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
    Steve Gilbert

    Wow, Wonderful Place and Excellent Holiday

    I travelled there with some expectations regarding wildlife especially. These were exceeded. I was amused, impressed and very pleased at the number of wildlife sightings and especially the great opportunities I had for some brilliant wildlife photography.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was no single moment I can identify. It was each occasion we went for a walk and encountered the Lemurs and Reptiles. Through the choice alone of the Lemus and Chameleons we got very close on more than one occasion. I will emphasise this was the animals choice not mine. Brown & Ring Tailed Lemurs can approach up to an arms length away. I didn't get bitten but I was wary. But it was exciting!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija was one of the most enthusiastic and happy tour leaders I have had the pleasure of travelling with. Not only was she informative and organised she was also an expert wildlife spotter. She had an ability to spot something, when all we could see was undergrowth. I distinctly remember the rare 4 inch chameleon in the dark that she spotted from 10 paces when actually it was under a large leaf? I've never travelled with a leader equipped with xray infrared vision before, but I have now.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The tour company was good and supplied bottled water every day. Don't throw away the bottles. They are a desired commodity to the people in the hills and they are very happy when you hand over the empties for them to put their local produce in, honey, oil or similar. You may like to hand over other stuff too but the children can get a bit boisterous so choose your moment carefully if its something for them. Dont forget the adults, they are poor too. In a couple of areas during September it got chilly in the evening, please remember a light fleece or jumper.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was surprised so many people used their mobile phone or tablet to take pictures. Be patient with them, as I noticed it took them much longer, and they stood so much closer to the subject than us with the SLR cameras.
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Eve Doyle

    A Great Experience

    This was an excellent trip. Very well organised. Madagascar is a huge island and there are some long travel days to get across the country. Very varied environments and we saw lots of different wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being close to , seeing and hearing the Indri Lemurs was a very special experience. My favourite day was the walk in Isalo National Park.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija was one of the best guides I have ever had. Her local knowledge was amazing. She had done this trip many times and she knew how to make it run smoothly, sometimes in difficult circumstances. Despite her experience she was still really enthusiastic about everything and made the trip really enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take walking poles if you usually walk with them. It was torrential rain in the Rainforest and I could have done with my full set of waterproof clothing and back pack cover. I should have taken a warmer jumper as well as my fleece. The hotel at Isalo offered washing very cheaply and we got all our wet and muddy Rainforest clothing washed and dried there. Change all your money at the airport on arrival and when you go back through later. The ATMs [we had two opportunities] may only allow you to change around £50. Those who did try and change money at the bank had to queue around 2 hours to be served!! No where took cards. Be prepared for the unexpected...no electricity, no running water, hold ups, bumpy roads, changes of time, unexpected encounters with local people etc

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You need to have an Adventurous spirit. These sort of trips are more of an experience than a holiday!
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Sean Williams

    Highlights of Madagascar

    This was a really enjoyable trip. Although the group was the maximum (16 people) and the bus could be a bit cramped at times, it worked really well. The trip used a local driver and guide both of whom were excellent (Ritza and Andree) and in particular Ritza was able to inform us about the wildlife and different aspects of the culture of Madagascar. The other guides used in the national parks and at the accommodation were also very good. Madagascar is an amazing place and the range of landscapes and wildlife is extremely varied. I also found the local people to be very friendly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many highlights including the following: 1. Hearing the early morning cries of the Indri lemurs in Andasibe. 2. Seeing mouse lemurs and the rainforest in Ramofana. 3. Seeing ring tailed lemurs very close. 4. The amazing landscapes and the "black pool" at Isalo. 5. Travelling to and from Nosy Ve by a traditional dhow. 3. The welcome given to us by the villagers when our bus broke down and we had a 90 minute delay while Andree fixed the bus.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ritza was excellent. She was very friendly, enthusiastic and approachable throughout the trip and gave some very good talks on the bus on Madagascan life. The dealt with the bus breaking down crisis brilliantly and got the ladies on our trip dancing with the villagers.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long drives on some poor roads (although most of the roads outside the Tana to Fianarantsoa section were fairly decent) but that is realistically the only way to see the number of attractions which are covered by this trip. The accommodation was very good throughout but I would try and although the food was generally fine I would try and eat outside the hotels whenever possible. The town close to Isalo has an amazing pizza restaurant about 200 yards from the hotel.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Geoffrey Vaughan

