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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

Galapagos & Amazon, what a combo!

The Napo Lodge Wildlife centre lodges are amazing and very comfortable. Lots of wildlife to see from the open canoe up the various creeks and the easy walking through the jungle.
In Galapagos we did the western itinerary (B) this time having done the eastern itinerary 10 years ago. We found the two to be quite different in some ways with noticeably fewer seabirds on this trip compared to 10 years ago although they were slightly different times of year. However this itinerary is much better for penguins and turtles and the flightless cormorant can only be seen on itinerary B. B is said to be better for whales but we didn’t see any – just dolphins. Either way it is a tremendous wildlife experience but don’t expect an idyllic tropical island paradise, the islands can be quite stark and barren and the water is cold despite it being on the equator.

Most Inspirational Moment

In the Amazon undoubtedly watching a family of giant otters feeding. And in Galapagos it has to be the snorkelling.

Thoughts on Group Leader

In the Amazon, Guido was extremely knowledgeable and despite the fact that I have a Canon SLR camera with long lens he was able to take picture with my mobile phone that I didn't know it was capable of! In the Amazon Franklin was again very knowledgeable and went out of his way to get my to a Chemist when I had a tummy upset. We had a delayed arrival in Quito due to and cancelled flight and the reps in Quito rearranged our itinerary for us and were most helpful.

Advice for Potential Travellers

The lodges in the Amazon are amazing but to get there involves nearly 2 hrs of paddling in an open canoe (don't worry the paddling is done for you!) because no engines are allowed in the national park. Ponchos are provided if it rains (and it does) but they are not that effective against a torrential downpour. It rained for the last 20 minutes of our return trip when we left and we were still wet sitting in the airport waiting for our flight back to Quito. Maybe have your own reliable waterproofs available. The trip notes say that Wellington boots are issued but they may not cater for big feet. I am a UK size 12 or even 13 and had no problem, in fact the first pair I tried were too big! In Galapagos we found "Cachalote Explorer" rather a noisy ship, especially when on the move and particularly in the downstairs cabins, and that's most of them. There is quite a lot of moving at night and the sea can have quite a swell on. I thought I'd find sleep difficult but I got used to it. The sea in Galapagos can be pretty cold but wet suits are provided free now - there used to be a charge.

What an experience!!!!

I hoped for a lot, but expected nothing (especially in the Amazon) but we saw more wildlife than I knew there was! And as for the Galapagos…..Sensational. Holiday of a lifetime and would recommend to anyone. Truly brilliant. Am delighted to have managed to have whittled my photos down to about 650 (and 35 videos!). The Napo Lodge was stunning with fabulous staff but the Cachalotte was possibly even better (though cabin much smaller and less glamorous than lodge). The memories will be something I treasure forever.
The organisation from beginning to end made everything so easy and I will definitely be travelling with Exodus again.

Most Inspirational Moment

Snorkeling with sealions, a turtle and penguin (never having snorkeled before!) And the animals and birds just being truly fearless and natural I could go on....

Thoughts on Group Leader

Very pleasant and efficient

Advice for Potential Travellers

Try snorkeling at home first! I panicked the first 2 times in the water (although it was a deep water snorkel) but after an hour's practice in the shallows I took to it like a penguin to water. And take lots of SD cards!

Suggestions

Just GO!!

Met and exceeded expectations

Great trip first to Napo then to Galapagos. We were delighted with the quality of service, organization and attention to details.

Most Inspirational Moment

There were so many moments to choose from. Highlights were swimming with sea lions, watching wave albatrosses mate and watching land iguanas battle for territory. A difficult but natural moment occurred when we watched a boa attack and absorb a parrot

Thoughts on Group Leader

Group leader in Napo was great. Knowledgeable and highly skilled communicator. Group leader in Galapagos was a nice young man but we could tell he was on one of his last trips.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Be ready to wake up early and go to bed early. Eat everything they feed you; you’ll either work it off in activities or sweat it out in the heat.

