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

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  • Reviewed May 2019
    Nancy West

    Wonderful wildlife

    This was a fantastic trip! From the whales and dolphins to the elephants and leopards (yes, we saw one!) every day had an unforgettable highlight. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country of lovely welcoming people and was very well represented by our two wonderful guides. The hotels were very varied in character but of a high standard as was the food. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone looking for a relaxing trip in the beautiful nature of Sri Lanka.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All of the wildlife encounters we had: I couldn’t pick just one. We saw whales and dolphins on our boat trip; leopards in Yala and I would never tire of just sitting and watching the elephants!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent! Our group leader Dilshan was unfailingly friendly, cheerful and helpful. He was a great source of information about his country and managed to strike the perfect balance between talking to us about a range of subjects related to Sri Lanka and giving the group quiet time to relax on the journey. He also managed to identify and address potential issues before they became an issue. Our wildlife guide Dineth was a fountain of knowledge when it came to the wildlife and I am still in awe of his ability to spot even the tiniest bird in the undergrowth from a moving vehicle! He also had a very impressive repertoire of bird calls! They made a great team!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go! A small umbrella can be useful for when it’s hot but also raining!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    ROBERT RAWLINGS

    Sri Lanka - An Experience

    A wonderful country and friendly people who love their home. We got to see a variety of habitats in the south during this trip which makes for an interesting trip with great variety. Our tour manager went out of his way to give us the best "Sri Lankan Experience". We were able to see a wide range of wildlife. For birders the variety seen was good. Mammal life is restricted in what Sri Lanka has but we managed to see many of what there is, exceptions the Sloth Bear and Leopard. The scenery was fantastic in places, loved the tea plantations and trees. Hotels were average, clean and comfortable, what you might expect on a tour to some remote areas, this is not a 5* hotel tour. The weather was good, tropical downpour in the rain forest and hot, dry, dusty days in the parks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to choose one. The scenery and tea plantations, national parks and the animals within including monkey, jackals, wild boar and elephant. The Elephant transit home at feeding time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thushan was full of enthusiasm. Determined to provide us with real Sri Lankan experiences, which he succeeded in. A little more assertiveness in decisions required maybe as he tried to please everyone and found it impossible to please all. We had some issues with a couple of members of the group and he was tested, but handled the issue professionally as far as he was allowed. He gave everyone in the group equal attention and made sure we kept hydrated and safe.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Expect early starts and some long days, only way to see the best on offer over a wide area. Do not be disappointed if you do not see everything, the wildlife is wild, not captive. Take care with the leeches, they can be picked up even in the rainforest lodge grounds, socks are available at the lodge so you need not take your own. Do not forget sun protection.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The driver was great, friendly, enthusiastic and always made sure we had water. Our naturalist, Ashan(?) was very knowledgeable and loved his job. His expertise was more on birdlife however, mammals were less important. Unfortunately there was a clash of personalities within the group which detracted from what would have been an excellent trip. I was disappointed at how Exodus head office dealt with the situation, sending one elderly person home who although did lose his temper did not deserve this. The other person was able to put his side of what happened forward first, and strongly, due to time differences (Australia, Sri Lanka and UK) and made the most of what most thought was a minor incident that could have been sorted with a shake of hands. There were reasons for the ill temper but these were ignored. If there is a policy of sending people home after a confrontation then both parties should have been expelled, not just the one. However this was a minor incident and did not in my opinion warrant expelling. The feelings and thoughts of the rest of the group were not considered, awkward!

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank both Robert and John (review below) for their reviews, although we remain sorry that their trips were impacted on by this unfortunate incident.  It is incredibly unusual that there are any altercations or disagreements between group members, and we appreciate that group members can have different perspectives when an incident like this occurs.  As a tour operator, Exodus has to have a zero tolerance towards any violence on our trips and we have been in touch with both clients about the very different concerns that they raise.

