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 October 2017
    Julian Lewis

    High Inca Trail with Amazon Extension

    This was my second trip with Exodus, my first being to Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, and it certainly didn't disappoint. The trip originally had 5 people on it, but due to last minute cancellations, presumably because of news of strike action in Peru, only 2 of us ended up travelling. Ultimately, we experienced hardly any disruption throughout the entire trip. As such, it made the trip much more bespoke. As the trip flew directly to Cusco, at 3400m, the first couple of days were designed to assist with acclimatizing and we soon got used to the altitude. There was plenty of free time to explore the city and take it easy. We also spent the first morning on an acclimatization hike exploring Tambomachay, Puca Pukara, Qenqo and Sachsayhuaman in the hills above Cusco. This hike was very gentle and downhill. On the first day of the hike, we set off early (0630 start) for Mollepata, stopping at Tarawasi to explore more ruins. As Mollepata is below 3000m, we immediately noticed the drop in altitude and this helped ease us into the hike gently. In addition to meeting our wonderful Quechua chef, Florentino, we were accompanied along this stretch of the hike by local horsemen (and a dog who we nicknamed Condor, who would provide no end of amusement along the way), who provided support for us. We found the first few days of the hike rather quiet, as this route is frequented by far fewer hikers than the main Inca Trail. The first day was a 4 hour hike with a gradual climb up to 3500m. The second day of the hike was quite tough as we had a 17km hike going from 3500m to 4400m. This involved a 0600 start, though was mostly on the level during the morning. The afternoon was shorter though quite a bit harder as it had several steep parts, as we ascended to the camp at Inchupata. An emergency horse was on hand along this stretch. The views of Salkantay were stunning, though the camp was quite cold at night. We even saw a couple of avalanches on Salkantay. On the third day of the hike, we climbed up to Incachiriaska pass, at 4950m, and were rewarded with stunning views in all directions. This was followed by a rapid descent to the Inca Canal to our camp site. Day four of the hike was quite leisurely and short as we descended to Huayllabamba. We said goodbye to the horsemen, and had several amusing attempts to part company with Condor, then met up with the porters who would carry our kit along the main Inca Trail. We also had an opportunity for a brief cold shower; our first proper wash since the hike began. Having ascended Incachiriaska pass earlier in the hike, the ascent to Dead Women's pass on day five of the hike was much more straightforward and we got to the top in far less time than we'd planned for. The descent down to Pacaymayo was quite steep, and we got a taste of the steps which would be a common feature of the latter part of the hike. As we'd joined the main Inca Trail, things became much busier at camp sites and on the trail. We timed our departures to avoid the early morning rushes, and soon found we had the trail mostly to ourselves. On day six of the hike, we climbed over a second pass and explored more Inca ruins at Runcurakay and Sayacmarca. We camped at Phuyupatamarca and marveled at the views of Machu Picchu mountain, far below us down the notorious Inca Steps. The next morning, we also had stunning views of the other side of Salkantay. On the last day of the hike, we descended to Winay Wayna, and then completed the trek to the sun gate and our first glimpse of Machu Picchu itself. After an hour or so snapping pictures of the classic views of the site, we took the bus down to Aguas Calientes and several much needed showers. The following day, we had a tour of Machu Picchu and then had a few hours spare to explore the site on our own. As it turned out, this was only sufficient time to visit the Inca Bridge and take more pictures close by the main site, though I certainly didn't feel I was missing out on any opportunity to ascend Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. We descended back to Aguas Calientes mid afternoon to get the Expedition train to Ollantaytambo. This was an enjoyable and relaxing slow train ride with great views, and included free drinks and snacks in the ticket price. The next morning we explored the ruins in Ollantaytambo and headed on through the Sacred Valley to Pisac. We arrived back in Cusco by early afternoon, where we planned excursions for the following day. The main trip on offer was to Moray Maras and the Salt mines in the Sacred valley. I opted for this trip and found it very relaxing. While other excursions included a (long) day trip to Rainbow Mountain, Exodus don't actively endorse this due to mixed reviews, though (discrete) arrangements can be made if you want to try it. The last morning of the main trip involved transfers to the airport, either for homeward flights or transfers to Puerto Maldonado to the jungle. As I'd opted for the Amazon