Suggestions

We were flummoxed and frustrated with the tipping of staff. We found the suggested tip rates to be far too high and we’re concerned that the tips are being used to supplement wages which is not the purpose of a tip. Exodus needs to find a better system. That was the only thing we were very dissatisfied about

Good trip

Went with my 22 year old son July 18 .. flew via Bogotá to Quito on Avianca ..Long transit at Bogotá Airport, recommend buying transit lounge pass, but staff very unhelpful, and on return trip . Quito high altitude and lovely authentic hotel .. restaurant close by , son ate guinea pig ,, and recommend artisan market for Alpaca poncho and Panama hats .Long boat ride to Napo destination and wonderful accommodation in newest palapa on lake edge with outdoor jacuzzi , deck and hammock, but very little free time to relax ..stinky turkey birds …great character and plumage …Canoe rides fab, but not much wildlife can be seen from canoes because of dense undergrowth . Super watchtower at Napo valley for birdwatching ..no good if you can’t do heights, climbed two other watchtowers for amazing views over canopy to see blue macaws and toucans ..best view from watchtowers with scope provided and set up by Eduardo ..also took pics through scope ..can sway a bit with large group up top ..not for the faint hearted ..also saw cayman and river otters from canoe ..managed to get away from noisy Australians by ducking out of village tour , and instead Eduardo took us for a. Jungle trek and climbed watchtower on our own to see blue macaws ..absolutely fantastic . He also presented us with an enormous male crested owl after a trek ..so exciting …
back to back excursions, got bitten last night as too tired to be vigilant, blessed the fact we had our vaccinations ..lots of monkeys ..very hard to see ..your own bins an absolute must .. one sloth , through scope ..hard to see ….Very remote location ….parrot licks amazing ..back to Quito and then to Galapagos, fortunately for us we were upgraded to Beluga …lovely boat, no time to rest…daily very early starts ..on and off a panga to islands ..all that you could wish for ..2 more owl, barn in lava cave ..short eared owl on open terrain ..swum with sea lions, lots of turtles, son went diving in washing machine ..not good clarity .ha ha …all the boobies you could wish for ..right next to you .. ..albatross ..nesting ..eggs, chicks tropicbirds , yellow warblers ..finch, Galapagos mockinbird .. marine and land iguanas everywhere ..sea lions ..no penguins ….could see golden rays from cliff top ..a lot of walking ..daily ..extreme snorkelling ..very cold water for me …my shortie not thick enough ..even with rash vest ..too exhausted to do one afternoon on lava island ..thought I would rest in cabin, but staff had a noisy get together ..also rough sea on night journeys ..every night ..barely slept ..big day with tortoises ..returned via night in Guayancil ..more alpaca from market ..and then Bogotá to London ..arrived home totally exhausted ..not enough sleep throughout trip ..good food on board ..took my own snorkel and fins .. saw a juvenile hammerhead from panga on last day around mangroves , juvenile sharks .spotted rays and turtles plentiful ..managed to change cabins for final 3 nights …put in tiny cabin .originally …one porthole and not enough daylight ..make sure you get one with at least 2 portholes ..upstairs cabins open on to seating area ..but best with huge windows ..lots of getting on and off pangas and trekking ..would rate level 2 … came home and slept for a week ……camera with bird watching zoom lens essential

Most Inspirational Moment

Mating dance of albatross and the albatross nesting site ..

Thoughts on Group Leader

Good

Advice for Potential Travellers

Too tired.. in Quito twice but only went to park and city tour ..artisan market ..too tired to go to cloud forest and very expensive ..however managed to see England v Sweden World Cup match .., and also when we were thrashed by Croatia ..there in no internet on the boat but can get on Darwin in cafe

Suggestions

High energy level needed !

