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 May 2018
    Paul Smith

    Noteable Namibia Trip

    Discover Namibia - Lodges, is a well organised and good value tour, taking in the main tourist locations of mid to north Namibia. If you are prepared for some long travel days on dirt/salt roads and go with an open mind about the sights and scenes you will encounter, you will not be disappointed. It is accurately marketed as a low to moderate activity level, even the ascent of Dune 45 at Sossusvlei. Accommodation is in 2-3* lodges, all of a satisfactory standard for 1 or 2 nights, some even memorable. Transport in a specialised safari truck with a push up roof provided the opportunity to view the landscape and game in relative comfort and from a high position. The driver/guide (Ronney) and his assistant (Jonas) were first class, very knowledgeable and took excellent care of our party.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many great experiences on this trip that it is difficult to single one out, so here's a few. Watching the sunrise on the crest of Dune 45 followed by the eerie scene of petrified trees at Deadvlei was remarkable. Watching sunsets across a desert landscape and the emergence of the southern hemisphere night sky in the desert at Sesriem were stunningly beautiful. Driving through Etosha N.P., seeing game close up and even coming across an old lion that had been injured in a fight and unlikely to survive was sad to see but a true reflection of what actually happens in nature. Above all, observing a male Cheetah on the prowl close to Namutoni Camp in Etosha N.P. was breathtaking. The Waterburg Plateau was like a lost world in the sky and despite the rain, a memorable place......and so many, many more.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronney was a first class driver and an excellent guide. While not a specialist in any particular discipline, his general knowledge of his country, its history, geography, geology, large and small animals, plants and ornithology to mention a few was outstanding. He constantly ensured our safety and well-being throughout the trip, kept us posted on the day's events and provided us with invaluable information on do's and dont's. He was very ably supported by his assistant, Jonas, who was also a very capable cook and prepared some excellent lunches and evening meals. They worked as a team and nothing was too much trouble for them. While in Etosha N.P., Ronney provided us with more game drives than we had expected and used his local knowledge and contacts to find us some great photo opportunities. I'm sure other guides and assistants are good but if you book this trip and get Ronney and Jonas, you've hit the jackpot !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You can't easily obtain Namibian Dollars before you arrive in the country (or exchange them outside) but you don't really need them as South African Rand are accepted everywhere at an exchange rate of 1:1 with no commission charged at banks or Bureau de Change. If you buy anything in Rand, change is often given in N$ which you can offload. My advice is to take some Rand to cover your day of arrival and get more when you are in Windhoek. We had the opportunity to do so before we hit the road on the first day at the Western Union office and again at Swakopmund using an ATM. Both gave very favourable rates compared to getting your currency in the UK, as did our Halifax Clarity and Revolut cards for other spending. This trip includes Swakopmund which appears on almost all similar tour itineraries in Namibia, so quite difficult to avoid. It is a former German colonial town but only a few buildings from that era remain. If you are not into high octane activities or do not have the budget for the rather expensive optional extras (most of which we had done elsewhere), do find time to visit the excellent small museum which contains lots of information and artifacts on the history, geography, geology, plants, wildlife, etc., and a particularly good gallery describing the various native peoples that are now collectively Namibians. It's run by volunteers who really help you to enjoy the experience. Next door, there's a great little café with patio seating where you can have coffee and cake while watching the Atlantic breaking on the shoreline. For a good value, quality meal with excellent service go to Kucki's Pub for seafood or game - book a table as it was full on both nights we went. Namibians do not consider a meal without meat a meal at all and it is served everywhere, with good portion sizes, which is good news for carnivores ! Try the Gemsbok (Oryx) - actually you'll find it difficult to avoid in the set dinners at lodges, Springbok and Kudu, all of which have a unique flavour. Vegetarians may find menus more limited and in some places even difficult to get a balanced diet. As experienced travellers both on business and leisure, in our opinion Himba (and perhaps to a lesser extent Herero) women are further examples of female exploitation. Our route took us past a Himba village just outside Outjo where stalls are set up and women in traditional dress sell cheap (plastic) souvenirs . It was only on our arrival and when apparently prompted by their male "minder" that they started their combining their hair, applying ochre and posing for photos (which we avoided by staying in the truck with another couple). Most were just teenage girls and this may be the only way they can make a living but it saddened us to see it. As stated, this is our opinion and you must make your own decision on whether or not it is acceptable in the 21st century.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our only real disappointment with the whole itinerary was the visit to the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre on Day 4. It is described in the itinerary as "Cheetah tracking" but in fact we were driven into a fenced compound to observe a family of approximately 7 rather docile-looking cheetahs laying under a tree. In addition, the word conservation is not entirely accurate. The cheetahs are all orphaned or born into captivity and will remain in the sanctuary for life as they have not learnt any hunting skills from their mothers that would allow them to be returned to the wild. They must be fed regularly and although they could potentially be used for breeding purposes, any offspring would end up in zoos (or similar centres). That said, it was a couple of hours in a two-week itinerary, so not much to complain about. In all other respects, this is a highly recommended tour of a fascinating country.
  • Reviewed April 2018

