Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed January 2018
    Pat Rumpus

    Wildlife and More

    We knew December was the wettest month, but hearts sank when our first wildlife trip had to be abandoned as the river was too high for safety to take us there. However, our guides had a good backup plan and took us to the Sarawak Cultural Village where we were able to see some traditional longhouses and experience a display of spectacular tribal dances - including one of the group having a go with a blow pipe. We were lucky enough to see the bat exodus from Deer Cave at Mulu before the rain started again and forgot to stop. We were evacuated from our comfortable lodges while it was still daylight, wading through above-the-knee water to the restaurant. As it got darker, and the water deeper we expected to spend the night elsewhere than our comfortable beds. However, the rain did stop and the river stabilised so we were eventually boated back. The poor villagers further up the river didn't come off so easily in the worst floods for 14 years. All praise to the Garden Park staff and our guides for their excellent control of the situation, and their help to their neighbours as well as us. Don't forget your PONCHO! Preferably a discreet colour. A wading nature walk next day turned up a scorpion, various lizards and skinks as well as a Paradise Flycatcher and the sunshine brought back the butterflies. From the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary on, the mammals were amazing. The monkeys are real characters with such expressive faces and it was good to see so many mums and babies. Great photo opportunities. Sepilok was a mixed experience. The youngsters are kept the other side of a glass wall and they didn't care for the pouring rain much either - rolling around trying to don sacks and holding leaves over their heads in attempts to keep dry. Although it was disappointing to only see one adult orangutan, it demonstrated how successful the rehab programme has been as far fewer babies and adults are coming in for care. However, moving on to Danum Valley, our outing turned up a mother and youngster orangutan yards from the centre. And they didn't stop coming. Five in a couple of hours. Even the guides were amazed. In all we saw ten or eleven over the whole of the trip, just doing their own thing in the trees. We were lucky enough to see a herd of pygmy elephants on our Kinabatangan river cruises. Again, loads of babies. There were a lot of boats vying for the best position so unfortunately the disturbance to the animals from noise and diesel was to be regretted. The birds were spectacular here too, hornbills, hawks, eagles and little flowerpeckers in the garden as well as more butterflies. Take binoculars and a camera with a good zoom if you want to get any animal shots. You don't need huge lenses - I got some great shots with a compact. And discreet colour clothing. Pack light. It really is 'deal with your own luggage' on this one and there aren't big retail opportunities so small is beautiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the interactions of the proboscis monkeys Seeing the orangutans wild in the trees Fabulous birds - amazing hornbills and bulbuls Pygmy elephants - adults barely taller than the tall grasses they were eating

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He organised things well and was a good birder which suited myself and my friend. He seemed to lack confidence in dealing with a group and found it difficult to address us all in one go. He really wanted us to see everything we came for but when things went against us weather wise, he found it hard to deal with. Unfortunately he did lose it with one of the group after a long day when it looked as though a river trip wouldn't be on because of continuing rain and went on a rant 'why don't you like me', 'I'm trying to do my best' and such like which was well out of order and had nothing to do at all with the group member.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Poncho! Umbrella. Waterproof shoes/boots (jungle walks need more than walking sandals). I dubbined a pair of cheap, microfibre lightweight, non waterproof boots and that really did do the business as I didn't want to take heavy leather boots. So can recommend that as a solution. Plenty of good mossie repellent as it gets washed off in the rain. Incognito is a good natural (non Deet) one. Discreet colour clothing Long walking socks and spray them with anti mossie to deter the leeches. I took gaiters and some managed to creep under so wouldn't recommend. Something simple to change into for dinner. Nowhere's 'dressie'.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Can thoroughly recommend this trip but possibly not in December. It is so different and truly exciting. All the variety of creatures and plants are wonderful. I thought ginger was just 'ginger' but not in Borneo - there are tomes on the different varieties. And so it goes on - 4 or more huge volumes on orchids - and that's only the ones that have been discovered. It was such a pleasure to see orchids and other colourful, unusual to us, plants growing in the gardens. I loved it all, despite the rain!
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Cathy Lawlor

