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 April 2017
    Victoria Carmichael

    trekking in Cuba

    This tour allows you to see areas of Cuba where there are not heaps of tourists. Most of the local guides were enthusiastic and knowledgable about the flora and fauna which was great.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking in the Sierra Maestra mountains and seeing where the revolutionaries stayed. Swimming in the pools under the waterfalls.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Carlos was excellent and a seasoned tour leader. He took excellent care of us. I was not impressed though that he was not provided with proper footwear or a backpack for a 15 day hiking trek.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take tabasco sauce

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was not totally impressed with this tour. The place where we "camped" was poorly set up, improper/ lack of tents, not great facilities for camping. I didn't get a tent and ended up sleeping in the dining area that was covered with chicken poo. Due to a change in schedule we switched 2 hikes, doing the longer hike on the day we had a long drive. The hike was a bit dangerous as it rained and the trails were very slippery and took way longer than what was anticipated. Having done another tour and had really tasty good food, I would recommend Exodus to find alternate restaurants wherever possible. The food component of this tour was not so great. The casa particulare I shared in Trinidad was pretty bad, it was on a very noisy street where vehicles frequent. I could barely talk to my breakfast companion due to the noise. There was one day with a very long drive. It would be best to have broken this day up, not so much time in the bus and also a long day for the driver.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Noreen Kitchner

    So interesting.....

    I tend to choose my long haul trekking holidays for the cultural experience as much as the walking. Cuba certainly delivered. It challenged pre-conceptions at every turn whilst being totally delightful. Music, food, architecture and people are a joy. Politics and history are fascinating.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to select one: realising in Trinidad that fantastic architecture was not confined to La Habana; eating lobster and the most delicious prawns ever; the music.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was great - fun and good-humoured, very well organised. He managed the group well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Never assume. We were proven wrong all the time - it never occurred to us, for example, that our quite sophisticated hotel would not have an international telephone line. Check with your provider in advance if you wish to use your mobile - I had no problem with texts or phone calls or using my data to access internet, but lots of people did. Likewise with banking - cash is easiest.In some ways Cuba is very modern and people are certainly very well educated, but it is still part of the developing world. The temperature was mid to high 20s during the day, but humid - which made the uphill walking tiring and sweaty!! Evenings in restaurants got quite cool sometimes. We were very pleased that we stayed an extra 2 nights in La Habana when the trip was over. We took a taxi to a lovely local beach as well as taking in more music and sights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Cuba is in transition and not to be missed and this is a very well-organised trip that gets you around the country and balances walking with culture.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Joan Maher

    Trekking highlights of Cuba

    Good holiday for anyone wanting to see lots of different areas of Cuba. Quite a lot of internal travelling involved but worth it to see so much of the country. Combines mountains with small towns, rural life with city. Worth staying a few extra days in La Habanna at the end of trip and making it out to the beach independently. Despite rumours to the contrary, the food is great. Sierra Maestra is the best trekking but this is not really a trekking holiday. Most of the walks are short enough - if tiring due to the humidity and occasional steep ascent. Glad to report no major insect bite issues - sufferers like me will always need the antihistamines handy, but needed just for occassional bites rather than mass attacks on this holiday. Take the advice on bringing cash - my card was declined even when I found an atm. And best to relax into the culture - queueing is a way of life and food on offer is whatever's available not what's written on the menu. Prepare to be managed - independent forays off to the side are possible but require a relaxed mindset - just as well you're on holiday and not in a hurry.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were welcomed into a mountain home in Sierra Maestra where the lovely woman of the house ground her own coffee beans and brewed us a pot while chatting happily. From our point of view she owned next to nothing yet I have never felt so welcome in a stranger's house.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Energetic. Hard working. Full of local knowledge. Put in extra effort for everyone. Could have relaxed a bit rather than rushing off to next venue after evening meal.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare to be managed. The tourist industry is not quite ready for independent travellers and forays off route can be a challenge. Bring cash not cards. Don't expect internet or access to your mobile network.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Cuba is so different from anywhere else it's kind of a 'must see'. Great trip.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Rachel Gamester

