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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 September 2019

    A Proper Adventure

    This was a remote trek in a tough mountain environment south west of Leh. After three days acclimatising in Leh, we spent around 10 days climbing high passes, crossing rivers in full flood and seeing few people outside our own little group. Every day was challenging. We experienced a range of weather from blizzard to heat wave, rain to frost and always a cold breeze at the top of every pass. And every day I would lie back in my tent after dinner and know I’d pushed myself and feel really good about it. We experienced unseasonable weather which forced changes to the itinerary, which our crew and leader were more than capable of dealing with. Heavy snow on the mountain prevented us from summiting Dzo Jongo but we reached the top of Konga Ri in brilliant sunshine and pristine white snow. Such was the nature of the trek that I was not left feeling disappointed at not getting the big mountain, as the whole experience was a proper adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment of the trek for me was the realisation that I had got to the top of Konga Ri. I’d had a few days of self doubt and I’d found the climb in deep snow tough. But when I got to the top of the mountain, dropped my pack and just took in the incredible panorama of Beautiful snow capped mountains, none of that mattered. I think the slice of cherry cake Tamchos, our guide, gave me at that point may have helped as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie, our group leader, was more than a match for anything the mountains could throw at us. She was able to adjust the route and camp sites to deal with the delays caused by weather and still keep us on track. Her knowledge and experience came across in her confidence, which in turn gave us the confidence that we would complete the trek. Our group provided her with some challenges of her own, but they were all dealt with professionally and without fuss or drama. I certainly benefited from her advice and encouragement. And she has some great after dinner stories that made our experiences pale into insignificance!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The internal flight and trek weight limits mean you have to be ruthless with your packing. If I was going back this time next year I wouldn’t take a heavy down jacket (which I didn’t use) but instead I’d use a midweight one and several fleece and base layers. The river crossings are inevitable and cold and you need to wear some kind of protection for your feet as the riverbed can be sharp and uneven. I took cheap crocs but as there was walking between crossings and it wasn’t practical to keep changing back and forth, I would take a cheap pair of walking sandals next time (as did most of the rest of my group). I ended up walking in my light fabric boots, which was fine, but they took a full day of sunshine to dry out. If, like me, your previous treks have been the likes of Everest Base Camp and/or Kilimanjaro, know that this is physically and mentally much more challenging. I found it hard to accept that although we were climbing passes between 4800m and 5300m most mornings, we would descend again to camp much lower, losing the hard gained altitude. It’s the nature of the terrain and its good acclimatisation but it might sap mental stamina as well as energy. A good group dynamic helped me.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a fantastic adventure, full of hard challenges and amazing rewards. Leh and its surroundings offer an amazing cultural centre worth exploring. Once in the mountains, for every icy river crossing, there was a Lammergeier Vulture or Golden Eagle. For every muddy path there was a stunning landscape of rugged mountains and for every rainy day there was laughter in the mess tent. If you have doubts after reading my review, perhaps it’s not for you. But if it has fired you up, then sign up. I might see you in the next group!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Paul Rayner

