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
    Nicola Jenkins

    Excellent

    A great trip for those interested in the wildlife of the country, with some walking but also boat trips and viewing in the grounds of the lodges.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'm not sure that I can pick a single moment as every day threw up wonderful sights and interesting animals. However the view of a moving sloth in the wild was special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Coped with everything that the group presented him with and very proactive in dealing with any problems.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do check that this is the trip for you. It is not hiking but spending time, sometimes in one place looking for the special view.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Susan Baxter

    A fabulous trip for wildlife lovers

    The tour is well planned with a mix of early mornings and full days, with down time to spend around the pool or strolling. If you like a tour to be more like a holiday than a frenetic series of hotels, then this is perfect. If you are an activity junkie then it is not for you. It covers a huge variety in a couple of weeks, boat trips, walking, sightseeing and snorkelling, and we saw an amazing range of birds, reptiles and mammals with our fantastically knowledgeable and lovely guide. The accommodation was good, ranging from Tortugero where the individual chalets were in a stunning setting, to Cahuita which was rather in need of TLC but in a convenient location behind the beach. The rooms are as described in the details - comfortable rather than luxurious. The beds everywhere were extremely comfortable, I slept incredibly well! The included meals were all good, the hotels were very accommodating catering for a vegan diet.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a sloth crawling along behind the beach in Cahuita, we stood and watched while he unsteadily clambered up the tree and around the branches. A lovely meal in a restaurant right on the beach that evening made for a fantastic day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was extremely knowledgeable and amazing at spotting things. His knowledge of birds was incredible. He was always there if we needed anything and provided information constantly about the wildlife, the country and the activities. He was well-planned and organised, everything went like clockwork -if we were meeting a driver, he was always there waiting for us, if we were meeting a boat it was there without us having to wait in the heat. Checking in and out of the hotels was done extremely speedily, and you overall just couldn't fault him as a group leader he was fantastic!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take binoculars, take insect repellent, take a hat, take a torch, pack as light as you can and have a case with wheels as you are often moving your case about yourself to/from rooms and boats. Don't expect that you will be on your own with wildlife. Costa Rica is popular. There are many boats doing the same thing in Tortugero, the walk in Cahuita NP is a family stroll with lots of people around (everyone looking slightly puzzled that we were in walking boots, hiking trousers and rucksacks when they were all going past in bikinis and flip flops), the Osa peninsula is not wilderness any more, there were lots of other small groups doing the walking trails, and several other boat-loads of people snorkelling and having lunch on the beach. But the wildlife is still incredible.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    From an ethical viewpoint I have huge questions about the sloth "sanctuary" and I strongly urge exodus to re-consider the visit there. These animals are enchanting close up, but having seen them in the wild, viewing them in wire cages with pretend branches, a tiled floor, no enrichment, and no hope of any other existence was heart rending. Keeping them alive in these conditions is not necessarily the kindest thing to do.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Hilary Morrison

    Costa Rica Coastal secrets

    2 weeks in Paradise - wildlife bliss in a beautiful country with a great group and the best guide imaginable ( Jorge )

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to list , but include watching a mother humpback whale nurse her baby at Drake bay, being surrounded by a huge pod of dolphins chasing a large shoal of flying fish , seeing a magnificant resplendent quetzal glowing in the sunshine at the top of a tree in sagrevre cloud forest , watching a sloth move slowly along a branch with a baby clinging onto her and waking up to the sounds of the howler monkeys and birds in the forested areas

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Having Jorge our guide was actually one of the biggest highlights of our trip . His incredible knowlegde and passion for wildlife and his country was infectious. He was cheerful ,patient and good humoured at all times , and went out of his way to accomodate everyones interests . He worked very hard to ensure we all saw as much wildlife as possible , and could spot birds and animals we would never have seen , and get his scope focused on a rare bird in seconds so we all could see it clearly . We all thoroughly enjoyed his company and sense of humour and he was very generous with his time adding in extra nature walks if we wished. We were all very sad to bid him goodbye at the end of the trip - thank you so much Jorge !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of deet and also some local currency ( Colons ) despite what Exodus advises . It just makes buying coffees , drinks and snacks easier as each bar will convert colons to dollars , but the rate of exchange will vary widly from place to place . Most of the group had an extra 24 hrs in San Jose at the end so we could fly on the only direct flight to Gatwick . At the end of the trip it was strange being back in a city after such being immersed in such variety of nature for 2 weeks. If you wanted and had time to visit a nearby volcano, plan this beforehand as its too late to do once you return to San Jose . We visited the National Museum , which was well presented in an old fort very interesting and covered the history of Costa Rica in an intersting way - it really summed up all Jorge had told us about its history .
  • Reviewed February 2019

