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

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4726 Reviews

  • Reviewed April 2020

    Fantastic Trip covering large part of Nepal

    Can highly recommend this trip, it was absolutely amazing from start to finish. It provides a fantastic insight into Nepal and you will see a lot in a short space of time, it far exceed my expectations and is worth the money. It is fast paced but a good mix of city/history and cultural introduction of the country to start with in Kathmandu followed by the excellent walking, and finishing in Chitwan before going back to Kathmandu. I agree that Kathmandu was not the highlight and in my view could of easily been missed altogether, or only covered at the end of the trip for half a day, it was very polluted and dirty, the hotel was a good standard for Nepal but not amazing, but fine for a few nights and comfortable. Definitely would recommend flying straight into Pokhara when the airport is open to International carriers in the near future. I could easily have spent more time in Pokhara and Chitwan. The walking was amazing, you do need a good level of fitness there are one or two steep ascents, poles are a good item to bring with you in your kit bag, the porters carry your bags for you as you walk, my recommendation is to pack light for the walking! Lodges were very comfortable and the people very friendly food very god standard and plenty of it! Cold at night but good hot showers and nice bathrooms, I loved that you were delivered a hot water bottle every night. Food in the lodges was amazing and catered for everyone. The walking thought the unspoilt and at times completely isolated parts of the countryside will be something that will stay with me for a long time, that was truly unique and in complete contrast to Kathmandu. We saw hardly any tourists and saw farmers at work and people living in the countryside, it was peaceful and you truly could appreciate this amazing country. Pokhara was fantastic and is an amazing city, with a lot to do, I would definitely go back there. Chitwan Safari was truly unique and the hotel was absolutely outstanding and luxury. A few opportunities in Pokhara, Chitwan and Kathmandu to have massages to ease away the aches of the walking. Our guide Keshar was fantastic, extremely knowledgeable about Nepal, the flora, fauna and history, there was nothing he could of done to make our trip any better. Going in December meant we had very clear views of all the spectacular mountain ranges and I would definitely recommend this time of year, albeit it is cold in the evenings. Each trip I do with exodus just gets better and better!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walking thought the unspoilt and at times completely isolated parts of the countryside will be something that will stay with me for a long time, that was truly unique and in complete contrast to Kathmandu.
  • Reviewed April 2020

    6 Snow Leopards, two Oracles and a Woolly Rabbit!

    Ladakh is a beautiful region of Northern India. Add to that the friendly welcome and the variety of wildlife and culture and you have a destination that it would be hard to find fault with. This was my second visit and this time I was there to see Snow Leopards. Except, of course, they're so rare that the chances of spotting just one would be very low. And indeed spotting just one was impossible - I saw a total of 6 during the 10 days I was there, including relatively close sighting of a mating pair on our first day in the mountains, a mother and her two cubs and a solitary Snow Leopard rolling in the dust to hide its scent before hunting. Our group as a whole saw 12. This amazing tally was due largely to the experience, skill and dedication of the spotting team and our leader, Valerie, who between them took us to the right places at the right time and found the well camouflaged big cats where we may have only seen a buff coloured rock. And let's not forget the Blue Sheep, Lammageier Vultures, Bearded Griffon, Golden Eagles, Woolly Rabbits, Uriel Goats and Alpine Chough. This is a challenging trip - cold, altitude and remoteness all add to the adventure although its well within the abilities of anyone with the right kits and who has trudged the hills in the UK. But it's worth it for the experience of the incredible Himalayan landscapes, the unique culture and the amazing flora and fauna. If you have the chance, book the trip that coincides with the Stok Festival, a colourful and spectacular celebration of Tibetan Buddhism in the form of music and dance culminating in the appearance of the village oracles.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many inspirational 'stand out' moments for me. These are a few of my personal ones. Watching the mating behaviour of a pair of Snow Leopards; the Oracles in a trance at Stok; having a local ask me if he could take a photo of me and his little daughter; the 'Street Kids' walking tour of Old Delhi. I loved standing outside the tent at 6.30am, watching the mountains light up while drinking a cup of steaming hot black tea. The rush up to the viewing platform when one of the spotters shouted 'Snow Leopard'. One of our crew demonstrating the correct way to slide down a frozen river on a flat stone.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This is my second trek with Valerie and she proved to be every bit the excellent leader on this trip as she did on the previous one. Knowledgeable, understanding of individual and group needs, Valerie's decades of experience in the region enabled her to be flexible with arrangements and cope with the changes forced on us by the Covid-19 outbreak at the end of our trip. Evenings were spent listening to her tell us about the region, the wildlife and the people. The crew she had picked were excellent and dedicated to the roles they played. They were clearly very loyal to Valerie.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In general, come prepared for cold weather. The nature of this particular trip means you will be standing around searching for wildlife or viewing and taking photographs so the heat normally generated trekking will quickly go. I found I was wearing a thick down jacket most of the time simply because although the sun can be warm, there is usually a cold breeze in the valleys and much of the time is spent stationary. If you're out all day, as soon as the sun disappears below the mountains the temperature drops very quickly. I wore thick winter socks for the same reason. The terrain underfoot was, in general, no harder than UK hills and a 3 season boot would probably suffice. We didn't need crampons but 'yaktrax' or similar might be useful as we had to cross a couple of frozen rivers. The Exodus kit list is a good starting point; vary it according to your own preference for cold weather. Don't skimp on the sleeping bag as this is your refuge and a good night's sleep is important. You don't need lots of changes of clothing because you don't end up sweating a lot and everyone is in the same situation. Exodus provide top quality spotting scopes (Swarovski) but you might want to bring your own, which can help with spotting and will enable you to digiscope. The nature of our encounters with Snow Leopards meant that big lenses were necessary because of distance and digiscoping would be ideal in these circumstances. Some great photos were taken with scope and mobile phone. Our encounters lasted a while, so a tripod (or at least a monopod) would makes things easier on the arms. But don't forget camera kit to cope with the amazing landscapes, villages and festivals too. Be aware that there is close scrutiny on the internal flights - all our camera kit had to come out of the back packs and was checked by the security people at Dehli before boarding the internal flight.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Approach this trip with realistic expectations and you won't be disappointed.
  • Reviewed April 2020

