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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

HIGHLIGHTS OF GEORGIA & ARMENIA

It has been a very easy travel, available to everybody (special fitness is not required), The two countries visited were very unknown for me, i enjoyed it, but at last, it was a religious travel, there are so much religious issues in this countries, all their lives goes arround it, and it is noticed and lived in some way during the trip.

Most Inspirational Moment

without doubt when everyone arrive to the nice and very old churches spread arroud this countries. Also Tbilisi is charming, modern, alive, i enjoyed there very much.

Thoughts on Group Leader

About the group leadres, i have to say that i was very unpleased, they do not personalise in any way, they never try to use our names (i was spain for one of them all the travel, and it bother me very much). About the Georgian leather was, even, unpolite shouting me when i gave an opinion.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Take in mind that you visit two countries, think that  Georgia is colder than Armenia,

WALKING IN SARDINIA

A really lovely holiday – a fabulous, friendly family hotel, great food, fantastic scenery and some very good walking. I would recommend this holiday to anyone who likes good coastal walks.

Most Inspirational Moment

The trip to Tiscali was wonderful. It was quite a challenging ascent to the top but it was worth it. And the views on the way down were spectacular.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Eric was great. He really looked after us and was very knowledgeable about the area. He was also good fun to spend time with. He has lots of anecdotes and stories to tell of an evening to keep you entertained!

Advice for Potential Travellers

Take some good walking boots and drink lots of water - otherwise, just enjoy it - it's a wonderful holiday.

Suggestions

This is my fourth Exodus holiday. All four were superb and I only have positive things to say about them. I think Exodus is a great company and I'm looking forward to my next trip - thank you!

THE ZAMBEZI VALLEY

On arrival and seeing canoes i thought what have i let myself in for, but after a short introduction and 1st paddle all went well. The holiday was above all expectations, with helpful and friendly guides nothing was to much trouble. Would recomend this holiday to anyone for the back to nature adventure.

Most Inspirational Moment

Cannot pick out a specific moment there was something everyday superseding what you thought was fab.

Thoughts on Group Leader

T K and Carlos were absolutly fantastic nothing was too much trouble helpful and informative at all times were quite happy to have fun when safe to do so, at no point during our time on the water did we feel in any danger. By the end of our holiday the guides felt more like old friends rather than holiday staff. Two wonderful gents.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Travel light and with an open mind it's a very different way of life.

Suggestions

AMAZING EXPERIENCE

CYCLING VIETNAM

A very exciting emerging country, we had a very full itinery with not much free time but we needed to pack everything in to enable us to see the whole country.

Most Inspirational Moment

Cycling downhill in a monsoon (probably wasn't a monsoon but felt like it!), meeting the local people and seeing Halong Bay.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Our group leader Chi was exceptional, for such a busy trip nothing was too much trouble for him and he was always there if needed. He also knew everything about everything, and you can't get much better than that!

Advice for Potential Travellers

Visit Vietnam now before it becomes too spoilt and expensive. Get yourself fairly bike fit before you go so that you get the most out of your cycling. Be prepared for a very busy schedule and a lot of bus journeys! (necessary to be able to see the whole country)

CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS RIDE

Never a dull moment!  This trip has everything from historic interest, great scenary, rides which were not too challenging and great company.  As usual the local Exodus staff were second to none for their friendliness, stamina and exhaustive local knowledge.

Most Inspirational Moment

Reaching the top of the last hill climb - without falling off!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Friendly, knowledgeable, dedicated, approachable and reliable.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Don't forget the insect repellent in case you are prone to insect bites.

Suggestions

Thank you for the perfect holiday which was better than any medicine.

YOSEMITE AND THE CANYONLANDS

The travel notes description of the trip exactley matched my experiance however I had not trully realized just how long,  the long driving days would be.

Most Inspirational Moment

There were more than one inspirational moment on this trip. Nothing can prepare you for your first view of the Grand Canyon so don't be suprised if you feel a tear. I certainly shed some. There was a full moon walk through Cathedral Gorge, accompanied by the howls of coyote's and the best view I have had yet of the Milky Way or howabout the sunrise over Canyonlands National park, the imaginery land of Mordor made real. It was one of the many occassions on this trip that I used the word "awesome" and meant every syllable of it

Thoughts on Group Leader

We had the double act of Jessie AKA Jessie James and Tyler AKA Tyler Durden. Two knowledgeable but laid back individuals. 

Advice for Potential Travellers

There are some really long drives on this trip and there was less walking than I had anticipated.  This is not a trip for walking machines or those using this to come back a dress size smaller.

Suggestions

For me personally although I appreciate the opportunity to break up the walking with some of the extra excursions( 4x4 and rafting on the Colorado river) I think there should be more thought for those who may have saved hard to pay for the trip and just can not afford those extras.  I will say on my trip the guides did take us for a couple of hours to a stream that you could chill out in but with the proviso that we were back in time for the 4x4 people to get picked up.  With a bit of forward planning there might have been a walking  route that could be done without the guides that would have suited people who had chosen a 'walking' holiday better.   

