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 August 2019
    Pauline Gallagher

    Beautiful Colombia

    A very enjoyable holiday, seeing a lot of this beautiful country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many moments, from our very first morning seeing the colourful celebrations for Bogota day; later the highlights for me were the salt cathedral at Zipaquira, beautiful Villa de Leyva, Salento, a great day walking in the Cocora valley and finally Palomino, where we met some of the Kogi indigenous people and enjoyed a relaxing time at the beach.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Diane was always available and helpful, doing her best to ensure the group had a good experience. She was aldo. particularly considerate to one of our group who had mobility problems.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long journeys and big differences in temperatures.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Sometimes the vehicles used to transport us around the country did not have enough seat belts that worked properly. This is really not acceptable.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Pauline Gallagher

    Beautiful Colombia

    A very enjoyable holiday, seeing a lot of this beautiful country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many moments, from our very first morning seeing the colourful celebrations for Bogota day; later the highlights for me were the salt cathedral at Zipaquira, beautiful Villa de Leyva, Salento, a great day walking in the Cocora valley and finally Palomino, where we met some of the Kogi indigenous people and enjoyed a relaxing time at the beach.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Diane was always available and helpful, doing her best to ensure the group had a good experience. She was aldo. particularly considerate to one of our group who had mobility problems.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long journeys and big differences in temperatures.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Sometimes the vehicles used to transport us around the country did not have enough seat belts that worked properly. This is really not acceptable.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Shirley Bell

    TZS walking and wildlife

    Great trip saw lots of wildlife and great walking

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When we saw a family of lions feasting on a wilderbeast and we got so close to see them. Walking out of my tent one morning and seeing a family of elephants crossing the river so close amazing. The views in the mountains.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leaders were fabulous

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for long bus journeys. It's cold when the sun goes down Bring binoculars Bring waterproofs it does rain sometimes in Africa It's Africa be prepared for anything to happen.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Joanne W

    Wish I was still there!

    This was an excellent holiday and exceeded all my expectations, particularly as I'd already had a memorable walking holiday in Austria previously and thought nothing would top that. How wrong was I?! I wish I was still there! Despite thinking that the level 3 walks would be more than enough for me before I got there, I spent all of the days, except one, doing level 5 walks. Every night, the group leaders (the amazing Paul and Louise) provided a very detailed description of the walks, weather conditions and what we could expect. We even had visual demonstrations of each walk using table props by the end of the week! Who knew that pepper pots made such great mountains?! This was very helpful in gauging what walk I wanted to do, and luckily the weather was kind to us so only one day was wet (I went in August). The area of Achensee is very pretty and the hotel was right by the beautiful lake. The walks took in a variety of mountain ranges and scenery, giving you a good chance to explore the region around the lake. We travelled by local bus, cable car, ferry and steam train using the free Achensee holiday card, which was valid all week (including the free day). I loved the walking as the scenery was stunning, the trails were fairly quiet most days, the flowers and wildlife were incredible, and the sound of the cow bells was really special. One day, we climbed above cloud level and sitting on the mountain top looking down at the clouds was a special experience, realising I'd climbed higher than the clouds, like I was superhuman! Some days, there were stops at Almshouses in the mountains for coffee and cake, or a drink (more on the level 3 walks than level 5, due to their less intense walking conditions). The cakes in Austria are incredible. On the free day, there is plenty to do around the lake and there isn't really any need to go further afield by catching the train from Jenbach, unless you really want to. The hotel was excellently run and we were very well looked after by the friendly staff and owner, Crystal. The food was out-of-this-world, plentiful, traditional, delicious and ample. The four course meals every night (soup, salad, main course, and dessert) were just what you needed after a day's walking. My room was comfortable and I had views over the mountains and lake. The hotel is an old traditional Austrian guest house so don't expect a modern 5* hotel. I enjoyed staying there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing to the highest mountain of the week in lovely sunshine with a cool breeze and looking at fantastic views - as far reaching as the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomites - and seeing other mountain ranges lower than me. I literally felt on top of the world and it felt a great achievement to have climbed higher than the equivalent of Ben Nevis from sea level.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The two group leaders, Paul McDermott and Louise Russell were absolutely brilliant. They were very professional, knowledgeable and skilled leaders, as well as being a good balance of fun, relaxed and sociable. They made sure every walk was paced for walkers of all abilities and provided chocolate and sweets every day, as well as plenty of well-timed stops so we could catch our breath! Paul and Louise really went the extra mile to make sure we were well looked after and nothing was too much trouble for them. I wouldn't hesitate to go on another trip led by either or both of them as I know I'd have a great time and a high quality experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take walking poles if you have them as the mountain paths are often rocky, loose and uneven underfoot, especially on the steeper ascents and descents. If you don't have any, the hotel have some that you can borrow for the week. Pay the 20 euros so you can have packed lunches from the breakfast buffet all week, as the Spar is a bit of a walk away. There is ample choice, including salad items, eggs, ham, cheese, etc, and 1001 different types of bread. Don't forget a lunch box if you have one, so you can be environmentally friendly, although plastic bags are provided. Be prepared for all types of weather, whatever the time of year, and make sure you have the capacity (bottles/hydration pack and rucksack) to carry 2 litres of water and all your waterproofs and suncream each day, as you'll probably need it all at some point. Do make sure your fitness levels are sufficient beforehand as the mountains are steep (naturally) and the walks, whilst well-paced, will be far more enjoyable if you don't feel like you're dying the whole way. The pace of the holiday itself was quite intense (well, for me at level 5 walks, anyway): breakfast at 7.30am, out around 8.45am, back between 4-5pm, dinner at 7.30pm, end of dinner around 9-9.15pm, then (for me) pretty much straight to bed. I'm glad I booked a few days off work afterwards to recover! The hotel does have a washing machine, if you need it. The wifi was 1 euro for the week but its quality seemed variable. I was on the 3rd floor and mine was fine, but others seemed to struggle. On the plus side, the hotel gives you two vouchers on arrival: one for free coffee and cake, and one for a free large alcoholic or soft drink. Take a good appetite with you as food is plentiful and comes in large portions! :-)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The area is beautiful, the views from the mountains on good days are fantastic and the tour guides were the best. If you're sitting on the fence over whether to do this trip or not, just book it! You won't regret it.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Alison Browning