     

    Lucy Crabb - Customer Services Manager

  • Reviewed April 2019
    John O'Connor

    The tour was good, Exodus UK repsonse to critical incident was poor

    i returned from Wild Sri Lanka, the tour was good. If your a birder you will love the trip but you will need to take binoculars. I did not take mine as prior the trip did another trip to the Ancient cities and Jaffna. The accommodation is ok , although the last hotel was really hot and is the one that is not air conditioned. The heat made it quite uncomfortable. The tour guide, driver and assistant were excellent. The naturalist seemed more interested in talking to people with big cameras, chatting to the two young women and at times taking pics for Instagram On the trip you will see a great variety of birds and some mammals. On this trip we saw Blue Whale, Pilot Whale, Spinner Dolphin, Bottle nose Dolphin. Elephant, Mongoose, Purple faced Leaf Monkey, Macaque Giant Squirrel , another type of squirrel, water buffalo, Hare, Wild Pig. Alas no Leopard or Sloth Bear. I think it was the wrong time of year to see Leopard. Unfortunately i was assaulted by another member of the tour group and it took Exodus UK more than 24 hours to remove the person. The guide and country rep have no power to take action. Exodus UK dealt with the issue during UK business hours. It was a very scary 24 hours having to be around the perpetrator for 3 meal and 2 activities. I chose not to do the extra safari and the perpetrator was going on it. After the removal of the person , no contact from Exodus UK about how i was. IT is only on my return to Australia and after complaining in writing and then to my travel agent that a company representative did contact me. I found there response to my concerns not satisfactory, they were really defensive. So if you do go on this tour , i really hope nothing bad happens and you wont get a prompt response.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Perhaps seeing Blue whale

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thushan was excellent and we had many "Sri lanka" experiences. I really liked his style

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware if a critical incident occurs, make sure you have a sri lankan sim and email. So you can contact Exodus UK directly and your own travel agent

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Teh company needs to improve its response to critical incidents and have some type of follow up.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank both John and Robert (review above) for their reviews, although we remain sorry that their trips were impacted on by this unfortunate incident.  It is incredibly unusual that there are any altercations or disagreements between group members, and we appreciate that group members can have different perspectives when an incident like this occurs.  As a tour operator, Exodus has to have a zero tolerance towards any violence on our trips and we have been in touch with both clients about the very different concerns that they raise.

     

    Lucy Crabb - Customer Services Manager

  • Reviewed March 2019
    Maureen Pearce

    Wacky Races in the National Parks!

    Our trip specifically aimed at maximum attention on wildlife was somewhat disappointing. The reason for the disappointment was especially the complete lack of control of the amount of safari vehicles allowed in the national parks and the drivers disregard for speed control (25K per hr) we must have been doing at least 35 - 40 mph and overtaking masses of other vehicles all racing to see either the sighting of a sloth bear or latterly the sighting of the leopard in a tree about 300 meters away in a tree. I wouldn't be surprised if all the animals scattered during visiting times of tourist knowing what mayhem was in store! Once in view of the leopard (only seen with binoculars at that distance) passengers then suffered from carbon monoxide fumes whilst drivers went past the area not once, not twice but three times!. It is difficult to know how you can change the culture of such behaviour of the guides/drivers as it seems to be inherent. Walks in the Udawala were along the road track leading to the eco lodge were ok but not astoundingly memorable. The birders in the group were enthused.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational moment of the trip was seeing a blue whale right up next to our tourist boat. We shared the morning sightings of our whale with about 12 other loaded boats, but having said that we saw our whale dive several times showing it's fluke and blowing before diving.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshan Chathuranga was the most uninspiring Exodus leader I have ever had the chance to come across in all of our trips. He did the basic essential travel connections without any problems but seemed to lack the passion of other group leaders. When asked a question by clients he would often retort "I have told you that, wern't you listening?". His English was OK but sometimes difficult to grasp. I know that he caused offence and anger amongst at least 4 of the clients, reducing one Canadian guest to tears because she complained about the inept guide on their safari vehicle! He took the complaint personally and attacked her verbally insinuating that she was making a fuss. "what is that in the tree?" a monkey - was the response by the safari guide! when they wanted the type of monkey. He also gave incorrect names to birds seen and had little knowledge. It is the first time I have been on an Exodus trip where there had not been a thank you speech and presentation of tips etc. at the last evening meal end of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Contrary to your trip note you do not worry about leech socks as the Eco Lodge provides them. The whale watching trip organisers also provide sea sickness pills.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The early morning safari trips waiting to get into the parks where unpleasant. Hundreds of vehicles all racing to get through the gates first and manoeuvring and jostling to get to the ticket office and pushing and shoving. It spoilt the nature of the whole reason for going into the parks and generally our eagerness to view wildlife. It was remarked by one witty guest that the best thing about the picnic lunches was the paper boxes and bags they came in. Content was very uninspiring - white bread crustless cream cheese or vegetable sandwiches, frankfurters in foil. Even though we were up at 4.30am and in our transport at 5am very few ate the packed breakfasts. It took one hour to drive to the parks on average which seems an excessive distance, even taking into account the drive through the buffer zone skirting the National Parks.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Cheryl Evans