    Excellent trip

    A very well balanced and well organised trip - a very good combination of a little time in Delhi, time at a festival and of course looking for snow leopards and other wildlife. We were incredibly lucky to see lots of snow leopards along with lynx, blue sheep, eagles and a mountain hare. Loved the festival too - lots of colour and a fascinating experience. The crew were efficient, knowledgeable and helpful - in fact, really couldn't have hoped for more. The hot water bottles at night were particularly appreciated! Quality of the hotel in Leh was great too. It was a shame we had to miss out on the homestay but coronavirus meant that we were asked not to do it by the local people (a very fair request). I found that where required Valerie was great at allowing flexibility during the trip and, all in all, I don't think it could have been better organised or executed. Just make sure you have lots and lots of very warm and appropriate clothing as it's really cold - and apparently it was warmer on our trip than it normally is!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the pair of snow leopards on the first day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Factor 50 sun cream and as many warm clothes as you can cram in your bag.
  • Reviewed April 2020

    Eye Opening Views and Great Weather

    On the interior of the island I sometimes I felt that I as walking through a set for a prehistoric film with towering spires of solidified lava, lush vegetation, and some plants that are pot plants in the UK growing wild to giant proportions. On the coastal walks it is mesmerising to watch and hear the waves battering against the base of the cliffs. Following the levadas along vertiginous rock faces and through caves, I marvelled at how they were created using only hand tools. The Madeirans are very friendly and the service in the hotels and restaurants is second to none. The drivers were always on time and I never felt rushed to be anywhere. The weather was exceptionally sunny for the time of year and we were able to swim in the sea very comfortably. The Christmas illuminations in Funchal were amazing. I have never seen so many anywhere else. For such a short flight from the UK I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone just to see this varied and stunning island.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were walking high up above the clouds and came round a corner to see cloud slowly filling a valley below us to the brim. We watched as the cloud reached the top and then slowly started to flow over a ridge down into the next valley like a slow-motion waterfall. Everyone went quiet and just watched. Later on we reached the ridge and walked across it through the flowing cloud.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Andre, arranged a birthday cake for me which was a really nice thing to do and typical of his caring attitude. Andre knows a great deal about the fauna and flora of the island and stops the walks at intervals to point out items of interest, and to explain something of their history and ecology. it is clear that he loves the island a great deal. He sometimes played his ukulele as he walked! Andre is funny and cheerful but could be quite direct. Most people liked this and but a few didn't. Personally I think that he was very patient, cheerful, and almost inexhaustible with what was a large group in sometimes dangerous situations. On a small note I would say that Andre perhaps needs to carry flyers or written information for trips that he mentions for our free day. He kindly booked whale watching for a group of us but we didn't have a contact number or location for the company (Andre pointed to the place on Google Maps on his phone whilst we were in a bar the day before). Never the less we found it and it was a great afternoon (albeit I left my sea-legs on shore that day).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Exodus does warn that this holiday is not for vertigo sufferers and with good reason because sometimes the paths can be very narrow with sheer drops to one side and a rock wall to the other, and occasionally you may have to very carefully pass walkers coming the other way. The paths are by no means like that all the time, and in fact some of them are wide and dressed with stone, but you can't avoid the narrow stretches. The holiday is graded as Moderate and I think that is fair but potential travellers should note that it is hard on your knees because of the very steep ascents and descents. Andre recommended walking poles to relieve the strain but I preferred not to use them because they can get caught in the cracks in the bare rock that formed some of the paths. A couple of people dropped out with sore knees but they still enjoyed themselves by visiting attractions and meeting us in the evenings.