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

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32 Reviews

  • Reviewed September 2019
    David Denyer

    Madagascan Discovery review

    This trip fulfils its promise of seeing Limas in their natural environment. However the country is extremely poor. All the sealed roads are riddled with potholes and the dirt roads are rough. Electricity is hit and miss and there are no street lamps even in the cities. Piped water is a rarity, Meat is butchered locally and sold from wooden huts (no fridges). If you survive this trip without diarrhoea then you are extremely lucky

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lima watching

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Generally excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take extra care of hygiene
  • 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?

    .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    See above.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    .
  • 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 September 2018

    Go with an open mind

    Madagascar doesn't fail to delight. From the rain-forests to the spiny-forests and the beaches to the highlands there is something to interest everyone. Each of these unique environments harbour their own specialised family of wildlife and the smallest of insects is as fascinating as the the largest of lemurs. It truly is a special place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up close and personal with the ring-tailed lemurs was completely unexpected. Their indifference to us was fantastic as we watched them go about their business. Night walks seeking out the mouse lemurs, chameleons and tree frogs was equally exciting. The amazing range of scenery was stunning, even the long dusty roads against a blue-sky backdrop were dramatic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Claudia, was brilliant. She was in control at all times, had an excellent sense of humour and always in a good mood despite a few challenges along the way - especially when our internal flight to get us home was cancelled and she had to make alternative arrangements at very short notice.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take a head-torch for the night and cave walks. Pack light if you can - there's only a 5kg carry-on limit on the internal flights and they do try to enforce it. If you're carrying an SLR take it out of your bag before they weight it - it'll save a lot of weight! Make sure you take some Imodium with you, half of our group needed it at some point and you'll be very grateful for it on the long drives! If you're into photography, take a tripod and get some pictures of the night-sky. The views of the milky way are spectacular - especially from the beach at Ifaty. The menus can become monotonous, if you just want a sandwich for lunch rather than a full meal then just ask for one. Also, stock up on snacks when you can.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Parts of Madagascar are extremely poor and it's a bit of an eye-opener, but I was staggered at just how friendly and approachable everyone is. Go with an open mind and you will not be disappointed.
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Charmaine Cook