WALKING IN ANDALUCIA

A great holiday if you want to see a bit of the real Spain.Interesting countryside and a chance to wander round villages not geared up to tourism.The accomodation was basic but very pleasant and wonderfully situated on a hill overlooking the village.The staff were local and you felt,through them, you were contributing to the local economy but not spoiling the area.

Most Inspirational Moment

Seeing vultures in Europe.Watch real flaminco dancing from a teacher and her pupil in the village.The Spanish Government are encouraging youngsters to be involved in this traditional form of dance similar to initiatives in Scotland.Moorish Seville

Thoughts on Group Leader

Friendly and knowlegable.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Don't expect to buy much except on your day in Seville.

GALAPAGOS & AMAZON

I have no regrets in taking this trip and if I could turn back time I would do exactly the same again. You already imagine this is the trip of a lifetime and for me it was.

Most Inspirational Moment

The Amazon was easily the highlight of the trip. The accomodation at the lodge (Napo Wildlife Centre) was superb and the guides were of the highest quality. Particularly in the Amazon. It is difficult to highlight the best bits of the holiday. Everyday was different and I can't believe so much happened and I experienced so much in 3 weeks.

Thoughts on Group Leader

I had numerous group leaders throughout my stay in Ecuador and all were very good. The Amazon guides are the best guides I have ever been with.On a more personal note the leader in Quito, Estaban, was fine as you would expect for the main part of the trip. However I extended my stay both at the start and end of the trip and Estaban was extremely helpful with giving local advice about backpacking opportunities and local tourist trips, sites and attractions. My luggage arrived late and when it arrived I was on a 2 day tour miles from the airport. Estaban, the Quito leader was able to collect my luggage from the airport on my behalf. He was clearly very passionate about Ecuador and his clients and when things go wrong (through no fault of exodus) he was able to go the extra step.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Lots, firstly some possible myths. I spent 12 months researching the country and came across lots of advice indicating that Ecuador is a very dangerous country. I arrived a week after the shoot out between police and the presidents army in October 2010. There were no signs of any violence and after a couple of days settling in I felt very safe. Even walking around the streets alone.When the notes say Quito can get quite cold. They are telling the truth. Sometimes it felt freezing with temperatures as low as 5C although generally it was comfortable in pants and a long sleeve t shirt and fleece.In the Amazon you imagine lots and lots of insects and that may put people off. Yes there are lots of large insects and spiders (you can hear them all the time) but this should not put you off. It's not like you trip over them. The beds have mosquito nets so nothing gets in. There are literally thousands of ants, but they congregate together and you can easily see them and step over them. The lake at the lodge is of a make up that is safe for humans but which mosquito's can't stand. As a result the resort is almost completely free from mosquito's. We chose to do the easy walking routes through the Amazon which lasted around 2 to 3 hours, each at a very gentle pace. The paths were clear and easy to navigate alllowing you to look at the wildlife rather than watching every step. The wildlife is very well camouflaged and whilst if you blink you will miss something the guides were always pointing something out. You need binoculars to get the most out of the Amazon.Learn Spanish, a little bit of Spanish will go a long way as they (the locals) do not speak very good English. I bought a teach your self DVD for £ 10 ish and got on fine. It enhanced my holiday experience.Do some research on Ecuador and if you can afford to stay a little longer it is deffinately worth it. The cloud forest was particularly exceptional. It was not advertised in the Exodus brochure and I feel they should at least offer it as an optional extension. I heard about Bellavista Mindo Cloud forrest through a popular travel guide book. I asked if exodus could book a trip in advance. They emailed me several different trips with itineries and prices. Exodus booked everything from the UK and it went like clockwork. I would recommend the 2 day trip because the bird life is very lively at sun rise (cost was around £ 200.00 all inclusive for my trip).The advice regarding how much to tip varied a lot. I still don't know what the right tip percentage should be. I would just be aware that you may tip more or less than the Exodus brochure recommends.I spent around £ 70 on malaria tablets (Malorone) which was the most expensive and I think the yellow fever was about £ 40. I was never asked to show the yellow fever certificate. That was my only medical expense (plus suncream)Jet lag and altitude sickness varies from person to person. I felt some jet lag but it did not effect my enjoyment of the holiday. Everyone in our group was aware that the altitude was effecting them but for us it was never a problem and walking at normal pace was OK.Local food is pork and chicken usually served with corn or rice and whilst I personally will eat anything that is put on a plate. There was nothing extreme and if you are a (can I say) difficult eater you will not have any problems in Ecuador. On the galapogas trip, some of the group had special dietary requirements and I was worried I would be eating soup the whole time. The chef was superb and everyone was well catered for with a large variety of food for everybody. That said if you want to try different foods, they have fruits that are not just better than in the UK but not available in the UK. A potato and cheese soup is a local speciality which I would recommend you ask for. Others include Mura Juice and a fruit called Grenade fruit (it's yellow about the size of a large orange but breaks open very easily and contains seeds much like our passion fruit.