extension, the jungle beckoned. The flight was short though the change in climate was huge. After transferring to the river launch, and a two hour journey up river, I arrived at Cayman Lodge. As the only traveler on this part of the trip, I had another personalized trip, and guide to myself. The pace of the jungle was quite leisurely and involved afternoon and night walks around the perimeter of the lodge, a 10km trek to Sachavacayoc Lake (an oxbow lake) in the jungle where we spent a couple of hours canoeing around looking for anacondas, an early morning river trip to Colpa Chuncho clay lick to view macaws feeding, a night safari along the river looking for caimans and quite a few hours chilling in hammocks out of the sun. Soon though, this part of the trip came to an end and I transferred back to Puerto Maldonado for my flight home. As Peru were attempting to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, we also sampled the local excitement of the regions enthusiasm for football. This could only have been matched by a papal visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pin down one single moment, though we had perfect weather (glorious sunshine and few clouds) every day of the trip so were rewarded with inspiring views every day. Among the highlights of the trip were seeing Salkantay from many angles, Incachiriaska pass, Dead Women's pass, the view from Phuyupatamarca down over Machu Picchu mountain, the classic views of Machu Picchu from the sun gate and gatehouse, the Sacred Valley, and travelling along the Tambopata river.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    William was very knowledgeable and keen to share his knowledge and experience of the Inca Trail. As the group size was small, we had a lot of attention though it never felt intrusive. Our chef, Florentino, the horsemen and the Quechua porters were great and always friendly. I even picked up several greetings in Quechua. My guide in the jungle was a freelance guide, called Empe. She was very knowledgeable and made the trip very enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Though we experienced perfect weather on our trip, which was almost unprecedented, you should plan for some rain along the way. I'd definitely recommend doing the jungle extension if your itinerary permits as it provides an additional and alternate view of the richness of Peru's geography. I almost wish Id opted for a pre-trip extension to Lake Titicaca, though that will have to be another trip. As the trek is at high altitude, travelers should come prepared with good sun screen and insect repellent, even on days when its not overly sunny. The Peruvian sun can be unforgiving. Pack economically. The bag weight limit on the Inca Trail is 10kg, so you carry the excess. Unless you prepare with extensive load bearing training, you should try to keep your day pack as light as possible as the altitude and sun soon consume your energy reserves. Though on Kili I'd regularly carry at least 2 litres of water, the frequency of campsites and top ups mean that you can carry a little less water, as long as you top up whenever you get the chance. As with any high altitude trekking, take things easy for the first few days to help acclimatize, stay hydrated and eat plenty. If you have any dietary requirements, such as low carb diets, then do review these carefully as several days of the hike are intensive and you will need as much energy as you can pack in. I found I needed extra carbs on several days though this was quickly burnt off. Security at camps during the first few days of the trek is fine, as you're almost the only people at the remote campsites, though as you reach the main trail the campsites get busier and you'll often find other trekkers walking through your camp. While this doesn't present any problem, vigilance should be exercised in accordance with common sense. Security in the jungle lodges was ok, though by the nature of its location you shouldn't have any major concerns. Though English, Spanish and Quechua were the main languages spoken on the trail, French was also seemingly quite widely spoken in the jungle. A warm sleeping bag will pay dividends especially at the higher campsites. A good pair of binoculars will come in handy in the jungle. On the night safaris, a good phone camera (e.g. OnePlus 5) proved better for impromptu close ups of insects than even a good bridge/SLR camera, so try both for best results.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Having climbed Kilimanjaro, I found this trek challenging but very achievable. While the hardest days of the trek are comparable to regular/early days on Kili, nothing is quite on the same scale as summit night, though ascending and descending the Inca steps should be approached carefully as some of the flights of steps are extensive and mishaps could be costly. There are a few stages where additional caution is advised, such as walking along narrow ledges alongside sheer drops, but the William was very clear with highlighting these stretches.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Shannah Murland

