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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed August 2019
    SF Ho

    Madagascar

    "Madagascan Discoverer" was a truly wonderful, very enjoyable, multi-faceted trip with a really excellent guide, Rija. I am writing this review to inform future customers about 1 less-than-good aspect because it might be a safety issue for some people booking this holiday. In addition, Exodus has failed to respond to the comments I made in my on-line post-holiday evaluation about this, so I do not know if Exodus has read the evaluation and is going to do anything to improve the situation. My criticism relates to the harnesses provided for the walk in the Grands Tsingy. Mine was too big for me, even when the smallest harness the company had was adjusted to the smallest possible size. This same problem also affected another person in the group. Both of us are slimmer than most other British adults. Fortunately, neither of us fell and came to any harm. If we had fallen and had had to rely on the harnesses to keep us safe, there would have been the potential for an accident or injury. If you are slim or if you have children who are intending to do the Via Ferrata in the Grands Tsingy, please consider bringing your or their own harness(es) that fits you/them. A harness that does not fit the wearer is of little use. I climb regularly and know how important this piece of equipment is and how a proper fit is necessary for safety. This deficiency on the part of Exodus is made worse because I had actually queried with Exodus BEFORE the trip whether I should bring my own harness to Madagascar. The reply that the Exodus rep gave me was that we would not be doing Via Ferrata and there was no need for the harness. This reveals that the Exodus representative does not know her product: we definitely did a Via Ferrata and we used climbing equipment. Other than this failing, and one or two things which were beyond the control of Exodus, the holiday was very good, hugely interesting and varied and I had a great time. I fully recommend this holiday and in particular, commend Rija for her excellent guiding.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

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    What did you think of your group leader?

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    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    See above.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Holly Bayfield

    Honeymoon

    We booked a personalised tour of Madagascar for our honeymoon. We saw everything we wanted to see and had local guides to help us spot the rarest of animals on our list. We arranged for a few additional days in Nosy Be (unguided) so we could finish our adventure with some scuba diving.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The animals; a grey mouse lemur seen at night just inches away from us in Kirindy Reserve. A satanic leaf tailed gecko and brown leaf chameleon hidden in the rainforest of Ranomafana. Playful King Juliens. Turtles while diving. Many wonderful lemurs including seeing baby sifakas attached to their mothers. Truly wonderful to see so many amazing animals in their natural and protected habitats.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bodo was excellent and a credit to Exodus. She gave us detailed information as we went along, a particular nicety was her writing down the animals we had seen so we could keep accurate records. She struck the perfect balance between being with us and giving us information and letting us enjoy some time alone. Besides being a great tour guide, she also showed extraordinary kindness and generosity as we explored the country, often handing out small gifts of food, water or school supplies to children along the way when it was appropriate to do so. It was a pleasant addition to our trip to spend time with such a lovely person.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Air Madagascar internal flights can be unpredictable. We had two problems which scuppered some plans including missing a connecting domestic flight because of a flight delay, and moving another flight forward 5 hours so we couldn't do an island tour to Nosy Komba that we had arranged. Not terrible as we adjusted our plans, but worth knowing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had a great trip! Credit also to our various drivers who were all superb.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Jess Ormerod

    Review

    Loved the trip! See a lot but flip side is you are constantly travelling and some very long drive days. It would have been good to have more free time in places. We also had quite mixed abilities in the group but I think our tour leader managed this really well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tsingy was the stand out but all the landscapes and parks are beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mel was awesome. He really made the trip!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring snacks.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Maddie Hallwood

    A bladder stretching, inspiring, bumpy, simply amazing adventure!

    This is not a trip for anyone seeking a rest. The days are long and you aren’t going to get a nap on the bus unless you nab a front seat or can sleep literally anywhere. However, you will get to see some absolutely amazing creatures in the wild that you will not see anywhere else, see the magnificent baobabs, fake baobabs and fake fake baobabs and find yourself in more different landscapes and climates than you can reasonably expect in one country. So many people have told me Madagascar is on their wish list but, until you have been there, you can not imagine it. They need all the tourism they can get in order to help more locals understand how conservation can actually benefit them and, with the rarity of species that Madagascar has, the sooner you go, the better.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I admit to getting tearful at my first sighting of an Indri in the wild - these animals do not survive in captivity. And actually finally getting close enough to a mouse lemur for me to see it with my own eyes - I could have watched them all night ( as they didn’t pay any heed to us). And, of course, actually getting up ( and down) the Tsingy. And the photos of the Alley of the Baobabs at sunset still take my breath away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija is simply fantastic. She exudes passion and knowledge for her country and its peoples and nature, always seeking ways for us to understand more or have the answers to our questions. I particularly appreciated how she sought ways for us to interact with the locals so that we could all gain from the experience. She is very thoughtful, seeking to consider everyone’s particular preferences or circumstances and maintaining a sense of humour through out that is positively delightful. However, the test of a good guide is when things don’t go to plan and we had a little bit of an unscheduled extension to our trip. Rija was calm, clear and reassuring and, even when we had no idea when and how we would get home, we were happy to trust her judgment. I trust Exodus to treasure their relationship with Rija, she is an ambassador both for Exodus abs Madagascar.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good torch and spare batteries. I hadnt realised just how many hotels do not have 24 hour electricity and I used my torch for pottering around inside my bungalows at night much more than for the night walks! The roads in Madagascar rival any I have seen anywhere else in the world for poor condition. But Dama, our main (modest) driver is capable of taking that bus anywhere. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised at the standard of hotel and food throughout the trip. There is an opportunity to do laundry after a week. All hotels we were in had WiFi at reception when they had electricity on and some had sufficient connection to support WhatsApp calls... how times have changed.. I suffer from vertigo and I managed the Tsingy ( with the help of my fellow travelers) - and I am glad I did. This trip ends with an internal flight back to the capital. When the trip notes say that internal flights can be unreliable, take that very seriously and don’t plan anything you really can’t miss for the days immediately after you get home just in case. Exodus did a brilliant job in getting us back as soon as they could, just like we knew they would.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have a sense of humour, a sense of wonder and like an adventure, do this!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Charlotte Meller

