Turtle, Ecuador

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

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114 Reviews

  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anne-Marie Goodwill

    Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama

    The guides are fantastic, the wildlife too, It’s like riding along in a giant zoo, You see toucans and sloths from your perch in the saddle Iguanas and crocs when you go for a paddle Some days you’ll be filthy and covered in sweat Sat on a bus next to folks you just met But you’ll still have a ball every day of this ride These beautiful lands make you smile inside. Ok, sorry about the atrocious poetry, I blame it on too much sunshine and cycling....it's a brilliant trip and we've written a few tips to help you enjoy it as much as we did….

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I hate this question, every time I think of an answer, it doesn’t adequately capture the spirit of this trip…..toucans, iguanas, crocs, volcanoes, running into the Pacific after a muddy cycle, toucans, holding my very first snake, sloths, turtles, monkeys, toucans, the spectacular Panama Canal, getting a sense of immersion in the countries from your bike, drinking cocktails in hot springs as night falls, dolphins, did I mention the toucans?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    One word….Genius! Janiel (call her ‘J’) is the most organised and friendly guide I’ve ever had the pleasure of travelling with. I’ve been on numerous excellent Exodus trips and on this one we received the most thorough briefing ever, detailed day by day trip notes, maps and ride profiles, supremely smart meal and bill organisation to handle Central American ideas on service, and excellent handling of potentially nightmarish border crossings - we crossed the Nicaragua - Costa Rica border in just an hour & a half, that may be some sort of record. Nothing was too much trouble and she handled even the most irritating of requests and questions with humour and good grace. She was very ably supported by Luis and Ronald, great bike leader and driver. The bikes were very good quality and Luis expertly fixed any small bits & pieces along the way. Also, he’s just started learning English so make him practice, it’s good for him and he does really well as his confidence grows. Overall a great team, happy to go on tour with them anytime.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t worry about whether you can manage the cycling, you can. There are regular breaks, the bus is always there if you need it and the slower you ride, the more wildlife you’ll see. Take small denomination US$, everywhere takes $ but generally change is in local currency and changing $100 bills can be a pain. Quick dry clothes are brilliant. Take sunscreen and insect repellent – we also took a bite & sting relief pen, which was brilliant. Take a little handlebar bag or bumbag for cycling. The bus is with you throughout so you don’t need to carry much more than your camera while cycling. Unlimited drinking water is available from the bus and the bikes have bottles – just make sure you remember to keep drinking as it gets really hot. In La Fortuna there’s an optional day off the bike and multiple other activities available – ask the guide a day or two in advance so you have time to decide what you fancy. Nicaragua is noticeably poorer than the other two countries and the school children really appreciate gifts of stationery & toys. Leave an extra layer or two on the bus – even on short transfers you can get cold (particularly if the weather is wet in the RAINforest) and you’ll only get cold on the bus once before you remember to do this!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I’d read so many good reviews of this trip and was a bit worried whether it would live up to expectations….but my fears were unfounded, great trip, top guides, beautiful scenery, lovely cycling, amazing wildlife and the Panama Canal…what more could you want?
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Cycling Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

    Great holiday ! Cycling through three beautiful countries, seeing the wild life we normally only see in a zoo or on TV, wonderful scenery and as always a perfect team looking after all of us.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Many days were just perfect days! One day I was having an early moring swim in Lake Nicaragua, went for a walk to watch monkeys, cycling, boat ride back to the mainland, more cycling and then popping out at the Pacific to have a swim in the lovely warm waters there. Brilliant day all round! The boat ride - although I was a bit unsure whether I liked being so close to large crocodiles! Hot springs with pina coladas Panama

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was a lot of fun, super organised and able to sort out any wishes we had

