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

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94 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2019
    Karen Guest

    Ramblings in Romania (with bears!)

    Magura was a lovely base from which to explore this beautiful part of Romania, and a good variety of walks and activities were offered during the week. The walking was mostly fairly easy going.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Magura itself! Such a beautiful setting, particulary with the Autumn foliage lighting up the surrounding hills. The bear sanctuary was very thought-provoking and it was inspirational to see the passion felt by Katerina and the others involved in the project. Having lunch in the local 'pub' in Pestera with a few bewildered, smiling locals who watched in amazement as 16 very wet and bedraggled hikers walked in!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was excellent: very knowledgeable and good humoured. He was also very patient when dealing with the differing levels of walking abilities within the group. His organisation was excellent and he changed the itinerary around when needed to ensure we could enjoy most of the activities during the better weather days. Special mention too to Theo who ably assisted Thomas during the week, and was very friendly and helpful. Sebastian, who guided us on the first couple of days, was also an excellent leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for changeable weather! We had everything from cold (with light snow on the mountains) and wet to sunny and warm. Sandwiches are made up from the breakfast buffet, but bring any other snacks with you if needed as these are not provided at the hotel. ATM machines are available at the airport (although a charge is incurred) and we were given the opportunity to use them before we left the terminal. Excluding the bear hide, which we paid in Euros, we spent about £100 in local currency for 2 of us over the week, which included the meal out, a few souvenirs, tips and drinks at the hotel (although the latter can also be paid in Euros). Hairdryers are available in the rooms, despite checking with Exodus and being advised that I needed to take my own! Tap water was perfectly potable (no ill effects felt by anyone in our party as far as I know!), so bring refillable bottles as advised by Exodus. Be prepared to spend quite a lot of time travelling in the vans and be prepared for crowds at Bran Castle!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We found Villa Hermani very comfortable, with friendly and helpful staff. The food at the hotel was enjoyable and varied, although not always piping hot (particularly the soup). The bread was a bit stodgy and was not to everyone's liking, particularly for making sandwiches. We were also a bit disappointed there was a charge for teas and coffees (apart from breakfast time). We think it might be useful if the hotel sold some juice drinks or similar for the walks as a change from plain water. The seating arrangements in the bear hide were not ideal for such a big group. The front row of seats only had space for 5-6 people and these were the people who obviously had the best view and were able to take good photos. People in the second and third rows of seats had restricted views and this was very disappointing for many. On a positive note, we did see a lot of bears! In my opinion, the walk on Postavarul Mountain was not worthwhile. It was quite a long drive to get there and the walk itself was not particularly inspiring. I would have much preferred another local walk around the Magura or the nearby National Park which are far more attractive areas.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Jeremy Sackett

    An outstanding holiday

    This holiday is a great mix of mountains walks, wildlife encounters ( Bear hide and Sanctuary, Bird lakes ) , historic towns (Brasov) and visits ( Bran Castle, Byzantine monastery, churches and cathedral )

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking up to high mountain meadows and then through virgin Transylvanian forest with the trees dusted with snow and sparkling in the sunlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas is an outstanding Leader for local knowledge and insights, great organisation and leadership and empathy for the group. First class English Up there with the best Exodus Leaders

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This holiday is a real mix of activities so wouldn't suit "hard core" walkers. Most walks were fairly easy but a degree of fitness needed to get up to high levels and enjoy outstanding views

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This holiday gives a great insight into the real heart of Transylvania and Romanian history and visits a really beautiful unspoilt area. Get there soon in case it changes
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Natasha Challoner

    A vegan in Romania

    A great trip that was as described in the trip notes, I felt the most relaxed I have felt on holiday. September is a good time to go as there is still some sun during the day & the leaves are starting to change. A great trip with a variety of walks and activities. The long hike through Coja & Pestara is particularly nice. The beech and pine forests were beautiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing wild bears from the bear hide. It is great that the forests are being kept wild and are protected. Every thing else was also great. The visit to the bear sanctuary was very emotional.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas had a great love for the area and he was able to share this with us. He was well organised.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is no need to take any local currency as the hotel keeps a drinks list. There is no shops nearby. You then change money in Brasov you don't need much, less than £100. May be useful to take Euros and to borrow a small amount if you want to buy some souvenirs in Bran. Take some snack bars etc for the walks. You make up a good lunch from the breakfast table. A walking pole is useful for some steep down hills.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We are vegans and were a bit worried about the food. The hotel catered well, with a different meal every night. The portions were good and very flavoursome. There was a good variety of non dairy milks. You make the lunch from the breakfast table which had 3 different spreads eg homemade Houmas & Beetroot pate. We took our own snack bars & nuts as well. The Romanian restaurant didn't have much choice, we just had chips, salad & sautéed veg, which was cheap & we were glad of a lighter meal so was ok. Brasov has a vegan café with raw cheesecakes. Our hotel room had a balcony with an amazing view of the mountains.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Nicola Ball

    Great holiday

    Really good mix of culture, wildlife and walking. Clean and comfortable hotel and all the meals were excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The highlight for me was definitely watching the bears in the wild, it is worth every penny, we were fortunate enough to see 8 adult bears and 2 cubs, I could have watched them all night.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Could not fault our group leader Sebi he was excellent - attentive, knowledgeable and extremely professional. He saw to it that everything ran very smoothly and he looked after everyone in the group equally very well (we had a full group of 16 people) he was quietly passionate about Romania and it’s wildlife and had a lovely sense of humour. On several days he was assisted by Radetch a guide in training who was equally delightful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip to the bear Hyde is a must, take some binoculars.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were very happy to have travelled with a group of really lovely people. Everyone got along very well, we had lots of laughs, many happy memories made.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Daniela Amabile

    Beauty, as to be found nowhere else.