Suggestions

I took a night flight and arrived in the morning which is what I would do again if I went back.I had a 2 day trip to Bellavista Cloud Forest to see the humingbirds which was excellent. Panaramic views of mountains covered in forest was also excellent.I went on a day trip to Cotopaxi and a local market which was excellent (the local leader helped me arrange this on the last minute, I deliberately left it late to see how I handled the altitude).On the first day of arrival our group ascended the cable car which they advised was enjoyable but exhausting because of the altitiude on there first day (I was at Cotopaxi that day).I first met the group on the day we flew out to the Amazon.On the free day after returnign from the Amazon we had the city tour which finished at around 11.30AM, had lunch at the hotel then me and 2 others went to the Equator line exhibition. It was very touristy as you would expect but the part around the corner (ask the guide and then ask locally) was much smaller but worth every minute. You go in and a guide will greet you and give you a 40 minute tour with experiments that seam like magic and give you an insight into the local life of years gone by and also the Amazon local life. The taxi driver (booked from hotel) waited in the car park for us and was excellent. In the evening I went to a football match (not organised through exodus, spur of the moment from a friend I met) south american cup quarter final. The atmosphere was amazing and there was no trouble. It may be possible to organise this through the hotel, the ticket was $6 and the football shirt on the stands outside was $5. All paid for on the day.Galapogas trip was amazing, the notes don't tell you about the excellent food on board and doesn't tell you that actually there is a certain pleasure in riding the big ocean waves in a very small boat. It was certainly interesting trying to take showers whilst on the move. The Galapogas part of the trip is pretty much exactly as described in the trip notes and there is not much I can add. Your hands reach for the camera all the time.After Galapogas I went to Otavalo for 2 days and this was very good (more so because I took the local bus and stayed in a run down hostel that didn't speak any English to try and get a true traveller experience) and the town was nice and friendly and small (especially when compared to Quito which is huge). The Market was very good (it wasn't even market day). There was a parade which made the trip extra special. Although Otavalo was a good experience it didn't have any special charm and I wouldn't go overly out of my way to see it. If you likle markets you'll like Otavalo.Overall I was very glad I did what I could in Ecuador, the country has so much to offer that I could have spent an extra week there easily.

PETRA & WADI RUM TREK

Petra was the magnet that drew me to going on this trip. It was sensational. Much larger than I had expected and so full of atmosphere. An experience I will never forget.

Most Inspirational Moment

In the evening, as we lay by the camp fire, looking up at the stars, waiting for a shooting star to fly past, the guide would tell us stories about Moses and his people as they wandered through this actual desert looking for a home. It was a living history lesson. And then of course there were the adventures of Lawrence.

Thoughts on Group Leader

An eccentric character that was very easy going. This worried some of the people on the walk

Advice for Potential Travellers

A relatively easy and throughly enjoyable walk. There is plenty of support and a vehicle is always on hand just in case.

Suggestions

It a very friendly and welcoming country.

KILIMANJARO CLIMB - RONGAI ROUTE

This was most definitley the best trip of my entire life! What an amazing adventure. I was in two minds as to whether this was the trip for me, right up until I arrived I guess. The whole experience, from the people I travelled with, the inspirational guides and porters who looked after us, to the incredible feeling of reaching the summit, was just one that I will never, ever forget. Both Exodus and The African Walking Company inspired complete trust and confidence. Nothing was left to chance and, despite feelings of intrepidation about various points of the trip, I felt completely safe and thoroughly looked after. This is definitely a trip of a lifetime.

Most Inspirational Moment

There are more than a few inspirational moments, but I will name the most oustanding here; Firstly, the group with whom I travelled were so supportive and friendly; it felt like I had known some of them for years! The guides and porters who demonstrated immense dedication to our welfare and enjoyment throughout the entire trip. Reaching Mawenzi Tarn campsite and the amazing views on our acclimatisation walk - if you are wondering which route to take I would definitely recommend the extra day, both for acclimatisation and for the views from Mawenzi tarn. 

Thoughts on Group Leader

Absolutely amazing! Meke, was clearly extremely experienced and a natural leader who always endeavoured to ensure that everyone was happy, healthy and safe. On the final ascent, noone could want for anything; the guides were incredibly helpful and were the reason that many of us made it to the summit.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Once you start feeling the effects of altitude, I would defintely take Diamox. I was in two minds as to whether I should take Diamox, but, following the head guide's advice I decided I would take it. I firmly believe this was a huge factor in enabling me to reach summit. Everything was planned so carefully by the guides to ensure that we had the best chance of reaching the summit; I would say follow all of the advice given and you can't go far wrong.  

Suggestions

An awesome trip!