    WOH

    Great taster for the delights of Borneo.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The jungle sounds when we arrived in Mulu; plus those enormous, beautiful butterflies! That's when I knew I was really going to enjoy my holiday.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel is my favourite guide! To say he went above and beyond the call of duty is to put it mildly. Always knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and funny. He was an integral part of my enjoyment of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring long trekking trousers, 3/4 lengths and shorts. Accept that you're going to be hot and sweaty most of the time. Don't bring Deet in an aerosol or you will inhale and choke. And remember: 'go when you can, not when you need to'...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We expected a lot of rain but saw little, except for our rained out beach day. So you have to roll with the punches!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Barry Cooper

    Borneo Wildlife Discover

    This is an excellent trip to discover the wildlife and to explore the jungles of Borneo. The trip is well planned from the modern bustling cities of Kuching, Kota Kanabalu and Sandakan to the jungle resorts of Muli and Borneo. The opportunities to see wildlife are many and often you see it in the least expected way for example, a python curled up on the back of a truck in the Hotel Yard!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I can never answer this question because these trips are a continual mixture of high points but possibly just sitting alone in the Borneo Forest Lodge looking at the birdlife with Orangutans in the nearby forest, a moment of quiet reflection in the middle of a busy trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel was excellent His knowledge of the wildlife was superb and when asked for a particular birdsong, he could identify it immediately as well as the vast number of insects which we saw. On a personal note, I arrived separately from the Group as I had been travelling in Australia and on the day before the main group arrived, I fell heavily on a wet marble pavement in Kuching bruising ligaments in my leg. I realised that I was unable to participate in some of the more strenuous activities on this trip and Manuel arranged for me to visit a Doctor and throughout the trip, he could not have been more supportive. Manual reported the problem to Exodus and their support and help was gratefully appreciated. I felt that travelling with Exodus you were not another client but an individual and you were to receive personal attention.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a busy tour but with two nights in most locations you do have time to relax. Costs are low so you can eat well and cheaply. If you are interested in wildlife, this is an excellent well planned and managed trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As a result of climatic changes, I was planning to be in Borneo in the dry season but this was not the case and we had very heavy rain. We did not see the mass exodus of bats from the cave at Muli because of the torrential rain and one day of the trip was lost because of twenty hours of continuous tropical rain. Ensure that you have waterproof raingear with you.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Caroline Woodall

    Borneo Wildlife Experience

    Two weeks of wonderful wildlife, rainforests, enormous caves and much more. We were extremely lucky to spot Proboscis monkeys on our first morning at Bako National Park - and then we saw wild Orang Utans later on our trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Driving 82km off the main road in a convoy of 4x4's on an unmade road to reach the most wonderful 5 star hotel in the middle of primary rainforest - and then a wild Orang Utan appearing in a tree just outside the hotel restaurant whilst we were eating lunch.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel was extremely well mannered, sociable, & very knowledgeable about all forms of wildlife - especially the smaller types - snakes, frogs, spiders, etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be disheartened if you don't get to see all of the wildlife that you expect to see - birds were particularly difficult to spot in the rain-forest - they are up in the canopy & often quite small to see. The first few days in Sarawak - we saw mostly insects, spiders, etc - and were beginning to worry that we wouldn't see much else - but Sabah made up for it - the second half of the trip we saw wild Orang Utans, two types of Macaques, many Proboscis monkeys & finally three of us managed to spot a Borneon Gibbon.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We took our ponchos out with us every day - but luckily never needed to use them. The mosquitoes are ferocious - we have never been bitten so much - and we were using insect repellent. Use strong repellent and keep re-applying it.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Laura Jones

    Brilliant Borneo

    Wall to wall wildlife! Each place had its own wildlife and ecosystem - all of them were amazing. The people were friendly and the wildlife was prolific - a great tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were a number of highlights to this trip: -the bat exodus from the caves at Mulu - getting close to proboscis monkeys at Lahad Bay - Danum Valley (all of it!) - boat rides on the Kinatabangan River -wild orangutans (particularly at the Gomantong Caves)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel was a fantastic group leader. He was calm and organised. He was very tuned in to our needs and made sure that we all knew what we were supposed to be doing, when and what we would need (i.e. head torch or long trousers etc). He was enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable. He was obviously respected by the local guides he worked with at each place. He was brilliant at spotting animals. Nothing was too much trouble. Manuel made our trip relaxed, comfortable and truly special.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When it rains it really rains so take a poncho as this covers both you and your rucksack. Take a water bottle which you can refill. Leech socks are available in Kota Kinabalu at a reasonable price so there is no need to buy them at great cost before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We loved this trip. It exceeded all our expectations. I would highly recommend this trip.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Suzanne Rosser

