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

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74 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020
    Audrey Morgan

    Gorillas and Masai Mara

    Saw the most incredible wildlife, expert and professional team in Gilbert, Albert, Stoney and James and a wonderful road trip across E. Africa.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention but the Gorillas next to us was special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was professional, fun, accommodating and a joy to travel with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it. The best trip yet!
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Graham Wright

    The trip that just keeps on giving.

    Whereas nothing can be guaranteed this trip was one that just kept on giving. It surpassed all expectations and we were extremely fortunate to see and experience all that we did. Wildlife in abundance exhibiting some distinctive behaviour . The big 5 was seen in the first two days and with the animals being used to seeing traffic in the game reserves and National Parks they were almost within 'touching' distance from the truck. I have lost count of the many species of animals and birds seen throughout the journey. Equally spectacular was the scenery in the three very different countries visited. All the game lodges used enhanced the experience with buffalo even grazing outside (security procedures in place), Wild Waters set on an island in the middle of the Nile offered luxury not expected but was well received and was in the right place at the right time for our day of optional activities. The chance to meet and take part in local communities along with the extremely knowledgeable leader and driver all added to the 'adventure' of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many. A stand off with a rhino just yards from the truck. A similar approach from a bull elephant. A family of 4 cheetahs walking past the truck, lions asleep, hyenas at home in the mud by the track, a leopard resting within a tree posing for the photoshoot, visit to a Masai village and the work being done by Helen in trying to confront and re-educate a patriarchal society, a surreal experience of a hot air balloon safari followed by a cooked breakfast around tables on the Mara served with an abundance of Prosecco and herds of Zebras in the background. White water rafting down the Nile- an experience not to miss (even at my age). The spectacular Murchison falls, being charged by a hippo whilst cruising on the Nile. Don't forget the chimpanzees, the walk was easy and they made an appearance for us. I suppose the most inspirational moment was for our entire group to be in the middle of a family of 8 mountain gorillas with the babies playing at our feet, mother breast feeding just a few feet away and the giant alpha male less than 10 feet away demonstrating all the behaviour seen on documentaries. A truly special time and we were so privileged to be accepted into their environment. Last but not least, a sobering visit to the Genocide museum in Kigali, one should not avoid hearing about the history because one is on holiday, it helps to understand and see how far they have come.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was an extremely lively, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate person who was always keen to impart his knowledge about the countries, culture and wildlife visited. He was readily available to deal with any questions or issues that arose. He was keen to support and use local resources whenever and wherever available. At the same time he was able to protect himself from unnecessary demands of his time. It was noted that he was constantly trying to meet the needs of the group when changes were inevitable. His partnership with Stoney, our driver, was a perfect combination as they both sought to make the adventure as perfect as possible. Perhaps because he tried to keep everybody happy, he needs to realise that in all group situations, not everyone can be as reasonable or respectful or polite as they should be. That is the nature of people and groups- it is not a reflection of him and his abilities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware of early starts, long drives along some 'bumpy' roads. Expect the Gorilla trek to be more challenging. Read the trip notes carefully and you will not be surprised. It is a group experience, be prepared to be respectful to the other members of the group. The more you share with the group, the more you will get out of the adventure. Acknowledge that some areas you will be going to are a very different cultural experience to what we are used to
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Paul Daly

    An African Adventure

    Long travel days, early mornings, tough tracking terrain, beautiful scenery, very changable weather, history lessons, amazing animal sightings, upset tummies, Masai and Batwa villages, hot and cold showers, trucks in ditches, border crossings, picnic lunches, and sooooooo much more

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many memorable moments from the Rwandan Genocide Memorial which was heartbreaking, the silent power of the Gorilla family we tracked, seeing a leopard ( 3 actually ), black and white rhino, jumping and spear throwing with the Masai, speaking with Helen who rescues young girls from FGM.....