    Fantastic

    Such an amazing, fun experience. This was my fifth safari holiday (first with Exodus) and I absolutely loved it. Stan, our guide was the most amazing guide I’ve ever had. His knowledge was outstanding and really helped make this holiday so special. The itinerary was perfect and the holiday extremely well organised. A great group of fellow travellers meant that going as a single traveller was absolutely fine. Thank you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting the polers in the Okavango. Stan - an inspirational guide.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic. Thanks Stan.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Jane Turner

    Pandas and warriors

    This is a good trip and includes the major places of interest. The Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors and Pandas being iconic highlights. Cycling to Moon Hill and the whole Yangshuo area brought a lovely change of pace. Overall a few tweaks would make this better - more time to ‘experience’ some of the sights /areas and at least one other hotel with a pool during the trip. Some culinary highlights but a few lowlights (dinner before boarding the train, breakfast at a hotel after the overnight train and the included dinner ‘hotpot’ being particular low lights)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Great Wall - it’s out in the countryside and therefore quiet. Wonderful views, great walking and a real pleasure.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very proficient, always willing to answer any questions. Organised and trip ran smoothly. Was willing to adapt timing when we asked (The Warriors, Pandas and cycling where we asked for early starts). However didn’t proactively engage or ask questions on how the group wanted to approach the day/ visit - e.g we had to request early starts to avoid crowds; more free time within each attraction rather than 15 minutes here and there would allowed us to get away from the crowds.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It’s a good trip to ‘tick off’ the major attractions but it did feel at times that this is what we were doing. I think this is ‘typical’ for domestic tourists but makes it feel rather like a process. There is a lot of travel involved - all v manageable but be prepared for this and very big crowds of domestic tourists particularly August. To make the most of it you need to do the optional extras otherwise there are chunks of time with not a lot (other than shopping) to do. Some included trips we needed to add on extras (boat ride in Summer Palace) and buggy car transfer from coach to sight at Longman Caves.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A few things could really improve this trip - another pool needed (only opportunity for a swim was our last night) - the Shaolin Temple was v disappointing. - some of the visits were ‘rushed’ eg didn’t have the opportunity to go into the museum or research centre at the Pandas despite it only being 11am. We didn’t have time to walk around the Summer Palace lake (we all paid for a boat instead) and there was no opportunity to go into any of the buildings at the Forbidden City. - the hotels are in good locations but pretty average. Guest house was a pleasure.
  • Wonderful adventure

