Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    SOUTH INDIA EXPLORED

    An amazing tour that requires patience and stamina! Long days of travel are needed to cover so much of south India, but it's a wonderful experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having dinner in the home of a local family where we participated in the cooking and ate our meal on banana leaves. Stopping many times to see local cottage industries. Having a thali for Christmas Day lunch! Seeing so many amazing temples. The tea plantations of Munnar (not on the itinerary but a bonus of a 7 hr detour we had to take). Being treated as an exotic species and having our photos taken by and with countless Indian families!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suresh Moni's skills and knowledge made the tour a very special one. He was always patient, courteous and attuned to the needs of the group. We could ask him anything about the country, culture, history, daily life, plants, animals, birds, etc and he usually knew the answer. His commentary as we travelled 2,800km was always interesting and informative. When we had to rise at 3am, and travel an extra 7 hrs in order to cross safely from Tamil Nadu into Kerala, the group did so without complaint as we knew Suresh was concerned for our wellbeing.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I am in my 60s and found this tour tiring, mainly due to the long days of travel and only staying in a few hotels for more than one night. It was a wonderful way to see a lot of south India and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see more than Kerala. The spicy food was great, but you need to have built up some intestinal fortitude before tackling curry two or three times a day! Would recommend eating Indian food frequently in the month before starting the tour so your system is not overloaded in the first week.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I usually travel solo and this Exodus tour was only the second tour I have done in more than 20 years of travel. It was a very positive experience and Suresh has set the standard for how a tour leader and guide should perform. Most of the other 14 people on the tour had been on many Exodus tours, which is a recommendation in itself.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    SNOWSHOEING IN THE DOLOMITES

     This is my 2nd trip with Exodus and was simply fantastic (as was the first), I would thoroughly recommend it.  It was extremely beautiful being in Villabassa at Christmas time, the Hotel Alder was wonderful, both management and staff very welcoming/helpful and friendly, gorgeous 5 course dinner each night.  Aperitifs on our first evening & Christmas Eve in reception along with carols was gorgeous.  The snowshoeing was such brilliant fun walking in a winter wonderland (thankfully the snow fell the Friday before going), each walk gave us beautiful scenery and "THE" most amazing views having the weather on our side most days, even though a couple of the walks involved “chuffin steep climbs” the views totally made up for it and coming back down is always the easiest whichever way we did it by walking/sledding or in my case sliding upside down head first when unable to stay on the sled but had soo much fun though, felt like being a child all over again J 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The climb on Christmas day was a great walk giving the best views in the world (well it certainly felt like I was on top of the world) truly stunning beautiful day enjoying the gorgeous Pandoro & Prosecco to toast Christmas day thanks to Olly our great leader!! Of course we had to eat/drink it all so he didn’t have to carry it down again.  The whole experience was truly amazing also having a great group made the experience too I never stopped laughing. On our day off some of us had a go at cross-country skiing thanks to Eric & Heather for allowing us to participate with them for the day, particularly to Heather for taking us on in the beginners group, my first time putting on any form of skis on and loved it!! Especially the hot chocolate in the cafe at the end of the day. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Olly was fantastic very kind, lots of fun (although he needs some more cheesy Xmas tunes) and helpful to all of the group who weren’t quite as quick up the hills as the rest, he looked after us in every way he possibly could whether that was giving out tape for our poor blisters or lending me his jacket to keep me warm, he certainly has the best job in the world!! Thank you Olly for making the video too (check it out) such great memories!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take the right kit with you along with you and plenty of layers even though walking up makes you extremely hot and having to strip off, you certainly need to put the layers back on again when stopping or reaching the top as it can be extremely cold. Most of all go with the intention of having fun, even though you might find it hard some days there is always the sense of achievement in reaching the top and enjoying the views and remember you are getting fitter by the day and there is always the lovely spa in the hotel to look forward too at the end of the day so just enjoy it!!!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had the most amazing holiday, the Dolomites are awesome, met some lovely people/friends.  I’m so glad that I never missed a day walking, you’re only there once (unless you book again) so make the most of it and be happy :-)
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: CHAMONIX