    An amazing island to discover

    This trip was amazing overview of Madagscar in a busy 2 week period. It was a fantastic combination of varying itinerary, the thrill of wildlife spotting, a superbly organised tour leader and a wonderful group of fellow travelers who made this trip to be so special.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I have no idea why I was expecting rainforest everywhere as Madagascar is such a big country. So the dry forest at Kirindy was a joy to the senses - fresh leafy, earthy smells, crunch of the leaves underfoot, the warmth of the sun and the amazing lemurs, fossa (even if it was just at the lodge area), owls to be seen. My favourite bit was when the group of lemurs headed straight for us and had a gawp at us at very close range (touching distance) before heading higher into the trees. The fact that they actively approached humans was unique! So expect the difference of cool rainforest, tropical rainforest, dry forest, grasslands, mountains, desert/scrub and the amazing Tsingy. I loved the day hike around the Tsingy. As I have been climbing, caving and done many hikes, I was keen to do this day's walk. I was impressed that Exodus provided their own harnesses for the Via Ferrata - the harnesses provided to the other group were a bit old and tatty. The guides were very patient and helpful to members of the group who had issues with the climb or over the bridge. So everyone successfully completed the walk and had an amazing walk to remember. I was very thankful that I had my Camelpak to keep up the fluids readily as it was hot dry and sweaty work! Sunset at the baobabs was lovely - it is of course dependent on the clouds and dust in the atmosphere as how the sunset glows - but you feel like you are a world away from your worries at that time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    From the start, Sol was looking after us well. Three of us had our bags left in Nairobi by Kenya Airways so he arranged at no cost to ourselves for a taxi to pick us up and take us back to the airport to hope that our bags were on the next flight. This was Sol - always organising things and smoothing things along. He was so informative about the ethnic groups, the local industies, politics, history, flora and fauna. Many a time whilst on the bus, his dulcet tones lulled me to sleep but not through lack of interest but as he has such a calming voice. I think this say it all - Sol rushes in to get us to leave the restaurant post haste as the President of Madagascar is coming along this road and it could cause delays. We get to the ferry site, we are told we'll have to wait as the President is coming. Sol puts his foot down and states that he has responsibility for his clients and they are more important to him than the president at this moment!! We got on the ferry thankfully or would have had a delay of a number of hours and missed the baobabs at sunset! He made sure that we were looked after and if we had a request, he would try his best to accommodate this - purchasing suntan lotion in small towns, sarong shopping, stopping for Gem workshops....... Sol is a lovely gentleman who is a credit to Madagascar and to Exodus allowing us to have an amazing trip. He had a hard task to keep our group in order as we were like a bunch of frogs jumping everywhere when allowed out! He was funny, serious and interested in us as we were in his life too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Madagascar is a huge country so distances to be covered make for long bus trips. A travel pillow is recommended. But this meant that we got to see the real lives of Madagascar - the activity on the villages as we traveled through, seeing the variety of houses in the different areas and the different farming activities. The landscape changes so much as well too -we might start at the seaside and be in rainforest by the end of the day. Don't expect a sleep in- we had a running joke by the end of the trip up with bags out and leaving at times that most holidays would never consider. But we needed to be on the road as our trip was pretty full on and a huge variety of animals and environments, that the last full day at the seaside was a free activities day was a godsend to have free time! As I previously mentioned the Tsingy and Isalo NP are hot so a Camel pak is better than just drinking out of a bottle - it stopped me from getting dehydrated as I drank 3 litres of water each walk. I had used previous reviewers information about changing money - Sol requests one the first day 200,000Ar (approx £40) for a kitty for drivers, guides etc. The airport has a number of exchange places that change euros, (post 2009 marked) USD and GBP. You have the opportunity to go back to the airport on Day 3 as well, or Day 9 we can change at a money changer in Morodava (with slightly poorer rates than at the airport) only euro or USD. I bought a few souvenirs, had an hours' massage, went snorkelling, tried to see the giant jumping rat and drank wine with my meals so I change £400. Did not change any money back but it was worth it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Another word of thanks to our brilliant driver Dama. He was smooth and safe whilst driving us on long trips. The bus was always immaculately clean, withe bin emptied numerous times throughout the day, the floors swept daily and windows washed daily so it was a pleasure to be in. I think that this was a well thought out itinerary that gave the traveler an excellent taste of the variety of wildlife, landscape, local people and ways of life in such a compact schedule. It is an adventure that changes rapidly and keeps you marveling at the beauty of Madagascar. It is Africa but without the large game and that difference means that you have to look closer but then you enjoy what you find even more!
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Jackie Freshfield

    An Incredible Adventure!

