Turtle, Ecuador

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

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577 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2019
    Sally Williams

    Magical Tatras

    This was a truly magical week in the High Tatras. So different to the alps, more of a fairytale setting. Apparently this was the best winter they have had in 7 years and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. Loads of snow, blue sky, and although extremely cold you don’t stand still long enough to feel it. If like me, you can’t face a whole week of skiing, then this is a great opportunity to try some different winter activities and really appreciate the scenery and culture in a place that is not spoiled by mass tourism.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The dog sledging was fantastic. It was a fun, yet relaxed experience. The dogs were so friendly, and obviously enjoyed their work, it was a pleasure to meet them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was an inspiration. He obviously enjoys his work and his mountains. It was a real pleasure to meet him, to hear his stories and marvel at his many talents.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Vegetarian options are limited but it is possible to make up a meal of starters and sides. We did find a restaurant with a lovely veggie pasta dish but it did get a bit repetitive! Possibly take a little more Polish currency and about €100 less than recommended. There is very little opportunity for gift shopping. The best places are the souvenir shops where you do the cross country or downhill skiing. There is no kettle in the hotel room so if you’d like a hot drink before breakfast (or any other time actually) suggest you pack a travel kettle. And take some tea bags! Don’t expect bars and restaurants like in the alps. The place is very quiet which we enjoyed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The thermal baths were a bit of a disappointment, more like a very busy leisure centre. But it was nice to soak in the warm water following two days of activity, once you’d battled through the crowds. Don’t recommend dinner in the hotel even after the long day out. Better to brave the elements again for a good meal.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Graham Walters

    Great Skiing and Traditional and Welcoming Hotel

    Kamben offers a well signposted and maintained network of tracks, many of the closer ones we used during the week. At each junction there is a good map and posts indicating the direction and distance to the next junctions and further destinations. Our trips varied from about 15 to 25 km each day. Not too hilly either; many tracks were graded blue, some green and red. We skiied up the red ones. The Hotel is excellent, with charming and welcoming hosts, very good food, and a comfortable, traditional atmosphere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I hadn’t skiied for 13 years, but soon felt at home again. The relaxed and accommodating leadership style helped.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Albert showed a “light touch” to leading. Friendly, communicative and inclusive in style.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The only downside for me was the long travel time back on the return day. I hope Exodus can review the logistics for this. An earlier flight back to the UK would be welcome, even though that might increase the price a bit. I would hope the increase would not be significant.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    M and C Palmer

    Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

    An enjoyable and interesting trip that gave us an insight into the local landscape and culture. Snow only truly arrived 2 days into the week and our leader Miguel adapted well, staying true to the themes of the itinerary and giving us good walks without snow and then in fresh snow of depths up to 3 feet. Note – some stamina is needed, especially in the deep snow! Local villages, remote valleys in a national park and peak summits were all sampled, together with insights into local history and culture such as the Freedom Trail escape route, and Catalan wine and cheese tastings. A very enjoyable week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the unspoilt beauty and power of the Catalan Pyrenees.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A dedicated guide able to make decisions at short notice as the weather conditions necessitated a change of plan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the Trip Notes, they give a good guide as to the walking level required.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Caroline Simmonds

    From no snow to lots of snow!

    When we arrived in Rialp the area had seen no snow for more than a month, so the first couple of days were spent walking rather than snowshoeing. This was not necessarily a disadvantage because it enabled us to do longer walks to different villages and, at least on the first day, enjoy the sunshine! Then on Wednesday the snow arrived with a vengeance, so the snowshoes got thoroughly tested as well, often in deep virgin snow. I had no idea about the history or culture of the area and learned a lot from our leader, Miguel, during the week. The local wine and cheese sampling sessions he laid on for us were also much appreciated!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Enjoying the views and snowshoeing for miles without seeing any other people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel is a very friendly and knowledgeable guide. On one or two occasions he headed off a little too fast (the group left my husband and me behind in a cafe on the first day - luckily we managed to work out where they had gone and catch up!) but 14 is quite a large group to have only one leader. He willingly gave up his free day to lead us on a very enjoyable additional walk, even if we did need to up the pace towards the end in order to catch the bus back to Rialp! He was also very flexible as the weather conditions required.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect this to be an easy trip, with or without snow - but it is a good combination of activity and culture in a really fascinating area.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Johnny Corn

    Should be on everyone’s bucket list

    This is a trip every Exodus traveller should do! So many different activities in a week based at the wonderful Oulanka Basecamp with its great facilities, gear and staff. The day light is short but you sure make the most of it and have plenty of time to unwind and relax. Laugh at yourself as to try and tackle most things that you would have never tried before but after a taster would want to do most of them as holidays in themselves- husky sledging, snow shoe walking, cross country skiing and driving a skidoo. The final day in the enchanted snow covered National Park of Riisitunturi is one I will never forget as one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to! Did not see the Northern Lights which would have put the icing on the cake but will just mean I will have to come again! Everyone seems to do the Petra trip but I suggest this is a most do trip too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Husky sledging and the snow shoe walk in Riisitunturi.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Elena was a brilliant guide and leader and supported by all the team at the camp! They were all so enthusiastic, professional and fun and clearly love what they do.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you do the river floating do not wear your glasses as they like the clothes you are provided with freeze! You hardly need to take a thing as the gear they provide is better than the gear I have and I am a real wimp in the cold! Take plenty of good socks, hipflask, buy duty free as my bar bill was horrendous ( my own fault but enjoyed it all!), if your clothes get wet of sweaty dry them out on the floor of your room with underfloor heating! No soaps etc in rooms so take your own!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Did not get time as day light short but try and do Bear walks from Basecamp!
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Conor Carr

