Turtle, Ecuador

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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 April 2017
    Sylvia Butler-Jones

    Brilliant

    I am a grandmother of 56 who went on this trip with my 7 year old grandson. It was brilliant, my grandson played in the snow all day when not on other activities. He build his own igloo, sledged and generally messed about in the snow. It is a really safe environment for children and he was never bored. Any optional excursions that he was a bit young for (snowmobiling) they catered for him by coming up with a safe alternative without us having to miss the activity i.e. The main man pulled a sledge behind his snowmobile which was safe for my grandson and also fun for him and this allowed me to take part in the snowmobiling (which was great).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The area is beautiful

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was lovely and so helpful

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a scarf, it does not say to but you will need one

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just that I would highly recommend this trip to people with families, especially with little boys of about 7
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Christopher Gale

    Excellent introductory week to winter activities for a family.

    Overall this is an excellent introductory week to winter activities in the beautiful frozen forests, lakes, and rivers of northern Finland.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Most of the activities.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Before: very good communication from Exodus. Queries answered promptly. I did need to prompt them to send my final joining instructions. Detailed trip information on their website, which gives an accurate idea of what to expect, though actual day to day programme is out of date and now in the wrong order (according to Basecamp Oulanka, Exodus has failed to update this for some time now). If you are nearer Manchester Airport (option not listed as standard; flies from terminal 2), it is worth knowing that this is a direct flight to Kuusamo, which gets you to the basecamp just after lunch on the Sunday (meaning an early start) and leaves 10.30 am at the end- whereas London flights were via Helsinki and got to the basecamp at around 10pm and they left 7.30 am- we ended up being charged no more for this (initially there was £75 extra for each taxi transfer). Also there was another adult Exodus group there at the same time. Night before: we booked a room in the nice Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel via Holiday Extras (large, comfortable room) with a lovely swimming pool; food expensive though; and left our car there. Taxi’s arrived on time for our departure (5-10 mins) and came quickly when called on our return (pick up at Departures in Airport). No issues with car on our return. Flight/ transfer: everything went very smoothly for us. Flight was a charter with Thomsons Airways (3hrs 20mins flight; nb- seats not bookable in advance, no actual tickets). Pick up taxi there waiting in arrivals- one family who had booked within previous week were not picked up at Kuusamo by the transfer as they should have been. Takes around 3/4 to 1hr. Basecamp Oulanka: warm welcome from Miriam, our leader for the week, who was excellent all week, very helpful and approachable, good with the kids. All staff were friendly/ helpful. Nice main block for meals and socialising- log fire and board games (only had time/ energy to play on our first night), and wi-fi (worked fast enough for me). Equipment store below, hot tub (temperature ok but quickly drops when in use- I enjoyed this every evening), and sauna/ changing room (sauna also ok for my 11 year old). We had use of plastic sledges for self-directed fun on the slopes around the basecamp on the day of our arrival. Accommodation: We stayed in a wooden chalet near the main building- terraces of 4-5 at same height and below (2 storeys on a slope). Comfortable, met all our needs. Temperature is adjustable. We were always warm, despite the nights being - 10 to -25; it was nice having warm floors. 2 beds downstairs and wooden steep steps to another bed upstairs with low ceiling/ internal balcony/ no window. Nice view of the frozen woodland outside to the frozen lake near/ below the basecamp. External balcony. Desk, enough cupboards for us, bathroom/ shower room. Some had a problem with their locks- ours was fine. Nb- no wi-fi in rooms (not a problem for us). Food: Lunches are not included for some reason, no viable alternative- they do also sell snacks and drinks- lunch was self-service pots of soup and bread (cost 11euros per person)- they assume you want it the first day if arriving around lunchtime- there is a list to tell them if not wanted. Tea/ coffee/ hot water out throughout the day in the main communal room- no extra cost for this. All breakfasts and dinner are included. 