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was happy to have my handle bar bag with me as I don't like having anything on my back, especially when it's really warm.
  • Reviewed February 2014
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    This was our first ever Exodus trip and we were most impressed with every aspect of it. It was an excellent introduction to the three countries.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling on the deserted roads on Ometepe getting a real feel for how the villagers live and being waved at in a welcoming and friendly manner by everyone we met.The courtesy shown our group by drivers in Nicaragua on the couple of occasions we had to cycle on very busy roads and a roundabout.Cycling 45 miles on one day (the furthest we'd ever cycled) and still raring to get back in the saddle the next morning!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roberto (Chino) was outstanding and ably assisted by Memo. They were both lovely people - good humoured, cheerful, positive, diplomatic, encouraging, patient at all times and extremely hard working. They answered all our questions and told us lots about each different country. Nothing was too much trouble for them. The very occasional problem with a bike was solved immediately. A great deal of behind the scenes work was being done so that everything went so smoothly.Roberto was efficiency personified – the slick and quick way he checked us all into each hotel was most welcome after a hard day's cycling. We liked his briefing each evening and morning and appreciated the really detailed supplementary trip notes he provided us with.The safety of the group when out cycling was paramount – Roberto's attention to this aspect of the trip was exemplary.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get  as fit as you can – we found the cycling quite tough. There are a lot of hills.Padded cycling shorts are essential!Don't expect to see wild life at every turn. This is a cycling trip but you'll still get to see some amazing animals and birds.The bikes were excellent but another time I'd consider taking my own saddle.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was hillier than we'd expected – and rainier at times!The frequent stops for fresh fruit and to re-group were well organised and appreciated.If you are concerned about being in a group all the time, you also get a lot of time on your own as you cycle through the wonderful scenery. The others in the group were a good mix of ages, nationalities and cycling abilities.It's a very busy trip – don't expect to have lots of free time to read!All the hotels had wi-fi.We chose to spend an extra day in Granada at the start and found plenty to keep us busy.
  • Reviewed January 2014
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    This trip across three countries is diverse, interesting and challenging. It has opened my eyes to the real world of Central America, and has left me with a greater understanding of the countries through which we have travelled. It has also challenged my fitness, which has also had a cleansing effect on my cluttered mind. I would recommend it wholeheartedly. It has been an amazing holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Panama Canal and the vision of people over a hundred years ago, and what it has become today. The rain forests - peace and tranquility, in a slower world. The scenery, the flora and fauna, and the wildlife. The people ...... All of them!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    There are not words to convey the respect we hold for Janiell who went the extra mile in all aspects of the trip to ensure we had the very best time. She is a legend, and we love her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Deet - and lots of it. A bit of training on a bike. Even if you are fit, the heat adds an extra dimension

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We feel like we have found our colour again, after living a rather grey existence in England where the weather makes it impossible for us to cycle in the winter. The combination of exercise, new friends, previously unexplored territory and wonderfully warm weather has recharged us and reignited our desire to face challenges. The therapeutic effect of this holiday cannot be overstated. For anyone needing 'time out', you will not be disappointed. "Pura Vida". X
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    Fantastic holiday, good varied itinerary, challenging in the heat but good support, can highly recommend this trip if you like seeing lots of wildlife, great scenery and lovely food!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The cycling was varied on the Ometepe Island, Nicaragua was very scenic, down to beach on the pacific was lovely and a well earned dip at the end of a hot days cycling, around Arenal was fab and Panama Canal really good, we loved seeing the crocodiles on the raft trip, never been so close to a crocodile before, had to remember never smile at crocodile!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The team were very good, plenty of stops which were needed as we were all ready for drinks and snacks after cycling in such heat. Leader was friendly and a good sport.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a change of clothes to change into for the bus journeys, take a handlebar bag to store your camera, sun cream and money in, too hot for a backpack. Don't expect to loose any weight the foods fantastic!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great trip can recommend you get booked now!
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    Brilliant way to see aspects of three countries in a part of the world of which I knew almost nothing.A lovely blend of cycling, wildlife trip, and genuine holiday (good company, very comfortable accommodation, good food, plenty to drink).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

