We have been lucky enough to have had some great holidays over the years. This was one of the very best. On reflection we found it hard to think of anything negative. Fascinating countries, diverse experiences, great company, well organised and lead by a great team of guides. Perfect!
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Not sure about inspirational but we had a number of fantastic experiences - in fact over a beer some evenings, we'd reflect that tomorrow might be a bit of a let down as today had been so good - it never was. Each day was enjoyable for different reasons. The highlights were probably: -
- The boat trip to Bocas del Toras - such a surprise (and we won't spoil it for those that have yet to do the trip)
- Walking our bikes across the ( very knackered) bridge across the border from Costa Rica into Panama
- Cycling within 2 miles of a (very) active volcano in Costa Rica
- Sipping a Pina Colada in the thermal baths in Fortuna - heavenly
- The Panama Canal - amazing to think it was operating on principles developed almost 100 years ago
- The greetings of 4 year olds in Panamanian villages shouting "Hey Gringo!"
- Sitting on the side of a beautiful lake in Panama, surrounded by turtles, crocs and other wildlife, then looking up to see an enormous container ship floating silently by on its way through the canal - amazing!
- Waiting for 12 days to see a single Blue Morpho butterfly then being surrounded by them
- What did you think of your group leader?
We read a review before leaving that made negative comments about the tour leader and based on our experience want to challenge this. Let it be known that Kevin Hill is a gem! Exodus would do well to hang onto this man.
Kevin understood that leading a tour isn't just about getting people there. He worked tirelessly to help create the complete holiday. (and anyone who meets a group at the airport after 18 hours travelling with cold beers is off to a good start with us). His organisational skills and prior preparation, including testing parts of the route before we arrived, daily itineraries and maps all showed that he took his role seriously. He appeared to have planned experiences for us with real thought and consideration. He said very little about some of the highlights described above, so we could enjoy the surprise but obviously got a buzz out of seeing the impact this had. He struck us as a man who really does want people to have a great time - and his team was first class. They were all great guys - good fun, helpful and nothing was too much trouble to them.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Read the trip notes before you go! The previous reviewer didn't seem to have done this and was disappointed. We went knowing that to cross 3 countries in two weeks would involve some transfers. They actually weren't as bad as we expected - there were only two long days near the end.
Do this kind of trip if you want to include some great cycling in your holiday (which we did), but not if you are looking for an exclusive cycling trip as you might be disappointed. The cycling wasn't tough if you are reasonably fit, but the team were very supportive of those who wanted to travel in the bus at times.
If you find cycling in the heat difficult, the temperatures in October were fine - and where possible rides were planned at times of day to take the heat into account - so be prepared for 7am breakfasts and leisurely lunches.
After 4 days in Nicaragua, by which time you feel you'll start to look like rice and beans, the food definitely becomes more inspiring, and don't worry about forgetting anything in the first aid kit - Kevin was a walking Boots the Chemist!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just do it!
The trip allows you to see three beautiful and quite different countries from 2 wheels, along carefully selected and variable routes, in what is generally great company.
Whilst we packed a lot in we never felt we were being rushed. The opportunity to ride across islands, to the Pacific then to the Caribbean and back again, through rain and cloud forests, pineapple and banana plantations, towns and villages, where people were friendly, welcoming and in some cases delighted to see us, was fantastic.
The highlights might suggest that Panama was our favourite - but it was really hard to choose one as they were all well worth a visit for different reasons. It has certainly inspired us to think about other parts of Central and South America.
We sound like an advert for Exodus don't we?