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Flights arranged by Exodus tend to be London centric but Madeira is accessible from many regional airports. One or two of group weren't aware of this and their journey times just to get to the London airport (Heathrow, I think) were longer than some of the flight times from the regional airports. On several mornings prior to our walk we were taken by Andre to the nearest supermarket to buy food for our lunch. This could take some time because the supermarkets were invariably very crowded even early in the morning. At a more remote location we were offered the alternative of a bag meal by the hotel. I think that should be an option at all the hotels because it would save a lot of time in the mornings. We were scheduled to be in Funchal for the final two evenings but ended up some way out of and above the town in a beautiful but expensive hotel (it used to be the British Embassy). If this happens to you, ask about hiring a taxi to go into Funchal for the evening especially if is Christmas or New Year.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Snow leopards found

    If you have ever dreamed of seeing the elusive snow leopard then this is the trip for you. Don't think about it just book it. Ladakh is an incredible region and you couldn't ask for a better guide than Valerie. Been there, done that and probably knows the location of every rock on the mountain. As for the area - if you saw nothing but the scenery you would get your moneysworth, however the team scour the countryside for wildlife - with lammegeiers and golden eagles regularly sighted overhead. As for the snow leopards themselves we had 12 sightings - an extraordinarily good year, some were very distant and only visible with the fantastic Swarovski scopes. However we were also lucky enough to get a mother and cubs sighting and a mating pair at distances under 600m - this isn't a petting zoo - which is clear enough for binoculars and long lens cameras. Photographers with a dslr need to thing 500m or bigger with tripods and teleconverters. It will not be Africa Serengetti encounters, but that makes them even more magical. Failing this kit the guides are adept at taking mobile shots through the spotting scopes - good enough for keepsakes and memories of an incredible trip. It is cold though and involves trekking on rocky trails - so heed the trip notes, get good warm boots and kit and enjoy your complimentary hot water bottle ( after a lovely filling meal) Icing on the cake is the Street Kids tour of Delhi and the inspieational stories of the work done by the charity. Can't thank Valerie and team enough and gladly go and do it all over again - if she can take the stress of getting my mountain of camera kit through customs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a mother and two cubs on the same day we saw a pair of snow leopards above camp. Everyone raced up the hill to the spotting scopes, forgetting the altitude. We were still chatting excitedly over our luck at evening meal, having watched them for 3 hours.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie is rightfully a legend - she knows everyone and even read us local tales from a book. She lives and breathes the region and that in turn feeds into the group and how good the trip turned out to be. She is also widely respected by the local people and staff, case in point one evening a ranger had his own client with an eye problem - first port of call was Valerie to see what she thought.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't scrimp on a warm sleeping bag, proper boots for the terrain and warm layers. This is not extreme terrain but you will enjoy life a lot more if you are comfortable. Take a small bag to leave in Delhi and another drybag of something to change into when you get bag to Leh. Likelihood is you will be wearing same clothes for daysin camp so just be warm.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Probably one of the best experiences I have done. I had thought I'd be lucky to see snow leopards once. To have 12 sightings, a lynx and then high tea in The Imperial just made the trip beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks to Valerie, the crew and my camera porter / assitant photographer Chosgun. Without whom the 600mm lens would have travelled up trails a lot slower.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Khopra Ridge / Annapurna

