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Turtle, Ecuador

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

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Chris Nixon

    Fabulous

    A fabulous combination of walking the Tuscan countryside, combined with wine tastings and city visits. Alejandro was a brilliant leader. Villa Castalta is a perfectly adequate base for a walking holiday. The meals at the Villa are basic but wholesome. The restaurant used in the village were all different and very good. The best being Il Re Gallo. The 3 main walks are all interesting, each finishing in an interesting town for lunch and gelato! Despite the high temperatures during our week (highs of upper 30s) all the walks were at a a relaxed pace with plenty of stops along the route.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trip to Siena was excellent, with a very good guide in Sara. It was great to find out about the history of the city and the different districts. During our visit, they were preparing for the Palio, which added to our interest. The visit to the Tuscan Wine School in the afternoon was very informative. This did not take anything away from the other city visit to Florence, where we had another excellent , but different type of guide, Elizabetta, who told us about the history of Florence with great charm and wit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alejandro was fantastic. The walks were well paced and we had sensible early starts, considering the heat. He was very informative about the flowers and trees along the route. And feed us cherries and white mulberries. His choice of restaurants in Castellina was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As others have remarked, good walking boots or shoes are advised for the hill walks. Plus you will need long trousers on the first part of the walk to Radda. (Read the trip notes!) A torch is useful for walking back from Castellina at night.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want a walking holiday combined with visits to Siena and Florence, this is the trip to go on.You also learn about Chianti and experience varying types of Italian food.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Martin Dennis

    One of the best...

    For me, there are three criteria that make a great Exodus trip: the members of the group, the leader, and the location/activities. The members of the group on this trip were wonderful: great company, entertaining, and considerate. Mark was the perfect leader (see below). The location was stunning with beautiful Tuscan villages, towns and cities. How can the combination of wine and walking be beaten? (OK, maybe cycling and wine at a push...)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many: approaches to archetypal Tuscan villages; stunning views of Florence, San Gimignano and Siena. Hearing scops owls and nightingales (why are both so difficult to spot?!). Wonderful food and wine.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The perfect guide: helpful, knowledgeable, considerate, funny, flexible and an exemplary driver (reversing with trailer into a space at Pisa airport, first time and in front of an audience!).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a bigger case to accommodate the chianti, cheese, olive oil you'll want to bring back. I didn't buy dresses or handbags but some did!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book now!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Carole Grimwood

    Excellent trip - But a bit more than gentle walking

    We had a great of walking and wine tasting in the Chianti region with our excellent guide Alejandro. Our accommodation at Villa Castela was probably the best we have enjoyed with Exodus - great location, tranquil, lovely pool, big room, comfy bed and simple but delicious food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sienna was fabulous.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alejandro was an excellent hard working guide who went the extra mile

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were 'blessed' with very hot weather in early June (high 30s and 37 deg on our last day) which made some of the very undulating walking hard work for us and definitely not 'gentle'.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Gill & Don Yuile

    Our first Exodus trip

    This trip met all our expectations and requirements and was a really good holiday for us. The daily organisation and all the experiences were excellent, we cannot praise Liz enough for her competence at making the week so good. The walks were amazing, just at the right level for us and we felt spot on with the leisurely/moderate rating. The hotel was beautifully situated, traditionally furnished, clean and homely, the staff were very nice, helpful and pleasant. Just a few quibbles that have prevented us awarding the top rating: the hotel breakfast was good, although a bit more variety would have been nice, but the evening meals taken in the hotel were fairly basic. The meals taken outside in local restaurants were fantastic. Our pre trip information supplied from Exodus gave us the wrong departure terminal at Heathrow, which we realised just two days before departure, however, this was dealt with efficiently and we appreciated how well it was handled. All in all an excellent week, we enjoyed it immensely and are looking at our next adventure!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the best thing about this trip was the ratio of walking, city visits and wine tasting. A perfect amount of each meant that it was all most enjoyable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz was a fantastic guide in all ways: leader experience, local knowledge, language skills, driving, organisation, and making sure every member of the group was comfortable and any special requirements taken care of. She was nice with it!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We recomend taking walking boots rather than trainers for the walk days as many of the tracks have loose stones and rocks. Flat shoes recomended for the rest of the time, especially in towns and cities.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Debbie Henderson

    Fantastic Holiday

    I'd wanted to go to Tuscany for years and this exactly fitted the bill. Wonderful walks, hilltop towns, visiting Siena, Florence and San Gimignano. Wine tastings were informative. Lovely group too. I can definitely recommend!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the fabulous scenery at every turn!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mark was a great leader: fun, courteous, always ready to help out and a very safe driver.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walks can be a bit more of a challenge in the heat...but don't let that put you off.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jan Strasser

    A Great trip to celebrate a milestone birthday!