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was an excellent all rounder with vast local, national and historical knowledge. All information was given clearly and our nightly meetings to tell of the plans for the following day often ended in stories about previous trips, historical figures and African culture. The other members of the team were super too. The driver, Stony, was unreal and Albert and James, the chefs, made sure nobody went hungry. If you are lucky enough to have this team looking after your group, you'll have a fantastic trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Please, please, please, don't underestimate the level of difficulty involved in the Gorilla trek. The trip notes do not adequately reflect the gradient of the slopes, the neccessity of a porter, or the toughness of the terrain. Having said that, its an amazing day and a once in a lifetime experience. I'd absolutely recommend doing the reverse trip. Get the gorilla trek done in the first few days and then you can enjoy the wonders of Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara in comfort.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go!! Don't overthink it and just go. It is a great trip with so many different things to see and do. One thing to avoid however is the optional trip to the source of the White Nile. A huge disappointment for the money that was paid. Be prepared for medical problems like reactions to malaria pills, upset tummies, sunburn, and frankly, a roll of toilet paper in your bag could very well be your best friend.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Stuart Robinson

    A very good holiday

    A very good but exhausting holiday with long truck journeys, heavy rain, early wet mornings but with magnificent sightings of all of East Africa's animals. The crew were exceptional with each member doing their job diligently and were a great help to us travellers. The following day's program were clearly explained each evening with questions asked and answered. Although I had no regrets about going on this holiday, I was just grateful that I did the reverse journey as I'm not sure that I would appreciate a six hour trek to see the gorillas at the end of the holiday - at 67, I'm not sure that I would have made it. Overall, I'm glad that I went.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The sightings of the gorillas - I could literary touch one - and we were privileged to see three leopards in Uganda and Kenya.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was an excellent group leader, giving clear instructions to the group each evening and providing a talk on many relevant subjects displaying a deep knowledge of local current affairs, African culture and history. He always had time to answer any queries and resolve any problems that occurred.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The gorilla trek could be a problem for travellers who have fitness problems. The first trek took six hours up and down hills in hot weather. I booked a second gorilla trek which only took two to three hours as the animals were located near one of the gorilla centres - however, this was just as arduous due to the steep terrain, the thick vegetation and the slippery, muddy conditions. But, for me, it was worth it.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Simon Knight

    Amazing wildlife viewings

    Amazing overall itinerary. Saw the big 5 in the Masai Mara in the first two days including iconic wildebeest migration crossing the Mara River. Followed by chimp trekking and gorilla trekking in Uganda which were amazing. The gorilla trekking in particular was superbly organised. Some long travel days but absolutely necessary to get between National Parks. Good safari truck and amazing food all cooked from local produce.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Silverback gorilla so close

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was excellent. The other three members of the crew, Stoney, Albert and James, were also excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a light weight inflatable mattress if you need that little extra padding, we took an adjustable walking pole each for the gorilla trekking and found them very useful although even more so was the porter who guided you over the worst bits of the mud and held you up when you started slipping. Go with an open mind about early morning starts and long journey times as they are all necessary and the holiday was unforgettable.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Taryn Cooper

    Incredible wildlife experience

    Be prepared for a number of long overland journeys (you will become very familiar with the truck), but the Exodus team made it as smooth and enjoyable as possible and the wildlife experiences we had made it all so so worth it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was fully expecting to be blown away by the Gorillas (and they did not disappoint !) but as someone who has done safari before, I was not expecting the spectacular sightings that we had at the Masai Mara! We had a mind blowing first few days! So many big cats in such close proximity - including the ever elusive leopard ! 😍 We also saw wildebeest crossing and a kill which was bittersweet. Seeing the chimps in their natural habitat carrying on their business was also awe inspiring . When they start calling to each other and drumming the trees, it’s really quite intimidating but in the best possible way.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was our Group leader and I thought he was fantastic! As well as being incredibly witty and good humoured throughout the trip, Gilbert was always explaining local culture, history, knowledge of the wildlife etc. I always felt very well informed and in safe hands! A very knowledgeable guy! Incredibly patient with a big group of big personalities! He and the broader team had a great bond and worked so well together!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The only consideration I would raise with potential travellers is around the camping. For me, I’m not a regular camper and so was a little out of my comfort zone at times. In saying that, whilst not all camps had hot water all the time, all of the campsites were lovely and indeed, I think my favourite nights were in the wild / unfenced camps. Truly an experience! I don’t at all regret the camping option as it was great fun but I did very much take advantage of the upgrade options, which were a nice break for a city girl at times (but i still felt part of the group and experience). I also thought upgrade prices were generally reasonable. Tents were clean and the team were very efficient with taking them up and down, but for a single traveller, I’d consider single supplement next time just due to personal space. In saying that, a number of single travellers and couples alike stayed in dual occupancy tents for the whole trip and loved it, so just personal choice. It’s nice to have the option of both though .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Beyond the above, I would like to commend the whole Exodus ground team (Gilbert, “Stoney”, Albert and James). They work so hard and so well together and were a pleasure to be around. Food is incredible and you will not go hungry! 😉 I always had seconds (and sometimes thirds!). There are some very long drives but there’s no other way of covering the distance otherwise. Well worth it overall though and I think the itinerary was well balanced. Can see how it’s been refined over time!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Sanjukta Dey

    Why Gorilla and Masai Mara Reverse Camping is Better.

