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

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  • Reviewed April 2019
    John Duxbury

    Only suitable for experienced photographers with top quality equipment

    I went on this trip when it was led by Paul Goldstein. The accommodation was superb, I like the setting and Paul is unquestionably an outstanding wildlife photographer, but I was disappointed by several aspects of this trip. The area really isn't "teeming with wildlife", so we struggled to find a lot to photograph ending up spending about 7 hours (2 half days) photographing sea waves. Whilst some of the group enjoyed that, I didn't. Because of the weather we weren't able to photograph whales, which is understandable enough, but I was disappointed to discover that it would have been at an additional cost anyway, something that is not mentioned in the Trip Notes. I was expecting the leader to circulate round the group to advise on how we might improve our photographs, but he concentrated on taking his own photographs which he then shared with us in the evening. That is a perfectly valid way of operating, but I was expecting more individual help so I think it is important that you do not book this trip if you are expecting to be tutored. Finally, I would say that this trip is really only for experienced photographers with top quality lenses - Paul told me that both of my lenses were not really good enough. (I did hire a lens, but that adds to the cost.)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Fantastic setting. Great food. Loved ice fishing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding wildlife photographer who leads by taking his own photographs and then showing you what he has taken.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have top quality lenses able to cope with the low light levels. Ideally you need a wide angle lens with a large aperture (f.18 or faster) and good quality telephoto lens.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is not a lot of wildlife to photograph, so be prepared to spend a lot of time photographing waves.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Nick Corble

    Glacier Walk a Real 'Wow' Moment

    A filled and varied few short days in this interesting country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The glacier walk was the second 'wow' moment of the day, the first being the glacial lagoon earlier in the day. I hadn't quite anticipated how serious this was, and realised when we were being kitted up. The scenery, and sense of being so 'as one' with the forces of nature once actually on the ice, was awe-inspiring. This wasn't all though, with visits to various other natural wonders including the original geyser, and a number of waterfalls, plus, well, just the scenery. All this, plus tomato beer. What could go wrong?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jon was an excellent guide, ready to fill us in on Icelandic sagas and the Icelandic way of life.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely bring wet-weather gear (waterproof trousers a must). It can be a bit exposed out there and forecasts stating 2 degrees or whatever, do not take into account the wind chill. Layers is the answer.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wonder if Exodus is missing a trick labelling this trip the Northern Lights? Although I knew beforehand there was a chance we might not see them, and had conditioned myself to this, there was never a chance we were going to see them given the weather, and I wonder how many groups do? What they all must do, is the glacier walk, and this more than made up for it. 'Glacier Walking with a chance of Northern Lights' might not be a snappy title, but probably more honest. Or just 'Natural Wonders of Iceland'?
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Mark Green

    Fantastic fun in the snow

    I was looking for a trip that I could go on with my wife who is not happy with camping and wishes to have some degree of comfort. This trip seemed to tick all the boxes with a great balance of activity, plenty downtime and a relative degree of comfort compared to a freezing tent and basic toilet facilities at over 5000 metres up a mountain. The area of Oulanka National Park is one of outstanding beauty, peace and cleanliness with zero pollution. The easy snowshoe walks mainly in pristine forests were enchanting and did not require much in terms of effort or bravery. All instruction and a safety briefing was given and we all felt very secure. Our group of 12 mixed well staying in the comfortable and well heated logging cabin after Exodus changed the accommodation due to an issue at Basecamp Oulanka. Our guides Ismo and Mary Louise were absolutely fantastic. They conveyed their enthusiasm for the beautiful environment and we learnt so much from them in such a short space of time. There was much raucous laughter as our group got to know each other all encouraged by Ismo’s gentle humour. Everything to make us comfortable in the cold in the way of clothing and hot food and drink was provided and the food was tasty, plentiful and varied during the week. The cabin was really warm even when the outdoor temeperature dropped to -26C, hot water for showers was unending, the sauna and an outside roll in the snow was invigorating and the WiFi was good enough to catch up with the news back home and watch content on Netflix when relaxing in the room. Snowshoeing requires no special skills and is a wonderful way to spend a fun week in this enchanting place. We also experienced other optional activities on the 2 free days, including a visit to a reindeer farm, snowmobiling and husky riding, however these are an expensive add on but worth trying. Everything was so well organised that we found our week both relaxing and refreshing. We even ventured out to walk at night on a number of occasions under the light of the moon, hearing the amazing forest sounds and saw the Northern Lights. I can not recommend this trip highly enough.... really great fun!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking in such beautiful surroundings surrounded by nature.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ismo was funny, helpful and worked tirelessly to ensure that we all had a great time. He was funny and interesting with a great sense of humour and it was such a pleasure to have spent a few days with him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes.... just go without any preconceptions, appreciate the amazing environment and enjoy every minute. Oh, and be prepared to spend some more money on the optional activities.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Liz and Alastair Bradshaw

    Fantastic!