     Arriving unexpectedly at the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.  When I say "unexpectedly" - we were meant to go there, but I thought we had a bit more cycling to do!  In all honesty, I didn't know the geography of Nicaragua (or much else about the country) and the whole Nicaragua section of the trip was a delight. But hitting the beach, after a delightful if slightly muddy stretch of off road, was a treat.  And wandering down shortly afterwards to catch the sunset with a cocktail seemed the right thing to do, too.Rounding off a cycling day in La Fortuna with a zip wire trip in the canopy that covers one of the volcanoes, and then a bathe in the hot springs (some days were pretty packed.) As a wildlife enthusiast, I felt pretty excited about my first sloths and toucans.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent,  Janiell engaged well with all of us, and led the Costa Rican team well. Outstandingly well-organised.  Two examples:  I don't think I waited as long as a minute for a room key!  When you have finished a cycling day and really want a shower, that is a great boonWhen we switched bikes in Costa Rica, all the replacement bikes were ready for our size and properly labelled: to do this for one set of bikes is good, to have it done for both sets was very slick.  Luis and Ronald dsereve a special mention : they lifted our bikes onto and from the roof of the bus so many times...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I prefer to put stuff into frame bags on my bike, rather than carry a rucksack.  In tropical heat, I would not want the extra burden of a rucksack .. but I do like to have camera, binoculars etc handy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Were we just lucky?  Several of the things I might worry about just weren't problems.  The bikes were excellent (and Luis seemed able to fix what was needed); there didn't seem to be many insects (apart from butterflies ..); the road surfaces were pretty good (fewer potholes than we are used to!)  Have already encouraged four friends to book this trip ..
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    Standard of certain hotels were much below expectations of a Premium Trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling 50 miles in one day - a first for us!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Well organised, informative, supportive of all cycling abilities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As a group, we felt that the stops for lunch were unnecessarily long and resulted in late afternoon arrival at destination hotel. Arriving late meant that there was little daylight time for exploring or enjoying the new environment.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes were misleading in places. Few opportunities for enjoying the Ocean. Hotel descriptions were disingenuous at times.The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica was disappointing. There was no time for the most important National Parks and so wildlife viewing was limited.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    The hotels that we use on the Premium departure of this trip are the best options available to us in each location visited when taking into account our group requirements. We need to use lodgings that can cater for a group of up to 16 passengers plus our support team of 4. This does leave us with a fairly limited choice in comparison to countries with a more established tourism infrastructure, but still enables us to successfully run Premium departures with a higher than usual standard of accommodation. The descriptions that we give of hotels are all honest and certainly not intended to be misleading in any way.

    The concept of efficient customer service as we know it is still in its infancy in some Central American destinations meaning that some processes experienced at restaurants and hotels can be understandably frustrating. We have developed long lasting relationships with various restaurants/cafes en route which enable us to spend a relatively short amount of time ordering and paying for lunches for a group of our size. A bit of flexibility is built into the itinerary in order to allow for delays as well as local conditions and client preferences on how long is spent dining.

    The focus of the trip is upon cycling, and as a lot of ground is covered through three countries this understandably makes up the vast majority of the activity time. The only way to include more time in National Parks looking for wildlife would be to shorten certain biking stages and increase the amount of time spent in transit on road transfers – something that I feel the majority of our clients would disapprove of in this case.

    Some beach time is available on Ometepe Island (Lake Nicaragua), at Playa Marsella (Pacific Coast en route to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua), Black Beach (Cahuita, Costa Rica). Plus a full day at Bocas del Toro (Panama) during the free day on Day 11 where beautiful beaches can be visited on an excursion from the hotel.

    A range of feedback from other group members has been received which we will be reviewing as always in conjunction with our local operator in Central America. We are of course grateful for all client input as it helps us to continuously evaluate and refine how our trips are designed.

    Adam – Product Manager for Costa Rica

  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    This was the best holiday my husband and I ever experienced.   We feel in love with cycling, met so many great like-minded people.  It was the trip of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment of our trip was in Costa Rica.    I'm new to cycling and wasn't in the best shape of my life.      I didn't realize my husband had booked us a moderate / challenge trip :-)        To get to the point Costa Rica has some pretty serious hills and I cycled up every single one of them !!!!   I may have been slow but I stayed on my bike and did it.     

