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 July 2019
    Chris Hull

    Enjoyable Peruvian trekking

    This is a great trip to visit Cusco, The Andes and Machu Picchu, including physical, culinary and cultural delights. As with all activity at altitude, a good fitness level is no guarantee that altitude symptoms will not occur, however it will certainly make the trekking more manageable and help assure that the group remains together. The Moonstone Trek provides the opportunity for high Andean trekking away from the crowds that can be experienced on the "Inca Trail". However, from discussions with other travelers, the Inca Trail offers greater variety of flora whilst trekking in the cloud forest. The landscape on the trek is stunning, but generally involves fairly barren and rugged mountain-scapes, as might be expected at such altitudes. Visiting in July, the days were warm to hot and the nights often sub-zero, requiring a range of clothing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It’s difficult to identify a single highlight, but Machu Picchu is set in a stunning landscape and a marvel to behold, whilst Cusco offers a more Spanish colonial feel and waking-up on a mountainside always stimulates the senses.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabrizzio, our main tour leader, was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about his country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No amount of training can counter the impact of altitude, but a good fitness level should help assure enjoyment whilst trekking and even walking around Cusco. A good sleeping bag and warm layers will help with avoiding the evening/night cold and getting a sound sleep.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Robert Walden

    Fantastic, well organised trekking holiday.

    Great guide (Mike) who was very knowledgeable, great fun and very helpful to everyone in the group. Porters and food provided on the trek itself were outstanding. Weather was generally very good which obviously helped our enjoyment and the scenery stunning. We were also fortunate enough to see a spectacled bear on the "run up" to Dead Woman's Pass. An experience you will remember for the rest of your life - no matter how young you are!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The final morning when we got up at 5.30am to stand above the clouds and witness snow-clad mountain peaks in the early dawn sunshine.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A1. We could not have had better. He went the extra mile. He emphasised the entire trek was our holiday - not just the final destination. How right he was.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Warm thermals at night time essential. Altitude is a problem to some degree for most people - Mike provided a herbal decongestant to rub on our palms and inhale. A decongestant would probably be useful to pack - a bunged up nose is not conducive to good sleep at any altitude.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We have never had a bad holiday with Exodus!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    colin whitelock

    Good but has potential drawbacks

    Be honest with your physical abilities - this is advertised as a '6' (Challenging/tough)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Ascent of My Rysy - good mix of walk & scamble

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good at ensuring group member interests came 1st and were looked after. Coped well considering the large group size (16 people) and their varied demands

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Maximum group size of 16 could be uncomfortably large. With large groups there is the potential for a wider range of abilities/pace This is an issue when there is only 1 leader as the group has to stay together.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Unsure how the trip grading is calculated. The Exodus trip TVB 'High Peaks of Bulgaria' is rated as a '5' and for me it felt more demanding than this one.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Stephen Secretan

    This trek is no push-over

    A mixed trip - lovely valley walks, challenging mountains and a lively city to end.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me it was the feeling of achievement both at the top of a high mountain and then going into camp / hostel at the end of a hard day. The feelings were definitely enhanced by being with a good group to share the experience

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was great. Lhousine knows the area and the local people and explains everything well. It was clear that he had an eye open for anyone struggling / straggling. Very approachable and happy to talk with us and share his considerable experience of the great outdoors and listen to ours. Lhousine was also very much in control of the logistics - getting us, muleteers, mules bagage, food... to the right place at the right time. Our hard-working support team were truly brilliant in looking after us and our chef, Hamida, worked marvels in producing tasty and attractive meals even when we were miles from any resources

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I found the sleeping mats too thin and would strongly recommend taking an inflatable or similar. Many of the paths we walked on were rock covered with small stones and easy to loose footing. Have boots that are right for that terrain.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was sceptical about what the walking tour of Marrakesh would be. But I am so glad I did it because it was a highlight of the trip and, for me, the best part of our time in the city. Our guide there, Ibrahim, could not have been more informative
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Tim R

    Immersion in the high Andes

    Really excellent trip. Altitude is an issue. We needed the first few days acclimatising in Cusco, where walking up hills seemed an effort. But we were acclimatised when the trek started. There are two parts to the trek although they merge seamlessly. The Salcantay trek is more remote, higher and supported by horses. Highest pass 5k metres. Highest campsite is cold enough to freeze your bootlaces (even Cusco is hot water bottle cold at night). Then you join the Inca trail which is more mainstream, less wild but still breathtaking, no horses but plenty of porters who skip up and down the trail carrying their loads. Not the most challenging walking, probably half the days were proper level 5 and the other half more like level 3. But on the Salcantay part of the trek you really do feel that you are in places where humans are not supposed to tread. Macchu Pichu is very touristy but stunning. The nights at Agua Calientes and Olanta are delightful and Cusco is a fabulous city to spend a few days. Lots of Inca sites - possibly a little too many history lessons for some. We were humbled by the care provided by the leader Edwind and his crew of chefs, horsemen and porters. A wonderful crew who really added to the trip. We felt safe and very well fed. Oh and Peru is a very welcoming country, no litter (pachamama), no smoking and very pleasant people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The massive unclimbed peaks of Saltancay, the avalanches, the black Llama in the night sky

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edwind was terrific. He became our friend. We spent a lot of time together in the food tent and he gets everything just right. Well maybe he could prune the history lessons a tad.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The altitude is a potential game changer. Walk slower than normal going up hill. Think carefully about packing. It gets down to minus 10 at night in the highest camp. The 10kg limit on the trek includes sleeping bag but not the mat. Take a powerbank as not electricity on the trek. Long nights in the tent so take something to read. You get a cold shower on night 4. Enjoy.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Robin Hubbard

    ?

