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 March 2019
    Richard Atkinson

    A great adventure

    This trip packs in two very different trekking experiences with some great ‘city breaks’ thrown in! Our February departure had great weather, which certainly meant the camping and paths didn’t present too much difficulty and we were able to enjoy the rich variety of ecosystems and stunning views, whilst still getting a good workout! One unexpected bonus was finding ourselves virtually alone on the trails: we only saw a handful of other trekkers after arriving at farmhouses (an adventure in their own right) on the Los Nevados trek. The Lost City trek is more commercialised, but our itinerary meant we only ever encountered other trekkers at the camps, and had the Lost City to ourselves. The whole experience was supported by a great trio of guides who were with us for the whole trip, supplemented by local guides for each trek. The team brought a wealth of experience and local knowledge to ensure we got the most out of the trip. And, as ever, a great bunch of fellow trekkers with whom I shared many stories and laughs!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So had to isolate any one part. In fact it’s probably the variety that was so inspiring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had a great team of three: Julian ensured the logistics all worked smoothly, James kept us all in good spirits on the trail, and Diana always making sure we were fully informed and sorting any issues.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have a soft trek bag for the los nevados trek with something to leave un-needed clothes/gear in, and for the lost city trek, just a mid-sized waterproof stuff sac for the change of clothes for evening and wash bag (plus your day-sac). Also, it’s worth taking a phone charger if using your phone as a camera on the lost city trek as camps now have power. You can pay for internet access at camps, but won’t get a phone signal.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Paul Court

    Great Trip In A Fascinating Country

    This was a very well-run tour which, because of the daily combination of medium-to-long bike rides and substantial bus rides, requires a fair amount of coordination. Since a bus was required, it was a simple matter for those not up to the full day’s ride to spend part of it on the bus. It was quite a treat to have a guide, a mechanic riding the tail end, a bus driver and a truck driver. They were a great team and didn’t miss a step. A particular mention must be made of the team leader, Son Nguyen, who ran things with a firm hand without being overbearing. Guiding a group of Western cyclists through the chaotic traffic of Vietnam, with its swarms of scooters going in every direction, is not for the faint of heart. He was on top of every detail. For example, one of us has an allergy to shellfish. He had this in hand before every meal, and she usually received her crustacean-and-mollusc-free dish right away, rather than having to chase it up. Lunch was typically a delicious bowl of pho in a small family restaurant. Restaurants and hotels were always ready for our arrival, and there were no problems or long waits for check-ins The tour itself is well structured, with a free day with no riding every four days or so. The riding portion started and ended outside the major towns and cities, where the traffic would have been insane. The hotels were much nicer than we expected, in the 3.5 to 4.5 star range. The rides ranged from 50 to 100 km per day and were not technically challenging. There are a few hills, and the one long climb up the Hai Van Pass is a 500+ meter climb over 10 kilometres. Everyone who attempted it crested the summit within an hour. However, it is humid and the temperature ranged from the high 20s to mid 30s. There were hourly stops for fruit and hydration, and we certainly used our bottles on the bikes. Expect to sweat out many litres over the course of a day’s ride. The Vietnamese are lovely and welcoming people. We have fond memories of many children waving and calling out “Hello!” as we rode past, often reaching out to snag high-fives. They also have a real interest in visitors, asking us where we came from, and giving us interesting insights into the country. This rapidly growing and modernizing country, however, has major problems with transportation and trash. There are millions of scooters and small trucks with little regard for the rules of the road, so one has to be alert. At least there are relatively few cars, which would make traffic much worse. Fortunately the truck or bus would go ahead and block traffic for our left turns and major intersections. There is a lot of air pollution because of the traffic, and a lot of scooter riders are wearing masks – not really an option for cyclists riding the distances we did in the heat and humidity.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The children calling out "Hello!"