    Waking up every morning to the glorious Autumn colours of the Carpathians is something I will remember for the rest of my life. The beauty of the forests, the splendour of the mountains and the simplicity of the life there is something I never imagined. Granted, I was initially inspired by my interest in the Dracula legend to go but after experiencing the wilderness there, I can honestly say that I fell in love with “the land beyond the forest”.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When I managed to make it to the top of the mountain on the long hike without collapsing :-). Seeing Bran castle. Sitting up at the monastery, looking at the mountains with the sun behind them. The views of the scenery during our lunch breaks in various locations. Being on top of the mountains and looking down at the clouds.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the natural environment of Romania and its history. He also has a great sense of humour that kept us entertained. With his experience as a leader and training in the army, I definitely felt safe and in capable hands. And he was unexpectedly charming.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try to remain as healthy as possible the week before this trip. I came down with a 24 hour stomach virus 2 days before the trip and it made the first few days difficult as I was still weakened. Also, walking poles are your friends. Definitely learn how to use a pair before you begin.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Suzy Franklin

    Wildlife and hiking

    A well paced hiking tour with free time to relax in the remote alpine accommodation, in the mountains of Transylvania. This is certainly the place time forgot with small farming communities farming sheep and cattle, and small orchards aplenty. Dogs are tied up or in the fields protecting the livestock from the bears and other predators. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. We went when the weather was getting cooler and at times it was a little cold in the room. We had to remind the owners to put the heating on, which they did! There were 3 course set meals in the evening that were hearty and consisted of local produce but possibly limited if you are vegetarian/vegan. Don't expect there to be snacks like crisps and chocolate to be available, expect local fruits instead! The guide kept us updated on the itinerary during the week and gave a very informative tour of Brasov and Bran. All in all - a place to get away from it all and enjoy a slower pace of life! It was a very noncommercial region to visit and very refreshing in that sense!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The hard work of the people in the bear sanctuary, who had rescued bears that had suffered cruelty and now been given the best chance of life - all funded by donations with no government money! One bear had been blinded and had its claws cut so it would tolerate people having their picture taken alongside it. Quite emotional to hear the sad back history of some of the bears. The good news is that owning a bare is now banned in Romania.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was friendly, quiet, amenable and informative.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your thermals, scarf and gloves if going in the autumn as it get's cold in the mornings.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    John Chapman

    Lots of bears

    I enjoyed the walks although quite a proportion of the walking was on dirt tracks ( Romania doesn't appear to have much in the way of public rights of way over farm land)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Bear watching was great, we saw lots.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was an ideal leader for this type of holiday.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Neil Thompson

    Breathtaking

    Having been on several Exodus trips before I was unsure of what to expect as I not done any trips as remote as this. Not removed from civilisation but bit on the verge of wilderness. The walks produced breathtaking scenery of the mountains and forests, all conducted at a leisurely pace mainly over unmade paths, meadows or very easy woodland walks, which posed no problems for any of the group. Although not able to see every animal that inhabits the forest there presence was evident. The added option to under the guidance of a local ranger, see the brown bears in the wild is something that should not be missed. This was defiantly a highlight of the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The stunning scenery was only beaten by seeing the Brown Bears in their natural environment which was by far the highlight of the trip, this was even more so augmented by visiting the bear sanctuary which was heartbreaking to see and hear how thes poor animals had been persecuted for the amusement of humans.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    In Thomas we could have not had a better guide for our holiday. He was both funny and increadably knowledgeable about the environment and the history of his country. On any of these groups holidays the guide plays a pivotal role and Thomas really help make the week special and an unforgettable holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Located within the mountains the weather can be changeable host to hour so would suggest a good light weight rain coat/clothing, again good walking boots are definitely an advantage. Walking poles are an advantage on some of the walks, but I do have a slightly weak knee. I took £100 in the local currency and spent a little over, being able to pay the hotel for the visit to the Bear hides and the honesty bar in Euros helps with this.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Julie Bridge

    Carpathian walking and bears!

    We were extremely lucky with the weather (Aug), however, this did result in some of the hiking being rather more strenuous than anticipated as it was really warm most days - take lots of water! The trip was brilliant, highlights every day, but the bears (in the wild and at the sanctuary) definitely made the trip!!! Our guide, Thomas, couldn't have been more interesting (and funny) and extremely knowledgeable about the fauna, flora and history - simply the best! Villa Hermani was a hit too; friendly & helpful, good food and very reasonably priced drinks. Highly recommended trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The bears without a doubt! Lovely to see in the wild, however, visiting the sanctuary in bright daylight produced the best photos.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Thomas, couldn't have been more interesting (and funny) and extremely knowledgeable about the fauna, flora and history - simply the best!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of water on your hikes, especially if warm weather. Villa Hermani - don't bother with their wi-fi; extremely slow (used 4G instead).
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Jacqueline Harris

    Good varied trip with great guide.

    This was an interesting and varied holiday with excellent trips, varied walks and an excellent guide. Some of the days were long and involved a fair amount of time in a transit or small bus which was not always comfortable especially when it was hot. However , it wasn’t overly arduous and added to the overall interest of the week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenery on the first two days of walking. Watching the bears feed from a hide was also fascinating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was really excellent. He was knowledgeable about the area and it’s history and had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long days of varied activities. Take some biscuits/ energy bars ! While the walks were not overly demanding you should be used to walking with sturdy shoes. The transfer to the hotel takes several hours from Bucharest which means a late arrival , especially if the flight is delayed ( we arrived at 6a.m ) .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would suggest that the hotel offers snacks for sale particularly on the evening of the bear hide trip when the main meal is eaten very early.