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

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  • Reviewed October 2016
    Catherine Borland

    National Parks Walks

    Awesome, amazing, stunning, jaw-dropping. I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and some of the iconic red rock images so familiar the world over. It turns out that the Grand Canyon is every bit as captivating as expected, but on this trip there are many equally impressive treats in store and I found it impossible to choose a favourite. This trip over delivers in spades. The only possible flaw is that it is so, so much to take in. No sooner have you been blown away by the beauty of one park you are on to the next to get blown away all over again. There were 12 in our group and all seemed equally pleased with itinerary.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many I cannot choose only one: climbing to Angels Landing, scrambling the wrong way up the slick rock to Delicate Arch, hiking out to Dark Angel and both the rim walk and hiking down into Grand Canyon are all experiences I will hold dear!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leaders Adrian's and Darin were brilliant. Their energy, knowledge and enthusiasm made the trip. Also once the group agreed to the picnic lunch kitty proposal, they provided an extremely well stocked lunch taking care of all the shopping during their down time. It certainly seemed like an 'above and beyond' level of care.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In the autumn be prepared for extreme temperature swings throughout the day especially in Bryce where it was near to freezing overnight and first thing but in the twenties under the cloudless blue skies by late morning. I think the effort could be described as anything from leisurely to strenuous, this is very much your choice with the hiking options on offer. It is very intense though. One of the guides suggested these trips are a bit like Tapas, a taster of lots of different parks. You won't do much more than scratch the surface at each location unlike centre based holidays.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved it. I might even repeat this trip one day, possibly.....
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Janet James

    National Parks Walk

    The entire trip was full of surprises (always good ones) - too many to recount all here. The following is a piece I wrote on my return (for a group for whom I write regularly; my pieces form part of a local weekly 'talking news' for visually impaired listeners). This one recounts just one of the several revealing walks we took on this trip. For us participants it was an experience of real discovery, but at all times we were most carefully monitored by our leaders, and we always had every confidence in them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The river flowed milky and strong, rippling smoothly over here a blanket of sand, there a sheet of pebbles, then further on the bed littered with great boulders, creating riffles and rapids in the stream. On either side vast sandstone cliffs reared above our heads, first red then layers of orange, white, pink, grey and green, solid rock stretching up on either side a thousand feet and more, with barely a break in the solid surface before revealing the narrow slit of deep, dark blue sky far distant above. Occasional bands of sunlight bounced off the ledges of rock above, reflecting light down into the canyon depths, where brightness lingers only fleetingly as the sun runs its course across the heavens. The only vegetation in sight was the small stunted trees and bushes that clung precariously to tiny ledges, mere bumps and scars in the face of the rock, where sufficient water seeps down to succour these tough desert survivors; and high, high above, on the topmost surface of rock, the plateau was covered with a high-level forest, the habitat of truly wild creatures, including bears and possibly even puma. Down in the depths of the canyon, the sound of the stream reverberated against the rock, splashing gently as it slipped swiftly on. Our senses were filled with its sound and its earthy odour, and as we moved into the water, we felt its force pushing against our legs, knees, thighs. The water’s bed, little more than 20 metres wide, followed the straight fault lines in the rock, bending sharply at right-angles every few hundred yards or so, before taking another line. As the water was funnelled through the narrow passage, it created its own gentle breeze, cool against warm skin, but tempered by the heat filtering down from the sun-warmed rocks above. At the start, our passage was busy with people, whole families with children, the smallest carried on a parent’s back, others held tightly as they waded against the force of the stream, fumbling against the pebbles underfoot. But in a short while, as we followed our leader confidently zigzagging from side to side across the stream, seeking out the easier route, we left the crowds behind and the way grew quieter, only the rush of the stream continuing to echo in our ears. We were well armed with stout sticks, and wore special socks and boots that both protected our feet and kept them warm even in these cool waters – vital equipment for comfort in this alien environment. The sticks helped us to feel our way and gave extra support when we stumbled among the boulders. Gradually we learned to recognise where the water was shallow, where deep; where there was sand and where boulders; where there were rough rapids and where it was calm. In places we could reach out to touch the rock on either side for extra support: cool, smooth, water-worn, ancient. As we progressed upstream, the canyon walls pressed in on either side, narrowing and reducing sight of the sky still more. The sound of other people faded, and the rock all around brought us face to face with the most basic elements of our world: for many millions of years ago, these great masses of rock – sand, then, and tiny marine creatures – were laid down under an ancient sea, and later moulded by wind and water to create the greatest sand dunes on earth. Every minute that we walked we could mark the changes in the rock, view the curling striations where those ancient winds blew across the land in different directions, and new layers pressed down from above. Today, though, there is always potential danger. This stream begins far away, high up on the rocky plateau. If a far-distant storm should drop rain into its remote headwaters, that stormwater will speed rapidly down the stream’s rocky course, filling the canyon to a great depth; anyone in its way is likely to be swept away, pummelled by debris carried before the fast-flowing flood. The rocky cliffs on either side offer no safe shelter and few secure handholds. That day, though, we were confident that the chance of such a flood was slim: our leader had checked and double-checked forecasts for the region, and all was set fair. At one sharp bend in the river’s course, a huge overhanging arch was created when, at some long time past, a great slab of deep red sandstone had peeled away from its parent rock. We watched as a park ranger moved steadily down a rope that hung from hundreds of feet above, rappelling gently down over the arch onto the stream bed. He shouted encouragement to another man, unseen, perched on a ledge high up somewhere on the rock face above. We stood and gazed for a while as the second man followed the first, legs braced against the solid rock, then spreadeagled in air as he moved across the overhang. Finally he reached the relative safety of the canyon floor, and began to gather up the loops of fragile-seeming rope. Our wading path was measured in time, not distance. We had just one and a half hours to travel as far as we could. We wandered and waded on, and saw the canyon beyond, narrowing still more. This stream, we were told, continues for many miles, the way often barred by cliffs of rock, rapids and waterfalls. For us, we’d reached our limit, and soon must turn back, this time working with the flow and with our new-found awareness of the river’s signs, so the going was easier. Before we turned to retrace our steps, one of our party launched himself, fully clothed, into a deep pool, revelling in the full immersion in this most basic of all the elements. Can there be any human experience closer to the earth than this: just the distant view of sky above, walls of ancient rock on either side, the gentle support of water below? In the UK, of course we can follow a stream, trace its course across the landscape, but nothing, nothing like this. We have no true canyons, no depth of rock that can match the age of those found here. Oh… how many more discoveries could be made here, in America, had we more time?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two: Evan and Abby. They were clever, considerate, kind and informative - even at 3a.m. (and there were several v early starts to the day)! Cannot be recommended more highly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Only ... thank you to all for exceeding all expectations.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Andrea Neary