    Discover Namibia - Lodges

    This trip combines the highlights of the Namibian landscape with game viewing in the parks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife was the highlight for me. The most memorable being the night drive when we found a lioness at the waterhole nearby, she got up and walked down the road in front of our truck roaring on the way. She then met up with a male and disappeared in to the scrub. On our return to camp that night, she was waiting at the roadside with her mate. My husband and I went to the camp waterhole on returning and found the male there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronney was extremely hard working as he also did all the driving on the trip as well as guiding and organising. He was warm friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Along with Jonas the cook the leaders made a good team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take any cash in South African rand, one Namibian dollar equalled one rand when I was there. Namibian dollars are only available in Namibia and not exchangeable outside the country. Also, whilst you are there take advantage of all opportunities - you may never go back to Namibian. My husband and I, went on the Dolphin cruise (a bit cheesy but fun) with sea lions and pelicans climbing on the boat as well as dolphins surfing in the wake. The flight, a very interesting perspective of the landscape. A full day and a night game drive and in Etosha, very enjoyable, the night drive was particularly interesting (my highlight of the trip). A game drive in Waterbury plateau which had rare species such as Roan and Sable antelope and rhino. Finally on the last day in Windhoek as our flight was not till the evening - we went to Okapuka Ranch - which was a delightful way to end the tour. The restaurant/ bar is beautifully designed with the seats viewing the grounds with animals grazing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I travelled at the beginning of April by which time the wet season should of and apparently normally would of ended. However, I did have some rain. This meant that in the parks the animals did not need to congregate around the waterholes as water was available all around. An additional game drive was also cancelled due to the weather. On the plus side when climbing for example Dune 45 the temperature was cooler than it would be in the summer.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    sofia graves

    photography paradise

    The country is large, the roads are long and bumpy, however not an inch should be missed. Etosha and the dunes are particularly magnificent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many inspirational moments. Enduring image three oryx racing towards the dunes, leaving their perfectly formed tracks in their wake. .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely great, Not only with his driving which on a rainy day got particularly difficult but also with his perseverance in searching for the big photo ops. He was also informative with his tips regarding what we should be expected to pay for local crafts or even toilet fees. He has built a great relationship with local people to ensure the travellers can get the most out of their trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make the most of the additional hikes and drives. I particularly recommend the 2.5 hour flight over the sand dunes which was absolutely fabulous not enough words to describe how extensive the desert is.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus, please add an extra day at Namib-Naukluft Park Desert, it was great and I would have enjoyed spending more time there, as would most of the other travellers on my trip.
  • Reviewed April 2018

    Discover Namibia -Lodges

    This trip combines the highlights of the Namibian landscape with game viewing in the parks. It did not disappoint!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife was the highlight for me. The most memorable being the night drive when we found a lioness at the waterhole nearby, she got up and walked down the road in front of our truck - roaring on the way. We must of followed her for almost an hour. She then met up with a male and disappeared into the scrub. On our return to camp that night, she was waiting at the roadside with her mate. My husband and I went to the camp waterhole when we got back and found the male there. Just the two of us stood in the dark at almost midnight watching this magnificent creature!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronney was extremely hard working as he also did all the driving on the trip as well as guiding and organising. He was warm friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Along with Jonas the cook the leaders made a good team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take any cash in South African rand, one Namibian dollar equalled one rand when I was there. Namibian dollars are only available in Namibia and not exchangeable outside the country. Also, whilst you are there take advantage of all opportunities - you may never go back to Namibia! My husband and I, went on the Dolphin cruise (a bit cheesy but fun) with sea lions and pelicans climbing on the boat as well as dolphins surfing in the wake. The flight, a very interesting perspective of the landscape. A full day and a night game drive and in Etosha, very enjoyable, the night drive was particularly interesting (my highlight of the trip). A game drive in Waterbury plateau which had rare species such as Roan and Sable antelope and rhino. Finally, on the last day in Windhoek as our flight was not till the evening - we went to Okapuka Ranch - which was a delightful way to end the tour. The restaurant/ bar is beautifully designed with the seats viewing the grounds with animals grazing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I travelled at the beginning of April by which time the wet season should of, and apparently normally would o,f ended. However, I did have some rain. This meant that in the parks the animals did not need to congregate around the waterholes - as water was available all around. An additional game drive was also cancelled due to the weather. On the plus side, when climbing for example Dune 45 the temperature was cooler than it would be in the summer. I had a fantastic time but in retrospect would go slightly later in the year.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Inger Griffith

