Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed October 2017
    Julian Lewis

    High Inca Trail with Amazon Extension

    This was my second trip with Exodus, my first being to Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, and it certainly didn't disappoint. The trip originally had 5 people on it, but due to last minute cancellations, presumably because of news of strike action in Peru, only 2 of us ended up travelling. Ultimately, we experienced hardly any disruption throughout the entire trip. As such, it made the trip much more bespoke. As the trip flew directly to Cusco, at 3400m, the first couple of days were designed to assist with acclimatizing and we soon got used to the altitude. There was plenty of free time to explore the city and take it easy. We also spent the first morning on an acclimatization hike exploring Tambomachay, Puca Pukara, Qenqo and Sachsayhuaman in the hills above Cusco. This hike was very gentle and downhill. On the first day of the hike, we set off early (0630 start) for Mollepata, stopping at Tarawasi to explore more ruins. As Mollepata is below 3000m, we immediately noticed the drop in altitude and this helped ease us into the hike gently. In addition to meeting our wonderful Quechua chef, Florentino, we were accompanied along this stretch of the hike by local horsemen (and a dog who we nicknamed Condor, who would provide no end of amusement along the way), who provided support for us. We found the first few days of the hike rather quiet, as this route is frequented by far fewer hikers than the main Inca Trail. The first day was a 4 hour hike with a gradual climb up to 3500m. The second day of the hike was quite tough as we had a 17km hike going from 3500m to 4400m. This involved a 0600 start, though was mostly on the level during the morning. The afternoon was shorter though quite a bit harder as it had several steep parts, as we ascended to the camp at Inchupata. An emergency horse was on hand along this stretch. The views of Salkantay were stunning, though the camp was quite cold at night. We even saw a couple of avalanches on Salkantay. On the third day of the hike, we climbed up to Incachiriaska pass, at 4950m, and were rewarded with stunning views in all directions. This was followed by a rapid descent to the Inca Canal to our camp site. Day four of the hike was quite leisurely and short as we descended to Huayllabamba. We said goodbye to the horsemen, and had several amusing attempts to part company with Condor, then met up with the porters who would carry our kit along the main Inca Trail. We also had an opportunity for a brief cold shower; our first proper wash since the hike began. Having ascended Incachiriaska pass earlier in the hike, the ascent to Dead Women's pass on day five of the hike was much more straightforward and we got to the top in far less time than we'd planned for. The descent down to Pacaymayo was quite steep, and we got a taste of the steps which would be a common feature of the latter part of the hike. As we'd joined the main Inca Trail, things became much busier at camp sites and on the trail. We timed our departures to avoid the early morning rushes, and soon found we had the trail mostly to ourselves. On day six of the hike, we climbed over a second pass and explored more Inca ruins at Runcurakay and Sayacmarca. We camped at Phuyupatamarca and marveled at the views of Machu Picchu mountain, far below us down the notorious Inca Steps. The next morning, we also had stunning views of the other side of Salkantay. On the last day of the hike, we descended to Winay Wayna, and then completed the trek to the sun gate and our first glimpse of Machu Picchu itself. After an hour or so snapping pictures of the classic views of the site, we took the bus down to Aguas Calientes and several much needed showers. The following day, we had a tour of Machu Picchu and then had a few hours spare to explore the site on our own. As it turned out, this was only sufficient time to visit the Inca Bridge and take more pictures close by the main site, though I certainly didn't feel I was missing out on any opportunity to ascend Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. We descended back to Aguas Calientes mid afternoon to get the Expedition train to Ollantaytambo. This was an enjoyable and relaxing slow train ride with great views, and included free drinks and snacks in the ticket price. The next morning we explored the ruins in Ollantaytambo and headed on through the Sacred Valley to Pisac. We arrived back in Cusco by early afternoon, where we planned excursions for the following day. The main trip on offer was to Moray Maras and the Salt mines in the Sacred valley. I opted for this trip and found it very relaxing. While other excursions included a (long) day trip to Rainbow Mountain, Exodus don't actively endorse this due to mixed reviews, though (discrete) arrangements can be made if you want to try it. The last morning of the main trip involved transfers to the airport, either for homeward flights or transfers to Puerto Maldonado to the jungle. As I'd opted for the Amazon