    A MUST DO HOLIDAY - BOOK NOW!!!!!

    I am 61 and have done a fair bit of travelling and hiking. I had seen friend's DVDs of a similar holiday around the Canyons and this inspired me to book with Exodus (we had used various other tour operators previously but were 'Exodus Virgins'.) This holiday far exceeded my expectations in terms of scenery (so different to anything I had previously seen), varied walking (loved Angels Landing), quality of leaders (they were very knowledgeable, informative, great communicators, patient, motivational, inspiring, fun to be around and well organised), accommodation (great accommodation with all facilities a girl could need), transport (new and very comfortable; should be the norm!) and finally a well put together itinerary which enabled us to get the most out of the holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday - to such an extent that I would say it was my best holiday for years and years - ignore any negative comments!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I honestly can not select anything specific as there were so many 'jaw dropping' moments.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Evan and Abby were absolutely fab! The leaders MADE THIS HOLIDAY and put huge efforts into every minute of the day. Exodus, please value these people because without them or people like them, the quality of your holidays would be significantly reduced!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take limited clothing as there are opportunities to rinse clothes. Usual stuff about layers, all weathers etc.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Trip notes need updating to include more specific, up-to-date information about items needed for hiking
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Andrew Mortimer

    National Parks Walk

    Great Holiday - saw some fantastic chunks of America - looked after by two fantastic guides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many highlights - but probably the sunset evening in Arches National Park.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both were excellent - very knowledgeable & extremely well organised. Gave clear direction to the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't take too much gear with you - plenty of opportunities to wash/dry tee shirts & underwear. None of the hikes (including in/out of Havasupai) were too testing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the best trips with Exodus that I have done.
  • Reviewed May 2015
    Caroline Merrifield

    Scenery on a grand scale!our 2 tour leaders

    Our two tour leaders introduced themselves, and said that their aim was to give us the best holiday we had ever had. They succeeded ! Each day we found ourselves in the most awesome ( and I don't usually use that overused word!) grand scale landscape of desert and rocks, canyons and cacti. Walking in this scenery was the best way to appreciate it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Oh, so many! I leaned against a cool cave wall listening to our Navaho Indian guide drumming and singing. I did a day walk in the desert heat of Canyonlands National Park, and marvelled at the beauty of the immense natural rock garden.....sand, red rocks, flowering cacti, shrubs and architectural dried twisted tree trunks,.. Far better than any man made garden. I waded 7 miles through the Virgin River in the Narrows at Zion National Park, with the canyon walls soaring high above. I watched sunrise and sunsets paint fabulous colours on the Grand Canyon, Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, the red spires of Monument Valley and the pink and orange Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. ..........Every day was a highlight! And we ate our lunches and 2 dinners in spectacular surroundings.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Evan and Brendon were fantastic leaders, and worked hard to make sure we got the most from our holiday. They were extremely knowledgable, good drivers, well organised, communicated clearly, and looked after us really well. On tricky scrambling or precarious parts of the walks, they gave confidence, and respected our limitations. They were fun and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take clothes for all seasons ! We had snow, hail, rain, wind, as well as a lot of sun and heat.
  • Reviewed May 2015
    Louise Bottomley

