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Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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Reviews

Great hiking!

This trip to Albania provided hikes far beyond my expectations, the best of which was crossing the pass from Theth to Valbone. We each ascended/descended at our own pace that day, as the path was very clearly marked, and regrouped every so often at the cafes along the way – the perfect opportunity to really enjoy your own tempo. Dorian was a fantastic leader, really knowledgeable and keen to share. Good food and lovely hosts everywhere we went. I’m a vegetarian and didn’t struggle to find plenty of options – Dorian made sure I was always accommodated for. Take your swimmers for an icy cold dip in the blue pool. Definitely would recommend this trip to anyone who enjoys lively culture, good food and a nice hike.

Great walks and interesting history

The trip was a good balance for me between excellent walking through stunning scenery and learning about the country’s history and visiting some historic sites.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Dorian was a great guide: very encouraging when walking, coped very well when problems arose (didn't let us know). Extensive local and national knowledge and a good sense of humour. Dorian also cared about our local well-being and needs.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Remember it can be hot and humid. Take lots of water I packed a light-weight hair dryer but didn't need it (either available or too hot!) Small head-torch is useful depending on your itinerary. I felt very safe even when on my own away from people.

Suggestions

The food was good and interesting!

Great trip

We were a group of seven people on this trip. Our tour leader’s name was Bledin (probably the wrong spelling). He was an excellent leader, very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. For some of the time we were really just sightseeing, but when we were trekking it was quite hard work. This trip is classified as moderate, but I do feel that it should be classified as moderate/ challenging, as when we were trekking in the alps, we were on shale, which is rather challenging, especially as I’d never walked on that surface before. However, with Bledin’s help I was able to successfully negotiate the three days of trekking. Our forth walk was on rocky steps which I am more familiar with.

The Albanian people are very friendly, and helpful. The wife of one of the hoteliers even leant me a pair of boots, when mine fell apart!

All in all, a very enjoyable trip.

Most Inspirational Moment

Managing to walk across the snow on the pass between Theth and Valbone'

Thoughts on Group Leader

He was excellent

Advice for Potential Travellers

Make sure that you can walk up mountains on shale.

Walking in Albania..................

Such a beautiful, currently unspoiled, country full of diversity and dramatic scenery

Most Inspirational Moment

Reaching the top of the mountain ranges and looking out across the wonderful landscapes ......and......the boat trip on Komani Lake - magical!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Very pleasant and accommodating

Advice for Potential Travellers

You need to have some Hill walking experience in order to enjoy this trip. The duration of the ascents is more of a challenge than the gradient

Suggestions

I think this is a well thought out balanced trip giving a good taster of this beautiful country. Definitely one of the best Treks I have done

Hot and hilly

Dramatic hills and lovely Albanians

Most Inspirational Moment

The road trip to theth

Thoughts on Group Leader

A little in experienced but relaxed at the end

Advice for Potential Travellers

If you struggle with heat avoid August

Walking in Albania

The guide was excellent. Think it should be rated Level 4. Food generally not great

Most Inspirational Moment

Haven’t got one.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Excellent

Advice for Potential Travellers

The walking was hard. All the walks had constant ascents and descents on difficult terrain.

Exodus Tailormade Southern Albania

I felt we spent too much time in the bus and not enough time walking and exploring. Sometimes we didn’t know where we were going because our guide had only told the people at the front of the group. It would help if the guide said where we were and whether we would need walking boots or swimsuits etc. Otherwise it was an excellent trip – we saw a lot of southern Albania.

Most Inspirational Moment

I enjoyed the walk up from Permeti to Leuse church. The views were great and the beautiful church was so unexpected. We enjoyed seeing the little old village of Leuse too. Butrint was wonderful.