    Such a brilliant trip! We went hoping, but not expecting, to see the Northern Lights; we did and they were amazing. But the trip is so much more than seeing them. The scenery is stunning and the itinerary allows you to really get a taste of the area. The activities were varied- ice fishing, visiting the space centre, whale watching, open campfires, lots of stops to photo the views and local wildlife whilst in the minibus, a dip in the hot tub, a trip to a local gift shop that makes and sells their own goods, as well as time to do your own thing. Nigel, his wife Ingvild and team at Andøy Friluftssenter are the most welcoming of hosts. The accommodation is excellent and the food was amazing, most of which was sourced or produced locally. Nothing was too much trouble. Their knowledge of the area and enthusiasm for what they do was first class. Having our last evening meal together in the ‘lavvo’ was a perfect way to end a glorious few days in a very beautiful part of the world. Can’t recommend highly enough- thank you!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was fab! (Part from his choice of football team...!!!) As above- an exceptional host. Made you feel very welcome. Great knowledge and nothing was too much trouble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not really!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus communication was great, thank you for good organisation.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Alex Davids

    Superb weekend introduction to arctic activities

    In our two active days there the area experienced the heaviest snow fall this year, so we did not get to see the Northern Lights 😕, BUT I still had an unforgettable weekend driving a husky sled and snowmobile, being pulled by a reindeer in a sled, having lunch in the ice hotel, and spending a night in a wilderness cabin. I definitely want to go again next winter for longer so that I can indulge in some of those activities for a longer time. Amazingly I was never cold despite a low temperature of -13C. They provided arctic clothing and you had to make sure that you had on a few layers below: long johns, thermal vest, a fleece or two, a beanie and a pair of warm socks were mine. They gave you boots, gloves, balaclava and arctic outer suit. The trip was superbly run and is highly recommended

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We started with the husky sleds and after that some of our group already felt that if that was all we did, the trip had been worth it. That evening's snowmobile drive in falling snow and wind was unforgettable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Darra was superb: he clearly communicated changes in plan due to the weather and put the group's safety foremost. He was informative, friendly, organised - just what a group leader should be.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are travelling on your own, you are not allowed to share a husky sled or snowmobile. If you feel uncomfortable driving one of these on your own, you can always be a passenger with the group leader or activity leader. Bring layers to wear: it is better to be too warm than to be cold.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    JENNIFER SCHWARZ

    Lofoten in winter

    Do you want to stay in a comfortable cabin with glorious views from the back terrace? Do you want to see amazing sunrises and sunsets in beautiful locations? Then this trip is for you. We had to do some serious hunting of the light in unexpectedly dramatic weather conditions for the time of year but this just added to the experience. Photographer Stig and support Stevan found us gaps in the weather and glorious locations especially secret ones unknown to all but the locals. Both photographers gave generously of their time and expertise to ensure that we all came away with some amazing images. Thank you both for a memorable time. Add to that Mother Nature was kind to us and gave us a fabulous display one night.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching a truly remarkable Norther Lights display seemingly bursting above us and all around us, spiralling round the mountain and reflecting in the water at our feet then sending shimmering curtains of light across the view eliciting oohs and ahs from everyone. And the best bit---it was just our group in the location---we had it to ourselves.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As well as being a great photographer himself, Stig is a very patient and willing teacher and ready to share his expertise with everyone. He knows the area well so can take people to the best locations. He gave generously of his time, up early and to bed late to ensure everyone had the best experience. This is the second time I have been with Stig and would very happily go with him again as well as strongly recommend him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel with an open mind, accept the things you cannot change (like the weather!) and embrace all that the location has to offer including local industry (mainly fishing) as well as scenery which changes all the time. Watching the light drawing veils across the mountains from our cosy cabin was just such a pleasure.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would I go again/ recommend it---of course!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Jackie Freshfield

    Lights, Camera, Action!