    National Parks Walks

    10 days of the most amazing scenery & fun activities. Each of the National Parks we visited was stunning, and all very different. Good variety of walking trails, lots of photo opportunities, very comfortable hotels, and excellent guides. Quite a full-on itinerary, some long drives, but a perfect way to see a lot of beautiful things in just 10 days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I don't think I've had so many stand-out moments from a 10 day trip before. Often many in a single day... The first sight of Delicate Arch, and then just sitting there with it in front of us, waiting for the sunset, while eating dinner carried up by our guides. Sunrise at Bryce Canyon - really special. First view of Grand Canyon - lit up at sunset - wow! Angels Landing, Zion NP - after you've done it you don't think of it as being that scary.... but before you do it, when you are looking at the way ahead, it looks pretty terrifying!! Wading through the Narrows in Zion - a lot of fun. A fantastic walk through Canyonlands NP including squeezing through the Joint Trail.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Evan & Brendan were outstanding - full of enthusiasm & information about everywhere we went. On the first day they told us that they wanted to make this the best holiday ever, and then proceeded to do everything they possible could to make that happen. Lots of optional activities, sunset / sunrise trips, anything anyone asked for seemed to be possible. They organised some nice early starts, which meant we were on the trails before they got too busy (perfect for Angel's Landing), and also so we got the most out of every day. They also cooked a great BBQ at Dead Horse Point - another highlight.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take clothes for all weathers - it was freezing cold at the Grand Canyon & raining (some snow on the ground the next morning), .. and then a couple of days later in Canyonlands we were scorching in shorts and worrying about the heat! Proper water bottles are good - loads of places to fill them up. I'm not used to such luxury accommodation - very comfortable - no need to take a hairdryer or a travel towel!! You do spend a lot of time on the bus, but it is a lovely bus and everyone is encouraged to sit in different seats each day to share the pain of the wheel arch seats at the back. Some long days, but I think that's a good thing (much better to pack loads into 10 days rather than have 3 weeks at a slow pace and more expense!) If seeing Las Vegas is your thing, then book some extra nights there - otherwise no time. I was worried that paying for all the meals on top would be expensive - it wasn't at all - we could buy our own supermarket food for breakfast and store it in cool boxes in the trailer (so if you don't eat big brekkie - bargain!). Guides also organised a lunch kitty - we paid $53.30 each and for that had 8 picnic / packed lunches plus 2 dinners (and we ate a lot....) So that only left the remaining dinners to pay for, which weren't expensive. You need to get into the habit of tipping all the time!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved this trip. We had a different itinerary than was originally advertised - we were supposed to start with Zion, then go clockwise ending at the Grand Canyon and then the Havasupai Reservation. But we couldn't stay at the Havasupai, so our trip was changed to start at the Grand Canyon and end at Zion, with an extra day at Moab and the Grand Canyon instead. Which I think worked absolutely perfectly. Seeing the Grand Canyon was the big thing for me, so it was great to "get it over with"! at the beginning of the trip, then I was still blown away by everything else we saw afterwards. Starting the final day with the walk to Angels Landing was just a perfect way to end. It was hard to believe a few hours later when we were back in Vegas how that day had started...
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Alan Vaughan

    National Parks walk

    The content of this trip was excellent and we had a very good holiday. There were a few minor deficiencies however, mostly concerning information/communication..... We travelled with others who had booked through Grand American Adventures and they appear to have been better served: they arrived earlier in Las Vegas and had time to explore the city whereas we had time only for a quick dash in, despite the trip notes listing day 1 as a city day. We arrived at the hotel at 6.00pm, just in time for the briefing. We were advised that our guide would expect tips of $5-7 per person per day but we were surprised to hear that there were two guides and they expected $10 per day each. As a couple, therefore, we paid $400 which was way above budget. There were other minor 'annoyances' ... we were told that no meals were included but our GAA were told some breakfasts were included. We were left unsure but caught on eventually and gained a couple of meals! The Alexis Park was disappointing: they took 1 hour to collect us on arrival, the room was shoddy (and the door lock fell off) and it is a good 15 mins brisk walk to town. We thought we might also have been dropped at the airport for our return flight, as we passed the door, rather than return to the Alexis Park and immediately return to the airport. Sedona, the last minute addition to the itinerary, was very nice and we felt we could have made more of the walking opportunities there. A short town tour and lie by the pool was all that was needed!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The helicopter ride over Grand Canyon is (ridiculously) expensive but not to be missed.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leaders were unreservedly excellent in all aspects.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Check the details and check the real costs.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our 'criticisms' should not be overestimated. We had a very good time and would recommend this trip to anyone but we felt a little short changed - late arrival, missed breakfasts and extra tip costs. A bit of 'tidying up' and clearer information would make this trip an absolutely tip-top package.
  • Reviewed November 2014
    kms