extension, the jungle beckoned. The flight was short though the change in climate was huge. After transferring to the river launch, and a two hour journey up river, I arrived at Cayman Lodge. As the only traveler on this part of the trip, I had another personalized trip, and guide to myself. The pace of the jungle was quite leisurely and involved afternoon and night walks around the perimeter of the lodge, a 10km trek to Sachavacayoc Lake (an oxbow lake) in the jungle where we spent a couple of hours canoeing around looking for anacondas, an early morning river trip to Colpa Chuncho clay lick to view macaws feeding, a night safari along the river looking for caimans and quite a few hours chilling in hammocks out of the sun. Soon though, this part of the trip came to an end and I transferred back to Puerto Maldonado for my flight home. As Peru were attempting to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, we also sampled the local excitement of the regions enthusiasm for football. This could only have been matched by a papal visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pin down one single moment, though we had perfect weather (glorious sunshine and few clouds) every day of the trip so were rewarded with inspiring views every day. Among the highlights of the trip were seeing Salkantay from many angles, Incachiriaska pass, Dead Women's pass, the view from Phuyupatamarca down over Machu Picchu mountain, the classic views of Machu Picchu from the sun gate and gatehouse, the Sacred Valley, and travelling along the Tambopata river.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    William was very knowledgeable and keen to share his knowledge and experience of the Inca Trail. As the group size was small, we had a lot of attention though it never felt intrusive. Our chef, Florentino, the horsemen and the Quechua porters were great and always friendly. I even picked up several greetings in Quechua. My guide in the jungle was a freelance guide, called Empe. She was very knowledgeable and made the trip very enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Though we experienced perfect weather on our trip, which was almost unprecedented, you should plan for some rain along the way. I'd definitely recommend doing the jungle extension if your itinerary permits as it provides an additional and alternate view of the richness of Peru's geography. I almost wish Id opted for a pre-trip extension to Lake Titicaca, though that will have to be another trip. As the trek is at high altitude, travelers should come prepared with good sun screen and insect repellent, even on days when its not overly sunny. The Peruvian sun can be unforgiving. Pack economically. The bag weight limit on the Inca Trail is 10kg, so you carry the excess. Unless you prepare with extensive load bearing training, you should try to keep your day pack as light as possible as the altitude and sun soon consume your energy reserves. Though on Kili I'd regularly carry at least 2 litres of water, the frequency of campsites and top ups mean that you can carry a little less water, as long as you top up whenever you get the chance. As with any high altitude trekking, take things easy for the first few days to help acclimatize, stay hydrated and eat plenty. If you have any dietary requirements, such as low carb diets, then do review these carefully as several days of the hike are intensive and you will need as much energy as you can pack in. I found I needed extra carbs on several days though this was quickly burnt off. Security at camps during the first few days of the trek is fine, as you're almost the only people at the remote campsites, though as you reach the main trail the campsites get busier and you'll often find other trekkers walking through your camp. While this doesn't present any problem, vigilance should be exercised in accordance with common sense. Security in the jungle lodges was ok, though by the nature of its location you shouldn't have any major concerns. Though English, Spanish and Quechua were the main languages spoken on the trail, French was also seemingly quite widely spoken in the jungle. A warm sleeping bag will pay dividends especially at the higher campsites. A good pair of binoculars will come in handy in the jungle. On the night safaris, a good phone camera (e.g. OnePlus 5) proved better for impromptu close ups of insects than even a good bridge/SLR camera, so try both for best results.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Having climbed Kilimanjaro, I found this trek challenging but very achievable. While the hardest days of the trek are comparable to regular/early days on Kili, nothing is quite on the same scale as summit night, though ascending and descending the Inca steps should be approached carefully as some of the flights of steps are extensive and mishaps could be costly. There are a few stages where additional caution is advised, such as walking along narrow ledges alongside sheer drops, but the William was very clear with highlighting these stretches.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Flo Branchu