2 of us liked all the food; most dinners (usually 6pm) featured fish or elk; 1 of us doesn’t like fish (they will offer alternative/ vegetarian if you ask); breakfasts (usually 9 am) include a local version of porridge and cereals, bread, cheese/ meat/ jam/ honey, yougart. Equipment: they do provide everything you will need to stay warm and we found everything we needed in comfortable sizes (nb- we all needed much larger sizing than we have in UK; bring own thermal underwear, we used Helly hensen lifa ones which were very comfortable)- to keep with you, they give 2 baselayers top and bottom, waterproof layer on top, merino wool socks, boots (also you can borrow ski boots for the skiing), hat, 3 types of glove, small rucksack, headtorch (ok, not very bright), flask for juice or hot water (leave at reception the night before to refill). When the kids became damp, they were allowed to get dry extra ones. The only issue is that they need this all back the night before you leave- so if you want to go down to the lake to watch the northern lights on the last night or have final goes on the Kick sleds on your morning of leaving or one last look in your Quinzee, you will need your own warm clothing, waterproof layer, waterproof footwear, and torch. I suggest bringing waterproof walking socks as well and a Go-pro type camera/ harness. Day 1: meeting and Kick sleds- fun, use on the road coming into basecamp, kept on rack outside main building, varying heights (the larger ones even usable by myself at 6ft4)- can use throughout week after that, which we did every day at some point. Snowshoeing in the afternoon (2-3hrs; you get to keep snowshoes and walking/ skiing poles for the rest of the week after this and use for self-directed trips)- guided walk around the locality from the large frozen lake just below basecamp to the Old Mill (beautiful location). Suitable for all ages there- from 6 to 14 on our trip- though the smaller ones did become tired. We really enjoyed all of the included activities. We also enjoyed a self-directed wonderful winter wonderland woodland/ river walk on our free day (day 6)- around the Little Bear Trail- highly recommended, easy to follow/ marks on the trees, Basecamp gives an overview map and their are display boards around the trail and shelters/ firepits- took us 4-5hrs/ 7-8miles- frozen waterfall, rope bridges, one short very steep icy climb up to a viewpoint/ rocky bluffs and a series of frozen tarns. Day 2: Free morning. We went snowing shoeing on the local trails. Cross country skiing in the afternoon (2-3hrs)- on lake and through local woods to a short slope. After which you could borrow the ski’s and boots in your free time, which we did most days after. Optional: local woods nighttime story/ information hike (approx 2hrs- much colder, it was the one time that I felt I was at risk of getting cold- I had put 2 extra layers on (5 in total on my top), but really should have put more on). Day 3: Husky Sledding. 3/4hr drive away. Adult driving with 1 child sitting in front in warm blankets- I had 2 children with me, therefore the older child was driven by one of the guides. Lots of fun, my favourite activity, though too short (around 1 hr- you can pay extra for a full day on the free day- the kids decided they would get too cold sitting for so long). Kids loved petting husky’s after, which were well behaved/ friendly, after howling on our arrival. Day 4: Ruka Day. Transport included. Reindeer Farm in the morning- short Reindeer round a circuit track; feed the Reindeer in a pen; Sausage, biscuit, and hot drink in a shelter with central firepit while being told about life as Reindeer Herder; old house gift shop- this would probably have been better later in the afternoon. It meant we were too late in Ruka for the earlier free ski bus to our optional activity- Downhill ski lessons (we had been told lessons would be on the other side of the hill- 15mins away)- we had to get the equipment, then take the bus (we could have got this the other side if we were on time- nb it took 1/2- 3/4hr to get all our equipment sorted out)- not ideal wearing heavy ski boots and having ski’s/ poles with us and our children’s ones. It was too much of a rush and we therefore didn’t get as much time on the slopes to learn very much (around 1 3/4hrs), and didn’t get lunch. Kids and adults are in separate groups near each other- kids learnt faster than us adults did; they both really enjoyed it, probably my kids favourite activity of the week. Day 5: Free morning. More cross country skiing for us. Quinzee building in the afternoon (hallowed out frozen snow pile)- enjoyable team activity; looked great once done- there are lots on the lake from previous weeks. After dinner story on the ice. Day 6: Free day. Snowshoeing and skiing for us. Evening (5pm) outdoor dinner and walk to the old mill. Don't expect Northern Lights- our nights were mostly cloudy, only the last night had stars for long enough and we did get a short display of white pillars/ shapes (hardly any colours)- I had been down by the lake luckily to look at the stars anyway. You can tick a box to be woken if staff see them starting and there are apps which try to predict likelihood (didn't predict the one we did see). We could have easily done with another week there.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Tracy Mosley

