Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

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  • Reviewed April 2018
    Kathy Williams

    A fantastic trip!

    A wonderful cycling holiday, superb organisation and led and supported by a great team who were friendly and efficient. The itinerary was very varied from towns and palaces to the jungle, beaches and backwaters, and the cycling linked it all perfectly. The big hill climb up to Ooty was certainly a challenge, (but well worth it) and added an extra dimension to the tour. Despite staying in excellent hotels, we felt we had an insight into the real India as or routes took us through back roads and villages. I would thoroughly recommend it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the animals in the tiger reserve, including spotting a leopard and a tiger!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Safi, was excellent and contributed hugely to the success of the trip. He was friendly, with a sense of humour, interesting and knowledgeable and very efficient with briefings and organisation. A great guy!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was superb, and plentiful. A perfect holiday!
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Vanessa White

    Tropical India

    My first time in India and Tropical India was an ideal place to start. Some of my fellow travellers who started in the north confirmed this. I was told Kerala and Tamil Nadu is greener, slower and softer than the big cities of the north. I was a solo traveller and the group couldn't have been more friendly and inclusive. Well paced trip ,busy but not exhausting. All in all a well organised and wonderful experience, I shall certainly be travelling with Exodus again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The overnight on the boat in the Kerala backwaters was as delightful as I hoped and definitely a highlight. The crew were lovely and gave us a great experience. All the food on the trip was delicious. I like my curries spicey but not hot and that is what I got. The restaurants always ask how you liked your curry and gave you what you wanted. We had quite a lot of buffet meals which were good value and provided lots of choice. The rickshaw ride through Madurai was great fun. Really everything was inspirational !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manoj was totally committed to giving us the best possible experience he could. He joined us for all meals and ensured that the service we received in restaurants and hotels was efficient and met our needs. He looked after us very well and was very caring. All our group remained happy and healthy with only minor ailments, but I am sure that if the need had arisen he would have made sure prompt and good treatment were provided.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do as much as you can and take advantage of all the optional trips. Take some clothes with you that you are happy to leave behind. I am sure the chambers maids appreciate this as part of their tip! This will also make room in your case for presents. Kovalam is a shoper's paradise! Lots of small craft shops, many family run, all with their own different traditional designs. I also bought a beautiful Kashmir rug in Madurai which I have shipped home. The 4hr trek through the tea plantation is tougher than the tour notes suggest, lots of steep inclines and descents. Our group's age range was early 50s to early 70s and we all did it, thanks to Manoj support and encouragement. Its well worth doing it, but I was very glad I took a stick to provide extra stability.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel rooms were adequate, but most of the plumbing is antiquated! The bathroom I had in Munnar smelt musty and damp. It badly needed upgrading. The hotel standards given on the trip notes are not accurate in some places. For example, The hotel in Madurai is only standard grade while the Deshadan Backwater Resort has recently upgraded bathrooms and is very comfortable. The hotel at Kovalam has a lovely private beach which is a bonus, but again the bathrooms are in need of upgrading.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Mark Springthorpe

    Some lovely rides and not too strenuous

    There are many great points about this trip; - This trip combines riding in busy city traffic (which is mental, but exciting and often safer than in UK), with lovely rides through beautiful scenery (e.g. little villages, forest, coast) - much of it fairly flat and easy cycling. We went in Feb and the temperature is hot (30-35C). - Food was a huge surprise in the fact that many of the hotels had great selection and great quality, and the meals in people's homes were delightful and delicious - only the breakfasts were disappointing, but lunch/dinner was great. However, it is all Indian food, so don't expect Western choices. - Most of the hotels were in great locations, and of great quality (comfortable, modern, clean). - The rides weren't exceptionally long (20-25 miles, with a couple around 50), but in the 30-35C heat many of these were done in the morning and were more than long enough to see great things. - With these rides being slightly shorter than on other trips we've done, there was lots of free time (e.g. afternoons) and a couple of free days which allowed us to experience far more of Kerala than on just a bike - a good mix of riding and free time. - Minimal bus transfers (only 2 I recall), so most rides were door to door. - The boat trip on the backwaters was delightful, and the photo opportunities are great. The are 2 rides that are worth being aware of; - The ride to Ooty is a gruelling ride of 17 miles up a 1,400 meter climb - the road is a constant gradient of 10-15% so it's hard work. Even though you start the climb around 07:30, it doesn't take long for the heat to kick in. However, there's no pressure on how quickly you get up there, and you can opt out and take the bus if it's too much for you. - The descent down from Ooty is pretty much 20 miles all down hill, but the road is often poor (pot holes, poor surface, traffic on wrong side)) so riding fast is tempting but dangerous, so you need to watch what you are doing - but it's a lovely ride through Eucalyptus forest and tea plantations. We felt this trip was really enjoyable, and highly recommend it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting on the beach at Sunset on Sunday evening in Fort Cochin - there were hundreds of Indian families (locals, holiday makers) all having fun, and the atmosphere was special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Safi Hyder, and he was great - he made sure things went smoothly and that the trip was enjoyable. His support team were great too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware if you fly into Mumbai (from UK) as the time needed to sort out your visa, collect baggage, go through customs and re-checking baggage can be very slow (2-3 hours) so make sure you have enough transfer time between flights (we missed our connection because of this issues).
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Julie Reynolds