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb. Son was very well organized and didn't miss a step.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Ron Douglas

    Such a wonderful time

    MOV190303 on YouTube says it all. This beautiful video documenting our trip was produced by our lovely mechanic/wing man Y (EE) who worked so hard and supported us all the way and still somehow managed to produce this great video in time for us to watch it by the end of our trip. The tour went like clockwork under the excellent leadership of our tour leader Linh supported by Y and our excellent driver who all worked tirelessly to make our trip the success it was.. Our group numbered eighteen which was great and we all got along like family (a happy one that is). Some reviews say the tour is pretty intensive and I would go along with that but also say that it was intensively good. Plenty of great cycling including the challenge of Hai Van Pass (if I can do it, you can! Lowest gear, take your time, make a few stops to take photos, and get a cheer from your mates at the top). The Whale Island experience was wonderful with its great snorkelling as was the Halong Bay overnight with kayaking which I have not done before. I had a jacket and trousers made by Yaly in Hoi An and they were great. Even crossing the road in Saigon and Hanoi was an experience not to be missed! The hotels throughout were of a very high standard and Lihn always found us the best places to eat real, fantastic Vietnamese food. We were even very adequately re-fuelled en route via a selection of fruits and bits and home made cold drink using our "snacks kitty"to very good effect. Such a beautiful country. So many lovely sights. So many new experiences. Such lovely food. Such lovely new friends. Truly a wonderful holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the Hai Van Pass was a high point (literally). A bit on the old side, I was tail end Charlie but to reach the top to the waiting, cheering crowd of our friends was like winning a stage of the "Tour" and something I'll always remember. Yes!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Linh was great from start to finish. He is an intelligent, thinking man was extraordinarily informative on anything we asked him as well as delivering informative set-pieces as we travelled on the coach. Linh had a couple of extraordinary things to deal with in support of members of the group and dealt with these really efficiently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Nowhere is the water safe. We use a Sawyer water filter which has kept us safe on three tours in countries where the water is not safe. It cuts down on plastic bottles and gives complete independence. Take a silk sleeping bag liner for the train overnight. The ones in the shops/market in Vietnam say 100% silk but of course they are not! "Life Venture" ones are! and they are good. Forget anything genuine in Vietnam, it's all fake. North Face knock-offs are everywhere. Check out scams and things to avoid in Vietnam on You Tube. Weasel coffee is not genuine unless you are paying 500 USD a bag! I doubt you find it anywhere anyway! Cycling, don't try to keep up with the fastest. Cycle at your own pace and enjoy it. The group is a family. Be prepared for early starts and full days. Be prepared for quite a few hours on the bus. The tour covers many hundreds of kilometres from Saigon to Hanoi and beyond so a certain amount of time on the bus is necessary and not entirely unenjoyable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This tour is a credit to Exodus. It was so well organised throughout and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Ron Douglas

    Such a wonderful time

    MOV190303 on YouTube says it all. This beautiful video documenting our trip was produced by our lovely mechanic/wing man Y (EE) who worked so hard and supported us all the way and still somehow managed to produce this great video in time for us to watch it by the end of our trip. The tour went like clockwork under the excellent leadership of our tour leader Linh supported by Y and our excellent driver who all worked tirelessly to make our trip the success it was.. Our group numbered eighteen which was great and we all got along like family (a happy one that is). Some reviews say the tour is pretty intensive and I would go along with that but also say that it was intensively good. Plenty of great cycling including the challenge of Hai Van Pass (if I can do it, you can! Lowest gear, take your time, make a few stops to take photos, and get a cheer from your mates at the top). The Whale Island experience was wonderful with its great snorkelling as was the Halong Bay overnight with kayaking which I have not done before. I had a jacket and trousers made by Yaly in Hoi An and they were great. Even crossing the road in Saigon and Hanoi was an experience not to be missed! The hotels throughout were of a very high standard and Lihn always found us the best places to eat real, fantastic Vietnamese food. We were even very adequately re-fuelled en route via a selection of fruits and bits and home made cold drink using our "snacks kitty"to very good effect. Such a beautiful country. So many lovely sights. So many new experiences. Such lovely food. Such lovely new friends. Truly a wonderful holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the Hai Van Pass was a high point (literally). A bit on the old side, I was tail end Charlie but to reach the top to the waiting, cheering crowd of our friends was like winning a stage of the "Tour" and something I'll always remember. Yes!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Linh was great from start to finish. He is an intelligent, thinking man was extraordinarily informative on anything we asked him as well as delivering informative set-pieces as we travelled on the coach. Linh had a couple of extraordinary things to deal with in support of members of the group and dealt with these really efficiently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Nowhere is the water safe. We use a Sawyer water filter which has kept us safe on three tours in countries where the water is not safe. It cuts down on plastic bottles and gives complete independence. Take a silk sleeping bag liner for the train overnight. The ones in the shops/market in Vietnam say 100% silk but of course they are not! "Life Venture" ones are! and they are good. Forget anything genuine in Vietnam, it's all fake. North Face knock-offs are everywhere. Check out scams and things to avoid in Vietnam on You Tube. Weasel coffee is not genuine unless you are paying 500 USD a bag! I doubt you find it anywhere anyway! Cycling, don't try to keep up with the fastest. Cycle at your own pace and enjoy it. The group is a family. Be prepared for early starts and full days. Be prepared for quite a few hours on the bus. The tour covers many hundreds of kilometres from Saigon to Hanoi and beyond so a certain amount of time on the bus is necessary and not entirely unenjoyable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This tour is a credit to Exodus. It was so well organised throughout and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    William Wagner

