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 May 2019
    Kate Ferguson

    Amazing trip

    A really great trip, Sardinia is a very beautiful place and we had a fantastic week of cycling, eating, socialising and learning about this beautiful Island from our lovely guides

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top of a very challenging climb, the sense of of achievement and Endorphine release, the camaraderie with others in the group reaching the top, followed by the spectacular descent with beautiful scenery in glorious sunshine - magic!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Simone was fantastic, such a nice man who gave the impression he was really enjoying being with us and telling us about his beautiful Island. He was organised, safety conscious, knowledgeable and great company. His sidekick / driver Marc was also lovely - smiley, friendly and nothing was too much trouble. Exodus seem to have a knack of finding fantastic guides who really know their stuff, are professional, organised and lovely people!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to be quite fit on this trip - 3 days of significant climbing so if you are not a regular cyclist you should consider an E-bike. I loved the challenges as cycle back home but some people found it quite hard work on the more challenging days

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was surprised what an interesting and beautiful place Sardinia is - really spectacular scenery and not just on the coast. We enjoyed all the meals and nice accommodation and we were lucky to have a great group - we all got on well (mix of Brits and Canadians). Lots of laughs and lovely food and wine and beer as well as cycling! Bikes all excellent, lovely weather, no punctures - weren't we lucky!! I would highly recommend.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Caroline Tutty

    Amazing Stromboli

    A great trip with some interesting hikes and lots of volcano information topped by the fantastic hike to Stromboli summit. After the quite tough trek we were rewarded with an amazing display from the old crater looking down onto the current active craters. Unfortunately we could not go to the summit of Etna due to bad weather and the lower level trek seemed a disappointment after Stromboli. Quite a lot of time to rest and sample local life between walks. Hotels were good apart from Catania which was poor and would have been better to be based in Lipari town as nothing was open on a Monday night in May in Cantena.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Stromboli summit was a truly wonderful experience

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marco was brilliant, very caring and looking out for all members of the group, knowledgable about volcanos and the local area and a good sense of humour

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take warm clothes for the summit
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Melanie Byrne

    Worth the wait

    I tried to book this holiday in March 2018, but as there was not a single room available and as I wanted to fly from my local airport and couldn't meet the group transfer in time, I decided on another trip with a competitor of Exodus, but this year the flights meant I arrived in time to meet the group at the airport, and despite my reservations about going in May and it being a bit too warm for walking, the whole group coped with the 27c.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views from The Cortijo, the quiet and the walk in the Grazalema park.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Having read all the reviews- Michael was the reason why this year I decided I would share a room with someone unknown as no single room available, he absolutely made the trip . Amusing and informative, he looked after us well, and if we needed any information he went out of his way to get it for us. When out walking, Michael made sure we were all well hydrated, had plenty of sun screen on, took regular breaks in the shade of the olive trees and was very keen on us carrying at least 2 litres of water, as we were regularly advised to fill our hats with some and put our hats back on our heads! It really does help to keep you cool.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I've not given this a 5, only because the food, while plentiful was just a little bland, a definite lack of fresh salad, onions, garlic, dressings and piquancy. The starters were probably the least imaginative, and for myself too big! The mains including the fish were mostly good,except the chicken vol au vent- not as we understand in the UK, perhaps I'm being a bit picky, just personal taste but then I like cooking.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Timothy Masters