    Machu Picchu combined with rugged peaks

    This tour spends a few days in the "big" mountains and then joins in to the Inca Trail, so you get a bit of everything. You also arrive at Machu Picchu in the afternoon, so you avoid all the groups who get there for sunrise. Instead, you have some time in the afternoon and then camp down by the river (instead of leaving right away like the other tours do), and then you go back up for the majority of the next day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping up near the glacier on Mt. Salkantay.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She had amazing knowledge of history and culture in the region.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Helen Stockham

    The High Inca Trail - snowy peaks and a fascinating history

    Two weeks in the Andes with spectacular scenery and a rich cultural history.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is hard to pick a favourite day or sight, as there was something special on each day. Personally I love snowy mountains so seeing Salcantay was special. Camping near the base of Salcantay was very memorable – a campsite in a spectacular setting, hearing and seeing avalanches, seeing the milky way and waking up with frost inside the tent!! On these first three to four days of the trek we had the trail pretty much to ourselves, and we were the only group at this particular campsite. I also particularly enjoyed reaching the end of the Inca Trail at the sun gate and seeing Machu Picchu for the first time. The setting, scale and craftsmanship is most impressive.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rolando was a fabulous guide with an encyclopaedic knowledge about pretty much everything! He is very passionate about his country, its history and culture. He imparted his knowledge with great enthusiasm, had a great sense of humour and was very encouraging if anyone was struggling e.g. on a steep section of the trail. He was also very organised, including arranging our departure times each day on the trail when we joined the main Inca Trail so we had the trail mostly to ourselves, with just a few porters. This meant we avoided the crowds and only saw other groups at lunch stops and the campsites. It was also a pleasure to spend time with assistant guide Javier on the trail.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You really can and do experience four seasons in one day on this trip so be prepared for temperatures ranging from what felt like plus 30 degrees down to about minus 10 degrees Centigrade. Take a full set of thermals, including thermal socks. If you take a metal water bottle this can be filled with hot water after dinner creating a hot water bottle for the coldest nights. It's best to take a proper cover, or if not use a hiking sock! Take a toilet roll and antibac hand gel. Not all toilets in Peru supply such items! On the free day in Cusco on return from the trail we booked a private guide and transfer for Rainbow Mountain which was spectacular. It was also possible to arrange to trip to Moray, Moras and the nearby Incan quarry in the Sacred Valley. Before you book the Lake Titicaca extension I would recommend checking with Exodus whether they have booked the tours to see the Uro Indians and Sillustani with a private guide. The four of us that did the extension were put with mixed tour groups for the morning and afternoon. This worked okay for the Uros Indians as the group was small and all English speaking. However for Sillustani there was one guide for two buses covering both English and Spanish speaking groups – basically the group was far too large meaning this afternoon was my least enjoyable of the full trip, the rest of which was very good.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The chefs, horsemen and porters were excellent. The chefs Billy and Juan impressed us all with the food they prepared on their camping stoves in the mountains. I am vegetarian and was expecting relatively simple, similar food each day – I was very surprised at how tasty the food they prepared for me was each day – it was delicious. I am still in awe at how they made a two tier sponge birthday cake, fully iced with three different flavours of piped icing on our last day of camping for one of our group!
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Jo Griffiths