    Family Finnish Winter Adventure

    Fantastic week in a wonderful setting. Accommodation is warm and comfortable, food is great, and the setting is just spectacular. Great mix of activity, and you can choose to do as much or little as you want, although it would be a shame to miss out... Great fun sledging, kick sledging, learning about huskies and reindeer and much more. I wish we could have spent longer there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The week is a wonderful mix - you get to try so many different things. Cross country skiiing across the frozen lake was a special memory, but so was the husky trip and everything else! We tried downhill skiiing on the free day in Ruka and all loved it - Miriam organised a lesson for the adults (one group) and the kids (a separate group). Everyone loved it, although the transfers to get there and back were stressful and could have been done differently.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miriam was great - helpful, well organised, fun and very friendly. All the kids (and adults) loved her. She showed us the basics of cross country skiing, snow shoeing, Quinzee building and much more.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    All the kit is supplied - clothing and equipment. Some of it is quite old, but the quality is fine and it does the job. Take a good base layer (thermal top and bottoms). We didn't think the beanie hats that were supplied were particularly good, so used our own, but everyone else seemed happy with them. We also used our own scarves. With enough layers you will be warm enough. Pack light - you will need very few things - just a change of clothes for the evenings. One pair of jeans, one pair of shoes and a couple of t-shirts/jumpers was fine for the week.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're based in the North ask about flights from Manchester - we flew direct, whereas everyone who flew from Heathrow had to change at Helsinki.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Lee Harris

    Finnish Winter Adventure

    This was a very special family holiday, which we hope to repeat. We had an amazing time together with our girls age 7 and 11. We loved the excitement of each day, learning new winter activities and enjoyed being in a beautiful and peaceful place. Our group leader, and our other staff were brilliant - friendly, fun, flexible and great with children. . At Basecamp Oulanka absolutely nothing was too much trouble. We had an amazing week making friends, learning new skills and we left with very happy memories!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Husky Dog Sledding was voted most inspirational by our family. Our 7 year old got really attached to one of the beautiful huskies called Hamara! It was wonderful morning, so very peaceful sledding through the forest. Our 11 year old daughter voted for downhill skiing in Ruka, which she had not done before. After just one lesson in Ruka, she was ready to go! Cross country skiing was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us, especially as it is so accessible from Basecamp. You just pop on the shoes, grab the skis and poles and off you go, across the lake or through the forest for a challenge! Last but not least, we thoroughly enjoyed the fun of snow-shoeing and did a little hike through the National Park on a free afternoon. It was incredibly serene.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hanna was an exceptional group leader. She is very genuine person, kind, friendly, fun, really great with the children. She was also extremely hardworking, taking care to meet the different requests of the group. She made the holiday very special indeed. We loved her interaction with the children and our girls especially loved the afternoon of Kids activities while parents were free to roam! Their favourite activity was the sledge train, which Hanna led! she introduced us to some great games, including Dobble!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We enjoyed going later in the season at Easter time. The weather was good - it varied between about -4 and +4 degrees C and it was light from the morning through till 8pm ish, which meant our days were longer and the children never complained of being cold. All the kit provided is perfect, in good condition and there really is no need to take your own! Do take sunglasses though, the sun is bright against the snow! Basecamp Oulanka is happily in the middle of nowhere, it is very unspoiled.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We enjoyed the use of the sauna and hot tub, which was well organised so the families use didn't clash with the other adult group. The accommodation was clean, warm and very comfortable, perfect for our family of 4. The food was consistently good and we were pleased that the staff were able to accommodate our dietary requirements. One evening even bringing our our own special version of the pudding! The final evening meal outdoors was absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere perfect for our final night there. This was a truly fantastic family holiday!
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Susan Head

    Finnish Winter Adventure

    An incredible trip, a real winter wonderland for adults & children alike!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Basecamp Oulanka in the sunshine, seeing the Northern Lights, being surrounded by magical trees on the slopes in Ruka or out on the sleds with the Huskies.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jukka our group leader was encouraging, informative, friendly & had a great sense of humour. He put us all at ease & had us attempting all the activities in a relaxed manner which meant we got the most out of everything we attempted!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't hesitate-book it! This is a trip for everyone of any age. If I went again I would take skis/snowboard as the nearby slopes at Ruka were quiet & scenic. The clothing provided at basecamp is of excellent quality & you really do not need to pack anything yourself.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We booked this trip in a family group; the youngest was 14 years old & the oldest 77. Everybody was able to participate in all the activities in the itinerary & even some of the optional extras on top!
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Fiona Murphy

    Fun, Fun, Fun in Finnish Wilderness!