    Namibia

    Namibia has it all. Wonderful diverse nature, with desert, mountains, sea and safari. Incredible number of animals including birds, and flora to match.Everywhere was clean, the people friendly and the food delicious. We experienced it all and the tourist industry is not overly developed so you got the impression of genuine life of the people.They have enjoyed a relatively stable government post independence, which helps.A great memory experience I will treasure .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose. I think the amazing light and colour in the almost three dimensional sky ,reflected in waterholes with wildlife and flora to offset contrasts. Truly breathtakingly beautiful. The desert and petrified forest were also awesome.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronney was just perfect. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable without being intrusive. Jonas was an excellent cook and also friendly/helpful , but a bit more reserved as his language was not as fluent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took a trip in the small plane over the skeleton coast going north. This was enjoyable, but going south over the sand dunes going into the sea would have been a better choice. Both have shipwrecks and I would choose differently another time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Waterbury Park "walking trail" is more of a scrambling climb over rocks. This was not made clear in the itinerary. There really is no prepared path or trail. That nobody broke any bones particularly during descent, is more due to luck than anything else. Also the accommodation at Waterbury Park was decidedly the poorest we encountered. Tired with a lack of proper maintenance, and in some cases without air conditioning.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Denise Hall

    Discover Namibia

    A fascinating kaleidoscope of scenery, climate and nature. From daunting, towering sand dunes, long desert roads, breezy Atlantic coast to exciting, animal filled plains. Always something to watch and thrill!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Suddenly the six lionesses that had been dozing under a bush went into action. They started stalking, very slowly, evenly spaced out in an arrow formation. The leader in front, two behind and the other three at the back. Quite impressive!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronney had excellent organisational skills and seemed to call on his ancestors when we wished to see something. Luckily his ancestors were agreeable!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long drives on dusty, dirt roads. Namibia is a big country.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take advantage of the German cafes in Swakopmund and enjoy the Porpoise trip
  • Reviewed September 2015
    marie rose

