Most Inspirational Moment
Difficult to pick out one as the whole trip was inspirational. The first sight of Mount Fitzroy, the Moreno Glacier with the thrill of seeing it calving, crossing the Magellan Straits, a 'navigation' on Beagle Sound almost within touching distance of basking seals and penguin colonies with a the solitary King Pengiun in their midst. Birdwatching opportunities everywhere, beautiful spring flowers, the immensity of the steppes. And then just being there, down at the 'Fin del Mundo.'
Thoughts on Group Leader
Xavier was excellent. He was cheerful, knowledgeable and very efficient. One of the main reasons I travel with Exodus is the quality of the local group leaders and Xavier was certainly one of the best. I could not recommend him more highly.
Advice for Potential Travellers
The trip notes say 'while the trip is graded moderate we recommend you have a reasonably good level of fitness to really enjoy the hiking opportunities available.' The two long walks - the one at El Chalten was 23km are serious hikes with significant climbing. I am over 70 but more than reasonably fit, used to hiking long distances and skiing, but the final stage of that climb was obviously going to be very challenging so I gave it a miss (perfectly possible to do that) meaning I only had an exhilarating 20km with most of the staggeringly beautiful views and only moderate climbs to deal with. The second long walk was going to be to base camp at Torres del Paine in Chile. My guide book written by locals said this was very steep and only recommendable for 'those who are physically very fit'. A strike by local National Park staff meant walk was unavailable much to the disappointment of the serious hikers amongst us but the alternative second walk was clearly going to be equally challenging so I gave it a miss, but easily found other things to do around Puerto Natales. I think these walks should be flagged up as the challenging hikes that they are.
I'm not sure how Air Europe was selected as the Group airline. Only two of us travelled out that way. I would not have travelled with them if given the choice. For some reason other group members travelled with KLM and British Airways and had better experiences inspite of slightly longer layovers. In its favour the flights were on time and kept to schedule but the airline was not up to the standards I expect of long haul flights. It was bucket shop airline standards on 12 hour flights. One very small meal two hours into the flight, and then paying for anything else including the snack items and coffee offered instead of breakfast before arrival. The seats were jammed together and what concerned me most was that no one came round to offer water (except with the meal) for the whole 12 hours.