    Breathtaking

    This trip was incredible from beginning to end. The locations we visit, the various mode of transports and hotels selected were brilliant. The guide was incredible in every possible way. By the end of each day I thought "surely it can't get any better"... yet each day we discovered new breathtaking landscapes, tried mouthwatering food and understood more about this incredible country and multitude of cultures. I can't recommend this trip enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's very hard to choose.... i would say Bagan and that view.... i still feel like I was dreaming.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Passionate about his country and people, genuine and knowledgeable. Funny and caring. I can go on and on. Plus he only recommended amazing food... Min is on my "favourite people" list!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't hesitate, book and go... happy travels!
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Guy Dixon

    Carpathian capers

    Great accommodation, good food and excellent group leader. Unique combination of outstanding scenery, history, flora and fauna. Interesting insight into a charming and often overlooked part of Eastern Europe. Definitely worth doing if you're looking for something a bit different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking up on the bucegi, the long local walk on day three, Brasov, everything on the final day, Thomas, and hanging out drinking beer at the lovely guest house.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I'd skip the optional trip to the bear hide - too far, too bumpy for an evening trip.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Vicki Nunn

    Steps, steps, steps, people, people and more people!

    If you don't like hoards of people or walking down flights and flights of stone steps don't go on this trip! Thought by October it might be a little quieter but no!! There are more beautiful places to walk with a greater variety of walks with far fewer people. One fellow traveller commented that you get basically 2 views just at different heights (one down to Amalfi and one down coast towards Positano and Capri). We couldn't face the hoards in either Capri or Pompeii after spending days on crowded buses (the worst day we spent 4 1/2 hours either waiting for, or sitting on, a crowded bus!) or in crowded Amalfi, Positani or Ravello! By the end of day 2 we could barely walk as our calves were in agony (a problem shared by many in the hotel). The walks are not aerobically demanding - it was actually a relief to go up (most walks are down!) and change the muscle usage and get the heart beating!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Catching the bus from Naples (after much stress and research) and saving ourselves 143 euros!! The garden at Villa Cimbrone in Ravello was lovely (but not worth that 4 1/2 hours waiting for or on the bus) The ferry from Positano to Amalfi was rather nice

    What did you think of your group leader?

    You're self guided so not really applicable but Eduardo was around if you need him

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You can join the group transfer from the airport apparently (we didn't know this!). We stayed an extra night in Naples (Hotel Ideal - £37/night and near where the airport bus drops) so we could see Naples and take the bus to Bomerano next day which goes from around the corner from the Ideal hotel (in front of the Ramada hotel) at 10.30 and 2.30 on the Saturday. The bus costs 3.6 euros each where a taxi costs 150 euros so even with the night in a hotel it was still so much cheaper! If you want to train for this holiday go to the nearest multi-storey building, take the elevator to the top and walk down the stairs for a couple of hours every day for a week!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The website makes this sound a lovely romantic trip but we found it quite stressful, hard on the legs (but not in an energetic way!) and not the most satisfying walking holiday! On a plus point, the weather was great, the hotel good, the food tasty/varied and the pre-dinner cocktails delicious. Bomerano itself is a nice quiet village for a coffee or ice-cream on the square. Our fellow self-guided travellers were good company. If you go on the group holiday you will avoid the buses but not the crowds!
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Hilary Jones

    Such a great holiday!

    This was our first guided group tour so were a little unsure of what to expect, but the minute we met Justin our guide any uncertainty melted away. He met us with a warm welcome we were at ease immediately. Justin made the tour for us, he was informative and knowledgeable, enthusiastic with endless patience and went out of his way to ensure that we all had the best possible experience. The accommodation was always interesting and varied in great locations, we loved every minute. This a great trip with a safari, whale watching (in season) caves, wine, mountains beaches and of course Cape Town. We were sorry when it ended!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me Hermanus, it was the whale festival and the atmosphere was amazing. We took a whale watching trip it was the most wonderful experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Justin was just brilliant, so helpful knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take less clothes!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A few members of our group had used Exodus on many occasions and I can see why, can't recommend them enough.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Russell Jones

    Great trip!

    A very enjoyable trip with lots to do and a full and varied itinerary. This was our fifth Exodus trip and once again we had a great group with a mix of ages and nationalities. Organisation was excellent and you'll get to see a lot of the Balkans.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Our stay in a Sarajevo and a tour of the "Tunnel of Hope" was both horrifying and uplifting at the same time. It was interesting to hear personal stories from our guide who lived through the brutal siege. I now understand much more about how and why this conflict started, the complex politics of the region and ongoing issues that still need to be resolved. Another highlight for me was a trip to a mountain village for a hike and locally prepared lunch. The views were magnificent and it was great to see how the locals lived.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alen Causevic was an excellent leader. Nothing was too much trouble and the whole trip ran very smoothly. He knew all the best restaurants and had plenty of suggestions for things to do in our free time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a fair bit of sitting in a coach and take car-sickness pills if you are that way inclined! Our first bus was a bit too small for a full group of 18 including driver and guide with luggage having to be squashed into the passenger space. It was very quiet and comfortable though, as one would expect from a Mercedes. The the mountain roads were pretty challenging and a larger vehicle would have struggled to negotiate some of the bends and oncoming traffic. Take some walking boots or trainers and a waterproof jacket.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Richard Cooper