    This is a trip that's worth every single buck. I'll list the pros and cons though. Pros: Gorilla tracking is physically demanding. So is waking up very early every morning, travelling long distances and camping. Wildlife in Masai Mara is fantastic, no other national parks measure up to it in terms of sightings during this trip. When at the beginning of the trip energy level is high, better to do the gorilla tracking etc. Then in the end of the trip be rewarded by extraordinary wildlife viewing in Masai Mara. The crew was really great (except one) but Albert (chef) requires special mention because he was funny, kind and fed us amazing food. Stoney (driver) was very helpful and was always helpful with information. Cons: In some camping sites there is no Wi-Fi or internet, if we were informed before could tell our family not to worry if they didn't hear from us on certain dates. The truck was too old and dusty, some of the windows were difficult to open and close. We even had a breakdown close to Lake Bunyoni and that was only the beginning of the trip! Although Gilbert arranged alternative for reaching the campsite soon. On the days of long drive, why we stopped for lunch (sandwiches) which required preps and thus wasted time is beyond my understanding. There were days when we were given packed lunches (when went on game drives). Why couldn't the same be done which would have saved time and effort of the crew? Especially as bread in Uganda was horrible. The water pump was the most inconvenient thing ever! After a certain level it required one hand to hold the bottle, one to hold the neck of the pump and another to actually pump water! I've only two and one of crew member who was basically Man Friday, got annoyed because I was asking for help. He also tried to sell me wildlife photos (I'm a photojournalist and was travelling with pro cameras) but I didn't encourage him.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Of course the highlight was watching the gorillas up close. However that wasn't all for me. Watching all wildlife in their habitat is a joyful experience. Visiting new countries, learning about their culture, cruising near Murchison Falls and Lake Victoria, hot air balloon in Masai Mara. All unforgettable experiences!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert our group leader was very knowledgeable and proud of his culture, which was wonderful. He tried to solve any issue intelligently and swiftly. If it was possible, he tried his level best to get it done.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Those who an to buy additional gorilla permit must know that both happens in two different areas of the Virunga Massif. One in Bwindi and another in Mhinga (sorry about the spelling). The second one has more slope and physically exhausting. Bwindi has heavier growth and thus clear sighting maybe a problem. Unless very sure about being able to handle the climbs and physical exhaustion on two consecutive days, pause before buying the second permit. If someone plans to buy tea, try some in Uganda (my parents are loving it) but Kenyan coffee is better. Locals sell souvenirs in some places (but not outside Masai Mara), they are much cheaper than the souvenir shop they stop in. They sell some of the same stuff at double the price. DO NOT forget insect repellent, they will feast on you no matter what! I forgot my anti malaria pills, so Gilbert took me to a pharmacy in Uganda, where bought weekly tablet pack.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I had to do this trip again, would still choose the reverse camping. Although now that Exodus Travels don't do gorilla tracking in Rwanda, it didn't make much sense to me. Perhaps they will replan the itinerary in future?
  • A great adventure

    This trip is great for adventure, photography and wildlife. Be prepared for long bumpy journeys on the truck but driving through the towns and villages is interesting to.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting so close to mountain gorillas was an unforgettable experience. We were very lucky with all the wildlife we say. The hot air balloon safari was amazing to, watching the sunrise and seeing so much wildlife.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour guide (Gilbert) was very passionate knowledgeable and about the history and wildlife. He was also very helpful with any problems that came up like sorting out get peoples luggage back to them after the airlines lost them. He was always smiling and laughing with us all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On the truck there are two uk plug sockets by each set of seats so don't worry about charging things. I'd highly recommend doing the hot air balloon safari, you will not regret it. Also there optional upgrades at some of the campsites. At Lake Bunyonyi campsite I upgraded to a tent with a bed and a balcony with views overlooking the river at a very reasonable price. I definitely recommend this.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The other people in are crew were great to. Our chef (Albert) made us delicious meals and made us laugh so much. Our driver (stone cold) was a really good driver and kept us safe on the roads, it must be an exhausting job but he was always happy. Charlie was helping out with everything, always smiling and great company.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Jim Best

    Oh My Freaking God I Want to Move to Africa.

