as different in their abilities, needs, and interests and responding to them in light of this. Thank you for a wonderful week in the mountains Alvaro,

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Challenging Week is indeed challenging so if you do not walk regularly you should do some dedicated preparation for this trip. The walks are up to 24km and can involve ascents and descents of over 1000m. You will be well supported but for your own comfort and enjoyment should ensure you have a good level of fitness and stamina if you're taking the grade 5 trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Jim and Pilar are brilliant at catering for vegetarians - I ate so well on this trip and I am really missing their cooking!
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Helen John

    walking the Picos de Europa

    Wonderful holiday! Stunning scenery, perfect weather, exceptional guide , great group and excellent hotel with delicious food!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Successfully reaching the optional additional peak on the last day and experiencing the amazing views and the sense of achievement.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding! Alvaro was all that one could want in a guide. He was endlessly encouraging and patient and went out of his way to ensure that absolutely everyone got the most out of the trip whenever possible allowing everyone to go walk at the pace that was natural for them. He had a passion for his area and a seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of the flora and fauna , local history, culture, and food and drink.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book it! I would say you do need a good level of fitness. I'd agree with the level 3 rating though some felt that it was possibly a bit higher. The dispensers in the hotel bathroom have very acceptable quality shower gel and shampoo and there is no need to take any extra towels if you do the beach trip on the free day.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Caitlin Patrick

    Picos de Europa Hiking holiday

    This was a lovely holiday- an excellent, short escape to a part of Spain that I was curious about. Cantabria and Asturia- the Spanish regions where the Picos are located- were beautiful and really untouristy, even in the middle of August. We also lucked into great weather; it was largely sunny, but not too hot (mid-high 20s celsius, but with a breeze). The hotel is cozy and beautifully located; the owners, Jim and Pilar, were very welcoming and helpful. It's small but generally has everything you need, including a bar and patio area, and this was important because after a long day's walking we didn't often have the energy to stray far. The hikes are varied and seemed an appropriate length for a moderate level holiday. The break day was much appreciated to allow us a change of activity.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I most enjoyed walking the higher peaks and high pasture areas of Picos. Our evening meals together as a group were always really fun.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alvaro, our group leader, was excellent. He is friendly, well-informed about the region ecologically, historically and culturally, and was very good at managing our group so that everyone got the most out of the experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring your own hair-dryer if you use one regularly.
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