    Salcantay Pass and the Inca Trail

    A fabulous 2 weeks trekking in the Andes. I’ve travelled with Exodus on a number of ‘challenging’ treks, and this one ranks highly both in outstanding landscapes, historical context and enjoyment. Conditions are challenging but this is a positive; it makes achieving the goal even more rewarding!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Machu Picchu was far more spectacular than I had imagined; the magnitude of Inca architecture, craftsmanship and culture was humbling. We didn’t see a soul for the first 3 days on the Salcantay Trek; only when you join the Inca Trail are you reminded that it is a very popular tourist destination. That said, our itinerary meant that we avoided crowds by leaving later than other groups in the morning. Plenty of snack stops and a pace appropriate to the altitude also helped!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rolando, the epitome of professionalism. A lovely man who imparted such wide and thought-provoking knowledge of the Incas, and with immense pride in his country and culture. Calm in the face of adversity and sensitive to the individual needs of group. A special mention also for Javier, our second in command. A joy to spend time with; he will make an outstanding group leader when his time comes. I especially enjoyed the encouraging and supportive relationship these two men demonstrated throughout the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes outline very clearly just how cold it can get at night, but still my gloves were not adequate for the morning we trekked Salcantay Pass; invest in proper kit! Do your research on places to eat for the first couple of nights in Cusco; especially if you are a solo traveller as group meals didn’t happen until we reached Machu Picchu town.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The support teams – the horsemen, porters and chefs, are outstanding. From the morning mugs of coca tea, to the quality of the food (afternoon tea a particular favourite of mine!), their encouragement and assistance during the trek and attention to detail, just make the trip extra special. You get what you pay for, and I certainly felt that we had the highest standard of care and service on the trek.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Andrew Deeming

    Excellent Trek to one of the 7 wonders of the modern world!

    Truly an excellent 2 week holiday! 7 days spent in the Peruvian Andes- 4 days trekking around Salcantay, 3 on the Inca trail, ending at the Sun Gate and that picture postcard view of Machu Picchu. If you have entertained the idea of doing this holiday, or a shorter version of the trek, I'd just book it! You will certainly not be disappointed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose just one but I would have to go with reaching the Sun Gate and getting the first view of Machu Picchu. It really is an eye opener and you definitely feel you have earned it after 7 days of quite challenging trekking through the Andes. As well as MP, the scenery in general, is truly magnificent. There are plenty of times when you'll want to stop and simply take in and admire your surroundings. If you are lucky and get clear skies during the evening, you should see the Milky Way.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bruce was excellent! Very professional, caring and made sure he understood the capabilities of the group. He has a passion to share his knowledge about his country and it's history and gave very detailed, interesting explanations when we stopped at archeological sites. He made every member of the group feel welcome and brought us all together as a 'family' for the two weeks we were together. A special mention needs to go to Cesar, our second guide. Knowledgeable and very likeable- along with Bruce he made sure all of our needs were catered for and that we all finished the trek in one piece. One final mention goes to the support team- cooks, wranglers and porters. These guys are like machines! While you're struggling up and down the trail, this team carries up to 25kg of equipment per person and make sure camp and lunch spots are set up well before you arrive. Truly awesome.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Train for this trek and be prepared for the change in altitude, it really does make a difference and you'll notice it when you reach the hotel in Cusco. As other reviewers have stated, pack for all seasons. At the highest camp (4,200m), you will be very cold and temperatures will fall below zero. The next day, you'll be in a valley and in temperatures above 20C. We were fortunate not to get any rainfall but it is still a possibility. Take a mixture of Peruvian Sols and US dollars, for use in Cusco.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book it and enjoy it!
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Karen Stanley

    Magical Machu Picchu

    Amazing hiking over the Salcantay pass to the magical Machu Picchu.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The anticipation of each turn the closer we got to the sun gate, and then the first view of Machu Picchu was incredible

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Wilmer, our leader was very knowledgable and relaxed with the group - good fun

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take ear plugs! The frogs in camp 3 (might have been 4) are lovely but noisy, and you may get need them for the hotel in Machu Picchu town (depends what room you get) Also allocate at least 50soles per meal (includes one drink and tips) Food is amazing - there are great restaurants in Cusco, camp food - incredible Highly recommend green point in Cusco - it's vegan (I'm not) but they do a very reasonable set menu (4 courses) for 15soles and food is amazing (5min walk from hotel) - highly recommend

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Last thing - hotel in Cusco - if you lose your phone charger, check the bedside table drawers, mine was taken out of the wall and hidden away in drawer for no reason at all- eventually found after emptying all bags, and another guest over hearing complaint to reception (as same thing happened to her)
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Gillian Mcfall