    Not so much a holiday, more an adventure of discovery! An island of contrasts, Madagascar is the gift that gives on giving – from the leaping lemurs in the rainforest to the giant baobabs of Morondava and the sandy beaches of Ifaty, there was always something new and exciting to experience and look forward to. As many have commented, the trip is dominated by long drives on poor roads, but the rewards at the end of each journey are exceptional and worth every mile. But don’t sleep through the drives as you’d miss the breathtaking ever-changing landscapes of Madagascar, from rainforest to stunning highlands, paddy fields, white sandy beaches, boulder-strewn deserts, spiny forests, rivers and of course the fascinating towns and villages of this incredible island – not forgetting the resourceful and welcoming Malagasy people. We were exceptionally lucky with our weather and wildlife spotting and the whole trip ran very smoothly due mainly to Sol, our superb guide, who made it all happen with charm and efficiency. If you want five-star accommodation and haute cuisine, this is not the trip for you. You’ll get a comfy bed and (generally) hot water at the end of each dusty day, a limited but well-cooked menu of zebu/chicken/fish for cheap lunches and dinners and the opportunity to experience the Malagasy culture at first hand, including the children who will wave from the side of the road, press you for ‘bon bons’ and delight in seeing themselves on the back of a camera. The unique wildlife and cultural melting pot make Madagascar an exceptional destination, and this varied and illuminating trip was better than I expected, such that it will take me some time to process the whole experience. I was also fortunate enough to be with lots of fun, like-minded people in the group who really added to my enjoyment of the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I’d wanted to visit Madagascar for some time to see the wildlife and to visit the giant baobab forests and these did not disappoint. As a keen photographer it was great to see the Avenue of Baobabs in both the afternoon sun and at sunset, and also to get lots of opportunities to see lemurs in the wild, although we all got neck-ache from looking up at the tops of trees for hours at a time! The night walk in Kirindy was particularly rewarding, and hearing the haunting call of the Indri in the morning in Andasibe was just superb. I can’t believe that I got to the top of the Tsingy as I have issues around heights, so that was an unexpected if terrifying highlight! I really loved the drive from Morondava to Bekopaka with the baobabs, villages and Heath-Robinson-style ferry crossings: all very wild!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sol was brilliant. The trip went like clockwork because Sol spent much of the trip checking ahead to make sure that everything was organised for us, including nabbing us a ferry for the Tsiribihina River crossing so we wouldn’t be held up by the Prime Minister who was about to visit! Sol kept us fully informed of all aspects of our itinerary and managed everything so that we didn’t waste time, particularly as regards ordering food, wearing the most appropriate clothes for each excursion, finding us good shopping spots and bush toilets (some better than others!). He was a fount of wisdom on all fronts – history, flora and fauna, culture, food, topography etc etc and we all soaked up his fascinating insights about the Malagasy culture. He was always cheerful and patient, despite various annoyances, and contributed hugely to the trip’s success.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and all the reviews thoroughly as they are full of tips and information. In practical terms . . . Camera Gear: photographers should take the best wide and long lenses you have: 100-400mm is ideal as some wildlife gets very close. Don’t bother with laptops/hard drives etc as the luggage limit for internal flights is limited. Take lots of memory cards and spare batteries. I took binoculars but didn’t use them and used my long lens instead. Take video clips when you can as these really convey the culture, wildlife and landscape better than stills – particularly the leaping lemurs which are so difficult to capture. Clothing: I should have taken more long-sleeved t-shirts as these are v useful in the rainforest under a waterproof. It gets cold in the highlands so a fleece is essential. No need for smart clothes – travel light with layers for the rainforest and a sarong for the beach (or buy a Malagasy one along the way). Take advantage of the laundry facilities on two-night stopovers – you get very dusty! Food: Take a few protein/crunchy bars for a snack if you need them, but the food is filling if not very varied. Be prepared for a limited menu particularly if you have a restricted diet. Don’t be afraid to go off-menu as the restaurants will do their best to accommodate you. I took tea-bags and Marmite and was glad I did as a breakfast boost will set you up for the day. Give your empty plastic water bottles to the kids who will recycle them by finding a use for them at home. Change all your money at the airport as doing so later is a pain. I changed £400 and that was just enough to cover everything, including a bit of souvenir shopping (if you see something you like, buy it then and there as there are few shopping opportunities), wine at dinner (NOT the local stuff) and a few beers along the way. Food is cheap! Take hand sanitizer and use it regularly to stay healthy. Get as fit as you can before the trip. The Tsingy is challenging and the terrain in some of the parks (Ranomafana) requires stamina. Hotels are varied, some more basic than others. Take a travel pillow for both bus and hotel bed! This is not a ‘relaxing’ holiday but it is really rewarding. Take an open mind and an easy-going attitude and soak it all up!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Despite a 6-hour layover in Nairobi, my luggage did not make the connecting flight to Antananarivo, and the same happened to two others in our party as well as many more people on the flight. This is not uncommon apparently. I'd recommend having all camera gear in your hand luggage including battery chargers, plus overnight essentials. We returned to the airport at 3am the same night to meet the next flight and our bags were on it, thankfully. We'd have been in trouble otherwise: shopping for 'regular' kit in Madagascar is tricky as there are few Western shops, although it is also refreshing NOT to have the usual global brands, shops and advertising on every corner!