    Amazing holiday

    Costa Rica really is an amazing place. Not a rich place as thought by Columbus but not third world either. I think they call it ‘an emerging economy’. Very much worth visiting if you’ve never been before and this is an excellent trip. I can only comment on the 2nd half of January when it’s relatively (but not completely) dry and only really, really hot on the Pacific coast. In theory, you could create this trip more cheaply yourself but do you really want the hassle of having to organise all the hotels and transfers to some pretty remote places (Tortuguero, Savagre and Drake Bay)? 3 days is enough at any of the stops so you’ll want to get yourself around the country during a two week stay. Plus you would need to arrange a quality guide to learn all about Costa Rica and point out incredible wildlife you would otherwise inevitably miss. The age group on our tour was exclusively in the ‘retired’ category apart from us two who were a generation younger. 9 Brits, 7 US. No problem at all as we all got on famously. It’s not the most active of tours - a lot of time is spent on coaches and minibuses but that can’t really be helped due to the geography and ‘evolving’ road network of Costa Rica but you do feel a bit lethargic sometimes, especially after the long flight to get there. There were a couple of ‘challenging’ walks to waterfalls which almost everyone made but if you struggle with tricky surfaces and awkward walkways then it’s no problem to stop and wait for the others to return. The change in climate is quite incredible as you journey around. San Jose is relatively high up for a capital city so a lovely temperature for wandering round. The wind generally comes from the east and the Atlantic coast gets a lot more rain than the Pacific. This means the Atlantic coast is slightly cooler but wetter. Up in the mountains, it’s still warm during the day but down to single figures first thing in the morning. I have to say we were incredibly lucky with the weather even though it did rain heavily a few times but not for long. There are many early starts to contend with which is fine for those from the UK thanks to the time difference. This is so you can either catch the wildlife at their most active or get on the road early to avoid the traffic and travel to the next place as soon as possible. Talking of wildlife, Costa Rica is all about birdlife. We must have seen dozens of exotic species – far too many to mention here. The place is absolutely alive with creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours which is a great testament to the way Costa Rica has created a large number of magical National Parks. I must admit, personally, we were more interested in tropical fish than birds and thought we would be snorkelling on both coasts. Sadly the seas were a bit rough for the Cahuita reef but Cano Island more than made up for this with two excellently organised snorkels off the back of a boat. The fins and mask supplied by the resort were of a high standard so no need to bring your own gear. It’s probably not the best location to try snorkelling for the first time or if you’re not too confident but there are two snorkel guides from the resort in the water with you at all times so you’re in very safe hands. Not a problem if snorkelling isn’t your thing as the others went for a nature walk in the pristine forests of the island. San Jose – Presidente Hotel – recently renovated, comfortable, very central location – right on the pedestrianised Central Avenue. Tortuguero - Evergreen Lodge – a proper eco-lodge – metal mosquito mesh for windows – no AC, only a fan – very damp but don’t be surprised by this as it’s in the middle of a rain forest. Excellent swimming pool and lovely food. Cahuita - Cuidad Perdida (not the Atlantida – worth checking with your Exodus rep which hotel you are booked into) – some people reported issues with showers lacking hot water but this was fixed during our stay. A 5 minute walk from the very easy-going Cahuita village with lots of Jamaican style restaurants and bars to choose from. Turrialba - Villa Florencia – best room of the whole trip – huge, modern, well equipped. Beautiful, peaceful location. Savegre - Savegre Hotel, Nature Reserve & Spa – Stunning location at the bottom of a steep valley, still 2,200m up so relatively cold first thing in the morning. Best food. Drake Bay - Wilderness Resort – rooms really could do with an update but all had AC and plenty