    Borneo Wildlife Discovery

    Borneo has been on my list of places to visit (mainly due to the Orang-utans) and it lived up to the expectations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to decide … maybe arriving at Semenggok Orang-utan Centre to be told the large male Ritchie was there and then see him walk on the ground in front of me probably 15/20 ft away, along the path and then climb up into the trees. The sheer size and strength of him was just awe inspiring. Or perhaps watching the pygmy elephants on the river bank, in particular two young males rough and tumbling in the water together whilst we sat in our boat watching.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rony was an enthusiastic leader who has a passion for his country and its wildlife which he happily shared with us. He often went above and beyond what was expected of him. For example he rose early in the morning to take the group on additional bird watching walks. His knowledge of the local area also meant that we always ate well!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I used a lot of insect repellent (3 bottles) in the end. Buy a large plastic poncho that is fully rainproof (not just the odd shower) this covers both you and your rucksack; Borneo rain is something to experience! If you don't want to take advantage of the washing services provided - take a washing line and pegs with you. Also take light clothing that will dry quickly. I would recommend comfortable walk shoes and reef style strapy sandals, vest tops, shorts and a set of long trousers/sleeves. Leech socks can be bought locally very cheaply. Take a Borneo bird book as there are so many to identify and take binoculars if you have any.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Expect to get wet, sweaty and at times tired. This trip is as suggested wildlife based and I recommend taking advantage of all the opportunities - as you never know when you are going to see something truly amazing1
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Jennifer Wade

    Jenni Wade

    This holiday was amazing! I'm still buzzing 3 weeks later!! Just to be in pristine rainforest looking up at animals and birds was incredible. If you love wildlife you will surely love this holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many but I will never forget the first time I saw an orangutang swinging down through the trees with a baby clinging to her tummy and when she looked at me I had tears in my eyes it was amazing. The proboscis monkeys were also incredible sitting up in the trees settling down for he evening, just watching the big male stting there surrounded by his family who were all jumping from branch to branch was such a privilege.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rony was a brilliant leader. He was so enthusiastic and passionate about wildlife and his beautiful country. He was smily and happy from the time he greeted us at the airport to the time he waved us off at the end. He was always ready to answer questions and nothing was too much bother for him. Thank you.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of insect repellent. I used Jungle fomula maximum strength and this worked fine. The 100% DEET stuff just seemed to eat its way through fabric! Clothing I wore shorts and vest tops most of the time as it was too hot for sleeves and legs, but we did have to wear long pants and long sleeves on some hikes and on the night hikes. A poncho is really good for the rain as it keeps your bag and clothes dry. Waterproof bags for cameras etc were also really useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Its an incredible holiday and well worth the money in my opinion. The accommodation was excellent and the wildlife spotting opportunities were all there for the taking.
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Andrew Oldham

    Orang-atastic!

    Visiting Borneo has been on the "list" for some time and it did not disappoint. An excellent trip on which we saw an amazing amount of varied wildlife. The rainforest was incredible to visit and it made me appreciate how we must treasure this natural resource, rather than replace it with consumer-led plantations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many to pick: - Was it the male orang utan that appeared after lunch on my birthday? - Was it the incredible sight of a flying squirrel gliding over 70m. after a very long wait? - Was it the many different sightings of wild orang utan, and other primates? - Was it thinking someone's mobile was ringing whilst walking through the rainforest, only to realise it was the sounds of the rainforest? - Was it the food and service at the Danum Valley Rainforest lodge?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I have been on many Exodus trips and so am qualified to judge Manuel as an excellent leader. I arrived on the group flight with 2 others, but our bags had missed the KL connection due to a delayed departure from LHR. Manuel assured us the bags would arrive at the hotel at about 430pm, a bold thing to say to stressed clients. The bags arrived on time. This set a high standard that Manuel consistently met throughout the trip, even in Sarawak where we were joined by a less experienced, less effective local guide.Manuel is very knowledgeable about the wildlife, the local history and culture. He frequently ate with us and introduced us to a variety of eating establishments, some cheap, others still affordable. He patiently endured our humour and struck the right balance between leader and travel companion.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bear in mind that a lot of the photography takes place in low light, with often fast moving or obscured wildlife. Every night we had access to UK plug sockets in our rooms (even the longhouse) and Wifi. A poncho and umbrella is more useful than a waterproof. We got leech socks for £3 locally (it was too dry for us to need them when we travelled). I bought duty-free gin, tonic was difficult to buy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An amazing trip, amongst the best I have done. Go!
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Michael Roantree