    Amalfi Coast

    A wonderful week, great guide. Itinerary was great, and very comfortable accommodation. Be prepared for steps and inclines I think one day was 3000 steps, but everybody made it !! Visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum were really good.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The path of the gods has amazing views. Villa Cimbrone gardens at Ravello again fantastic views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group Leader Vania was really good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You will probably want walking poles, the hotel does have some....
  • Reviewed March 2019
    JEAN WOOD

    SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: EVERY DAY IS EPIC.

    This was a magical ‘out of this world’ adventure that went way beyond my wildest dreams. Dive in - a spectacular tropical paradise awaits below and above the warm turquoise water. It was incredibly spine-tingling getting up unbelievably close to whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, eagle rays, dolphins, sharks and a vast array of stunning colourful fish. ‘MV Felicity’ was THE ideal way to have these unforgettable encounters with marine wildlife and ‘chill out’ at the same time. I can not recommend this more highly and it totally ‘recharged’ my batteries. Captain Shafi and crew were outstanding and from the moment I stepped aboard this gulet, I felt at home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Swimming along beside ‘Fernando’, a magnificent 7.2m long whale shark.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    KAMEY is THE BEST, the finished article, the ‘real deal’. He is perfect in this role - going the 'extra mile’ at every opportunity to make this the trip of a lifetime for the entire group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Spend at least 1 night on deck gazing up at the stars and listening to the waves as you drift off. It is so therapeutic.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Doreen Drews

    Wonderful holiday on a lovely island with a huge amount of variety over the two weeks

    Very much recommend this trip to people who like a huge variety of experiences on holidays. The trip notes are very accurate and you will travel through, walk through and stay in many different scenic places ranging from small villages, paddy fields, national parks, hill plantations and beach locations. You have opportunities to see and get close to a range of wild animals, bird life and to have contact with local people and their lives during walks and other activities. There are UNESCO world heritage sites and a range of towns to explore. Above all, there are the lovely, smiley Sri Lankan people to meet.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose one. I loved all the world heritage sites (especially Sigiriya) and the game drives (although there is a bit of an issue with the optional elephant game drive ...more later) Others in the group would identify the white water rafting or whale watching so it depends on individual choices.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ruwan was the best tour leader I've travelled with on my many Exodus (and similar companies) holidays. Well organised, personable, knowledgeable and with a passion for his country but also willing to discuss its difficulties. On long journeys he would give us a 'talk' on a particular subject be it Buddhism, history of the country etc. He had a lovely sense of humour which encouraged all of us to participate in activities and there is no doubt that his leadership and good relationship with the coach driver and co-driver helped everyone feel comfortable throughout the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the days involve long coach journeys but each of these were broken up by stopping at interesting spots or having breaks for tea or lunch. There was much more eating in hotels than I've ever experienced on previous Exodus trips. In some cases this was necessary as the hotel was 'out of the way' with little opportunities for cafes/restaurants around , but in other cases you could choose to not eat with the group and search out alternatives (which would be cheaper) locally. Be aware that in all hotels and some restaurants there are taxes to add onto your meal and drinks which increase the cost by 25% The hotels were of a much higher standard than I expected. You don't need to bring a hairdryer or shampoo/conditioner as all provide ...except one. The cottage hotel in Nuwara Ellya had an issue with hot water in some rooms and food service was painfully slow but this hotel only stood out as the others were so great.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Whilst I enjoyed seeing Asian elephants in the wild on the optional game drive near Sigiriya, be aware that currently there are no licenses granted or restrictions put on the number of people who can take tourists in jeeps. This of course leads to far too many vehicles being in the park at any one time. There seems little thought given to the welfare of the elephants as jeeps were allowed to get too close to them surrounding them at certain points. It felt uncomfortable. The game drive in Yala National Park seemed better managed with fewer jeeps and much greater distance kept back from the animals in the main.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Lynne Porteous

    A great and varied trip!