    Highlights of Madagascar

    The trip gives a good insight into the exotic fauna and flora of Madgascar and into several of the "cottage" industries that have been set up, mainly to provide items for the tourist trade. The trip involves many hours of travelling on roads that are in many cases badly surfaced, even when classifies as a "Route National" - this is not a trip for those that don't like long coach journeys! The arrangements were very good and the hotels, in the main, excellent though facilities were quite varied.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Obviously the wildlife was the main highlight: lemurs, chameleons and geckos were all fabulous. The range of species, colours, habits etc were constantly fascinating. If I had to pick one moment, however, it would be the chameleon catching an insect - so fast, so accurate, a great sight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Elodoie was a great tour leader - full of enthusiasm and always wanting to tell us more about the island, its people, language and way of life - as well as the animals and flora.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long coach journeys: make sure you have insect repellent and malaria prophylaxis: good walking boots/shoes are essential. I found poles very useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Learn to use your camera. Some of the party I was with didn't know how to switch off the red-eye protection so I have several photos bathed in red - very annoying!
  • Reviewed June 2015
    Richard Broughton

    Highlights of Madagascar

    I great trip to see the centre and South of Madagascar with plenty of changing landscapes and Limurs in the forests. The island in the South was uniquely beautiful, but unfortunately a bus heavy trip was made much worse by the cancellation of internal flights adding another 23 hours to the time spent on a bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Ranohira national park had fantastic canyons and sandstone features. It was a shame we did not walk longer here.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was highly knowledgeable in all areas and managed to return us safely to Antananarivo safely even when the internal flights were cancelled.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is really a lot of bus travel on this trip, even the city tour on the last day involves 60km of bus ride. Be careful about changing money back at the airport as we were tricked. The exchange only had 50 euro or 20 dollar notes so simply rounded up all the local money to an exchange rate in his favour essentially robbing us.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The cancellation of the internal flights essentially meant that we lost a day's holiday and any chance to explore and shop in Tana. This was extremely frustrating as I spent 2 days with motion sickness and diarrhea on the bus. Then the flight to Paris was delayed so I missed my connecting flight and spent 7 hours waiting at Charles-de-Gaulle as Air France would not transfer to the 3 Lufthansa flights that departed every 2 hours as my bags were checked through to my final destination.
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous .

    Highlights of Madagascar

    This is a fabulous holiday for experiencing a breathtaking natural environment. Landscapes range from the lush bright green rice fields, dry spiky desert, rugged canyon full of texture and shades of ochre and terracotta, the tangled green rain forests down to the turquoise, crystal clear coral sea - not forgetting the white shell strewn sands. There are so many different Lemurs to see, even the nocturnal, tiny mouse lemur with a penchant for bananas. Lemurs leap with their clinging babies among the tree tops defying the camera, others 'pose' swinging upside down and, at times, just fluffy bundles, legs limply dangling snooze above paparazzi heads. Chameleons, some tiny, some podgy, tantalize the spotters by merging into their leafy or stony backgrounds whilst over sized butterflies, moths and insects scurry about underfoot and overhead. The natural pools, cascading waterfalls and brightly coloured flowers evoke memories of the Bounty adverts. There's so much packed into each day - as well as night, morning and daytime trekking with the 'spotters', there's opportunity to watch wood and zebu horn carvers, silk weavers, even wine tasting. Travelling is by mini bus, 4x4's, speed boat, traditional canoes, even a zebu cart out to the boats which is quite an experience! The Malagasy people waved and smiled whilst the enterprising children loved little treats but particularly bottles of water which was such a precious gift in the south.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole group was enthralled by the wildlife experiences and cultural visits and stories but we were all totally inspired by the amazingly resourceful recycling projects. We visited some very enterprising people who had built mechanisms from scrap materials to enable them to create the most intricate things as well as essential, everyday basic utensils. The Malagasy people work in such difficult circumstances which are effected by the climate and environment and working conditions are archaic with little regard to health and safety to say the least. It is a rich country in terms of gems and spectacular natural beauty but the infrastructure is poor and even basic commodities are so difficult to obtain and control, particularly power and water which are so precious.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our local group leader, Tyena, was excellent. He ensured we were well informed, well supervised, well fed and our experience of Madagascar was educative and authentic. Our safety was also of utmost importance to him. He never rested until we were settled and genuinely enjoyed telling us about his country, helping us to be better informed about cultural issues, environmental problems and the daily lives of the Malagasy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Currency - Stirling or USD changed into local currency on arrival at the airport is all that is required. There are few opportunities to use ATM's and locals/hotels refer local currency. Mastercard is not accepted anywhere. Meals are very reasonable with 3 courses plus drinks averaging around £6 - yes cheap!! On arrival at the Tana airport be prepared to argue with security staff regarding Yellow Fever certificates - they're not needed but those people without them had to pay bribes of up to $20 to get through security!!! Take non electric mossie plug ins etc as electricity is mostly not available at night. I did take a travel kettle though ( for when I had a socket and electricity) as there's times when you're desperate for a cuppa even without milk! Take a good torch and camping light for your room. We virtually all had problems with batteries due to the climate so take spares for the camera. Take a load of Imodium and re-hydrates and a good deet spray or cream.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take a few long sleeved cotton shirts for trekking off rain forest tracks plus long or roll up bottom walking trousers and plenty of tee shirts. Leave bling and glam at home - just take casual clean for night (it's dark anyway!!!). Leave plenty of room for 'tat' shopping and buy some small sweets to keep the children happy - it's not really encouraging begging as they're inquisitive and when you see how poor they are you'll be glad you've got a treat!
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Kay Roantree

    Highlights of Madagascar

    There were only six of us on the trip so this was a real bonus. It meant that we had lots of room in the minibus and when being guided around we could spend a long time viewing the wildlife. Saw more than was mentioned in the trip notes and spent longer in the national parks as being a small group we all agreed on what we wanted.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing lemurs in their natural environoment. Snorkelling on Nosy Ve

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The holiday was really well organised by our tour leader Armel. He even worked on days when he really did not have to as when we had free time he still guided us around the towns. He was enthusiastic about finding lemurs and making sure we could all get a good view of them. Great tour leader enthusiasic and knowledgeable about the country and wildlife. He spoke excellent English and always wanted to make our holiday as enjoyable as possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is a lot of driving but the days are broken up with visits to national parks, so not as onerous as it sounds in the notes. However the last few days from leaving the beach to arriving home is very tiring and for a couple of days there was not much to see in Tulear and Antananarivo

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go while there is still things to see
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Nancy nancy

    Marvellous Madagascar!

    A really varied trip with the opportunity to see several different areas of Madagascar; the gorgeous beaches, some beautiful national parks and delightful lemurs and chameleons!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The range of lemur species that we were privileged to see interacting in the wild and swinging in the trees! I was surprised how close they came to us, allowing for some fantastic photo opportunities!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was a native Madagascan so was able to give us a real insight into his country. He was also very eager to ensure that everyone had a positive experience and nothing was ever too much trouble... Having received the groups details before the trip began he'd even arranged some birthday surprises (a band and a cake) for one of the group members.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was colder than I expected in the north, particularly at night - pack plenty of warm clothes for this part of the trip. And be prepared for crowds/chaos when you arrive - no one seems to queue for their entry visa!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was struck by how poor the Madagascan people were, even compared to other African countries I'd visited. If I were to visit again I would take more T-shirts etc that I could give away when I'd finished with them or perhaps try to support a local organisation through something like the stuff your rucksack website.
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous .

    HIGHLIGHTS OF MADAGASCAR

    Amazing variety of scenery and more wild life than I'd expected from reading other reviews of trips to Madagascar. We saw several different species of lemurs and a fantastic variety of chameleons! The trip requires some very early starts to see the wildlife when its most active, but its well worth it. There are some long bus journeys but the roads were in better condition than I expected from the description in the tour notes, and for me personally, the inspiring scenery and interesting street life in towns helped pass the time. Towards the end of the trip there are 3 days at a beach resort, which for me was too long. Once we'd visited the Spiny Forest nearby there wasn't much to do. Even if you like sunbathing (I don't) this is made impossible by the strong winds that develop every afternoon, which pick up the sand - if you tried staying on the beach you'd be sand-blasted, and similarly, the wind churns up the waves and makes snorkelling impossible. I liked every other place we stayed at so ideally I would shorten the time at the beach and have another night in one of the other national parks  waves and makes snorkelling impossible.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing such a variety of chameleons, both in the wild and at a fantastic sanctuary we visitedLemurs, especially the very tame (but wild) ring-tailed lemursAwesome landscapes!The spiny forest national park right down southWaking up to the sound of Indri calling in the jungle before dawn, also hearing a family chorus when we were watching them - I will never forget!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tahianna, our leader, went out of his way to make sure we were all happy and comfortable. He gave us a lot of information about Madagascar, including personal insights and experiences that really enhanced my understanding of the country. At one point, about 2/3s of us were taken ill (a hazard of travelling in less developed countries and nothing to do with the trip) - he came to each of our rooms over the next 24 hours to check we were ok, made sure we had water and whatever else we needed, and even rearranged the itinerary when it was obvious that the group weren't up to going to a national park. I would give him 11 out of 10 for his tireless care and consideration of our needs.We had a different guide, Roger, for the last 36 hours (the guides change when you fly back from Tolear). I wasn't too impressed by him, it felt like we were a load of boring tourists to him!   

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You will witness extreme poverty so be prepared, especially if you're not used to travelling in less developed countries. On the positive side, your tourism is bringing much needed income and creating an incentive to protect the rapidly disappearing rainforests.You need to be reasonably agile on some of the walks (the trip notes say reasonably fit, but its not just about distances). At times we were clambering over rocks or walking on very uneven paths.Be aware, especially in Tana, of the risk of petty crime (snatch and run). This is nothing to worry about so long as you know it could happen. After learning that one of our group had a necklace snatched on her first day there I took off my (very small) gold St Christopher that's been with me on extensive travels over 20 years... if I'd realised that even this small item would be a temptation I would have just left it at home.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was really impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of local guides in the national parks.I paid for an extra night's accommodation, as the group flight home was full. My booking, and 2 other bookings, was stuffed up by Exodus, as the hotel we had written confirmation we would be staying in was full. This meant transferring to somewhere nearby - the 2nd hotel had our bookings no problem and was nicer - but it was still annoying as I lost half a day of the time I'd set aside to do some independent sight-seeing in Tana after the rest of the group had gone home.Related to the above, and various hassles with invoices before my trip, I don't rate Exodus admin that highly! Having said that, this trip was fabulous and I couldn't have seen everything that I did without either joining a group or spending a fortune, so I'm glad I did it. I would recommend this trip to anyone with a curiosity to get out and about and see this fabulous country!  
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous .

    HIGHLIGHTS OF MADAGASCAR

    A great trip with more wildlife than expected. Slightly longer beach stay than most exodus trips.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When one if the wild ring tailed lemurs jumped right over my head as I stood in the boggy rain forest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armel was an accomplished leader and good at managing expectations. He like to make revelations so only told us the next bit of info.
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