    Borneo Wildlife Discovery

    This was a fantastic holiday which exceed all expectations. We saw so much wildlife and experienced the different cultures. The country was very scenic but also more developed than I expected. We travelled with a small group of like-minded people and our team leader, Manuel, was exceptional.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing orang-utan in the wild for the first time. Staying in a long house was also an interesting experience and not to be missed.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel was one of the best Exodus team leaders we have had. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife and cultures of his country and explained things very well. He was always on time to meet us, very patient and well organised. How he used to spot wildlife hidden in trees and undergrowth was beyond me. Much of the success of this trip was down to him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for hot humid conditions and lots of sweating. The rain in the rainforests can be very heavy so a poncho is better than a kagool, it's more airy. Take plenty of 50% deet, you will get fewer bites. Trousers with zip off legs are useful, as are quick drying T-shirts/polo shirts. I never found the need for long sleeved tops. Malaysia uses the same electrical sockets and voltage as the UK so no need for adapters. We were able to charge batteries where ever we went. Internet access was available in most hotels free of charge, although a bit slow.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The orang-utan sanctuaries are not zoos, the orang-utans are free to come and go as they please. It is good that the Malaysians are doing something to protect these wonderful primates. However, it is a real eye-opener to see how extensive the palm oil plantation are and how much rainforest has been destroyed. Danum valley was the highlight of the trip and we wish we could have stayed longer. You will take hundreds of pictures so make sure you have batteries and memory cards to handle this.
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Jenny Hicks

    An amazing adventure on a fascinating island!

    A fantastic trip with so many highlights, led by an excellent guide! The itinerary takes in many different places, all special for different reasons. From bats to birds, orangutans to elephants, the wildlife was amazing. You also learn about the rich history and culture of Borneo. If you love wildlife, especially orangutans, then this is definitely the trip for you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's difficult to select one as there were so many 'wow' moments. The first sighting of orangutans in the wild brought tears to my eyes - little did I know how much more was to come! Being literally yards away from an adult male orangutan was just breath taking! Then seeing 'gibbon gymnastics', bats streaming from a cave, baby monkeys clinging on tightly as the troupe crashes through the trees just overhead, a herd of over 20 elephants with young ones playfully romping on a river bank....and then snakes and spiders and incredible hornbills....this is a truly unforgettable trip!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel made the trip for us - knowledgeable, passionate about what he does and very efficient. He also gave us a very personal insight into Borneo life and culture, by telling us about his family. Best of all, he is a really nice guy, good fun and great company, so all of us wanted to join him in the evenings, even when we had the option to do our own thing. He really is a first class tour leader and I can't thank him enough for making our trip so amazing!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Practical things - there is a good laundry in KK, so you can get your clothes washed mid trip. We took 2 large bags and is was 18RM (less than £5). Take a small cloth/flannel to wipe your face as you get so hot and sweaty on the walks! Take a poncho or buy one there, that covers you and your backpack. Earplugs are a must in Mulu NP as the frogs go on all night! The trip notes say there are no snacks available but we found plenty everywhere- chocolate, biscuits, crisps etc, although no cereal bars. Finally, don't think twice - just book it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The walks, although short distances (typically 1-3 km each way) can be demanding due to the heat, humidity and terrain (lots of steps and some hills with uneven tree roots and rocks underfoot).
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