    Memorable Madagascar

    This trip gives you a glimpse of an incredibly varied country rich with unique wildlife and landscapes. Yes the roads maybe a bit bumpy :) but you soon forget that when every day you see so many endemic lemurs, sifakas, chameleons and, if you are lucky, a fossa. The tour leader Rija is the best that I have ever met on an Exodus trip. Her vast knowledge and infectious passion made the trip even more special and memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each type of forest -rain, spin and dry offered something different but they don’t prepare you for the spectacular limestone forest at Tsingy. Simply stunning. .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for delays on the internal flights !
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Annemarie Cavana

    Madagascar wonderful adventure

    our guide Armel was fantastic he showed us so much on our journey through Madagascar, he was so proud of his country and wanted us to experience as much as we could in the short time we had in each place The experience from start to finish was amazing, we got to see the variety of scenery, culture, wildlife and so much more. I would highly recommend going to see this part of the world 🌍

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The time we walked up peak Toby Camping overnight then setting off at 4.30am having breakfast on a ledge with our porters were all set up and organised Then finally reaching the top with an amazing view

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armel is a credit to your company taking great pride in his job and organising everything to presision We had some lovely surprises Even had a Easter cake delivered in the middle of nowhere on Easter Sunday That was something that wasn’t expected Voiding to malagasi homes The list goes on

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy malagasi dollars

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I can’t wait for my next adventure x
  • Reviewed November 2018
    T C

    Wildlife Adventure of a Lifetime

    I have been dreaming of seeing lemurs in the wild since I was young and this trip did not disappoint. I had never done a group tour before and was admittedly very hesitant to sign-up for one, but the itinerary allowed me to see most of what I wanted to, so I thought I'd give it a try. In the two weeks, we were able to see thirteen species of lemurs, which was thrilling and more than I had expected. The itinerary is thoughtfully laid out and even the long days travelling were made better by the many stops and stories from our group leader. I can't describe the feeling of first arriving to our cabins in Andasibe to the sounds of Indri calls in the forest. It was really out of this world. The diversity of landscapes and parks that we visited was excellent and I couldn't have planned it better myself. Having a local guide and engaging (mostly) with local tour operators and businesses was an important aspect of the trip for me as well. Overall, excellent adventure that I wish I could go back in time and do again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the first night we arrived in Andasibe to the call of Indris in the distance. That will be a memory that stays with me forever. The dry forests and desert landscapes were so incredible to see as well. The beach in Anakao at the end, spectacular! Getting to know our group leader as well and spending time with her on the trip was also very special, as well as the lovely people in our group. Perhaps not inspirational, more sobering, was getting to see first-hand the devastating effects of slash-and-burn agriculture. It was disheartening to witness this and other environmental destruction. The biodiversity in Madagascar is particularly precious and I fear it will be gone within the next couple decades. I'm more committed than ever in continuing to support local organizations to protect what still remains. Please do not purchase any souvenir animal products, wood products, gemstones or other trinkets that can't be sourced ethically. Foreigners continue to have a role in driving some (if not much) of the ruin you will witness.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was excellent. I can't say enough good things about her. She is intelligent, kind and had a great sense of humour. She took her job very seriously and had so much integrity, I didn't question for a moment that we were in great hands the whole trip. We had quite a large group, 16 people (which I was not aware of before arriving in Madagascar) and initially worried about how one person was going to be able to manage so many people, but she did so with great expertise and care. It was a tough job for her, but I always felt she had all of our best interests at heart and was flexible with the schedule, depending on how people were feeling and what their needs were. I was quite sad at the end to say goodbye!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take it as it comes, be flexible and don't arrive with too many expectations. I've done a lot of traveling and don't take this privilege for granted, but this was one of the top adventures I've ever had. The opportunity to see the most endangered mammals on the planet and the exquisite biodiversity this island has to offer, really can't be matched. Try and stay in the moment and really appreciate every minute of this adventure. If you're not comfortable being in an intensive group situation or going without creature comforts, this may not however be the trip for you. Expect and plan for digestive illness, it comes with the territory. I suffered quite a bad case of food poisoning, but the group leader managed it well and allowed for me to convalesce for a couple days before rejoining the tour. Educate yourselves before coming, about the island, peoples and appropriate conduct when visiting delicate ecosystems. Do not feed the animals, ever, we had some people who did this and it was incredibly upsetting.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to do this trip all over again :)
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Deborah Terry