    Excellent range of cross country skiing areas within an hour's drive or less from the Chalet, mainly in France but one in Italy. All were very well prepared and signed, and some offered relatively challenging track skiing. If the weather is kind - which it was for us - then the views of Mont Blanc and other local ranges as you ski are stunning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Skiing on the fringes of the tree line above Les Saisies one day, and above Praz de Lys on another, with cloudless blue skies and superb views of Mont Blanc.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Oliver has very good local knowledge, and put together a good programme for the week. He organised the skiing effectively for a group whose demands varied: some people wanted to develop their skills and be led around the domains, others wanted to explore on their own. That is not always easy to achieve, but Oliver did it well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Footwear that grips in icy conditions is highly desirable, whether it be designed as such or achieved by fitting spikies.  And take a head torch if you want to see what you are eating in the evening - the light bulb in the dining room struggles to illuminate the corners!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Remember this is a homely, small chalet rather than a hotel, and adjust your expectations accordingly.  Also, to take advantage of the more distant ski areas can mean long days, and not all the domains have cafes at convenient points for lunch; simple picnic lunches (provided by the chalet) can be the order of the day, and so you may want to take a flask for a hot drink.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF EGYPT

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    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

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    What did you think of your group leader?

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    Is there anything else you would like to add?

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  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    LAPLAND ADVENTURE & THE ICEHOTEL

    The trip was very enjoyable overall with some great activities, spectacular scenery and a magical trip to the Ice Hotel.  However, there were some issues that prevented a higher rating, which primarily were around whether the trip represented value for money.  I suspect the trip could be booked independently at a much cheaper price and without much difficulty.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Ice Hotel truly is somewhere that can take the breath away (not just because it is so cold..) and an experience that you can find in many parts of the world.  Very much a worthwhile part of the trip, in a very scenic part of the world.The husky sledding was also a lot of fun and the dogs were wonderful, and we were also lucky enough to experience the Northern Lights.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    One of the biggest disappointments leading to the view that the trip didn't represent value for money was that there wasn't an Exodus representative on the trip, which given the cost of the trip, was a surprise.  We were left to rely on the owner of the place where we stayed, who, possibly as the result of the accomodation being a late change, didn't appear to be very familiar with our itinerary.  As a result, some activities that were promised in the initial itinerary were never offered (e.g. the snowmobiling option, survival skills) without any explanation.  Without an Exodus rep present, it wasn't possible to get the full information around issues affecting the trip such as the change to the itinerary which meant we weren't able to spend the night away in the wilderness lodge as the result of the warmer than expected weather in the weeks before our trip.  This information was not shared in advance and the lack of an Exodus rep meant the information was not shared well.  Information around the trip to the Ice Hotel was also not well shared, and meant that we had to find out a lot of this information ourselves, which was also not expected.  Having been on a previous Exodus trip where the quality of rep was exemplary, I was disappointed about this aspect of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would recommend that people who are looking to book on this trip, book for a time in January or February as the date over Christmas appears to be early in the season to ensure there are not weather related impacts on the itinerary.Sweden is a beautiful part of the world and I would recommend that it is worth visiting, but it may be possible to book this sort of trip independently and therefore save on the costs of the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    With the fact that elements of the trip were not delivered as anticipated, I am keen to find out the situation with regard to compensation.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    SENEGAL & GAMBIA ADVENTURE

    A good introduction to the culture and wildlife of West Africa which visited areas of southeastern Senegal that other tours of the country miss out. This was my first trip to the area, and a real eye-opener!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Either walking to the remote village of Iwol on Christmas Day (definitely worth tackling the steep and uneven path on a hot day!) or relaxing on the boat on the Gambia River looking out for birds, monkeys and chimps. Birdwatching in general throughout the trip was incredible, especially in Djoudj N.P. (where we saw huge amounts of wintering birds) and the Sine-Saloum delta (where we got extremely close to roosting egrets and kingfishers).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mohamed did a good job of organising the group and making sure things ran as smoothly as possible - not easy in a place like Senegal where things don't always go according to plan! His ability to get us onto the Gambia River ferry in the face of lots of attempted queue-jumping was amazing. Special mention also needs to go to Modu, our driver, who negotiated the potholes with consummate ease and kept us all comfortable and safe.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As mentioned in other reviews, I would recommend taking a sleeping bag liner or some warmer clothes for the night in the desert, especially if you're travelling in December-February when it's at its coldest. Also, be prepared for some pretty long drives and basic accommodation without daily access to hot water. On some of the drives, it will not be possible to get access to western style toilets, so if you're not comfortable with squat toilets or impromptu "bush stops" then this may not be the trip for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was the first departure of the trip, so there were a few things which need tidying up to make it even better on future departures. I went along specifically to see how it ran and to make recommendations for the future trips, and as a result there will be a few changes and a bit of polishing of the itinerary. 
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    NILE CRUISE