    High Inca Trail

    Fantastic trip ... Challenging enough without killing you! It is your holiday after all!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lying in the tent listening to the glacial avalanches on Salkantay was pretty awesome and of course getting that first sight of Machu Picchu.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rolando was great, so passionate about his Incan heritage and very knowledgable. He loves telling the story of the many sites you visit on this trek and really brings it alive. With regards the walking and the altitude, he was always looking out for everyone in the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was colder than I expected in the evenings so if debating whether or not to take the 3 or 4 season sleeping bag or the down jacket - take the warm stuff!! The early start for Machu Picchu is definitely worth it - by 9am the place is packed!
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Laura Smith

    The High Inca Trail

    The High Inca Trail was more challenging than expected albeit very rewarding. Trip starts at high altitude and within a few days, there are a couple of long climbs that would not be a problem if it were not for the altitude. That said, I believe it was extremely beneficial doing The High Inca Trail (as opposed to just the Inca Trail) (which includes the Salkantay pass) as this most definitely prepares you for the part of the walk on the Inca Trail which climbs to 4,125 making this walk more enjoyable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Stunning scenery and culture and experience overall in Peru! I thoroughly enjoyed the town of Cusco as well - very impressed! Amazing to actually visit Matchu Pitchu which I have wanted to do for years!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the high altitude which is upon you quickly due to Cusco sitting at 3,400. The 10kg weight limit when you start that actual Inca Trail is extremely strict so be prepared. Take light clothes and lots of layers. It does get very cold camping. I was very grateful for my down jacket in the evening.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The variety and quality of food prepared on the trek whilst camping was fantastic especially catering for those with dietary requirements.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Catherine Smith

    High Inca Trail

    Epic in every sense of the word! We Trekked and camped in the most remote and awesome places, faced hot sun, sub zero nights, snow, wind, mist and rain! We star gazed, swam in a glacial lake, saw stunning sunsets and got up early to see the sunrise on Salcantay mountain. The many Inca sites and Machu Picchu were even better than we could have imagined!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up to see the sunrise on Salcantay Mountain, the first glimpse of Machu Picchu at the sun gate, and returning very early the next day seeing it shrouded in mist only to see it clear to give magnificent views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bobby was a great leader. He had great knowledge on both Peruvian culture and Inca history. On the last day in the Sacred Valley he went out of his way to arrange extra sight seeing visits.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't under estimate the huge variation of temperatures during the day! In the sun it can be really warm but in the evenings and night it gets extremely cold! You need a down jacket and warm sleeping bag and lots of extra layers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a fantastic trek. The camp food was excellent, the trekking on the Salcantay Trail was wonderfully remote and we hardly saw anyone, the Inca Trail was not too busy and Exodus uses quieter camp sites. Cusco is a fascinating city and this trip spends a couple of days before and after the trek in Cusco for acclimatision and relaxing!
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Kailey Michael

    High Inca trail as must do trip

    High Inca trail was brilliant. Fantastic trekking, amazing trails and beautiful scenery. If things couldn't get any better, to top it off we had a really fantastic leader in Tomas Llancay and also a brilliant second leader in Sebastian. I would highly recommend the high Inca trail as you get to see a small part of Peru that not many other do and we had the trails mostly to our selves.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational part of my trip was camping at the bottom of Salcantay and then the following morning trekking up the Inca Chiriasqa pass. Though to be fair the whole trip was brilliant.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas Llancay was one of the best leaders that I have had so far on all the trips I have done. We always knew what we were doing and had great advise on what we could do on our free days. Huge knowledge on Inca sites, flora and fauna. Its was also lovely to see the encouragement he gave to Sebastian (our second leader) which allowed Sebastain to talk to us about some off the site we visited on the trail, which Sebastian did very well. He also want out of his way to help my partner find a perfect location for him to propose to me, with out me finding out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have a lovely warm sleeping bag as I was very greatful I had mine as it can get very cold on some of the camp sites.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go book the High Inca trail if you like trekking and culture.
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