Turtle, Ecuador

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

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  • Reviewed January 2019
    Rosie D

    Spectacular Pyrenees

    This was a fabulous trip - more 'off the beaten track' than the Tour du Mont Blanc - and a perfect introduction to the scenery, flora and fauna of the Pyrenees and the highlights of the long distance GR10 route. Wildlife included griffon vultures, a golden eagle, marmots and much more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day four (the third walking day) when we trekked in the Neouvielle Nature Reserve. This was the longest trekking day, with spectacular mountains and lakes (including the opportunity to swim in the clear waters of a mountain lake before lunch for those who wished it). The view from the highest point of this walk was well-worth the exertion of getting there, as was the feeling of achievement when we arrived at our lake-side accommodation sat down to enjoyed a well-deserved cold beer.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pierre is an outstanding guide - his knowledge of the local area is impressive and he is a marvellous ambassador for the Pyrenees. A local who knows the mountains like the back of his hand, his knowledge and passion for the wildlife and the history and heritage of the region is infectious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was a little nervous about the gite accommodation would be like but I needn't have worried - it was fine, often with delicious home cooking for our evening meal. As we were travelling late in the season (September) we were the only group staying in two of the locations and so pretty well had the place to ourselves. In contrast, what should have been one of the nicest gites was a little underwhelming because it happened to be overrun by an very large group on the night that we were there - obviously there was nothing to be done about this and as with any selection of accommodation, you are bound to like some places better than others. I didn't have a sheet sleeping bag so took with me a single bed duvet cover which worked well. Weather was generally warm - do bring shorts, T-shirts and sunscreen as well as long trousers. There was some rain but this tended to be in the late afternoons once we had completed our day's walk - apparently a typical pattern for the time of year. On most days we were able to buy things for packed lunches the afternoon before - the fresh bread, cheese, fruit, etc. was delicious. I also found it worked well to have nuts / raisins / chocolate to snack on during the day - you might find it helpful to take along some small containers for lunch items.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An excellent trip with a first class guide and a great group of fellow-walkers. Some of the days are quite long and the activity rating of 'challenging' is accurate - you will need a reasonable level of fitness and prior experience of trekking to enjoy this trek to the full. Don't forget to take walking poles which most members of our group found really helpful and which Pierre taught us to use effectively.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Nancy Fanning

    Stunning Mountains and Villages of the Pyrenees

    I did this hike as a 61 year old female, travelling solo. This was a great hike through many of the most scenic sections of the GR 10. I went in late June and we had both very hot and cold weather, in addition to a few days of rain, cold mornings and a short burst of hail, so make sure you bring adequate layers. I also high recommend walking poles as many of the ascents and descents are steep and rocky. Our group typically hiked 6-8 hours, starting at around 8 and ending about 3:30 or 4:00 pm. I am reasonably fit and a regular hiker and I found the pace to be fine. We had ample opportunities to stop for pictures, coffee and snacks. Personally, I would rate this trip as slightly less challenging than the Mont Blanc camping trek. I have a moderate fear of heights and did not have any problems on this trip., although we were told that on one short stretch there is a steep drop (we couldn't see it as it was cloudy that day). We did a bit of scrambling over boulders on a couple of the days. I found this a bit challenging, but our guide assisted me.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting the many beautiful and medieval towns in the area (including an 8th century tower/castle). I live in the hot desert southwest in the US, so I enjoyed the forest walks-even in the rain.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pierre was a great leader with extensive local knowledge and mountain expertise. He provided expert leadership and was very helpful. When I was having a bit of trouble with one of the steep descents, he stayed with me the entire way down. He is definitely the best guide I've had on any Exodus trip. He is very passionate about what he does and this greatly added to my enjoyment of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for all types of weather and lots of mud. I would recommend bringing hiking poles. Three or four of the nights are spent in gites with shared dormitories and, sometimes, not so comfortable quarters. I was glad I brought ear plugs and an eye mask - wish I'd brought a comfortable bed pillow also! Think about what you want to do on the free day in St. Lary as many of the activities require advance booking. I went on some day hikes in the area and visited the spa. The Vaporarium in Luchon is only open in the afternoons on most days, so plan accordingly if this is something you'd like to do.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My only minor quibble with the trip planning is that Exodus needs to smooth out some of the picnic arrangements. On two or three days I had to shop for my lunch in the evening, then leave it on the window sill to stay cool for the next day's hike! Fortunately, we had cool nights so this was OK. If it had been hot, we all would have been stuck. As I was on the inaugural hike for this particular trip, I suspect Exodus will have this worked out by the time the second group departs.