    Be prepared for the unexpected

    It wasn't as expected! I have trekked in Ladakh before and had reviewed my previous photos before this trip. None of us, including Valerie, were expecting to have to face a blizzard, and heavy overnight snow on a couple of nights! The result was that rivers were swollen and crossings became more difficult, and the ascent of Dzo Jongo East was not possible. It was also a remote trek - we only saw other people or groups occasionally, and the sudden return to civilisation was a bit of a shock. Personally I also found that altitude acclimatisation this time took much longer than expected; I am used to high altitude but I think old age is catching up! But overall a great experience, and conditions, particularly the blizzard, led to a close group bonding developing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Two of them. One was the developing attraction of the mountains. Last time in Ladakh I found myself comparing the Indian Himalaya unfavourably with the Everest region. This time, the terrain seemed more varied and attractive, perhaps in part due to the fresh snowfall. It made me feel I wanted to go back again and see more. The other was, with hindsight, the climb up the river gorge from Chuskurmo and up over the Gongmaru La into the Nimaling valley. The gorge and river crossings were a challenge following the overnight snowfall, I found getting to the top of the pass a real struggle, and we then had to get down to the camp site through a blizzard and sit in the mess tent for a couple of hours (sustained by black tea) while the lost sheep were found and the tents put up. I don't think anyone enjoyed it much at the time - it took me half an hour in a sleeping bag to stop shivering, though we all did the best to keep morale up. But the next day I felt an immense sense of achievement, and I hope others felt the same.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant as always. Her experience really showed through during the blizzard when she and some others got lost. She had a grip on everything, and a fair bit of illness to deal with, but always had time to chat, and encourage people where necessary.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fit and experienced enough for the trek; enjoy yourself; but be prepared for things not going according to plan. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I think we shall dine out on some of the stories from this trek!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall and with hindsight, a great experience. But if I go over 5000m again, I shall make sure I have plenty of time for altitude acclimatisation! It was only on the final 5000m pass of the trip that I could trek up it easily.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Antonios Angelopoulos

    3 peaks of Ladakh

    A good opportunity to experience the raw and unspoilt beauty of the Himalayas. A challenging trip with only the basic amenities, taking you to less frequently travelled paths and up some less renowned but no less spellbinding peaks. Also, for those willing to listen and learn, it offers a good exposure to Tibetan Buddhism, its rituals and beliefs. Finally, a good chance to meet very interesting, widely travelled people who appreciate the challenge and don't mind the monastic austerity of the trek.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Without doubt it was the climbing of Jo Jongo, a 6,200m peak. A good, hard climb next to a glacier. We had to cross patches of hard ice and this gave us the opportunity to use our crampons. Obviously there were varying competences in the group but people become very supportive of each other in such circumstances. The feeling of elation at the top is magnificent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie was excellent. Very familiar with the terrain, cautious, prudent, offering advice but prepared to allow initiative.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Spending the evenings in cramped tents can be uncomfortable and you don't get a restful sleep. Maybe you have done a lot of that and you are used to it. In any case, you should be prepared for an amount of discomfort. You will be compensated by the wild beauty of the surroundings.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

     

    We thank all our customers for posting online reviews of our trips. Please note this and previous reviews relate to our old itinerary 'Three Peaks of Ladahk'.  From 2019 on our new itinerary 'Peaks of Ladakh' will be running.  We hope you will join us on this adventure soon. 

  • Reviewed August 2016
    Hugh Cass

    three peaks of Ladakh

    The Queen of Kashmir does it again

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    topping out on Dzo Jongo East now 6200 metres

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie met her thirty years ago and 4 years ago still top lady definitely in charge top girl

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    its a good tough trip
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Simon Gale

    Three Paeks of Laddakh

    An excellent demanding trip which was well organised

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the highest peak after some 7 hours walking.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are physically fit for this trek, it is very demanding ]
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Jillian DAVIS

    Three Peaks of Ladakh

    Very special trek in a remote area of Ladakh with challenging peaks and passes (very!) but worth every bit of effort.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing Dzo Jongo at over 6000m in a blizzard seeing nothing and the following day walking along the ridge across the valley with fantastic clear views of the mountain and the whole journey. Group dynamics - support, encouragement and fun. The amazing variety of landscape and views in every direction.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This is my second trek with Valerie who never fails to inspire, motivate and care. Her knowledge of the people and places are excellent: historically and now. We learned such a lot. The fact that she is deeply involved in environment and community improvement projects is inspirational and humbling. Valerie gets to know her group well, understands when anyone is not feeling 100% and quietly supports everyone's needs without fussing. Valerie also leads her local team very professionally, has high expectations and is highly respected: in addition she recognises talent and gives opportunities for the local team to progress when they can.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not sure whether this particular trek will be repeated, but if you are passionate about mountains, go to the Himalayas, and the experience of walking with Valerie would always be a bonus.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Another excellent Exodus trip: thank you to all involved at the home base and on trek.