of hot water for showering. Amazing location, on the beach, overlooking Drake Bay. The highlight of the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think the Costa Rican nation are the most inspirational thing about the trip. Considering it’s a relatively young country, surrounded by pretty unstable neighbours with an economy seemingly based on bananas, coffee and sugar cane, they’re doing just nicely. They’re a very friendly bunch and have run the place just about as sensibly as could possibly be expected. Thanks to very far-sighted government policies around nature conservation and energy supply, they are now reaping the rewards through well developed eco-tourism. As long as the whole world doesn’t descend at once on Costa Rica, they’ll do just fine.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mayer did a fantastic job of coordinating us all – not an easy job by any means. Plus he’s a really nice guy who kept us all entertained and informed throughout. Mayer is a one man Costa Rican version of Google. What this chap doesn’t know about Costa Rican wildlife you can ignore. How he kept managing to spot tiny, camouflaged creatures hundreds of meters away through his incredible scope, I’ve no idea. For lugging this unwieldy scope and tripod through some of the world’s most hot and humid rain forests, he deserves a medal. You will learn all about the fascinating wildlife, history, politics and sociology which is why you need a decent guide for this sort of tour. He’s also very keen to answer any questions you might have.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    So, what to take with you? Don’t go overboard with stuff because you’ll be doing a lot of packing and unpacking as you move between locations. I wasn’t sure whether to take a wheelie suitcase or a large holdall. In the end we went with holdalls but it didn’t really matter either way. As for currency, we didn’t bother with dollars and used a combination of Colon notes and credit card to pay for things. Most meals and almost all excursions are included so you shouldn’t need a huge amount of cash – just the odd lunch/dinner/drinks and tips. The remote places miles from an ATM are Tortuguero, Turriabla, Savegre and Drake Bay. Make sure you’ve got enough cash in your pocket before you get to these places. Medicines – upset stomachs and sickness were unfortunately not uncommon but soon passed after a day or two – best pack some tablets to be on the safe side. Insect repellent – you will get bitten even in the dry season, through clothes and despite DEET – hydrocortisone cream is fantastic to stop itching though which means the bites heal quicker. As mentioned, it will rain at times. Heavily. Poncho needed. Footwear – Approach/trail shoes or hiking boots are ideal for the walks – as long as they are comfortable and have plenty of grip you’ll be fine. Water shoes / Crocs are also worth packing for when you get in and out of boats as they reverse up to the shallows of beaches during the trips from Drake Bay. Technical (polyester) t-shirts, thin shorts and walking trousers are ideal for walking in the jungles as they’ll keep you cooler. Don’t forget a warm fleece / light jacket for Savegre. We were advised to take a beach towel but in the end didn’t need it. Most resorts lend you a beach towel free of charge so not an issue. For some strange reason, only the San Jose hotel had a sink plug. Get yourself a travel sing plug if you want water to stay in the basin whilst you’re having a wash. Camera is a must. Ideally a decent one with a good zoom otherwise you’ll come home to a load of photos with a small dot in the middle which could be anything from a sloth to a pelican. Don’t be afraid to ask your assigned Exodus rep and questions about the tour you might have before you go – they are really helpful and usually get back to you within a day or two. Laundry – Drakes Bay resort do have a free, same-day laundry service but this is near the end of your stay. I tried washing some clothes at Savegre but getting them to dry was hard work – this country is humid, even in the mountains but especially on the coasts – you have been warned. Flights from/to the UK – get the direct BA flights from Gatwick if possible. The food is plentiful if not gourmet. You’ll need an extra night in San Jose at the end but Exodus will sort all this out for you along with the airport transfers.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Lesley Fysh

