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Turtle, Ecuador

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

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17729 Reviews

  • Reviewed December 2019
    Andy Longden

    Another tick on the bucketlist! Outstanding hiking holiday in a very beautiful part of the world.

    An expensive holiday, and a long way to travel, so it needed to be good. It was! This trip manages to efficiently fit in the trekking highlights of Patagonia with some sightseeing. Add on time to explore Buenos Aires and the optional trip to Iguassu Falls and you have a really well balanced, satisfying holiday. We found the hiking to be easier than expected, but we did have great weather. We were surprised how busy the trails are - this is not a holiday for those seeking solitude. Accommodation was relatively basic, but functional and adequate throughout. The Refugios in Chile are of a high standard - much better than European mountain refuges. Food throughout was excellent if you eat meat, possibly less so if you don't.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For us the hiking in El Chalten ranks amongst the "best of the best" in the world. The day walk to the Fitzroy viewpoint was absolutely sensational, with the trek to Cerro Torre base camp only marginally less so. Completing the W trek was also very satisfying. Finally, the extension to Iguassu Falls was an amazing way to end the holiday - very well managed and a great experience. Don't miss the boat ride!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas is a "people person" with a big warm heart. He managed a large and varied group with great skill, and as a result everything worked well. The Chilean trek leader on the W trek set an erratic pace (very lengthy stops), spent a lot of time on his mobile phone and didn't allow people to walk at their own pace. We'd rate him as a leader as very average. In contrast the female leader in El Chalten, Aime, was exceptional - as good as any leader we've ever had. Only one negative for Tomas which I will repeat here since he didn't react positively to my complaint - it is highly dangerous for a guide to make lengthy commentaries whilst wandering around a bus travelling at 70 mph. He did this repeatedly and for long periods. He needs to know that it has cost him a nomination for "leader of the year" from us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pray for good weather! We were very lucky, as weather will likely make or break the trip given the cost and distances that need to be travelled to get to, and around, Patagonia. You need to be prepared for anything, at any time, as the local climate is notoriously changeable. This will also affect how the grading of the walking feels. Our weather was very mild, so the grade of hiking did not feel like a 5, but we could see how that could change. We'd recommend extending the trip to ensure you have time to recover from the lengthy flight and to see Buenos Aires - which is a lovely city - and also to visit Iguassu Falls on the optional Exodus extension. This was outstanding.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Big thanks to our group leader, Tomas, and to the rest of our group for being so sociable throughout.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Joe Doucet

    Outstanding trip

    This was a full packed trip , informative trip led by Mohammed Tefa whose in depth knowledge, and leadership style made the trip a wonderful experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Abu Simbel
  • Reviewed December 2019
    M B

    Lots of wildlife

    A very interesting trip covering lots of miles. Saw a lot of wildlife , especially as the rains came late then waterholes hosted lots of animals. Should have heeded another reviewers advice about a sports bra , unsealed tracks can be quite bouncy especially if you are at back of truck . Suggest carry a clear pair of glasses / safety specs / clear swimming goggles - when all windows open and driving around looking for game it can make eyes dry , especially with dust. As dusk falls sunglasses restrict vision so some eye protection with clear lenses was very helpful ( swimming goggles in my case but next time it will be wrap around safety specs used for DIY )

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the amount of wildlife, especially several herds of elephants coming to water hole or crossing road in front of us. The magnitude of the sand dunes and desert

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronney was clear in his information . Food prepared for lunch / dinner by Ronney and Reuben was very good and plentiful . Think an info sheet placed in hotel reception , for next day departure etc , would be useful night before , especially for those people who may not go to evening meal ( which is when next day instructions usually given ) .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Suggest carry a clear pair of glasses / safety specs / clear swimming goggles - when all windows open and driving around looking for game it can make eyes dry , especially with dust coming in . As dusk falls sunglasses restrict vision so some eye protection with clear lenses was very helpful ( swimming goggles in my case but next time it will be wrap around safety specs used for DIY )

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Saw lots of wildlife , more than I expected. Driving days had plenty of breaks and watching the countryside change from region to region was fascinating .
  • Reviewed December 2019
    cliff hathaway

    Orang Utans and the other wonders of Malaysia

    fantastic diverse trip covering Borneo, Malaysian Peninsular, Penang and langkawi. From Jungle to city to beach never a dull moment filled with wonderous views, animal encounters and gourmet delights.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    seeing Orang Utans in wild environment Kuala Lumpur and the Petronas Towers

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Aldrin (Borneo) and Apit (Malayan Peninsular) were fantastic guides and attentive at all times.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Plenty of Deet for the jungle And a Good appetite
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Andrew Patchett