    An Extraordinary Trip

    Madagascar is an extraordinary country facing numerous challenges. Its national parks are excellent and much of the scenery is spectacular. It is, however, very poor and facing many environmental challenges. This makes it all the more creditable that the hotels and food on this trip were both so good.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many, but obviously the lemurs - we saw at least 15 different varieties, plus all the other wildlife, and the baobabs, plus the Highlands scenery. And the wonderful jacarandas in flower in Tana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vula was one of the best leaders I've ever had on an Exodus trip. She has huge warmth and charm and was never off duty. One couple had to be airlifted to Jo'burg and many of the rest of us were ill, and she was brilliant at checking we were OK. She's passionate about showing her country to visitors and was determined that we'd get the best from the trip. She went the extra mile all day every day and can't be praised too much.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip takes stamina but amply rewards it. It packs a huge amount in in a short time and the contrasts of experiences etc is excellent. Pack light (the Isola hotel does washing), be prepared for a 24-hour bug, and take plenty of Jungle Formula. Wifi was generally available, but mostly in reception rather than in the rooms. Contrary to some of the advice given we had no difficulty in finding ATMs in most of the towns we went through, so taking all cash seems a bit unnecessary. And anyway you won't spend much. I had 36 hours on my own in Tana at the start of the trip and while I was careful, I enjoyed going out, exploring and finding good lunch spots. As a 60-something female I felt perfectly safe.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Deforestation is happening apace, so go soon. A unique destination.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Nik Kowal

    One of the best trips ever!

    Madagascar is amazing with so much unique wildlife, plants and trees. A well organised trip, with good accommodation. Comfortable bus with lots of breaks on the long journeys. A mixture of leisurely time on the bus and in the towns, with some very strenuous treks in the reserves. Be prepared for heavy rain and blistering heat as you pass through the varied landscapes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ancient baobabs in the spiny forest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very organised and efficient, but some of her commentary got lost in translation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As above. Pack everything especially a head torch and walking poles.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Laura Davey

    Life changing and unforgettable experience

    This was a truly life-changing trip. By that I mean, it was an experience of many extreme highs, such as seeing the unique and beautiful wildlife, coupled with being witness to some very difficult scenes, such as the slash and burn practice and huge areas of deforestation. The trip has left me wanting to learn more about this incredible country, its people and its wildlife. Would very much like to visit again and investigate further into the issues this country is clearly facing. This is a very special country and any visitor will be rewarded in many ways.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife was what I booked the trip for and it did not disappoint. I had no idea we would see so many species of lemurs, reptiles, birds, plants and trees insects and frogs and at such close range, we really were so very lucky. I cannot underestimate just how special it felt to witness these incredible endemic species in their (rapidly disappearing) habitat. The call of the indri is a sound that I will never, ever forget. I feel inspired to learn more and find out if there is any way in which I can help contribute to the future of this country, as the people and the native plants and animals are facing some very severe challenges, such as a hugely increasing population, rapid loss of habitat moved over to farming, shaky political leadership, the introduction of non-native species of animals, trees and plants that cannot support native wildlife, and the slash and burn agricultural practice.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Vola was really lovely. She kept us safe, listened to feedback, was flexible with timings and programmes and informed us on any queries and questions we had as best she could. At times, she went above and beyond for her clients, giving massages to one guest who was suffering from back and shoulder pain, and taking another client to the dentist for emergency treatment. She was also fun to be around and made us laugh every day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind, and be prepared to see the mass destruction of the environment which you will definitely witness. Bear in mind, this is a very poor country and life here is hard. Saying that, the people were all very warm and welcoming to the small number of tourists that we saw. We never ever felt threatened or anything other than welcome. This is what makes the environment/humanity inbalance so very difficult to bear witness to, as the people are just as amazing as the flora and fauna that most visitors come to see. We found the physical rating of 1 to be misleading, I would say there are some moderate to strenuous hikes on this tour. Bring camera, binoculars, insect repellent and some detergent to wash clothes. Accommodation and food were excellent, much better than we expected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now, before it's too late! and do anything you can to help this amazing place. It has so much to offer from gorgeous deserted beaches, lovely people, wildlife, birds and trees you won't find anywhere else in the world - not even in zoos! It's got rainforest, culture, spiny forest, desert, incredible rock formations and valleys, natural swimming areas, mountains - everything you could ever want to see, all in one very unique country.