    A Fantastic Trip

    This was a great trip for me as a novice traveller to India. I was concerned beforehand about cycling on the Indian roads but I was reassured appropriately by Exodus staff and the cycling was very enjoyable. There were a couple of stretches on the trip that were on fast busy roads but that was only when that was unavoidable and our guides always looked after us very well, assisting us to cross junctions etc. This was a lovely introduction to Southern India with a good balance of cycling and rest or other activities. Safi our guide was brilliant as were Viben, his assistant and our driver Santosh. Safi was extremely well organised and reliable and gave us good clear briefs each day and after each break. He and Viben supervised the cycling very well and I was quickly rescued when I accidently took a wrong turn! Santosh was just lovely and always gave us a big smile with our water and gorgeous snacks including our "Dark Fantasy's"! (biscuits with chocolate in the middle -- very clever choice given the heat). Nothing was too much trouble (even trying to get us a turkey dinner for Christmas!) and I felt very well looked after, particularly when I left all my valuables in a safe! Such a stupid thing to do but Safi dealt with it calmly and reassuringly and it was all sorted with no fuss and no loss! For me the trip was as "described on the tin" but I was also fortunate to share the trip with a fantastic group of people. Everyone was like minded and easy going which meant that everyone got along well, we had a great laugh and I feel that I have met a whole host of new friends. I have done a fair amount of travelling before and I would not hesitate in recommending this trip to others. The cycling is not difficult (save for Otty hill of course!) and it was a lovely way to see the country and encounter the very friendly people. If you are a photographer there are some fantastic photo opportunities - the only problem is that you have to let some of them pass otherwise you would never end up where you need to get. Thank you very much to Safi, Viben, Santosh and Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the tea plantations and then along the coast watching fishermen pulling fish out of their nets.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Relax and go with the flow. Parts of the trip pass through busy bustling cities which can initially feel a bit overwhelming after England.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No I think I said it in the summary (sorry didn't realised there were separate sections!
  • Reviewed December 2017
    steven elliot

    Cycle Kerala an Tropical India

    We loved this. India just hits you in the face - sights, smells,sounds,tastes. Exotic and spicy, just like a good curry. Cycling is such a great way of seeing a country and we traveled deep into rural areas where tourists don't go; we often felt like creatures from another planet and the locals seemed to agree judging by the number of selfies they took with us in them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many: Riding through Mysore in the rush hour - at the same time both exhilarating and bowel loosening. The ride up to Ooty even though we went through rain and mist and didn't see a thing. The ride the next day down through tea plantations and rain forest Walking round Guruvayoor at night during a Hindu festival and realizing we were the only foreigners. The welcome we received from Muslims on the day they celebrated the birth of the Prophet - sweets,food,ice cream,smiles. Sighting a tiger at Bandipur. The food - piled on weight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was a star.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You do need to be confident of cycling in traffic. The route takes you through some busy towns/cities and along some highways. Indians allegedly drive on the left but the evidence for this is weak. Motor cycles seem to routinely travel on the hard shoulder in the wrong direction and tuk tuks and mopeds just do their own thing. Cars and lorries don't so much overtake each other as play chicken. The cycling is pretty easy - once you get to Kerala there is a near total absence of hills. The ride up to Ooty is an aberration - similar to but harder than Alpe d'Huez. The altitude of Ooty is over 7000 feet and we were very cold at the top because of the rain ( we were there at the time of a cyclone which caused flooding and loss of life in southern Kerala). Suggest you take full wet weather gear. Take hand gel and if you you expect a high level of toilet cleanliness then this is not the trip for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were a happy group and mixed well which has not always been our experience on Exodus trips. This sort of holiday is best suited to the sociable.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Tom Hazeldine