    A birding bonanza

    This was the most wonderful adventure and our experience was just as all previous reviewers, simply amazing. Lots of great scenery, beaches, forests, countryside and birds. Lots and lots of the most amazing birds. Costa Rica is green for a reason so be prepared it can rain a lot at any time but it is always warm/hot!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the turtles hatch on Tortuguero beach and seeing the amazing Resplendent Quetzal in Savegre Cloud Forest at such close proximity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas our group leader was one of the best we have travelled with and we have had a few! His patience, knowledge and enthusiasm was just simply amazing and never seemed to be phased by the groups constant questions. Our trip had a birding bias and Andreas’s ability to locate, see and identify them was just simply amazing. We would not seen a fraction of them without his expert knowledge and guidance. Thank you!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Costa Rica is not a cheap country so be prepared for normal UK prices or above however the food and drink are really good with lots of fresh local fare. Just the best. The coffee it goes without saying is fantastic. ( We liked the iced coffees the best. Mmmmm!) ATMs are safely available so no need to carry lots of cash and dollars are always used with change given in local currency. You can also pay on credit card everywhere and great internet access even in the remotest of stays. How do they do it! Everyone says it,however it is worth mentioning, you do need a lot more travelling clothes than you would normally take. When washed they do not dry quickly because of the humidity. A fold out umbrella is an essential item. We found sealed bags for cameras etc useful and check your ‘bins’ are sealed, they may steam up inside otherwise! It is all about the beautiful green countryside, so clean and litter free. This is a very different Central America more akin to the North and generally you will have no language barriers at all. Try to get a direct flight! Going via Miami is a complete nightmare with immigration, lines, and just general inefficiency with little or no signage. In our experience you need at least 3 hours between flights if you do and that will be tight. It was a real challenge and took the edge of what was an amazing adventure. A great pity. However ....... Go and enjoy!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    David Richards

    Sri Lanka a holiday crammed with delight.

    This is a packed tour with lots of early starts: fully justified because the mornings are the best time to visit the main attractions. Our trip in November coincided with the wet period but this was not a problem as the rain always seemed to fall in late afternoon, also beacause of being outside the peak tourism period, the sites and hotels were gloriously uncrowded. This tour aims to provide something of interest for everyone: history, wildlife, beautiful scenery and attractive beaches. There is plenty of free time built in to peruse individual interests. Our group included several enthusiastic bird watchers who were able to arrange special trips. The low point in the itenerary was spending two days in Nuwara Eliya. I appreciate that on tours with the option of visiting Adams Peak the time spent here for those doing so would be reduced. As we didn't have this option Nuwara Eliya has limited interest for a whole free day. We got the impression the main reason for its inclusion was to provide our drivers with their mandatory day off. One day here and a day to visit Anuradhapura, very significant in the history of the island but not included in this tour, would give a more comprehensive itenerary. More time should be allowed for visiting Galle which in world history terms is undoubtedly the most significant town on Sri Lanka. This is only visited briefly on day 15. There is ample time to visit Galle on the free day 14 spent at the Insight resort, the cost by public bus is only 50p each way! No mention was made of this in the itenerary because of the included flying visit the following day - but Galle deserves at least a whole day to be fully appreciated.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's hard to pick just one. The hike across Horton Plain to the Words End viewpoint was a challenge but well worth the effort. The cycle ride through local villages near Giritale was memorable: it poured down, we got soaking wet but soon dried out over lunch prepared while we watched at a local farmhouse. Then there was the jungle walk at Kitulgala accessed via a precariously rocking river punt: I lost count of the number of birds we spotted. Most surprising for me was Galle, which turned out to have been a focal point for world trade and the spread of culture and ideas from the third century onwards. The maps in Galle National Museum plotted journeys of Chinese monks and traders who used the port as key link in their Silk Route trading.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sangee was an excellant group leader, always willing to go the extra mile to provide everything we asked for. He is a font of knowledge, which he emparts with considerable humour. Several of our group were keen birdwatchers, and he arranged many special trips for them in our free time. He always had time to answer my numerous questions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To get the most out of the historic element of this trip it does help to do some research before you go. Some of Sri Lanka's top tourist sites, most notably Lions Rock, have no on site interpretation. If I was doing this trip again, I would start with an extra day in Columbo and visit the excellant National Museum. I was able to do this on my last day but only because I didn't take the group flight leaving early morning. Everything I saw would have greatly enhanced the visits to the historic sites. Also as noted above, if you have an interest in world history and culture do make sure you spend extra time in Galle.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the best Exodus trips I've been on, aided by a great group of fellow travellers and a wonderful leader. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, I only wish its inhabitants would show more general appreciation for its environment, for example by not depositing litter around their dwellings, erecting advertising hoardings indiscriminately and permitting uncontrolled ugly development everywhere: sadly, I fear, if this continues the baby will be thrown out with the bathwater, and its charms will be lost forever. One glimmer of hope is the National Parks where high environmental standards are fiercely enforced: let's hope their example extends to the whole country.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Miriam Carpenter