    walking in the national parks

    a very good mix of hiking and sightseeeing in several US national parks. great scenery with comfortable accomodation of a far higher standard than i had expected.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    scaling the terrifyng heights of Angels Landing. walking through the waters of the narrows azure blue skies against the vibrant rocks of bryce sunset walk and picnic at arches with return by moonlight hiking the south kaibab trail of the grand canyon hiking the remote parts of canyonlands

    What did you think of your group leader?

    abbi and evan were both very organised and good at co-ordinating plans which often changed at short notice, especially dealing with crisis management when our hotel had not been booked and they had to organise 2 nights accomodation at short notice. they interacted with the group and made an effort to keep everyone happy. i would never have made the heights of angels landing without her motivational skills! both good drivers and never felt put at risk.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    be prepared for some long drives although regular stops were made and get some basic fitness as some of the walks are quite challenging. if you want to see vegas you really need to add days before or after as there is no opportunity on the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    take plenty of cash as US is relatively expensive once you add on taxes and the expected tipping. the only slight issue i felt was the bus felt a little cramped compared to some of the trips i have done in the past and with long drives it made it less enjoyable on the travelling days. quite a full on itinerary if you took part in everything, lots of early starts to enjoy cooler temperatures and the sunrises etc.
  • Reviewed July 2013
    Anonymous

    YOSEMITE AND THE CANYONLANDS

    I have wanted to see those National Parks for quite a few years. So glad I finally did! It's amazing how much we actually managed to see and do in those two weeks. So many highlights. Highly recommend it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    One of the highlights for me was definitely Angel's Landing. Just the views from up there, looking all the way down to where we just came from. Loved it. Bryce Canyon was also just so beautiful. First trying to take in the actual size of it from the viewpoints (impossible) and then exploring it on the trails. I also did the helicopter flight over Grand Canyon. Yes, it's quite expensive but it was worth it. The pilot was really good and informative as well. Highly recommend it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leaders were Diane and Anita. It's quite a privilege to have two guides, especially on the hikes. One would be in front and the other behind the group so nobody was left behind. I'm really glad we had Anita as one of our guides. She was just so laid back, always in a good mood, helpful and could answer all our questions. She had really good people skills.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Obviously have some water bottles that you can refill all the time if you don't have a camelback/watersystem. You have access to water at every campsite and visitor centre. At a couple of the campsites you need quarters for the shower. All campsites felt really safe so we just left our phones and batteries to be charged at the restrooms.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wasn't too keen on the Navajo 'sleep over' (optional extra). It was lovely sleeping under the stars, but besides from that it was just as I expected. Too many people and not intimate at all. And I wouldn't exactly call the dances (except for 5 minutes) for local or authentic. It was more about getting everybody up and dance around. I wasn't impressed with the Navajo guide, Rich, either. We did not get any useful information from him. All we learned about Navajos and their culture was from Anita. I think some of the other groups enjoyed it, but it just wasn't for me. There were some long drives, as to be expected, but we had plenty of stops at petrol stations etc where you can get a cold drink or coffee. This trip was just amazing. I saw so much, I never know where to start when people ask about my trip. And just thinking about it now, I want to go back!
  • Reviewed June 2013
    Anonymous

    YOSEMITE AND THE CANYONLANDS

    I had a really fantastic adventure thanks to all of the people sharing the holiday with me, and to our tour guides Colin Galgon and Charlie Taussig. Colin and Charlie went out of their way to make this a very memorable trip!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think the most inspirational moment for me was when I completed the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.Also, a close second was when I reached the top of Angel's Landing in Zion. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Charlie and Colin were just the GREATEST!   They were always coming up with little treats, and ideas for different things for us to do! 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepaired to outdo yourself. It's surprising what you can do, when "encouraged"

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had done an RV tour of this area of the States with my family some years ago, but had to miss Yosemite. Also, I couldn't afford a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon.  Having walked several trails in Yosemite I have seen what a wonderful place it is, especially in the Spring when the waterfalls are at their best.  I have also had my helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon, and even better....walked in the canyon!! THANKS EXODUS!!! 
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