    Far exceeded expectations

    It's a wonderful trip. Every last detail has been meticulously planned from the routes to the choice of hotels, where to have lunch, where to rest during the cycling... It was my first cycling holiday and I enjoyed that part of it more than expected - if you're reasonably fit, with the exception of Ooty Hill it's perfectly manageable. In that sense the heat and humidity is the hardest part of the cycling. However, the standout for me was the food - simply incredible... I like Indian food in the UK but this was another level entirely - a huge variety of flavours and certainly not crazy spicy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Ooty Hill. Physically, the toughest thing I've ever done (it's brutal) - despite taking on electrolyes and other fluids, being in shape and generally sporty (I'm mid 30's and not carrying any weight) I got badly dehydrated and must of stopped 12-15 times. However, I was enormously proud of myself for cycling the full 13km /1,300m of height gain. And next time I'll know the sort of training I need to do! The other highlight was seeing an elephant in the wild for the first time on the game drive, which again was a lot more fun that I expected.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was easily the best group leader I've had and I've done these group tours all over the world. He was incredibly conscientious and kind as well as being exceptionally well organised - time and again he went the extra mile. He'd always phone ahead so everywhere we stopped was expecting us and his advice on things like what not to eat was greatly appreciated. Finally, when he needed to put his foot down with either us or his team he'd do so in a gentle, understated way - often with a chuckle. He had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go when it's a bit cooler, padded cycling shorts are a must and take electrolytes if you sweat a lot. Oh and try the Kerala bread - kind of a cross between naan bread, a pancake and puff pastry (I couldn't get enough of it!)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Most of the cycling is in the morning so there is time to relax or go for a wander in the afternoons - assuming you're willing to brave the heat that is!
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Robert Seatter

    Cycle Kerala and Tropical India

    A great trip - with huge diversity of experience and atmosphere My first time in India, and Kerala was probably the right place to start Good cycling, paced by time in Kochi city/time on the backwaters/a brief time on the beach

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the winding roads between vivid green tea plantations Dusk viewed through the tracery of Kochi's fishing nets Lunch on the family terrace in Kochi The general Indian assault of colour and light The genuine sense of welcome from schoolkids and passers by

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Joseph/Shibu (not forgetting Harry the driver) were all lovely Calm, assiduous and unfailingly patient and courteous - in what could have been a v stressful and dangerous context (some of this cycling is really quite dangerous if you cease to concentrate for the wrong moment!) The one thing that was really lacking was the cultural/historical input And quite reasonably, Joseph/Shibu cannot be good at everything However, the 2/3 one off guides hired to do this in situ were all terrible - the one in Mysore took a 10 minute call to sell carpets in the middle of our Palace tour, another local guide outside Mysore at the temple was incomprehensible This could I imagine be easily sorted with some better on the spot recruitment

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You WILL get ill (unless perhaps you are a v seasoned Indian traveller) Pace yrself as the combination of cycling and heat and illness can be difficult

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I much preferred the second week of holiday Mysore was OK but the Tiger Reserve/Ootey were not terribly interesting - may have been bad weather we had I would happily have had a longer time concentrated in Kerala The last venue was pleasant - hotel/beach etc, but it was surrounded by tripperish shops and outlets which was a pity after so much of genuine India
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Colin Prince