    This was such a good trip! I've wanted to go to Kerela for a long time and I wasn't in the least bit disappointed when I finally got there. This trip had something for everyone in it: wonderful scenery, wildlife, food and people! We covered a lot of ground, literally, and the itinerary was wonderfully varied in content.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    One of my highlights was the trek in the Munnar hills where we walked up through the tea plantations to gain breath-taking views of the surrounding area including the highest peak in South India, Anamudi. Made me want to come back and trek next time!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Santo, was a star! Knowledgeable, flexible, and engaging with a good sense of humour and attention to detail. Nothing was too much trouble!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a great way to experience India, especially if you haven't ever been before - the people are so friendly and welcoming and the itinerary offers so many opportunities to learn about the country, its history and its culture.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Martin Wiselka

    Trails of Vietnam

    This was an action packed adventure holiday with different places to visit and activities each day. The itinerary allowed time for homestays in three different places including a very remote and rural hill farm and the homestays, trekking and cycling activities helped us to understand the country better and meet some of its wonderful people. There were so many photo opportunities in each destination. The trip truly allowed us to experience the varied climate, cultures and cuisine of Vietnam, including opportunities to sample some excellent home cooked local meals. The activities were moderately strenuous and the Leader always ensured that everyone was happy and included.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling in the countryside around Hue visiting the local market seeing people tending their fields, water buffalo taking a bath and herding ducks across the road. Staying at the mountain homestay sharing a house with the local family

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Tan Nguyen was outstanding and ensured that everything occurred like clockwork in the complicated itinerary. He went out of his way to include everyone and ensure that everyone was enjoying their holiday and did everything with a smile on his face and great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This was a very active holiday with many new experiences every day. Requires moderately strenuous physical fitness and activity. Padded cycle shorts recommended. Climate very varied, from surprisingly cold in the northern mountains to sweltering heat in the Mekong delta.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Vietnam is an amazing country and this trip helps you to experience its culture and highlights. Highly recommended.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Marilyn Powell

    Fantastic Trip

    In the favourite word of our leader 'FANTASIC'. Superb trip. Stunning scenery in an area off the beaten track despite only being an hour from Benidorm. Challenging walking at times but well worth the effort. We were lucky to have glorious weather and apart from one cloudy hour at the summit of one walk tee shirts were the order of the week. Pension El Trestellador was delightful. Basic, clean rooms. Comfortable beds and plenty of hot water. Whilst the owners and staff at the pension had limited English they were always friendly and helpful and extremely trusting. You just mark down on a piece of paper any drinks you order - no formal bills at the end of the week. Breakfasts were lovely, pack lunches excellent and evening meals generally good. Traditional, homely and plentiful Spanish food. Area for Exodus clients to make tea and coffee was great and well used by all. Enjoyed the company off the group which definitely added greatly to the whole experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many spectacular moments to name a singleone. Sharing the experience of walking with a great group of people. The dedication and knowledge of guide Jamie.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jamie was absolutely wonderful. So enthusiastic and full of local knowledge. His passion for the area in which he has grown up is evident. He was constantly pointing out things along the way which we would have missed and telling us the names of all the plants. He gave us almonds off the trees and wild asparagus to eat. He encouraged us all when we occasionally flagged and hugged us all when we reached the summits. As mentioned by so many other people the sandwiches he made for our packed lunches were superb and it was always exciting to open the pack at lunch time to see what delights he had created. Definetly Michelin star sandwiches. Jamie also often supplied snacks whilst out on the walks and when we got back to the hotel and were enjoying a beer on the terrace - chocolate, nuts, olives and other local delicacies.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is as the brochure says - challenging. Not a holiday for anyone who is not an experienced walker. Distance is not everything. The terrain was often very rocky and scrambling often required. Steep inclines and decents. I think most of us had the occasional fall albeit without serious injury. If you think you are up for the challenge definitely book this trip - you are unlikely to be disappointed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Absolutely great holiday from start to finish. I sincerely hope it remains in the brochure for others to enjoy. Really good value as pack lunches provided and free wine with dinner.and constant supply of free tea and coffee.
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