    I have been fortunate to travel a lot. These countries were my 51st, 52nd and 53rd but this was the best time of my life. This was my 7th small group trip. I have never felt more grateful in my life—and it is all owed to this wonderful staff, Gilbert (our guide), Stoney (our driver), Albert (our cook) and Charles (his helper). I moderately injured my low back while rafting in Jinja and was very worried that if it worsened (from camping or the bumpy dirt roads) I would not be able to do the Chimp or Gorilla treks. The staff did everything in their power to help me through this and I’m very thankful for that; the injury never worsened and I was able to do everything that the agenda entailed. The safari portion of our trip was extraordinary, particularly in the Mara and Lake Nakuru. The boat safari in Murchison was also amazing as we saw everything in such a different ecosystem. The highlights: five lionesses in a tree, two leopards, a monster of a crocodile, a wildebeest stampede, a hippo and a family of warthogs at our campsite in Murchison, hordes of playful baby baboons, a pack of zebras hilariously chasing an territory-invading jackal and virtually every other large African mammal except the cheetah. A few other animal experiences to mention: —There are 1,388 species of birds in East Africa. I’m not a birder or anything but I was constantly in awe of the gorgeous, highly varied plumage patterns of these majestic creatures. —The chimps in the Budongo Forest were outrageous. We hoped to just see a few eating in the treetops. We saw that and about twenty minutes into our viewing session a highly-orchestrated colobus monkey hunt began with screeching, screaming and yelling. Chimps rapidly descended all around us, ran across the forest floor and ascended other trees nearby. The rangers claimed they killed three colobus. While we collectively only had one picture of a chimp eating his prey, it was an exhilarating, albeit terrifying and somewhat sad, experience. —I figured the chimps had stolen the show. But the gorillas responded. Extraordinary experience...we had no clue how close they were going to get. They say it’s a seven meter distance that we need to maintain, but not if the gorillas decide they want to play with you... One of the gorillas (an impish three year old boy) sprinted to me, stuck his head between my knees and patted the sides of my thighs in rapid succession. He then just lied there. No one got any of it on film because the silverback, Bweza, was waking right towards me as his son was pulling this stunt and everyone had to shuffle away quickly... Bweza was no more than two meters away from me before we could all pull back. It was terrifying but that early lesson taught us that these gorillas are extremely habituated and thus, totally harmless; I suspect Bweza was simply wanting to keep his playful toddler in check. Later on during the viewing hour, the same three yr old pirouetted three or four times right at our feet. It was adorable. That was followed by several minutes of wrestling with his same-aged cousin. One of the great memories of my life. Most importantly, our crew made the trip. Gilbert, our leader, was outstanding. Solid knowledge of the animals. He has degrees in tourism and social anthropology and it really shows. He not only has a good understanding of the countries we visited but the continent and the world as a whole. His education led to a bunch of really interesting conversations that I enjoyed. Very well organized, kind and funny as well. A great trip leader. Albert was our chef and did a damn good job prepping tasty meals for us. Most importantly though, he was ALWAYS in a good mood and lifted the spirits of our group constantly. I’ll never forget the guy. Stoney, our driver, was a great great guy. Sincere, kind and very hard working. He navigated some tough roads and kept us on time. I had several great conversations with him about all kinds of topics ... mostly his family, his childhood and Kenya’s hopes for the future. Another guy with a big heart I’ll never forget. Lastly, Charles, the helper, was just a damn hard worker. For a first timer, he really seemed to contribute a lot. Always dived in when he was needed. Again, what a great trip. I’m elated that I was able to do this with such a wonderful group of people. Thanks Exodus!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I should also mention that the people in Kenya and Uganda were wonderful. I’ve never seen so much road-side waving in my travels. It’s nice to feel wanted as a tourist and everyone we met along the way was very welcoming.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The best I've ever had.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a small lock for the lockers. A large lock won't fit in the hole provided.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Phill Dixon