    Cycling in Sardinia

    Cycling in Sardinia was a great way to experience the differing scenery, and this combined with time spent at a different beach nearly every day for a swim - with the satisfaction of knowing you hadn't taken the easy option to get there - made for a perfect holiday. Along with this we had warm weather and sun in September, good hotels, and some fantastic food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The meal on the final day where our group delivered not just a speech but song and poem to the guides, followed by other people in the same restaurant performing a perfect rendition of 'Volare'!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Giovanni and Simone had great knowledge of their homeland, and managed the holiday well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are quite a few hills of various sizes, two quite significant that go on for several miles each. If you are unsure about being able to keep up, then an eBike might be a good option to make your holiday more enjoyable.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Nigel Copestake

    Cycling Albania

    Didn't know what to expect, but it didn't disappoint. Really excellent tour guide. Fantastic scenery. One of those trips that just went smoothly, almost certainly due to the guides organisation. The cycling is described as moderate to challenging. At the time I would have said it was more challenging. However, upon reflection, I was pushing myself, which almost certainly made it feel more challenging. However, the last day of cycling was definitely challenging. It was also very rewarding and as with all of the Exodus trips I've been on, there's always the option of the bus, which for various reasons, some of our party took. The food was really good. Plenty of choice for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. There are plenty of mountain springs for water top-ups which was brilliant - tasted great! A fantastic trip which I won't forget with a guide who really did look after everyone!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I like the challenge of a hill climb, so I would have to say the last day, cycling up and over the pass.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was truly amazing and really did go the extra mile. As previously mentioned, a trip doesn't run that smoothly without a lot of planning. He was also without a doubt a group leader you would want in any unexpected situation that might occur!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The mountain spring water is fine to drink. You get a bit of a taste for it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Another tick for Exodus! Really excellent! I knew very little about Albania, which has now changed. A beautiful friendly country with fantastic scenery and food! Did I mention the spring water :)
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Anthony Turner

    Sun, sea and castles

    A really enjoyable week in Northern Cyprus which is a fascinating place to visit with a rich history and culture and beautiful mountain scenery. An ideal place to escape the cold weather back home!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed the five walks and the three mountain castles. For a major tourist destination, it was very peaceful up in the mountains with some amazing views. The optional trip to Famagusta is also highly recommended.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gizer was excellent and very knowledgeable about Northern Cyprus. A very experienced leader who seemed to know everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was very disappointed with my two flights with BA. Very poor value for money with a significant delay flying back and because it is classed as a short-haul route (despite the 4.5-5 hour flight time) there was no entertainment and you had to pay for food and drink. I would recommend shopping around for alternative options. Despite the advice in the trip note you also do not need to bring shoes to swim in. Our guide was not aware of any problems with sea urchins and the beaches visited are all sandy beaches with no sharp rocks.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An excellent mix of fairly easy walking (although even in October it was very warm) and fascinating archaeology. Highly recommended.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Gisela Aitken-Davies

    Exceeded high expectations!

    August is the rainy season, but the early morning starts meant that we fitted a lot in before the impressive downpours that sometimes happened later in the day. The range of wildlife we saw was astonishing; I'd picked this trip because of the visit to the Sloth Sanctuary, which was disappointing compared with the number of sloths that we saw in the wild. Our excellent guide was complemented by eagle eyed boat 'drivers' who also appeared to be keen and knowledgeable about wildlife and were ready and willing to nimbly propel the boats around to see something on the bank they had spotted: monkeys, lizards etc. The accommodation, in places, was not 5 star, but had its own charm and there is not that I would not happily revisit for one reason or another, even the very friendly one in Cahuita with its temperamental showers but very friendly owner.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It really is difficult to pick one out. After the second day, by which time we had seen sloths, turtles, golden orb spiders, howler monkeys, we wondered what could be left. There was plenty! The sheer variety of ecosystems, places we stayed and activities meant this was unforgettable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas' passion for and knowledge about his subject was infectious. He was excellent at pitching his information at an audience which included some very experienced bird watchers and some relative newcomers, and his knowledge of all Costa Rican wild life was extensive so our trips out were informative and interesting. Andreas was very safety aware and took this, and people's satisfaction with arrangements, into account. Going the extra mile probably sums him up, especially with those people who were delayed because of Hurricane Harvey.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take an umbrella and poncho (covers your backpack) especially if going in the rainy season.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'd like to thank Exodus in London for their help with sorting out accommodation and rearranging flights back to the the UK after our flights via Houston were cancelled.
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