Amazon and Galapagos

Excellent wildlife, the snorkeling was amazing – turtles, sea lions and occasional (small) sharks.
Good guides.
Hectic with early starts and busy schedule.
Worst experience was having my bag with all my valuables stolen from the hotel lobby – although we were aware of steet crime we did expect to be safe within the hotel.

Most Inspirational Moment

Swimming with sea lios

Thoughts on Group Leader

Good - both of them

Advice for Potential Travellers

Never let go of your valuables

Suggestions

It is unfortunate that the risk of theft was understated - it takes a lot of time to replace everything that was taken and the photos are irreplacable

Amazon and Galápagos Islands

This trip surpassed anything I could ever have imagined.
The Napo Wildlife Centre is beautiful. The service, accommodation, guiding and sightings were fantastic. An incredible place to stay with some incredible birding.
The Cachalote 1 and her crew were just amazing. Kind, generous, knowledgeable and so helpful. I had hurt my neck earlier in the trip and the crew went above and beyond to help me out. Each island brought a new, remarkable landscape with it’s own unique species. The snorkelling was beyond the imagination and our guide was flexible and eager for us to see as much as possible.

Most Inspirational Moment

Amazon -Being introduced to the entire of the Napo staff, their names, their roles and being given the opportunity to say our thanks to the "backstage" staff you rarely see. Listening to Howler monkeys. Galápagos - sitting on the upper deck of the Cachalote, staring up at the big Southern Hemisphere sky feeling blessed, having just swam with sea lions, sharks and dolphins. Darwin is an incredibly knowledgeable guide who genuinely loves what he does. His excitement is contagious and his ability to find what you want to see is unreal.

Thoughts on Group Leader

We had 2 guides in the Amazon and both were fantastic at spotting animals and birds as well as being able to identify everything! They were happy to answer questions and spend time with each of the group members. Darwin was our guide in the Galápagos and his knowledge was outstanding. He was approachable, happy to answer questions and keen to adapt to the groups needs. The best thing I could say is that when I return to the Galápagos, I will only go with Darwin and the Cachalote crew.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Get up early, be adventurous and sit quietly in order to truly appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. Take your snorkel stuff with you on every panga ride (if you are allowed), you just never know when you'll see something amazing. And if you go in August - take seasickness pills (I never got sick and it only took me 2 days to get my sea legs but the seasickness pills saved me)

Suggestions

A massive thank you for the opportunity to see a part of the world I have always dreamed of. It was more than I ever imagined.

Galapagos and Amazon

What a fantastic adventure! The rain forest was amazing, paddling up the creek to the Napo Wildlife Centre was like going to a different world. The cabanas were lovely, food plentiful and tasty. We saw Giant River Otters twice! Wow! It was the rain forest, so guess what, it rained! (but not all the time.)
Cachalote was equally comfortable, if a little cramped, and Cookie produced excellent meals, need to go on a diet now. The walks on the islands were short, but interesting with an abundance of wildlife providing loads of photo opportunities.Snorkeling was brilliant, even for a novice like me.
The Hotel Vieja Cuba in Quito was quaint and unusual.

Most Inspirational Moment

When the boat was surrounded by a pod of minky whales. We could even hear them calling to one another.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Delfin was informative and knowledgeable, keen and enthusiastic, whilst Fabio had eagle eyes. Together they were amazing. In the Galapogas Christina was equally knowledgeable and as a resident showed her love of the islands.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Pracice snorkelling and buy a good camera or you will be very left out!

Suggestions

Having travelled from Manchester via Amsterdam I would have been happier to return from Guayaquil to avoid a day travelling back to Quito to return to Guyaquil the next day and spend another 2.5 hours in the airport there whist plane refuelled and a new crew came aboard,but apart from that it was a wonderful experience and well organised

Galapagos and Napo Wildlife Centre

This trip was unbelievable and hard to put into words to give it justice. I went with no expectations although the reviews I read were good. From the moment we arrived it was an adventure with experiences that can only be described as amazing. From the wildlife to climbing the volcano every moment is one which I will treasure. There is not one thing I can say that is negative.