    Fabulous holiday

    How many times can I say the word amazing? We had high expectations of this holiday & we weren’t disappointed. It’s a busy holiday, moving on every 2 days, but there was time to relax in the afternoons & it meant that you feel you’ve seen so much of this varied country. The drives are about 4 hours, broken up with stops in interesting places, & the views are always amazing. We saw so much wild life, and the atmosphere in the rain forests was a great experience We had a couple of good fish meals at restaurants but Costa Rica isn’t really a ‘foodie ‘ destination. Prices are similar to England.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Boat trip on the Laguna at Tortuguero was magical. The atmosphere of the rainforest at Aquinas lodge was special, especially on the night walk At every location, there was so much wild life. Particularly loved seeing the colourful birds, especially the flocks of toucans and the resplendent quetzal, and the iguanas, and of course the sloths and howler monkeys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos well deserves his tour leader of the year award. He is a naturalist to his very core, and his passion is infectious. he is incredibly knowledgeable, not just about the wildlife, he told us so much about the history, the politics & the economics of his country. On top of that he’s warm & friendly, he’s witty & he is very humble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light, there’s some hoofing your case around but pack wisely as you’ll go from a hot & humid rainforest where you want to shower hourly, to the cool mountains where you need a jumper & jacket. All within a 4 hour drive. Beg steal or borrow a good pair of light weight binoculars. Set up a WhatsApp group to share photos with your group
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Richard Christie

    Walking the quieter circuit brings its own reward.

    This is a fantastic trek through scenery varying from: farmland, forests of pine trees, walking along river gorges beside foaming rivers, through villages full of character and smiling children and finally beside amazing snow clad high mountain peaks. All of which we did with very few other trekkers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking up to the Larkya Pass as the dawn slowly broke behind us revealing snow covered mountains all around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As always Valerie looked after us really well and added that bit extra to the enjoyment of the trip. This time sharing her experiences of climbing Manaslu by reading excerpts from her diary of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was pleasantly surprised with my first experience of a lodge (Teahouse) based trip. Remember you need to budget for buying your own lunches and evening meals on this trip but the food available is tasty and the choice varied enough to cover most desires. if you need a 'pick me up' along the way then try the Apple Fritters with Custard! Although the rooms in the lodges are basic they were all clean and the beds comfortable. Remember a supply of wet wipes for the nights when it is too cool for a proper wash.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A fantastic, quieter alternative to the more well known Annapurna Circuit but don't wait too long before doing this trip. Roads are slowly being driven in from both ends which will be good for the local population but could detract from the scenic value of the trip.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Pagan Dave

    Fantastic Trip

    My first trip to Nepal and what a great experience. Beautiful countryside and views, had a fantastic time and now want to go back to do some of the trekking mountains. Watch out its addictive!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being surrounded by famous mountains, crossing the tall suspension bridges with yak trains carrying supplies up the passes, amazing!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Experienced nice guy, took good care of us, firm when he needed to be but shared our enthusiasm for the experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yep, silk sleeping bag liner very useful, fingerless gloves for the cold evenings in the tea houses, tracksters worked great during the day and for the evenings too, merino wool thermals were absolutely brilliant, wool jumper better than synthetic fabrics for keeping smell free, cards for the evening, good (compact) camera for the scenery not my digital SLR! I used Diamox and was glad I did, no altitude sickness problems. In November it took clothes a few days to dry so pack enough. keep your bags within the weight limits, our porters had to carry our bags so please be considerate. Trek wasn't as physically demanding as I expected, get fit before you go and you will enjoy it more.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Watch out, if you go once you'll want to go back again! I was the only person on the trek for whom this was a first visit.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Martin & Margaret W

    Vietnam Adventure

    A good start with the best coffee i've ever had by the lake nr Hanoi Hotel The holiday was extremely varied, showing so many aspects of Vietnam - chaotic cities with 'formation dancing' motorbikes ignoring most traffic lights but managing never to collide - the peace and quiet of Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta. The hotels and their buffet breakfasts were all top class, the 'homestay' was more like a basic 'eco hotel' , was in a peaceful spot and had bikes you could borrow. The original itinerary bike trip in Hue was discontinued, but made up for in Hoi An, with a ride plus a coracle and boat trip and the bonus that bikes could be kept for the rest of the day. I took advantage of this whilst Margaret went for the best massage she has ever had! The Reunification Express was very comfortable and could only be improved on if you were allowed to hang out of the doors or ride on the roof.! I could have done without the CuChi tunnels and would have preferred a 2/3 hr walk in quiet, scenic countryside as an option. All in all - A great holiday with a great group.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Bits of every day really

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phuong Le (pronounced 'Ful') was lovely - excellent English, always there and approachable, great sense of humour. Her organisational skills were outstanding - Bus, boats, train, bikes,restaurant tables, takeaways, always appeared as if by magic. She even managed to time the odd heavy downpour for when we were under cover. She gave us in-depth talks too, on subjects like driving, marriage etc

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Our group used many different airlines, so check the options. We used Thai Airlines via Bangkok which looked considerably quicker than others.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go for it !