    Originally booked on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek, as the first trek of the new season this got changed due to danger of avalanches on the original route, so we were rescheduled to walk the Khopra Ridge. This proved an excellent alternative. Considering the time of year the weather was kind to us, all except the early morning trek up Poon Hill, not much to see in a snow storm, but that only added to the adventure. The walking was tough, the terrain unrelenting, the snow drifts in parts deep, but the views stunning. Reading the trip notes was invaluable to adjust our "western expectations" to local conditions. The accommodation although basic was just what was needed and very welcome at the end of a long days walk. It was a constant amazement considering where we were trekking, as to how well feed we were, the food was wholesome, well cooked and in large proportions. A real battle to burn it off the next day. As a small group, 5 clients and 5 staff we managed to crack on, to get the walks done easily within the expected times, this may not be so with a larger group. Being a smaller group we also had more room in the tea houses. The fact we all got on well and had a good group leader and support staff made this a very enjoyable trip. Really glad to have done this, and walked in the Himalayas at last. Would recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sat in tea house on Khopra Ridge, eating our evening meal, fire burning away, looking out above the cloud base as the sun set illuminating Annapurna South & Barah Shikhar, snow all around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ramhari Phuyal, consummate professional, with an obvious love of his country and job. Ably supported by the rest of the team, nothing was too much trouble to sort, always cheerful. Early morning wake-ups with tea and a laugh. Our luggage was always there waiting for us on arrival at our new destination, whatever the trail conditions. I think we were lucky to have done this trip with them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes. Make sure you are fit. I found the money guidance was very conservative and had some left at end of stay, get it changed before you hit the airport if needs be. At the time of year (Feb - Mar) its cold on the tops, some places provide a duvet, we had a competition as to who could have the most layers of clothing on and still get into their 4 season sleeping bags. For 3 nights on the tops we couldn't have a shower, but Wifi was available if weak, except in one location where non was available. Pokhara is lovely, Kathmandu I found not so, noisy, polluted, do as the locals do when crossing the roads, but take care.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Can recommend Exodus, their itineraries are good, well organised and like the options to fly from local airports when available.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A Fantastic Trek

    A great place for a challenging trek. The scenery was amazing and all the people of Nepal, that i met, were friendly and hospitable. The Himalayas really are great cathedrals of nature and were a pleasure to see as the group travelled through the Annapurna Circuit. Our tour leader, Tenzi Sherpa, and lead guide Kaji Sherpa were fantastic and professional at all times during the tour, providing support, words of encouragement and lots of cups of tea. They enhanced the trek with professional service at all times.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The crossing of Thorong La pass was amazing and an unforgettable experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A fantastic tour leader who was hard working and inspiring as we trekked around the Annapurna Circuit

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for amazing views of the mountains and friendly locals. Feb/March was cold in the evening and especially at night. A 4 season sleeping bag and liner is essential to a warm nights sleep. Although the menus in the tea houses is simple, the food was wholesome and great portions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trek exceeded my expectations because of the professionalism of the local team that supported us during the trek, the amazing scenery and the great camaraderie of the trekking group.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Amazing Morocco

    A great trip with a combination of the madness of Marrakech and the quiet of the High Atlas. This was my first visit to North Africa and I loved the clear blue sky, the winter sunshine and the fresh air in the mountains. It was a real contrast with the vibrant city of Marrakech- both the old part of the city and the Ville Nouveau. The trip was nicely paced with a combination of group activities and time to explore the city. The walking in the mountains was really enjoyable- with two easier days and then a challenging long day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the long trek on the last day in the mountains. It was a challenging walk, but in stunning scenery and with the reward of a hot lunch at 2,750m. Hearing the call to prayer echoing through the valley before getting out of bed. Having a laugh with the village women in the mosque ( may have been slightly nervous laughter on our part, but they were certainly having fun!!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mohammed was very knowledgable, respectful and good humoured. He looked after us really well, responding to our various requests for eggs, bananas etc and keeping us safe on the walks. All the local staff were polite and helpful too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We needed all types of clothes in February- the weather was lovely and warm in Marrakech, and when the sun was out in the mountains. However, it was cold at night and in the wind in the mountains. Walking poles were really useful over the rough ground. Bring snacks for the walks- no shop in the village and limited snacks available to buy in the riad. Bottled water is available but try not to use it as disposing of rubbish is a big issue in the mountain village.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes are very accurate in relation to the walks, so the long day is a long day with an 850m height gain over stony ground, and it needs to be done at a decent pace to be completed in daylight. It's not for everyone. The members of our group who decided not to go explored the valley, but perhaps better guidance for those who don't go would be better.
  • The Alternative Garden Route !