    Wild Sri Lanka

    Wild Sri Lanka - this trip was really disappointing as a location for wildlife. We certainly didn’t see elephant herds in Uawalawe and I was horrified that on one occasion we were part of a group of 6 jeeps surrounding ONE elephant. This is not acceptable wildlife viewing. As a result of such a disappointing day I didn’t go on the morning game drive in Yale NP on Day 8. The transfers between places were far too long. For example: On Day 8 the safari trip started at 4.30am - a one hour drive to NP - 4 hours in a Jeep - one hour drive to return to the accommodation then after lunch a 3 1/2 hour drive to Talalla !! This was a day of nearly 10 hours in a jeep and coach. This is absolutely unacceptable. Finally, I was totally fed up with buffet food. We had just one hotel that offered us a choice in 15 days. The best food was provided by our visit to a local village. Superb!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Whale watching session. Cycling through the local villages with village meal. Visit to the rainforest. Visit to the Elephant Freedom Project.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshun was a good leader who dealt with any problems very efficiently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Potential travellers should ascertain the exact length of the transfer journeys. I shall never book this type of trip again without confirming transfer times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was interested in the rain forest visit but I would have enjoyed learning about the biodiversity rather than bird watching. This was not advertised as a bird watching trip but we certainly spent a great deal of time trying to spot small brown birds!!!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Susannah Muldoon

    Amazing holiday

    I wasn't sure what to expect but wanted a holiday especially for the wildlife. I was not to be disappointed. We travelled between hotels in a large air conditioned coach. The food was excellent in most of the hotels especially the Hotel Insight and Kithala resort. I loved staying at the Eco Lodge but there was very little selection for vegetarians pasta with cheese or tomato sauce. The standard of hotels were very good although the service level at the Nil Days Mankada was poor. I would have preferred to stay a couple of nights at the Kithala resort instead of going to the Talalla retreat but that is just a personal preference. The whale watching was good and we did see blue whales dolphins a turtle and a ray but felt a bit sorry for the whales being converged on by so many boats. We had our on boat which was a lot nicer. The game drives were fantastic and we saw lots of birds and animals (even a leopard) and great to share the adventure with a lovely group of people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think the early morning drive in Yala as the wildlife was just waking up and it seemed less busy then the other reserve. Also the Eco Lodge and watching the birds all around and waking up to the sounds of the jungle.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Group Leader and guide were fantastic and very proffesional taking such good care of us. Making sure we got the very best out of the holiday. Can't be praised enough.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I bought leech socks which are needed but the eco lodge did have them to lend to you so no need to buy in advance. Take binoculars and a camera.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book now !
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Catherine Stothart

    Wonderful wildlife, great food, friendly people and a lovely group

    We wanted a holiday where there was plenty of opportunity to see wildlife, and this lived up to our expectation. Whale watching (saw blue whales and pilot whales), lots of colourful birds, mammals and reptiles too - the bio-diversity, especially of birds, was staggering. We had a naturalist with us who was really good at spotting and identifying birds - that really made a difference. The hotels we stayed in were all different with their own character, and with one exception, were of a high standard. Loved staying in the rainforest and doing yoga at the beach. Enjoyed Sri Lankan food and especially having tropical fruit every day and fresh fruit juices. The group of people we were with were all great.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Looking across a lake and seeing herons, cormorants, pelicans, storks, crocodiles, water buffalo, kingfishers.......just so much to see, all in one place. Hearing the birds and frogs in the morning. Seeing orphan elephants running to be fed. Doing yoga looking at the sunrise over the sea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was excellent - knowledgeable, organised, helpful, friendly, sense of humour. He told us bits about Sri Lankan history and society, which were really interesting and took care of all our needs.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take binoculars - it's much easier to appreciate the birds if you can see them properly!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Kim Lester