    Arriving in Oulanka to a meal of Elk and quark We slept in cosy lodges, peaceful in the dark We snowshoed through the forest, skied across a lake And tired to build a quiincee - really quite a lark! The food was simply splendid, the huskie drive a treat, Attempts to scale the ice wall, really quite a feat Basecamp staff were brilliant, the wilderness sublime This trip is one I'd be very happy to repeat!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snow shoeing through magnificent snowy wilderness

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The clothing and equipment supplied is more than adequate no need to take any snow gear unless you have enormous feet!
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Amy Cooke

    Finnish Winter Adenture

    It was great fun and interesting and I had a fabulous time. My guide was really nice and fun and I liked all of the activities. The days were packed with just the right amount of activities to do, and also with some free time to do what you like; most of the free time I got I spent with my mum and my friends.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment on my trip was learning downhill skiing which I had never done before. It is now one of my favourite sports and I hope to do it again!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Annika was very nice and got involved with the group. She was really easy to get on with and made everyone laugh and have a good time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes don't over pack, its all provided!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Penny Dimond

    A wonderful winter family adventure

    An action packed snowy adventure enjoyed by mum, dad and 2 boys (11 and 8) in the stunning Finish countryside. This holiday gave us the opportunity to try shoe shoeing, cross country skiing, ice climbing, sledging, building snow homes, downhill skiing, exploring the countryside with huskies, learning about reindeer farming and sledging, in a wonderful environment with home cooked tasty food, new friends and a sauna and hot tub to relax in. Seeing the Northern Lights twice was a real bonus too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Driving the husky sleigh into the magical national park. We felt like we were in Narnia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tessa and the whole team at Basecamp were inspirational. Tessa was an excellent leader, passionate about conserving the environment she lives and works in and her enthusiasm, experience, clarity and humour helped create a really positive experience for the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take snacks or food if you don't want to have lunch or buy extra food at base camp - there isn't an easy local alternative. also - make sure you budget for optional activities - the cost of these can add up quite quickly, but when you are there you will want to do them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Relax and enjoy every moment
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Mike Collins

    Exceeded all expectations

    Surreal Scenery ... Snow encrusted trees, frozen waterfalls, wide vistas over lakes Amazing Activities ... Dog sledding between frozen statues made by trees, Riding a Snow mobile cross country at speed on deep snow, Vertical ice climbing, Building a quinzee on a frozen lake, Hiking at night and being photographed with the northern lights in the background Excellent Equipment .... Every type of kit appropriate to each activity provided, you will get used to wearing lots and lots of layers Stimulating Staff ... Henri and his team inspire and guide you through any concerns Fantastic Food ... Lots of soups and stews, exactly what you need, delicious!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenery brings out rare emotions ... Whilst standing alone in a clearing in the pine and birch forest on a bridge over an almost completely snow covered stream watching the water flow over ice crystals, the water making the only noise audible, the mind clears and emotions flow. By way of contrast the biggest impediment to getting up once you fell into the snow was ... uncontrollable laughter!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Henri was fantastic ... nothing was too much trouble, instructions and guidance was clear, with a very wry sense of humour. All the staff were great especially the cooks who produced such tasty food.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A buff or neck warmer will be very useful There is no tea/coffee facility in the room so bring you own if you like a cuppa before donning several layers to start the day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a very special holiday ... had a great time
  • Reviewed February 2014
    Anonymous

    FINNISH WINTER ADVENTURE - FAMILY HOLIDAY

    This was action packed but relaxing too.  It was a great mix of organised activities and independence.  We learnt some new skills and then had time to practice and explore.  Being active in the dark was a particular novelty with the help of head torches.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The setting of Oulanka National Park is breathtaking.  The landscape is monocrome - our bright coloured clothes the only colour in the black and while wilderness.  The sound of the husky dogs barking - so eager to be off is unforgettable.  Then whooosh we were off - very fast.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The staff were relaxed and friendly.  They couldn't do enough for us.  We really appreciated how relaxed they were about us changing our equipment for dry or additional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You lucky things.  Don't worry about warm clothes - just base layers for adults will be all you need as everything is provided.  Although I was pleased to have brought my welly bobs for walking between our room and the dining hall.  I bought the blueberry syrup from reception and it is delicous and a lovely souvenir.  Don't be too disappointed if you don't see the Northern lights - we were pleased not to have such cold weather which usually comes with clear skies.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food is great and plenty of games provided in the dining hall although good to bring some of your own too.
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