    Lots of wildlife and great places

    Enjoyed the trip very much. All of the destinations in the itinerary were interesting and beautiful. The only downside is the amount of travelling needed to get from place to place. It would be good if one or two journeys could have been made by air instead of road.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There wasn’t one single outstanding moment for me. The highlights were all of the wildlife viewings.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro was a great leader, full of fun and there to help out in any way.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Helen Lauder

    Great trip

    A really full trip. Travelling to areas remote and beautiful with plenty of scenery and wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing primary rain forest and the way conservation and tourism have been harnessed as resources.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was enthusiastic and knowledgeble. Excellent guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would loved to have had an extra few days.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Adrian Binney

    Excellent 2nd Trip after Discovery Tour

    This was our 2nd Exodus Costa Rica Trip - first was Discovery and only duplication was Tortuguero which is just a fabulous experience (access only by fast river boat) and great wildlife. There are no cars! Cahuita was a complete joy, v good hotel location and v nice Caribbean feel & great bars to eat at with ocean sounds. Savegre is a bird paradise and stunning facility and food. Drake Bay is a “must” for all - great experiences, location, staff and food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Drake Bay snorkelling - very safe, 15 of us with 3 guides - my first time and it was easy and safe. Turtles and thousands of reef fish in cristal clear water.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    First class. Truthfully so and we have been on many group tours.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip is a must! Take beach shoes or the equivalent.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We will return to Costa Rica and there is simply no need to consider using someone other than Exodus. Their choice of hotels, itinerary and tour leads is perfect.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Rosemary MacGregor

    Pretty accurate title, though we had 3 days in the interior

    We had a terrific fortnight. I would have given 5 stars but for the hotel in Cahuita and for the choice of that location. We saw a great many birds and animals, did some wonderful walks and boat trips and experienced some of the lesser known parts of Costa Rica which were well worth experiencing. A small group - only 6 of us - but we got on excellently and it was a lovely atmosphere. I think I would have reduced the amount of road travel slightly. The drive to and from Cahuita was long and I don't think any of us felt it was really worth it, although we did good sloth spotting there and the walk in the National Park was lovely. We couldn't go in the sea as it was too rough (both there and in Tortuguero) which was a big disappointment, as it meant we only swam and snorkelled on the Pacific side at Drake's Bay, and for me, the snorkelling was one of the main draws.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The snorkelling trip at Drake's Bay, though I loved all the boat travel, and the trips to and around Tortuguero were brilliant The birdlife at Savegre was astounding, and finally getting to see the quetzal after 2 days of searching, was hugely exciting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Allan was a delight. He was thorough, caring, attentive and good fun. He was very knowledgeable about both the flora and fauna, and also very happy to explain to us about Costa Rican life, social affairs and customs. His English is excellent. Alejandro, the driver, was also lovely.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I found some of the hotels to be a bit basic- so for example, some had very low levels of light, making it hard to read at night. One (Cahuita) didn't have shampoo and several didn't have a hairdryer. Most didn't have air-con, but just fans. I think the others on the trip were less bothered by this than I was, but they had all done holidays with you before and were more used to the level of comfort being offered. Wifi was usually only really viable in the main reception, or bar areas. However, I think Costa Rica is a wonderful destination, with great scenic variety (and temperature). I'm not sure that the trip notes (which I've now lost) underline the need for warm clothing in the Savegre area. We all found it very chilly. Raingear also essential- despite it being the dry season.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The day spent at La Marta was perhaps the least successful- although we all enjoyed the hotel that night
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Derek Holwill

    Brilliant wildlife trip

    Tremendous trip for wildlife. Great photographic opportunities every day - very varied.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Humpbacks repeatedly breeching next to our boat

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get up early to enjoy sunrise and the early morning birdlife. And have a camera with good low light capabilities
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Caroline Fielden

    Two weeks of wildlife bliss

    This was our second trip to Costa Rica (we travelled with Exodus 3 years ago and loved it) and it didn't disappoint. If you love the natural world this trip is for you. The entire holiday is spent immersed in the diversity of nature visiting some of Costa Rica's amazing locations From tiny leaf cutter ants to majestic whales this trip offers it all. Each stop on the itinerary offers its own unique view of the natural world with a abundance of wildlife in stunning surroundings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole trip was memorable it would be hard to narrow it down. We saw numerous wild sloths (actually moving - very unusual) the magnificent show of the humming birds, snakes and lizards. The moment which took my breath away were the close encounters with humpback mothers and their calves and two sleepy tapir who were totally relaxed in our presence.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro had an obvious love of his country and its wildlife and was enthusiastic about even the tiniest animal. He loved his hikes through the rain-forest and gave up his free day to lead walks through Saverge's cloud forest.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If Exodus don't change their itinerary consider paying extra for a tour to Sirena rather than San Pedrillio while staying on the Osa Penninsula. The wildlife in Sirena is more abundant and varied. Although the trip notes recommend taking dollars, take as many colones as you can as some places don't give the best exchange rate when paying in dollars. Don't forget a good poncho and dry bags, it will rain!
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