    Overall a great holiday, more about the country than cycling

    This was the first self guided cycling tour we have experienced. The cycling was mainly easy but in one or two places it was better to avoid traffic and push the bikes. The Italian countryside is in places glorious and ever changing. The cities are probably the main event though and a must if you like classical art and history and of course food and drink. The tour guides and maps are very detailed and carefully prepared. The bikes were very good with panniers and water bottles etc. The weather was cool but dry and mainly sunny. In the wet this might not be such a fun trip as there is quite a bit of cycling on gravel tracks. We found it easy to catch the train with our bikes but beware of unscheduled train strikes. The hotels were excellent throughout with plentiful breakfasts. The stops are all in towns and cities so this is not a holiday with stays in the Tuscan countryside.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the best was successfully using some of our few words of Italian learned pre trip! But for me the classical views of the Tuscan hills, olive groves, vineyards, cypress trees and classical villas were captivating and brought us close to the rural life of Italy. Equally the cities have so much to offer, even if it is just enjoying the atmosphere and gentle decay of some of the older centres with their shops and restaurants. Finally there is nothing to beat Italian coffee and ice cream which feel all the more earned after a few hours cycling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The tour was very literally self guided so you are on your own apart from the initial brief and handover of the bikes. This is where the tour could be improved because a 10 minute chat with a tour guide at the end of each day would have been useful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are a confident cyclist used to traffic and off road there is no problem with this tour because the cycling is easy. The longest stretch of 66 Km is on the last day but is largely on a downward grade. But definitely take a gel saddle cover and padded shorts. This trip could be harder work in high temperatures or windy/wet conditions, but the train is a good option if you are not too bothered about the cycling. Otherwise the hilly sections on day 2 and 4 are a bit more of a challenge and there are some fairly short on road stretches where the traffic is heavy with lorries etc and you need to take care and it is safer to get off and push. In cities there are cycle lanes and parks and we had no problems even though the streets are crowded in places. The directions given are easy to follow and the maps and guidebook are excellent.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want a cycling holiday this tour may not be for you. But if you want to see some wonderful Italian cities and countryside with comfortable accommodation, without the stress of arranging it all yourself this tour is a very good option.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    David Gartside

    An enjoyable week with lots to see, do and taste!

    We chose the trip after seeing an advert in the Guardian and decided that it sounded fun - mixing food and drink experiences with archaeology, history and geography. We weren't disappointed. Though we don't normally go for group holidays, this trip worked well. The opportunity to share food and drink tastings with the group added a dimension that would have been missing if we had been on our own. Rosario, our guide, and Maurizio, our driver, both worked dilgently to ensure we really enjoyed the trip - getting us to everywhere we needed to be without fuss or bother, and handling queries and minor problems with unfailing patience and good humour. In a relatively short time, we saw a good cross-section of the island, and came back with happy memories and a much stronger 'mental image' of Sicily. Thanks to all concerned who made this work.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to choose....! The cathedral at Monreale (Palermo) with seemingly every surface covered with mosaics was amazing. Similarly the temples at Valle dei Templi near Agrigento. Ragusa Ibla was a fascinating hilltop village which repaid careful exploration. The trip up Etna was well worthwhile - the snow and gale-force winds a stark contrast to conditions at sea-level. On the food side of things the market visits in Palermo and Ortigia, and the olive farm were memorable, though in fairness to all the other locations, we were warmly welcomed and treated as honoured guests by owners and staff.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario worked hard throughout the trip to make sure we got the most out of it , without being pushy or bossy. He quickly gained the confidence of the group, answered a myriad of questions (on a wide variety of topics) with enthusiasm and insight, and routinely gave us sufficient information about the next few hours' activities without overloading us with minutiae. As appropriate, he organised local restaurants for evening meals and was a good person to have around to help navigate menus, clarify issues etc. He seemed to cope well with the occasional personal issues that arose, treating the person with the issue with respect, while not overlooking the needs of the wider group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip is described as 'leisurely' and in terms of physical effort that is probably about right if you choose to take a laid-back approach. However, the days were long and action-packed (not complaining) and the various stops offered lots to see and do - so in practice you could be on the go for big chunks of time. Warm clothes (layers best) and decent walking shoes / boots essential for the Etna excursion. Several people commented that they wish they'd brought a decent map to keep track of our progress. I had the TCI:Touring Club Italiano 1:200 000 Sicily with me, that was more than adequate. Available locally or from Stanford's in London ~ £10.00

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotels were the usual eclectic mix - some with great character: eg Hotel Carmine in Marsala, Hotel dell'Orologio in Ragusa Ibla; some with a good location eg Hotel Villa Esperia on the coast road in Mazarro (close to, but away from the tourist throng of Taormina) . Some people were unimpressed with the Hotel Posta in Palermo, but we were fine with it. The Jolly Aretusa Palace (what a name!) in Syracuse was OK but not brilliant - no idea whether there are better alternatives. The booby prize goes to the Hotel Dioscuri in Agrigento/Santa Leone. On paper and from the outside it looks fine - seaside location, generous plot etc, but the reality disappoints. The room was fine but the walls terribly thin and hence neighbour noise an issue. The hotel handles a lot of tour groups (I do realise the irony of this comment) and struggles to cope - especially at breakfast where service was overwhelmed and finding things became farcical.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Paul Mackay