    I have always wanted to see the pyramids in Egypt and the Exodus Nile Cruise offered this and a lot more in a very well organized trip with an excellent tour leader and a fantastically sociable group.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Pyramids and Karnak Temple are stupendous examples of human achievement and were pretty awe-inspiring.  Though not so good for the local Egyptians, we were lucky enough to see these sites during a period when tourism has dropped from 120,000 to 12,000 so I was able to get one of the 300 per day allocation of tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid of Kufu.  Although there is not a great deal to see, it's great to have the opportunity to go inside and climb the steep incline up the narrow ramp to the huge burial chamber at the top.  Karnak temple at dusk has a mystical charm enhanced by the evening chants of the muezzim that reverberates around the enormous collonaded space.  Our time there was almost too short.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader George was a Coptic Egyptian who was immensely proud of his ancestors achievements and passionately imparted his considerable knowledge to us.  Of course, even George could not know everything but he always had two theories for consideration that were very plausible.  He was super-efficient and immensely sociable with a great sense of humour and a good command of the English language.  He also taught us a few useful phrases in the local dialect to deal with persistent street hawkers.  I woukld highly recommend his services to anyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Visit Egypt now while the crowds are away.  They need the tourism and you will get a great experience.  They are grateful rather than hostile to tourists and the internal politics is seen as their business rather than ours.Street traders can be both charming and annoyingly persistent.  If you have no intention of buying anything then learn the local phrases to say no or go away politely and do not engage in any further conversation.  If you do want something then be firm about what your top price is going to be and be prepared to haggle.  Being dramatic is appreciated.Be vigilant about only drinking bottled water.  I was somewhat lax in the hotel spa just before leaving and drank a glass of water proffered by the attendant believing it to be bottled but came down with severe stomach cramps on my return home; luckily it didn't spoil my holiday. Carry toilet paper with you everywhere to avoid occasions where there is none or avoid paying for sheets from attendants at tourist sites.Always carry wet wipes or antiseptic spray and use frequently after handling money and before eating. Take your own food on the sleeper train and waive the food trays offered.  The food is pretty inedible and cold and it will be more enjoyable to eat your own.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved the cruise boat along the Nile.  Here is one delightful experience: We had a free afternoon on the boat as it sailed onto Aswan through Esna lock. This was one of the highlights of my trip. All along we'd been pursued by sellers and been admiring their persistence but never more so than this afternoon. When one of the guests on deck hit the ping pong ball into the river, I jokingly said to Alex that I was surprised no Egyptian youngster had rowed over in the boat to return it for a tip. Just then a small rowing boat with 2 youngsters glided over alongside, one standing up holding up a kaftan and starting to tout for business. A couple of local Egyptian girls on board started haggling over the side.  Next a plastic wrapped bundle came flying overboard. This was so the girls could try the on the kaftan. Lots of frenetic bargaining was going on drawing all the other passengers to watch and next to no time a couple of other boats joined and everybody was at it. If you liked something they would throw another bag overboard and you would put your money in it and throw it bag into the boat below. If it missed and went into the water, the boat behind would pick up with their oars. Throws and towels were flying up and down. They wouldn't take no for an answer so even if you threw it back they would throw it back shouting 'Ladee, ladee, what price you want?' Once they offered Diane LE70 for a throw and now a dab hand at this game she screwed her fingers on each side of her temples in dramatic fashion and shouted 'LE70! You crazee!' The young seller was so impressed he bowed and said 'sank you'. Brid was stoical and kept to her lowest figure getting them for LE40. It was enormous fun and everyone was happy with their bargains.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    COLOURS OF RAJASTHAN, INDIA

    An amazing dash through Rajasthan.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Oh now I loved the Taj mahal of course.  Other than that I enjoyed Udaipur, Bundi and Puskha.  I loved the palaces and forts but the markets were especially fascinating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Avtar has an amazing energy and excellent knowledge of his country.  He was also very helpful, kind and caring.  He is inclinded to talk too much :-) 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

     Take hand gel.In December/January the rooms in the hotels are a bit cold so ask for a blanket.In december/january take a fleeceGet an early night so that you can keep on going - this is a hectic trip.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want to see lots of sights in a whirlwind tour then this is the trip for you.  If not, book something else.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF NORTHERN INDIA