    If I could do it again I wouldn't hesitate

    If you could gurantee the same team, group and even half the wildlife encounters I'd book it up tomorrow. We were very lucky with both the wildlife and to have such an enthusiastic and fun group of guides and guests - which made the trip all the better. The locations are stunning - in two days in the Masai Mara we saw the big 5 and had an epic balloon ride at sunrise. Then we were off to Lake Nakuru and the rhinos and flamingos took centre stage, with the smiles getting wider as the wildlife encounters got better. Sleeping within 300m of a waterfall in Nakuru was a highlight and despite being the most basic, was my favourite campsite - hearing lions and hyeenas calling in the night while sat around a campfire checking out all the stars. At Jinja even novice rafters got to experience the thrill of white water and again the provided photos and videos had us all laughing and reliving the day. The Adrift campsite was also brand new and had great facilities. So the experiences built, Murchison has impressive waterfalls and the boat trip was a good way to get out of the heat of the day. Gorilla tracking in Budongo again had us being lucky, being in the middle of chimps hunting, a once in a lifetime opportunity and not something to be expected, but if you get to experience time with the enigmatic chimps you cannot be disappointed. Queen Elizabeth has less diversity of wildlife but still provided lots of Elephants and on the river you see birds and elephants everywhere. Lastly the gorillas - I did two treks and they were both different but magical experiences. The first involved a long trek but we were surrounded by a group and followed them, experiencing interactions with several different family members. This would be a tough trek if you are not physically fit and used to walking up hills. The second trek involved spending an unforgettable hour with Xmas, the largest silverback in Bwindi and his 1 and 2 year old babies. We could not see other members of the family and the trek was shorter and easier, but a very close and magical encounter - when a baby gorilla looks at you from less than 7m you get a sense of how special and priveledged your time with them is. You are also given certificates to help remember your time with these beautiful animals The trip to the genocide museum was a very poignant reminder of what Rwanda has been through as well. Some facts - the trip involves a lot of early starts and quite a bit of travelling. Your reward is the trip of a lifetime. The truck is large and spacious but keep things in the lockers or that room fills up quickly. You will need to be able to walk up steep hills for the gorillas, but the team takes things slowly and chooses the best path for the group. Campsites often had showers, toilets and a bar so have some dollars for these. A lot of Ugandan service stations and almost all of Rwanda wanted local currency. Some things to note - the Rwandan border was the most difficult to cross, with a problem getting our taxi across taking 2hrs but providing a great side adventure - a sense of humour about delays and acknowledging that you may be asked seeminglystupid questions is par for the course. Get some snacks and drinks before crossing as there is nothing on the Rwandan security zone. The Exodus team were fantastic throughout, working hard to fix any problems ( airline lost bags), keep our trip moving smoothly and provide fun and share jokes over Albert's fantastic cooking ( his cooking may expand your waistline). Gilbert was the charismatic tour leader with lots of local stories and knowledge, Stoney the unflappable driver who always made time to help, Albert the fantastic chef with all the catchphrases and a personality larger than life, and Charles the youngest and ever smiling and helpful team member eager to greet and hear of our days adventures. A good team feels like family not a crew, these guys felt like family and helped knit the group together. I feel exceptionally lucky to have been on this trip, I've travelled a lot and this will remain a trip to remember. If I could do the same or similar trip with the group and crew I would book it tomorrow, if you promised me half the wildlife too I'd still jump at the chance. Thanks Exodus for another epic adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spending time with the gorillas and seeing the look on everyone's faces as they encounter these incredible animals up close.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was really good at bringing people together and engaging the group. He was also active in securing us better times for chimp trekking and minimising time on the truck / getting good plots on campsites. A lot of what he was doing behind the scenes in planning / logistics was while people slept on the truck so he could chat and sing songs when we were all awake. He also had excellent wildlife and historical knowledge and was happy to share The only problem we encountered was on the day the team weren't there at the Rwandan border - and over the phone he was working on a solution to get us moving

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a folder for certificates they give for gorilla trekking Have a sheet or blanket to sit on in the truck as the vinyl seats can get hot in the sun ( thanks Vio) Have some small Ugandan and Rwandan currency so you can buy things at service stations if they don't accept cards or dollars ( Rwanda the bars all wanted local currency). Pack some extra clothes in your daysack when flying - airlines lose bags so have at least a change of clothes to last you a day or two. Go to Carnivores in Nairobi it is a great meal and intro for the group. Don't expect glamping but this is comfortable camping and you get to hear lions calling.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If the team running this trip do any other Africa trips I'd gladly go on them