    Happy walkers

    Wonderful week walking in the quite mountains of Garfagnana gave a real sense of getting back to nature. Sara, our guide, was excellent and helped make the trip truly memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing mount sumbra with views to the coast and Corsica beyond.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara is a star. Amazing guide and one of the most thoughtful persons I’ve ever met.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the weather to be changeable. Area has it’s own micro climate.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Only minor gripe is the single beds are quite small and narrow.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Rachel Speight

    Pico's May 2019

    An amazing trip assisted by the complete gelling of the group...everyone put in 100% from day 1 to make it a great success

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing the peaks with the encouragement of the group and the tour leader...….amazing views and sense of achievement

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb!! Well informed and aware of the local environment - ensured that everyone was safe at all times and answered all questions and queries Nothing was too much trouble

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take ear plugs for the cow bells if you are a light sleeper!!!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Diane Humphreys

    Walking in Sardinia

    We saw many historical and cultural aspects of Sardinia that were a complete surprise to us and these were a bonus. The planned walks were stunning in their scope and very ably led by Albert, our tour leader. The weather was variable and greatly impacted on the activities so re scheduling was necessary; having said that, we missed nothing in the end. Being flexible is part of travel.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the gorge and the cave after much scrambling over huge rocks.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Albert was trustworthy, physically very capable and knowledgeable and patient with a diverse group of walkers.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack for all weathers and be prepared to work with the weather.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    James Bennett

    Cycling in the bltkans

    Thoroughly enjoyed the trip despite the poor weather. Very engaging and professional crew

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of that very very very steep climb above kotor

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do it - however, not recommended for the occasional cyclist
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Scott Semple

    Spectacular trek with the best trek leader

    The trek to Machu Picchu in Comfort is very much a trek worth taking. Machu Picchu is very impressive as you might imagine, but somewhat overshadowed by the majesty of the Peruvian mountainside that you trek through to reach it. I was blown away by the views along the treks, particularly from Dead Woman’s Pass and our final campsite at 4000m. I do not normally write reviews and the thing that makes me want to is to highlight just how amazing our tour leader Cesar Smith (“Smithy”) was. I have never encountered a more friendly, informative and inspiring trek leader in all of my travels. Easily the best tour guide I have ever encountered. Smithy’s passion for his country, mountains and knowledge of historical contact are impressive enough, but his support for the entire group was outstanding. A few in the group struggled with some altitude effects and fitness. These members were sensitively supported by Smithy, whilst he also facilitated those of us wanting to trek faster to do so. Friendly and informative with a contagious passion for the trek, I cannot say enough good things about Smithy, our tour leader. If you have options of choosing dates with his involvement, he comes with my highest recommendation. In terms of the trip, there are parts that are physically challenging, so I would advise reading the training guide. My wife and I trained for the trip and were very glad we did.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking up over Dead Woman’s pass and the last campsite and 4000m offered breath-taking views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I cannot say enough good things about our group leader. Easily the best guide I have ever experienced. Friendly, informative without being overbearing. His passion for the mountains and the country of Peru is inspirational. His relationship with our porters one of mutual respect. Amazing knowledge and I genuinely warmed to the man to a degree which surprised me. One of the big highlights of our tour was the tour leader. Cesar Smith (“Smithy”) comes with my biggest recommendation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes. Read the training guide. Those that had not did struggle with some the challenging sections of the trip. Dead Woman’s Pass is a challenge for most people, so do the training for the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was very impressed with the porter tea. Our chef Luciano demands specific praise. The food was excellent, and varied. The lead porter Alejandro, ran a tight ship, and each of the porters were constantly busy, supporting the entire group. A really inspirational bunch of lads. They had clear respect for our tour leader, who again, I simply cannot say enough good things about. If you have any choice in the matter, try to book a tour with Smithy as your tour leader.
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