    This trip was fantastic, very well organised and we managed to see and do so much more in the space of a week than we could have possibly managed on our own. I would recommend it to anyone considering visiting India for the first time. I travelled on a 'solo departures' date, which put my mind at ease, having never travelled on my own before and I was lucky enough to travel with a great group of people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Taj Mahal lived up to all expectations, but I also really enjoyed Jaipur and Varanasi.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ronit was a great group leader, very well organised and he remained calm and professional throughout, even when faced with things that were outwith his control such as transport delays and members of the group taking unwell. When the additional Delhi city tour that he had organised for us had to be cancelled due to the bus breaking down, he did his best to arrange something to make sure that we weren't too dissapointed and got to see some of the city in the short time that we had there.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whatever clothes you have packed, you won't need as many as you think because on a couple of the longer travelling days there is no time to change. Make sure that you take plenty of hand sanitizer and I can also recommend taking one garlic capsule per day before and during the trip. It might be a coincidence, but I did this and was lucky enough not to be badly affected by 'Delhi Belly'.Most importantly, make sure you have enough memory cards because there are so many different weird and wonderful things to see that you will be scared to put the camera down for a minute in case you miss something!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The main thing that I think could improve the trip is one extra day in Delhi. We missed out on seeing most of the city because of a delay on the overnight train and then our tour bus breaking down, so one more day would have allowed for any unexpected transport problems. Other than that, I really can't fault the itinerary at all and overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable holiday.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    NILE CRUISE

    I ALWAYS wanted to see Egypt and I am so happy that I went now.   Ignore CNN.   We were perfectly safe and you will be too!   

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is impossible to pick one stand out thing in a country with 5,000 years of history.   I am very well travelled, but this qualifies as the best trip ever!   Inspirational moments...  Matching faces to names I have heard all my life in the Mummy Rooms of the Egyptian Museum.   Seeing Tut's treasures and lingering without elbowing other tourists.   Listening to the wind at the Bent Pyramid.   Passing by on-going archeological digs.   Egyptian food- YUM!   Taking a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings.    Seeing the Valley of the Workers.    Being alone in Tut's Tomb.   Spending Christmas Day at the Great Pyramids.   Making small talk with camel drivers.   Finding the artists hand on everything and anything.   Finding enough good books on Egypt to fill a second suitcase.  Nubian Museum.  Buying indigo powder at one of the markets.   Relaxing on the boat watching the country side go by.  Laughing it up with Sayed and my travel companions on the over night train.   

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sayed Mansour was a fantastic tour leader.   Sayed was endlessly patient, humorous and extremely kind.   Sayed kept us entertained while being very informative at the same time.    He is truly gifted and very professional.  Sayed is extremely personable and it was a joy to spend ten days with him.If you really want to learn about Egypt, he is definitely who you want to guide you through the country.  Sayed has a wealth of knowledge that he will happily share.  He was also kind enough to make sure I always found what I was looking for and many of my best books were actually found by him.   He made the trip! 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have ever wanted to go to Egypt-GO NOW!   Their economy needs tourists and you will have the very rare privilege of a quiet visit while giving some much needed dollars.   I was alone in King Tut's tomb (normally impossible) which will most likely be one of the highlights of my life.   I will be forever grateful that I chose to go when I did.   It was a special trip!If you are worried about your safety, please be assured that Exodus and their staff are well informed.   At no point during my 10 day trip did I feel the need to look over my shoulder.   Sayed always kept an eye on us and even checked on me several times when I was no longer touring with the group.  I felt very safe throughout the trip.   I would not hesitate to visit again and plan on going for a second round of my beloved Egypt soon.There are several opportunities to take additional sightseeing trips as well as a few additional entrances to things like the Mummy Rooms in the Egyptian Museum.   I did them all!   If you are only going to go once, get the most out of your stay.   Having regrets when you get home will spoil your memories.Some of the small souvenirs the touts try to sell you make lovely gifts for friends.  Keep your bargaining friendly and if you don't want their item politely say, "No thank you" and keep walking.  Anyone who persisted left after a few meters if I was not interested.  With that said, the item you do buy maybe assisting a family that has endured economic hardship for the last year.   There are very few tourists in Egypt right now and your token gift to a friend may be putting food on someone's table.    

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are a female traveling alone, Exodus is a good choice.   Dress appropriately for Muslim culture, keep an open mind and you will have a great time.    Thank you Sayed.  Again and again!   
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