    This was the alternative Garden Route for those that do not just want to drive it but still experience all that it has to offer along the way (and more). The trip is full of varied walks ranging from a few hours to the two day Alexandria Trail, all of which have their own characteristics and interest. There was a full day safari plus other wildlife opportunities along the way. We saw dolphins, penguins, whales, seals in the sea and elephants, hyenas and water buffalo (to name a few) on land plus a myriad of beautiful birds and plants. For the more cultured there was time for some wine tasting (extra) and an opportunity to sea kayak (extra). After many days in the countryside and on the coast we made it to the buzz of Cape Town. Table Mountain and Robben Island (extra) were must do's. A different vibe here for sure and lots going on. Overall a fantastically varied trip and one that we will certainly never forget. Thanks to our local guide (Simon) and the team at Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Alexandria Trail - A "get away from it all" 2 day walk with overnight hut and the best stargazing ever seen Wildlife & Plants - So much to see De Hoop - Beautiful Nature Reserve and evening braai (BBQ) with a glorious sunset Robben Island - Listening to the guide who was actually incarcerated in the Prison there was moving and interesting Table Mountain - Climbing to the top and seeing those iconic views over Cape Town was amazing Accommodation - Vast range including one with a lovely colonial feel at Swellendam with great swimming pool !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Simon (Group Leader) and his wife Cathy (Driver and many other jobs !) were amazing hosts who made us feel welcome from the moment we landed to the time we left. They were professional, well organised, knowledgeable & went out of their way to make sure everyone had a great trip. Thanks. Much appreciated.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Alexandria Trail (the 2 day trek) - Although the weather was dry we used a 25 Litre rucsac for our clothes, wash stuff and food that we were asked to transport and hung our hired sleeping bag (which was quite large) on the outside (waterproof bag would be necessary if wet). Alternatively, the sleeping bag could be put in your rucsac but this would probably require a slightly larger rucsac unless you had your own sleeping bag that packs down very small. The hut itself was cosy and not at all as bad as you might think. Fantastic evening meal by candlelight and the stars to keep you company and if you are lucky maybe some dolphins out in the nearby sea. A lovely experience away from it all. Washing - Although not guaranteed, the Group managed to get some washing dropped off and collected same day at a very reasonable price in Plettenberg Bay. Useful after the previous few days walking. There was also a chance to do so in Cape Town but no-one took that up. Water Bottles - Take 2 large (750ml to 1 litre) bottles to regularly top up from the tank in the minibus
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Fresh air, sunshine, mountains - a heavenly February escape!

    Fantastic trip - wonderful walking and scenery - almond trees in blossom, spectacular geology, great company and camaraderie among the group, a very knowledgeable and attentive guide (Jose) who clearly loves his home region and wants to share it with others as well as being a competent and experienced mountain guide, a comfortable family-run hotel with a personal touch in a tranquil location, copious amounts of very good food... We were lucky in having perfect weather in February and it was a tonic to get away from stormy Britain.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The two ridge walks were my favourites, with the 360-degree panoramas across the mountain ranges.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jose is an excellent leader, very personable and kept us laughing and on our toes. He tended to every member of the group and was very aware of people's different needs. I found all he had to tell us about the local politics, history, culture etc. very interesting. He is very well organised and conscientious - I don't underestimate how much hard work his job is but he performs it all with charm. Finally, he clearly places safety and wellbeing front and centre.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have only done 'moderate' rated holidays before, don't be put off by the 'moderate to challenging' rating of this holiday. Yes, it is challenging at times, but if you are of reasonable fitness and hill-walking experience (read the trip notes on this!) then go for it - it's just a question of pushing yourself a little harder and it pays off in terms of the views and sense of accomplishment. Being a pessimist I couldn't quite believe that it would truly be warm in February and at the last minute ditched several t-shirts and my sunhat from my packing - if you go at this time of year, pack for all temperatures! We had 19 degree sunshine but it does get chilly in the evenings (I appreciated the evening fire in the restaurant). Most people on the free day chose to relax close to the hotel. I went to Altea and Villajoyosa on the coast and had an enjoyable day - transport between the two by tram/train is easy and we even swam in the sea. It was a good way to break up the week and see another side to the region.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Only that I would thoroughly recommend this trip. I didn't think that the Picos de Europa week could be beaten within Spain but I enjoyed this one equally - the peacefulness and remoteness of the location is really surprising given its easy proximity to Alicante and the rest of the coast. I would be interested in similar trips elsewhere in Spain - Cabo de Gata looks good, Exodus!