    Discover Namibia - camping - AZN

    This trip highlights many geographical areas of Namibia from huge sand dunes, to the west coast, to Etosha, and the Waterburg Plateau. It's a full but not grueling schedule with a little bit of down time built in. Namibia's landscape is amazing during the dry season when we travelled and it would be fascinating to see how it's different in the rainy season when the riverbeds have water and the Etosha Pan is full. It's a well thought out itinerary with clean camping facilities and a couple of hotel nights thrown in. Namibia is well set up for a self-drive vacation, but the tour provides experiences that are slightly off the beaten track and informative. Every day was interesting - and not to worry - you'll get to see plenty of wildlife at Etosha! The staff was knowledgeable, super outgoing, attentive to individual needs and generally very enthusiastic as well as proud of the country. Overall a great trip - absolutely recommended!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Yeah - I can't decide - Climbing to the top of the Waterburg plateau was fun and challenging, resulting in a fantastic view; the sand dune climb was a terrific experience (we saw a dancing white lady spider!); the hike back to Deadvlei (no other tourists here!!); the phenomenal waterhole experience at Etosha, and interactions with the Damara, Himba and Herero were all so good. We also did an extra 2 hour dunes flight out of Swakopmund (arrangements made by the tour guide), and the Living Deserts Tour in Swakopmund - both well worth it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We benefitted from 2 group leaders: Sven and Shane. Both were very knowledgeable, capable and enthusiastic. They helped several of us out a couple of times - I left my credit card at a shop - no problem - let's go get it; one person's bank card got sucked into an ATM - she got help cancelling the card and getting to a bank, and one night we were investigated by a curious elephant that resulted in some minor tent damage - new tent the next day! They were very patient with lots of bathroom requests, the need to stop and photograph each and every elephant, and our desire to stop at roadside stands to shop. VERY very good - both of them. Our camp assistant was Ruben (not sure of the spelling), and he did a LOT more than assist. He set up and broke down the campsite, prepared our meals, did the dishes, and was very interesting to talk with about current Herero lifestyle. A VERY nice and hard working man.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A couple of things: Rand was accepted freely everywhere with the possible exception of the Living Deserts Tour in Swakopmund (although I'm sure you can check that out ahead of time). And since Rand can be converted back to Euros and USD, it might be worth getting more Rand than Namibian dollars. ATM's work for some and not for others, so do your homework ahead of time and make sure the ATM system in Namibia meshes with your bank at home (it didn't for us, but we had done our homework). Biltong!! Yes - we wanted to bring some back to the US, but you may get asked to go to the Agriculture desk at US customs. Our group had mixed results - some were allowed to bring it in, others had to surrender it. Electricity: You need a specific Namibia/South Africa plug configuration which kits do not contain, even if they say Africa. Again we had done our homework and the entire group borrowed our adapter throughout the trip. Do plan on the add-on activities in Swakopmund. We did the 2 hour flight over the dunes which was well worth it. Not only do you gain an appreciation of the vastness of the dunes, you also see lots of other things like shipwrecks, abandoned mining camps, the salt works, seals and flamingoes. We also did the Living Deserts Tour. This was led by Chris who was masterfully multilingual, entertaining as well as passionately environmentally aware. Everyone enjoyed themselves, saw some small creatures and really learned respect for a very fragile ecosystem. Well suited for youth and adults with no difficult walking.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Namibia is a surprising mix of recent modernity and traditional tribal lifestyles. The country is VERY clean (even fuel station toilets were shockingly clean), the water was potable everywhere, and there was reliable electricity at all of the campsites. With that said, don't expect first world product availability - come prepared with enough batteries, camera storage and personal care items to get you through the trip. Basic things like soap and shampoo were available almost everywhere, as well as soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and snacks. On the days when meals are on your own, most restaurants had a fairly standard selection of beef and game; not a lot of choices for vegetarians. At this writing, things were VERY modestly priced compared to what we're accustomed to in the US, making souvenir shopping very affordable. Sleep as much as you can prior to Etosha because you should do your very best to stay up all night at the waterhole. We were there during the dry season, and the animals flock to it. There were over 100 elephants at one point, drinking, sparring and trumpeting. And the rhinos - RIGHT ON CUE - we saw 6 each night! At one point an adolescent elephant decided to challenge a big rhino, only to be put in his place. A smaller elephant then approached the rhino, flapping his ears and succeeding in gaining ground. So fascinating! The vehicle has a refrigerator for drinks, a set of animal and bird ID books, and a very good invertor for charging (remember - you need the adapter!) Shopping: My only regret on this trip is that I didn't completely take advantage of shopping at the right times. We stopped on the beach to look at a shipwreck and several Damara men were selling minerals from their home towns. This was a great opportunity to buy very well priced stones if you're interested. We stopped at a roadside stand and were able to purchase wood carvings, dolls and jewelry from Himba and Herero women, all traditionally dressed. When asked, the ladies were kind enough to allow us to take pictures. In the town of Outjo, there was a great souvenir shop across the street from a breakfast stop whose selection and pricing was very good. In Namutoni (Etosha) there were 2 souvenir shops with lots of local items as well as masks from a variety of African countries. The shop exteriors don't look like much, but make sure you go in - lots of interesting items inside! Back to the money: while we were there it seemed that ATMs worked well, although one person on our trip had her bank card sucked in by the machine. So make sure you have backup with you. WiFi was sporadic or nonexistent. Cell phone use was not possible for us although we did not do extensive research. Shoes: You don't need hiking boots for the dunes: in fact, the sand is so soft you could actually climb in your bare feet with no ill effects. The hike up to the top of Waterburg plateau is steep, rocky and strenuous. Sturdy shoes are recommended although we did it in good quality sport sandals. Do participate in the hike even if you're not sure about making it to the top. You can always stop and sit, with amazing views and the possible sighting of Dassies, until the rest of the group summits and returns. Finally, don't be fooled by daytime hot temperatures: It's really really cold at night! Bring a hat, fleece, long pants, neck gaitor - you'll be glad. This is a GREAT TRIP - book it now! (PS - almost forgot - we drove up to an oryx kill right next to the road - 10 lions, and when they finished, 6 or more hyenas and innumerable jackals. I took at least 400 pix right there and my husband took a LOT of video. Sure - this was lucky - but WOW!!!) Hmmm - as I write this - maybe I should think about booking it again ...
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Ross Pezzack

    Great trip

    Explored namibia with great guides, dunes, sea shore, fabulous wildlife. A wonderful country of varied scenery, good accomodation, wonderful meals all at a reasonable price.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Night safari well worth the cost.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were lucky in that both our leader and driver are guides so they were always helping us, making sure all went smoothly!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring battery charger for camera, u will take lots of pics

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it
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