    We had a fantastic time with a great group of people walking along the beautiful hills of Tuscany - visiting quaint hilltop villages - viewing spectacular scenery and partaking in wonderful food and wine

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to name just one! I loved the hilltop villages but I also love Florence - something incredible to see around every corner!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz Proctor was our group leader and she is amazing! She knew so much about every single place we visited.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you enjoy walking and great food and wine I highly recommend this trip
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jane Jewell

    First trip with Exodus

    We had a thoroughly enjoyable varied trip though the walking was more challenging than we anticipated. The uphill and down dale rocky walking was harder for us as we are both in our 70s and these days we have not done so much of this type of walking. Nevertheless, we had an excellent guide in Liz Proctor who made sure that we paced our walking and with her knowledge of the countryside and terrain through woodland, olive groves and vineyards combined with a good humoured small group of 6 persons made our walking very enjoyable. The wine tasting and classes were very informative and fun. On the city days in Sienna and Florence we had excellent guided walks and an in-depth insight into the culture and history ofthese 2 beautiful cities both of which we have visited twice before. The weather was more chilly than expected and the farmhouse although welcoming was not warm enough in the morning or when we came home each evening.th

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful Tuscan countryside and the Agritourism which has enriched the Tuscan landscape and allowed the families to develop their hardworking but enriching way of life. The natural ecological way of living which is a model of living to aspire to.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, very personable, calm and extremely knowledgeable. As well as acting as a extremely competent driver as well as the guiding. We really appreciated the good planning and timing that went into everyday and we trust that Liz is remunerated fully for this double role and responsibility.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read fully the excellent guidance notes sent by Exodus

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A truly varied and enjoyable trip in a beautiful country with lovely warm people. We also thoroughly enjoyed the Cooking day we booked on our day off.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Helen Stevenson

    Wonderful trip!

    The countryside walks were paced perfectly, with time at the end of each to visit beautiful hilltop towns for leisurely lunches and sightseeing . Visits to Siena and Florence provided a taster for these beautiful cities. The wine tasting, particularly the Siena Wine School, was enjoyable, as was the Chianti imbibing throughout the week. Everything at Villa Casalta was very relaxed, owner and her staff friendly and helpful. I appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities set up in the sitting room for Exodus customers. I loved having day off mid week when I spent a leisurely day in Castellina.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No single moment as I enjoyed it all.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz Proctor is brilliant in every way - friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful, and more...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To book a time slot for Uffizi Gallery the trip notes suggest between 11.45 and 16.00. Liz has discovered a very good free walking tour of Florence 10.30 to 13.00, which I had to leave at noon. Also 4pm is too late as it's a minimum half hour walk back to the bus for 5pm. I suggest around 2pm would be ideal time slot. I was pleased I took walking poles and used them on all the country walks.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Louise Sampson

    Excellent well balanced trip

    This trip is a good mix of walking, city culture, great wine tasting and good food. The walks are leisurely - undulating - through lovely county side and vineyards. Not too long but long enough to know you have done something. Local guided tours had been arranged in Siena and Florence which made it more focused since there is really only time for a taster! - definitely go back for a longer trip to see all they both have to offer. The arranged wine tastings were very informative especially the one at the Tuscany wine school in Siena - we will be on the look out for the wines we tasted. The local restaurants used all served excellent food as did the Vila Casalta where we stayed. We also took part in an italian cooking lesson run by Edith on our free day. Well worth going to - but she only takes cash. Our guide Liz - was very experienced, very informative and knowledgeable. All in all an excellent holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really enjoyed it all.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz - Elizabeth Proctor was excellent
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Janice Eastman

    Wine and walking

    A well balanced holiday betwern sight seeing and walking. Excellent accommodation.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The organisation and diversity

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Knowledgable and professional

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take walking boots not trainers

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Didnt think the cookery lesson (which was an additional extra) was worth 85 euros. Taking turns between 4 of us to knead dough was like being treated as a child. Still waiting for the receipes!
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