    Trekking Cuba

    Great accommodation in the Casas. Comfortable transport. Well planned itinerary, but far too rushed in some places. The hikes were definitely in the top end of 'moderate'. The bunkhouses were a great rural experience. Food can be limited, but I am vegan and had no problem. Do not be pushed into the "set menu" all the time though, its not necessary and is much cheaper off the menu instead.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The rest of the group! Their fitness levels inspired me,!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ray was definitely a people person, friendly and fun, his experience of the tour, hotels and local information was clear.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do some training before you go! If you want an indepth tour of the country and revolution history, this isnt the tour for you.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Roy Gambie

    Trekking highlights of Cuba

    A comprehensive trip around Cuba with very challenging walking due to the very humid conditions. Full of different experiences, flavours, history and lively music.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the peak of Pico Turquino Bicotaxi ride around Camaquey.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ray was an excellent leader, very keen to safeguard the group. He had an excellent knowledge of the country, its education, people, topography and was honest about Cuba's economical and financial problems. He was fun to be with and very anxious that we all had a very good holiday. Unfortunately, owing to back problems, he was unable to join us on the Sierra Maestra trail and ascent of Pico Turquino---a major problem.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware of the humidity and extremely difficult walking conditions. An increase in height could be nearly trebled with the very steep undulations.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The bunkhouse at Camp Joaquin was appalling. There had been double booking and there were only 11 bunks for 16 of us, the toilets were disfunctional and more importantly, the porters did not arrive with our dry clothes and sleeping bags until it was dark. This meant that we were shivering in wet clothes for a couple of hours with no hot drinks or food. Only 1 snack was provided on the ascent and no food on arrival, until 7.30pm. We were accompanied by 1 very inexperienced Exodus rep who was on his first trip and by a local guide. No advice or information was given about the walk and on the return from Pico Turquino and onwards to Camp Platica, the group spread and there was no supervision whatsoever, the guides following much later. Many times each small group thought that they were lost but no amount of shouting brought anyone to their aid. Thankfully the last group eventually arrived at the camp just before dark. We were only provided with 1 litre of water per person to last for 18 km--nowhere near enough. Any extra had to be bought. The arrangements for this part of the trip were extremely disappointing and disastrous if an injury had occurred.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Catherine Macmichael

    Trekking in Cuba

    Another excellent trekking holiday from Exodus. This trip offers the chance to see a lot of Cuba travelling from one side of the island to the other side and the opportunity to enjoy trekking as well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to pick just one - getting to the top of Pico Torquino, swimming in the Caribbean Sea and under the waterfall, drinking pina colada cocktails, salsa lesson, staying in the Casas, seeing Cuba which is like being transported back in time, the classic cars and of course the trekking. Trinidad and Havana being the highlights of my trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was professional and an excellent group leader. He filled some long bus journeys telling us lots of information about Cuba its history, politics, culture and geography. How Tony remembers all the facts, figures and dates I don't know but he was a source of information. Very patient with all our questions! Good sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip is correctly classed as 3 moderate however the Pico Torquino walk is more than a grade 3 but the walk is optional. If you use poles take them. The itinerary is well constructed and this is the first trekking holiday I have been on where I've had the opportunity to relax and spend time in places we stopped rather than a quick turnaround. Read the trip notes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In Trinidad I had read the reviews about getting a taxi to Playa Ancon beach which I did with some of the group. It was lovely to spend a morning at the beach and then pass the afternoon in Trinidad. The taxi was 20CUC return and the same taxi will drop you off and collect you at the time you want to return. Another must is the classic car ride in Havana which you can expect to pay 30-40CUC for (per car) for one hour tour - a must. Pina Colada's in the casa in Trinidad the best!
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Sally Lofts