Thoughts on Group Leader

She was very nice but did not ensure that the whole group could hear and understand her. It would have helped if she had explained where we were going and what we would need at the beginning of each day and again as we arrived at some place.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Read Robert Carver's book - The Accursed Mountains Read The Man Who was Greenmantle by Margaret Fitzherbert Read Albanian Assignment by David Smiley Read any book by Ismail Kadares

Suggestions

I would have liked better notes from Exodus.

Excellent Week Trip

My advice is to visit Albania soon before everyone else catches on! At the moment it feels relatively tourist free and undiscovered to those who like an adventure.

Most Inspirational Moment

The North has wonderful unspoilt mountains for walking in. I am glad I went on all the scheduled walks and didn't take the shorter option on the White Circle as the views were amazing for little more effort. The cultural highlight for me was seeing the painted frescoes in some of the churches in Berat castle. I was not expecting the detail or amount still surviving.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Our group leader, Dorien Malaj, was very helpful and friendly. He coped well with all the demands that a group of 16 different adults with varying walking abilities and interests presented. His contacts with locals felt like a big part of the ability to experience many aspects of Albania that other visitors might not have.

Advice for Potential Travellers

My tip if I did it again would be to remember to bug spray legs if wearing shorts as I came away with quite a few itchy swelling bites.

Amazing Albania!

This trip is a perfect introduction to the beauty and culture of Albania combining the cultural highlights of Tirana and Berat as well as the walking in the Albanian Alps.

Most Inspirational Moment

Walking through the wild flower meadows around Valbone and seeing the wide array of colours as well as bufferflies, wild orchids and reaching the snow level!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Ed was brilliant! He was clearly passionate about his country and wanted to impart the history, culture, food and drink and all other aspects of Albanian life on us.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Be open-minded. Albania felt incredibly safe, it's people friendly and countryside delightful. Try the local Raki. Each area produces it's own variety but beware it's very strong!

walking in albania

This is a really great trip combining some really challenging walking in wonderful, completely unspoilt mountainous terrain for the first half of the trip and a short exploration of Albanian culture for the second half.
The accommodation in the mountains in very friendly, family run guest houses was beyond my expectations and always very clean – a great experience. The food, particularly at Valbone, was excellent and plentiful.
It was a great pleasure to visit a country/region where tourism has not yet arrived!

Most Inspirational Moment

Difficult to pin down any particular moment - walking in the completely unspoilt, non touristy (difficult to find these days!) Albanian mountains was certainly inspirational.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Arvil was an extremely pleasant and well informed leader who spoke English fluently. However there are 2 points I would like to raise regarding his decisions 1. For reasons which were never made clear the already scheduled long drive from Valbona (Day 6) to Berat was extended to go via Dourros on the coast (his home town I believe). There appeared no good reason for this. This made it an extremely tiring day of almost 12 hours arriving at Berat at 1900 where we were, after checking into our hotel, taken off for a guided tour of 2 of the oldest mosques in the country (on the itinerary for the following day). Most of the group including myself were too tired to either challenge this or declined this tour. 2. On Day 5 the option to do the full length of the White Circle was not given. Although I was perfectly happy to walk only as far as the ridge and back down the valley, I know that at least 2 of the group was very disappointed not be able to be given this choice. Again no reason for this was presented by Arvil.

Advice for Potential Travellers

If you are not fit and a seasoned walker this trip will find you out!!! The Exodus rating of 3 Moderate is a little understated I would say. The mountain walking in this programme is really wonderful but if you are not already a regular walker and unfit think twice about this. Having said all of the above I would highly recommend this programme if you like unspoilt untouristy places - go now before its too late!

Suggestions

I hesitated to give the programme the "excellent" rating which in many ways it deserves - the wonderful walking, excellent food and accommodation, and good guiding (despite my above comments on Arvil's handling of the programme in a couple of instances - mainly because the cultural part of the programme, in my view, could be improved greatly by adding an extra night at Berat (which everybody loved) instead of just the one night. In that way participants would have time to really appreciate this really fascinating city and recover from the long trip from the mountains. Most of the group were of the same opinion.