Most Inspirational Moment

There are so many it is hard to choose but when you get out of the sea after swimming with a pod of about 100 dolphins and struggle to control your emotions I guess it has to be that but honestly everything had it's own special moment.. to be able to swim with dolphins, turtles, sea lions, penguins, sharks, sea iguanas, and the most amazing fish was a privilege beyond compare. Climbing the volcanoes and seeing the views was equally amazing. Napo was beautiful and the highlight has to be the macaws flying over the canopy as we stood on the tower. We saw lots of parrots and birds. Also several types of monkey, The setting on the lake is beautiful.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Darwin....well I think he is a merman! Fantastic guy who swam with the most able and then equally came on to the beach to be with the least able. Good sense of humour and very knowledgeable. Could not fault him. Kind and caring without being patronising. In Napo we were guided by Delpin and he was brilliant. Even managed to find a blue frog.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Book it and extend to Napo Wildlife Centre after. Such a contrast to the Galapagos and equally as amazing. It is an active trip but all abilities are able to go.. the fit and not so fit...

Suggestions

I honestly can not fault this trip. The food was excellent. The crew on the boat were friendly..just amazing.

GALAPAGOS & AMAZON

A wonderful trip, which combined an exhilerating journey into the Amazon basin and a unique tour of a number of the Galapagos islands on board the Cachalote.

Most Inspirational Moment

Difficult to pick out just one memory. The Napo Lodge, run by Anangu Kichwa community, is breathtaking. Snorkling with sealions and huge turtles was also a fantastic experience. Cachalote is a wonderful yacht - great atmosphere and the best way to island hop in the Galapagos.

Thoughts on Group Leader

This trip did not involve just one group leader. The three we met were all excellent. A special mention to Glorio in Quito who helped us find an alternative hotel when we arrived in Quito without accomadation at one o'clock in the morning!

Advice for Potential Travellers

Take sun protection with a high factor. You will need plenty of protection whilst on the Cachalote.

Suggestions

Although arrangements had been made to be picked up at the Quito airport, we discovered that Gloria, Exodus's representative in Quito, was not expecting us. Fortunately we had arrived 15 minutes before the group she was waiting for. Neither had we been allocated a room at the Vieja Cuba! Quite a shock at 1.00 a.m.  Fortunately again Gloria was on hand to help us out.But had we arrived at Quito airport half an hour later we would have had problems. 

GALAPAGOS & AMAZON

A fantastic two and half weeks.  The organisation of all the guides was superb, excellent food through out the holiday and the wildlife sightseeing in both the Amazonian rainforest and on and around the Galapagos Islands was sensational.

Most Inspirational Moment

The mini-bus having to stop and then squeeze past a giant tortoise on the track road on our first tour on Santa Cruz.Snorkelling with sea lions swimming close by, and having to "make way" for a large turtle as it ascended to the surface for air, I was floating directly above the turtle looking down while it was feeding.Walking past sea lions basking on beaches, and laying down beside them (not too near!!) to have the customary tourist photograph taken.Diving off the Cachalote yacht into the Pacific Ocean.

Thoughts on Group Leader

All the leaders were superb.  Juan (Galapagos islands) was very good and attentive to detail and very informative about the wild life.  Jairo (Napa Wildlife Lodge) was also very good, friendly and outgoing, helpful and knowledgeble.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Take waterproof camera for snorkelling. Take more cash than you think you might need, especially if you wish to tip the guides, boat crew and other leaders through out the hoilday.  Used ATM once to withdraw additional dollars without any problem, took the precuation of using an ATM within a building (e.g. inside The Raddisson Hotel).Pack lightly and with luggage that can be folded for the yacht cruise.  Storage space is limited, the Exodus holdalls are superb for this job and you can pack these in a larger bag so you can split luggage and leave some in the hotel in Quito. 

Suggestions

If you love wildlife, this is a fantastic holiday to take.