    Trekking Highlights of Cuba

    Varied, action-packed trip, including spectacular scenery, different places to stay, and variety of experiences music, cocktails as well as mountains and wildlife

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trek up Pico Turquino most memorable Havana very interesting Staying in casas relaxing

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Patient, humorous and well-informed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some people found the Turquino trek tougher than expected. Lot of sitting in buses.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Long bus journeys inevitable in order to cover as much of the island as we did, but if there was a way of reducing that the holiday would have been even better.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Sharon Chollet

    Trekking Highlights of Cuba

    A fantastic Cuban adventure with a great group of people. We laughed, walked, danced and drank cocktails from West to East and back. Well constructed itinerary, plenty of diversity and still time for relaxation. I felt that the grading was right, all the relevant information is in the Trip Notes re. walking conditions and fitness.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to choose one - stays at the Casa's in Vinales and Trinidad. The tour and meal at the Organic Farm. Swimming under the Waterfall, the beautiful town of Trinidad. The walking, of course. Salsa lessons. Last but not least beautiful vibrant Havana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was professional and very patient with our group which covered a wide age range. His talks about Cuban history, politics and geography were great, the right length and content which passed the time on the longer travel days.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are willing to be patient and flexible (things don't always run to plan) you will have a brilliant time. Read the Trip Notes carefully before you go. Do change enough money at Havana airport for several days if you can, saves worrying about it in more remote areas.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks Exodus for another brilliant trip.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Linda Dawson

    Trekking holiday in Cuba

    A very interesting, educational and busy trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having the opportunity to climb 3 peaks of Pico Joaquin, Regino & Turquino

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Laz was enthusiastic, more than capable of dealing with our group, and provided considerable information with regard to his country and its history for which I was very grateful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Nothing comes to mind over and above that contained within the trip notes. I found a copy of The Rough Guide to Cuba very useful.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    June Smith

    Trekking Highlights of Cuba

    I loved every minute of this trip. We walked through some of the most beautiful countryside, visited many of the main cities, met interesting people and had many new experiences.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of highest mountain Torquino after a 4.5hr walk in to the base which was described as 'undulating' but was gruelling and 3hr struggle up to the top. It was also amazing to be at Castro's camp in the mountains. I loved being driven in a 1949 Chevvy with what the driver described as an original engine.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddy was our leader. He was exceptionally good. He was patient, helpful, funny and insightful. He told wonderful stories to bring history to life and made a complex situation appear easier to understand.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes a couple pieces of advice. Don't go on this trip unless you are fit. It is more than a moderate walk especially 3 of the longer walks at the end. Secondly, don't take any sculptures or pieces of wooden art through security. I bought a vase from a gallery in Havana. I met the artist himself and I loved the piece. Because it was pottery and I didn't want to break it, I decided to carry it through in my rucksack. It was wrapped up. At security it was confiscated because the guard said it could be used as a weapon. After trying to discuss this and pointing out that people were buying bottles in duty free which were more dangerous. He agreed that if a KLM representative agreed I could take it on board, I could have it. I found an air stewardess who supported me but he decided to renege and refused to let me have it. Other people got their sculptures taken away too. I saw people being allowed to take 250ml of suncream through and bottles of water both on the official banned list but I didn't get my vase. This is a SCAM and left me feeling upset. It hasn't spoiled my memory of a beautiful country but if people are warned in advance about this they can avoid losing something they have bought. Put it in your suitcase.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I know everyone says the food in Cuba is bad but I we arrived 4 days before the group and we had some beautiful and wonderful food. However, when we joined the group the food was mainly poor and repetitive. It was possible to get great food in some of the group venues. but there were too many which gave us which can only be described as canteen food. This needs to be looked into. Secondly, I would not go into Vinales. This would ave 2 days which could be spent in the South. I would have loved to have gone to Santiago instead or have an extra day in Santiago.
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