    Excellent -but group should have been smaller.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Summit of Ryzy

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Great fun - knowledgable - extremely helpful. Maybe a bit controlling but group was large with varying abilities

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fit enough and have a head for heights

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Optimal group size 8-12. 16 too large. My only real criticism. Otherwise route activities, huts and leader were all excellent
  • Reviewed July 2019

    Challenging and wonderful trip

    It's a great trip, if you like to go to remote places where you hardly meet other tourists this is the place to be. The scenery is beautiful and every day was different. The walks are challenging as described in the trip notes. The guides were great and everything was well organised.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The last big day from Montenegro back to Albania crossing the pass was a long and hard day but the views were excellent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    They did a very good job, very helpful, friendly and skilful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take insect repellent with you.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Chris Blacker

    Chris's comments

    In general - whole trip excellent. But, tents on Inca Trail trek did not have a complete fly-sheet. As temperatures dropped to 0*C [or very close to], the tents did not retain sufficient warmth inside. A full fly-sheet would have significantly improved the internal temperature of tents. Also, the camping grounds are such that tent pegs are difficult to 'drive' in - this meant insufficient pegs were used to keep tent inner from coming into contact with fly-sheet, resulting in the internal fabric of inner-tent becoming damp, and this often transferred to sleeping bags and equipment. Avianca - Delays and down-grading - a disappointing performance by the airline. Other members of the Inca Trail Trek experienced similar issues with airline.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A close call between 'summiting' Dead Woman's Pass, and the first view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Holger [Olly] on Inca Trail - first rate. Knowledgable and informative. Moises on Rainforest Extension - first rate. Again knew the subject.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    All is covered in Trip Notes for both sections. But, make sure you carry sufficient Currency [Soles or US$] for Rainforest Extension [drinks, minor kit items] - prices a bit higher than general for Peru.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoyed the whole experience, and completely recommend it.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Katherine White

    Mountains, Mules and Moroccan Memories

    A perfect holiday of exploration for anyone who is fit, adventurous, has a sense of camaraderie and can revert to the true nature of what it's like to really live , be at one and experience the wilderness of the surroundings and not be concerned with unnecessary luxuries we take for granted at home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The cloud inversion and breathtaking views from Mt Toukbal and the optional summitting of Ouanakrim on our summer solstice with its isolation and equally jaw dropping panorama while watching the incredible dawn track us on our ascent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lahcen our leader was incredible. He was there for absolutely everyone on the trip, the novice to the experienced mountaineer. To watch him enable the least confident to flourish and for all to reach way beyond their own personal goals was humbling. His pacing was spot on, slowing the potential 'bolters' from burning out and thereby encouraging us all to acclimatise slowly so that no one felt excluded from the chance of getting to the top. People made their own decisions on summitting Ouanakrim, two 4000m peaks in 24 hours with 03:30 am starts or similar is not for all but Lahcen ensured the decision was our own. His local knowledge was incredible and we felt safe at all times with his skills and acute perception of any struggling. A true leader and mountaineer.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some basic camping and toilet facilities. The heat and destination meant some of us needed the odd emergency stop by a boulder (shrubs are very scarce at altitude) so forget the shyness. Take some hand sanitiser. The fitter you are the easier it will be. You will be 'carrying' yourself upwards in heat and at altitude and despite any pacing 'extra baggage' is 'extra baggage' ! Embrace the wilderness ,the cameraderie of working as a group and remember everyone of the group wants to have the chance to get to the top . We found our filter water bottles extremely useful, we were guided on which streams to use, plastic disposal is a big problem for any country.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The camp meals were pretty amazing ! Always plenty of it and lots of vegetables. Vegetarian and Coeliac requirements were catered for. Bring your own snacks if you like . Phone signal is very limited, a great way to escape . The mules are part of the team and great entertainment! Marakesh is a full on sensory experience after the wilderness. Not showering was not a problem. For me.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Sue Turner

    A wonderful trip

    Would definitely recommend this holiday. I have never seen so many flowers and the scenery generally was amazing. It was a tough trek, but the trip notes make this very clear - so there were no surprises. We were made to feel very welcome at the huts and guesthouses, and it was lovely to spend time in such a remote region. The guides were really helpful and had worked very hard to put the trip together. Altogether a great experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Swimming in the mountain lakes was pretty special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both our guides were excellent, and worked really hard to ensure we had a good time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of insect repellent, and a sandwich box would also be helpful.
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