    Mr Colin Prince

    The overall content and places visited on the trip was up to the standards expected of an Exodus holiday. The standard of the hotels was average, except when we were in Kochin. There, the home stay room we were given was very poor, the bedding was dirty and the room very small for 2 people. This would have been alright if we only had 1 night there but as we had a down day, I felt it was unacceptable. Our group was split into 2 hotels. It would have been better if we were all kept together. Safi did move us for the second night, but only after I requested it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the tiger in Bhundipur reserve. The animal and bird life was an unexpected pleasure. Going to a family home, meeting the family and doing a cookery course there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This is my 3rd Exodus trip and I feel that the service that Safi provided was very much below the standards that Exodus had set previously. His knowledge was very poor and his communication skill were lacking. I felt he had lost any enthusiasm for the trip and he did not think about the social aspects of the group. The Kochin hotel as an example. The care that had been shown on previous Exodus rides,mwhen we came to stops on the bikes,bwas lacking e.g., no reminders for hand wash, no welcoming smiling faces and snacks had to be asked for. The driver was very good but not always there. Having said that Safi stepped up to the plate when I needed to go to hospital.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Use plenty of hand wash, apply lots of sun cream and drink plenty of water.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our trip could have been made more enjoyable if our group leader had volunteered more information and stopped and explained things about Indian life, as has happened on my other Exodus holidays.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We were sorry to hear that Colin was disappointed with aspects of this trip. This homestay in Cochin is no longer being used by our groups and we hope that people will enjoy their stay at the new homestay. We were disappointed to hear that Colin was underwhelmed with some of the trip’s leadership; Colin’s feedback was followed up on by our local manager and we are pleased to see that Safi has taken this constructively and has received very good feedback since.

    Louise Ungless - Product Manager for India

  • Reviewed March 2017
    Vicki Nunn

    5000 miles away from my life in rural England!!!

    What a shock to the senses arriving in Mysore on the first day of what was to be an amazing 2 weeks! The colour and noise of India was exhilarating! Such a brilliantly varied trip - I loved it! So much more than just a cycling holiday! A real snapshot of Southern India that I would recommend to anyone who loves to see and do a lot whilst away.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just arriving in India and realising that my 2 week adventure was about to begin! Against all odds, seeing a tiger drinking at the waterhole in Bandipur National Park! Mysore Palace at night (I nearly didn't go cos it was the first night and I was SO tired!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was a nice enough guide but could have been a bit more forthcoming with info about places visited and things seen along the route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take: a bag for front of your bike to avoid bumbags/rucksacks (it's too hot!), shower gel if you don't like soap (that's what most of the hotels provide), loo roll (not provided in loos out of hotels), electrolyte tabs for your drink, concentrated squash (makes that warm water a little more interesting!) and BINOCULARS for the safari (a must!) Add as many extra days in Varkala at the end of the holiday as you can (one day just isn't enough!) but book it yourself (Exodus charged us double the going rate!!). We used the group flight but left 2 days later than everyone else and were so glad we did!
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Lesley Foote

    Enjoy South India from the comfort of a bike saddle

    Described as "moderate/challenging", this cycling adventure produced everything promised - varied cycling experiences in Indian towns and villages, backwater houseboat cruise, fabulous food and a relaxing beach at the end.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one inspirational moment when there were many, but for me the houseboat trip felt like a privilege: the leisurely pace of the cruise and the photography opportunities as the evening light changed, not to mention the beautiful meals cooked on board for us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Joseph, and together with his team he kept everyone on track and ensured we were well fed, safe and gave us good direction. He let people go off on their own when it was safe to do so, and kept everyone in check and under his wing when cycling through busy urban areas. His management skills ensured that we kept to time, while at the same time allowing us flexibility to visit local homes, tea shops and tourist areas if we wanted. He made staying in Indian hotels easy - no worries about accommodation, food safety or what to tip. He also anticipated some of us needing to know if we could get a beer at the hotels, ensuring we bought in advance if there was going to be a no-alcohol policy at the next hotel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took my own saddle cover for comfort - not a necessity, but a little luxury for the last day which is the longest cycling and some roads a bit bumpy. Always carry hand wash or soap leaves with you - taps for washing hands were normally available at snack stops, but not always soap. Anti-mosquito spray was needed in the evenings at the National Parks and Verkala. Don't be put off by other road users/traffic in India - Indian drivers are much more sensitive to cyclists than British drivers in my experience. They want you to survive, they take care to avoid you, they beep their horns as a warning that they are there, not to tell you to get out of the way. I felt much safer cycling in India than I do cycling in my own home city - London

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have been on quite a few Exodus cycling trips now and can highly recommend this one for the itinerary, the varied experiences, the cycling (the uphill day was hard but exhilarating, the downhill day exciting), the views, photography opportunities, and the Leader is experienced. The last you can only appreciate when you have been on other trips where the Leader lacks skill.
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