    Wildlife Sri Lanka

    Thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Sri Lanka, the hotels are all unique, really enjoyed the container accommodation in the rainforest. The people all seemed very friendly. The Whale watching was a little disappointing as we only saw the one Blue Whale and it felt a little as if we were chasing after it when it breached, on the plus side we had the boat to ourselves. The driving is pretty interesting but we had total confidence in our coach driver. The food was very good, but you probably need to like curries! The game parks are good, initially i thought they were going to be really busy with all the jeeps queuing to get their permits, but it was surprising where they all disappeared to within the parks. Downside was when we found a leopard all the drivers communicate this to each other and everybody descends on the spot.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    hard to say which was most inspirational, all very good.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nakala was lovely, very passionate about sharing his country and culture with us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A fantastic trip, although leisurely, 2 days at each hotel, there was enough to keep you entertained from morning til evening.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Vicky Campbell

    Well organised trip

    We booked this trip to make viewing wildlife easy for ourselves. We joined after 16 days of doing our own thing and looked forward to the group tour. The arrangements went according to plan except for the starting hotel which had been changed without our knowledge. On arrival at the correct place, we found it to be a pseudo-Egyptian monstrosity. The rest of the accommodation was much more as expected. The whale watching was tedious and involved 7 hours on a boat with a distant view of the tail of a whale. The boat race which ensued when it appeared that there was a chance to get closer to a whale was not productive and did not feel very considerate. There was a distinct lack of birds in Sinharaja and the attempt to see leopards in Yala was beyond belief with tens of trucks vying for position to see the tail of a leopard which was hidden in a tree. Not all of the hotels had much Sri Lankan food and there was limited vegetarian food at times. The packed lunches were poor.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Making friends with two other couples Udawalawe Park was the most interesting, various birds, elephants and a few other mammals including a jackal. In both Udawalawe and Yala, we had good safari drivers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was a very considerate person who took time to get to know each of us and to establish what our interests were. His explanations about various aspects of life and history in Sri Lanka were most welcome.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't go with any hopes or expectations as to what wildlife you might see. Do take leech socks for Sinharaja, although these were made available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We booked this trip as "Wild Sri Lanka" with no particular expectations but even with this outlook, we were disappointed. Sinharaja was, to us, a waste of time in terms of wildlife and one of the guides who is based there admitted it was not a good time for birds. Staying in containers was the saving grace here, a real novelty. Now that the trip seems to be called "Whales and Leopards" ( as in our final joining instructions) this would suggest that these creatures are more likely to be seen. This seems grossly misleading.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Emma Dart

    Great way to see the nature of south Sri Lanka

    This was a fantastic trip which gave great opportunities to see the diverse wildlife and landscapes of Sri Lanka. It was hot / humid when we went so the air con on the bus and the majority of the hotels was welcome. It was nice to have a couple of nights in most hotels. The stay in the rainforest lodge was incredible, and the rooms in the Talalla hotel were unusual and enjoyable. The bus journeys between accommodations were not too long, and the scenery was very enjoyable. There is so much birdlife and wildlife to see here.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a blue whale. We also loved seeing the fireflies in the rainforest and at Tallala. There is not much light pollution there so the stars were incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshan was fantastic. He was so engaging, knowledgeable and well organised. The naturalist on the trip, Devaka, was enthusiastic and highly skilled.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Many of the plug sockets accommodate do UK plugs. Where they did not, we were glad to have purchased an adaptor as our multi adaptor did not cater for Sri Lanka plug sockets. We did not see many mosquitoes, but were careful with using deet and covering up. The sun is very strong as well. The rainforest lodge provided leech socks, which seemed to work very well. There were only a couple of times where we encountered small leeches and the guide removed them easily.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food is fantastic, a lot of choice in the buffets.
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