    Caveat: I have given this trip a 3-star rating but that's because it is very much weather dependent (Northern Lights and Landscape Photography) and we had appalling, freak weather conditions, and I came home disappointed that we didn't have more opportunities for lights/photography. However, we had one superb day of sunshine and an amazing Northern Lights show with excellent photographic opportunities, and if I was reviewing this trip just on that one day, it would be 5 stars as the light show was INCREDIBLE! The Lofoten Islands are remote and beautiful but it's a long way to go for a short duration (6 days in total with 2 full days of travel bookending 4 days in the Lofoten Islands). We had mixed fortunes on the weather front – we traded a beautiful first day of stunning blue skies and an AMAZING Northern Lights show for 3 days of utterly filthy weather, which was a shame, particularly as there is really nothing you can do when you have 48 hours of rain/hail/gales/sleet etc. Stig did his best to find alternative things for us to photograph in 'interesting' conditions but it was a rather tough gig for him. However, the light show we DID see was just incredible and I feel priviledged and lucky to have witnessed it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Northern LIghts show on our first full day in the Lofoten Islands was simply incredible, better than I thought possible. We were wowed by swathes of irridescent green and purple lights shimmering across an inky sky full of twinkling stars and a blood red moon. Even better, we captured it in camera thanks to excellent tuition and tips from Stig and Steven. Unforgettable!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Stig Brondbo is an excellent leader; very helpful, patient, enthusiastic and fun. His passion for the natural world and for photography shines through and his patience with us rather more amateur photographers was very welcome. It must have been very stressful to have 8 people on the trip desperate to see the Northern LIghts and to be faced with a terrible weather forecast; but Stig did his best to find 'filler' stuff for us to do. However, I think we wasted the only 'good' day we had with faffing about with food shopping when we could have been enjoying the amazing landscapes instead, and perhaps Stig could have directed the timings on that day that a little better. However, the lights came out that night and we were just about ready for them, and he and his colleague Steven were hugely helpful to us on the photographic front. I have photos to treasure.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Weather-dependent trips are fraught with the danger of disappointment, so keep a positive attitude even when it is chucking it down, and if possible bring stuff to do in down time, and hope for good cabin mates (I give them 5*!). If photographing the Northern Lights bring the widest possible lens (I hired a Sigma ART 14mm which was superb) and a heavy-ish tripod. If staying self-catering then bring a few staples (eg pasta, pesto, salt, pepper, porridge) as it's not cheap in Norway! We stayed at Sakrisoy Rorbuer which was the perfect location, as well as warm, comfy and well-equipped, plus gorgeous views from the balcony (one of our party sat on the balcony photographing the Northern Lights for 2 hours!) . Bring hand-warmers for inside your second pair of gloves; they last for ages and I found them essential items. Pray for good weather!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Lofoten Islands are remote. Two plane journeys and a 3-hour ferry away. It's a long way to go for a short trip which is so weather dependent, and the return journey – after 3 foul-weather days – was not great, taking 17 hours as flights were delayed and we missed a connection, and should have been on the earlier flight from Bodo as we hung around there for 5 hours in total. If you are considering a Northern Lights trip then read the journey times carefully!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Cathriona Lawlor

    Hunting the Light

    We travelled to the Lofotens for a photography holiday to capture the northern lights and the beauty of the islands. I really enjoyed this trip; the Lofotens are beautifully scenic. We weren't hugely lucky with the weather, but the company was great and this more than made up for the storm and the wind.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was definitely seeing the Northern Lights on the first night of the trip, it was amazing; we were treated to a fabulous show. Also, a chance trip out to the balcony resulted in a fly-by of local eagles, which was a surprise treat. I was also really lucky with my cabin-mates; we were very well matched, which meant that no matter what the weather or delays, we could still share a laugh, joke and good conversation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Stig and Steven went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we got the most out of this trip. Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate and we were caught in one of the strongest storms to hit the area in years. This made the leaders' job even harder as they tried to maximise our opportunities to get out and about during breaks in the weather. It was my birthday on the trip and I received a beautiful, hand-made cake from Stig, which was promptly devoured! This was a lovely surprise and I definitely think it should be encouraged for all birthday travellers...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    LOTS of layers. Hand/foot/pocket warmers and one cabin mate had USB-rechargable hand warmers, of which I was very jealous. A sturdy tripod in case you're treated to the same winds we were... As the trip was self-catering, some thought beforehand could be spent thinking of the food situation/cooking etc. Nothing is cheap in Norway.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were delayed on the Bodo - Oslo part of the trip and as a result, I missed my additionally-booked return flight to Dublin. Due to the fact that Exodus does not book flights from Ireland, this meant that the cost and problem of re-booking this flight was solely up to me. Whilst I appreciate that the delay was not Exodus's fault, the exacting timings for this trip meant that I felt that I had to go with Exodus flights and book add-on flights myself. Delays happen very often during travel and this situation was very frustrating for me at the end of what was already a very long day of travel. This will unfortunately have to be factored into any future trip with Exodus, as I did not feel supported or particularly valued as a customer coming from Ireland. They just weren't interested in those not travelling from the UK.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Liz Colyer

    Snowshoeing in Finland

    Fantastic holiday with stunning Narnia scenery. So beautiful! Great week of fairly easy snoeshowing with lovely people and a great guide. Food was good, although fruit a little sparse. Accommodation was good , except due the exceptionally cold weather (-30’s), an extra warm jumper required for the evening. Would love to go back!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Stunning scenery, and the Northern lights performed brilliantly.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Else was great! Very informative and kept the group together well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack a warm jumper
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Sue Nicholls

    Awesome

    Absolutely fantastic holiday everything and more that we could of ever dreamed of

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me it was the whole holiday

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Darren was really good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Warm socks
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