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I must say that I owe so much to our tour guide, Rob. Rob was thoughtful, encouraging, supportive, kind ..... Rob gave me the power to accomplish so much on this trip just by being there and vocalizing his words of encouragement. Telling me how impressed he was for a first timer that I was doing well and I could do it .. and cycle I did. Thank you Rob. It is because of you that this was the best trip and we found our love of cycling, so much so that it will now be an annual event for us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My advise to potential travellors is to have fun.    Enjoy yourself and remember even though other people are there for different reasons this is your vacation.   Stop and smell the roses { so to speak }   take picture, ask questions and if need be don't be embarrased to ride the bus.    I did one day and it ended up being awesome .. I was able to take pictures of the other group members and they loved it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I honestly feel this is such an incredible way to experience and see a country.   I would highly recommend travelling with Exodus.    The hotels were top notch, the food was fantastic.   Every aspect of the trip was put together, planned out and just left you with a feeling that you were in solid capable hands no matter what the situation.  Thank you Exodus.
  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    A sensational and "safe" way to see the best of Central America by bicycle. You are immersed in the scenery, people and wildlife of the region from the moment you arrive, and are looked after with respect and concern throughout the journey, whilst still maintaining your own independence as much as possible.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Multiple observations of real life by passing alongside those who live and work in the towns and regions visited. So much activity occurs on the road and the bike is a fantastic way to participate in the journey. You see kids playing with simple toys, families walking to destinations, transportation of just about anything by bike, horse, oxen and people just living their lives. This is an enormous privilege.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rob is professional, endlessly patient, interactive, reliable and unwavering in his commitment to us all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling is wonderful, and be prepared for hills and heat. I was unaware of the very significant amount of bus travel involved, sometimes for over 3 hours. The bus is not really geared for a full complement of travellers and it can be squashed on board. So if you are expecting continuous cycling, you will be surprised regarding the bus commute, which is not really made apparent in the trip notes, at least not for the amount experienced. But also note there is really no other way to cover the distance so this aspect is unavoidable and it’s also to keep you off the really busy roads and hills. Just know that it is necessary to do the tour and see the 3 countries in the time allowed. There are also numerous restaurant lunch stops, so think about whether you would prefer snacks or lighter meals, rather than commit to these. Lastly, many meals are taken as a group but you can split if you want to, but definitely eat with the group a lot too.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A totally fantastic experience and a wonderful way to see some of the best of Central America. You can dwell on minutiae regarding meals, bus, the odd poor accommodation etc, but the overall concept is amazing. Great value for money too, with most nights being comfortable at least and many really very good. You will love your photos and irreplaceable memories forever.
  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA & PANAMA

    Ridiculously amazing!  If you want to see Central America off the beaten track, be refreshed by the wonders of the animals, birds, volcanos, amazing cycling and a perfect end every day with a body of water and cocktail waiting, then this is the trip for you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day, every moment.  I think I woke up with a smile plastered to my face and ended with one as well.  Hiking through the tropical forest over rope bridges that extend across the expanses.  Riding 48 mph down a volcano.  Sipping pina coladas in the hot springs.  Rafting along the river to see iguanas, monkeys, birds, bats and the list goes on.  Doing the zipline tour in La Fortuna.  Fresh papaya, pinneapple, guava and coconut on the roadside stand.  Taking a leisurely dip in the ocean, gulf or pool at the end of every day.  Watching the sunset at the base of the volcano while floating in the lake.  Giving soccer balls to some very appreciative little ones.  All the smiling faces along the route both young and old, giving us encouragement and letting us see a bit into the wonderful countries that are theirs. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The best ever!  Kevin kept us well infomed, made sure we were safe, well taken care of and basically spoiled us for any other potential guide we may have in the future.  Paul was an incredible guide, both on and off the bike, pointing out the sights and animals so that nothing was to be missed by our untrained eyes.  Taking great care of our bikes and us along the route during any mishaps with tires, chains etc.  Luis, Eugenio and Ronaldo kept us safe on the roads.  Amazing team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get some cycling in before you come.  If the terrain is too rough or the heat gets to you, you can always get on the bus.  However you really don't want to miss a day of riding, cause there is nothing like seeing these countries from the saddle.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just a sincere thanks to Kevin, Paul, Luis, Eugenio and Ronaldo for the most remarkable adventure I've ever had and hopefully the beginning to many more!