    This was a marvellous trip and a great way of seeing two wonderful areas of the Arctic. In Spitsbergen we saw polar bears and arctic foxes and sailed through the ice to reach 80 degrees north. In Greenland we saw musk oxen and puffins and the most amazing icebergs. We also visited an Inuit community and had the occasional whale sighting. The ship was great - the Ocean Adventurer. The cabin was comfortable and the food was really good. The operator was first class. We had a great tour leader and a full range of specialist guides, i.e. geologist, ornithologist, photographer, marine biologist etc. They were professional and great fun. the other guests were good company. We had four days around Spitzbergen and four days around Greenland so we were able to get a sense of both rather than concentrating on just one. So polar bears AND icebergs! You don't actually get to see Iceland as part of the tour but you do disembark in Akureyri in north Iceland. We asked Exodus to change our flight back to the UK so we could arrange seven days there. We then drove from Akureyri to Keflavic along the Icelandic ring road seeing the major sights. The waterfalls are truly amazing. Greenland is actually icy and Iceland is green. So we had polar bears, icebergs and waterfalls in a three-week trip. Note: to get to Spitzbergen you fly via Oslo. Exodus brought forward our flight and booked us into a hotel for two nights so we had a short city break as well. There are some great museums in Oslo (Munch, Viking Long Ship and the Fram Museum of Arctic Exploration) and this was a great start to our Arctic journey of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    To see a polar bear jumping and swimming from ice-flow to ice-flow.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The expedition and ship staff were all first class. The operator was very professional and we be very happy to travel again with them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    See above - the trip covers Spitzbergen and Greenland - you need to make additional arrangements to see Iceland otherwise you just fly from Akureyri to Keflavic for the flight home..

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We'd already been to Antarctica. We found the artic different. No penguins of course but we had polar bears, arctic foxes, musk oxen and puffins - and visiting the Inuit village.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Paul Sanders

    Fabulous.

    An absolutely excellent trip and a great way to see three countries in two weeks. There was a real mix of cycling, from rough, tough, dirty stuff, to long smooth straights as well as everything in between (it's essentially a road trip though). A few hills were quite demanding (not least in the heat), so the gravity downhill afterwards was welcome! There was some stunning scenery and it's pretty green and lush everywhere. Beyond the cycling, the other activities added to the sense of holiday, while also giving greater insight into what each country has to offer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the cycling was excellent and just the right level. Peering into the Masaya volcano was a lifetime moment and the visit to the school in Nicaragua really resonated.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roberto was excellent on every level. From leading the front riders to congratulating those for whom rides were a bigger challenge, he was personable and professional with everyone. Morning briefings were helpful to all, outlining how each day would work, from the cycling to ordering food in advance etc. etc.. Every day ran smoothly and organisation was excellent. His knowledge and experience showed and nothing was too much trouble. What could possibly go wrong?

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go. Have a change of (cycling and/or casual) clothes in a rucksack on the bus. Be prepared for very flexible lunchtimes (there are always snacks available).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Highly recommended. Pura vida!!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    John Orton

    ?

    Great challenging trip but one that's well achievable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the optional extra peaks

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Rouna Ali

    Rouna's Silk Road

    This is a truly spectacular once in a lifetime trip which I will never forget. I would never have been able to travel to such and so many places in the time available if it weren't for Exodus. The contrast between the three 'Stans' Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is infinitely fascinating. The hot deserts, magnificent Muslim architecture, Madrashahs, Mausoleums, Markets and magnanimous hearts of the people of Uzbekistan to the epic mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and awesome pride and grace of the people of Kyrgyzstan (especially the Eagle Hunters which is only one of many highlights on this trip).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1. Registan Square in Samarkand in my view is more beautiful and epic than the Taj Mahal. 2. During the Eagle hunting demonstration in Kyrgyzstan I almost cried as the eagle flew above and swooped down in front of me to catch the coyote skin!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both group leaders (one for Uzbekistan) and (one for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) did their very best for us and Ali bent over backwards to help me in Bukhara when I had a bout of 'Bukhara belly' :0

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might laugh but I regret not taking small bottles of salt and pepper and chilli sauce with me because the food will cause you problems. Take plenty of Immodium and Dioralyte. In Uzbekistan especially they try to put on the menu what Westerners will like and I did not like it at all. Sometimes the food ingredients were really old, not cooked properly or under hygienic conditions and tasted extremely bland. It can take forever to sort out the bill if you eat in a large group. Before you travel I would look at the trip notes and where the hotels are then do your own pre-trip research using google maps and trip advisor to see where all the good restaurants are near to these hotels.