    A great intro to snow-shoeing in a really beautiful place

    A great intro to snow-shoeing in a really beautiful place, with 'warm up days' to learn how to do it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful scenery and lots of snow was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, helped by a nice, friendly group of people, great leader and hospitable, generous hosts at the Vila.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good! Thomas is a great leader, he looked after everyone well, and knows a lot about the area and history and has good humour too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget your yaktrax, gaiters and lots of layers of clothing! You will be cold at the beginning of the treks but warm up quickly so it's good to have the option of taking layers off. Although the breakfast and evening meal are substantial (plenty for everyone), I advise taking extra snacks for lunch and a thermos flask for hot tea.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great trip for those wanting an intro to snowshoeing. This is a beautiful area, full of history.. I'd also suggest a day or two in Bucharest to visit the parliament building and museums (history museum was interesting)
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Andy Longden

    So good we’ve done it twice!

    The perfect antidote to overindulging over Christmas (although don’t expect to lose weight)! Spectacularly beautiful scenery with some of the finest mountain walking in the world. Conditions can vary - we had reduced snow levels, but that just meant we donned universal crampons (provided by Exodus) and headed up into the hills on good trails. The walking is well graded, increasing (a little) in difficulty through the week. The hotel offers superb accommodation and exceptional food. It has a small, well equipped wellness centre and gym, and offers spa services (massages were highly rated by those who had them).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is always enjoyable when the group reaches the highlight of a walk - often a summit. The top of Monte Piano is an interesting place to visit as it has many remnants of the vicious warfare during World War 1. Another great moment was reaching the summit of Durakopf under cloudless blue skies - genuinely spectacular, and I’ve been on a lot of mountains...! Then again, the hot chocolate I devoured in the Taistneralm hut was absolutely historic in every sense...!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara Bull is an exceptionally capable, professional and likeable leader - one of the best we’ve travelled with. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble, and she gets our top marks for attention to detail. I was particularly impressed with the care she gave to one or two people who needed minor medical care - she got them back on track as quickly as possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although not a highly graded trip, snowshoeing and winter walking can be quite physical so reasonable fitness will allow you to enjoy it to the full. Expect anything from the weather - warm hats, mitts, down jackets are essential, but it may on occasions also be warm. The trip notes are comprehensive and accurate. You will have a free day during the week and it’s worth giving that some thought as there are many options, including downhill or cross country skiing, walking, interesting museums or just relaxation. We think this is a jewel in the Exodus portfolio - we’ve done it twice now, and I wouldn’t hesitate to book it again in the future.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Diana Maynard

    Fun way to try out a variety of winter activities

    This trip provided a great introduction to a number of different winter activities at a relaxed pace (the days were very easy - only a few hours' activity a day - with plenty of free time).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Discovering that being nearly 50 doesn't prevent you from learning to downhill ski for the first time! Also that dog sledding is so much more fun that you might think!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dana was both extremely patient and efficient, coming up with alternative solutions when traffic and weather conditions prevented us from even reaching Zakopane for dog sledding. She also dealt with the one injury on our trip effectively. She was also very informative about each day's activities, making sure we knew what to bring and wear, and was very sociable. Nothing was too much trouble for her to arrange or advise on.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a selection of warm clothing with a number of layers - some activities you'll get hot very quickly and might only need a base layer and thin jacket, while others needed as many layers as you could get on! The evenings are long and can be boring, as can some of the bus rides, so bring plenty of books etc. Don't be scared to try new activities even if you're an old codger - we all managed everything, with varying degrees of success but an awful lot of fun! Contrary to the advice I received from the Exodus "expert", do bring proper ski trousers as otherwise you may not get your normal waterproof trousers over your ski boots (I could not!). However, a normal waterproof jacket will be OK if you have enough layers, so you don't necessarily need a proper ski jacket, though it's useful if you do have one. Also, do consider spending a couple of days in Krakow before/after the trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Due to not making it to Zakopane, we went dogsledding in Slovakia instead on our rest day, and in my opinion this is a much better idea. Also, don't go over New Year, as everything is extremely busy, including the roads, and it's a pain.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Elizabeth Gladin

    A happy time with new friends, lots to do in a glorious place. Very special week.

    Whats not to like? Dog sledding on a snowy christmas morning, the fabulous walk we took just the two of us on the Bear Trail, the group snow shoe hike up in the Riisitunturi National Park or the laughing tumbles practicing our cross country skiiing, or the group dinners with lots of joyful tales of our days, and a sip or two of Cloudberry Liquer? Elina always ready with a grin, a story or some good advice. The Oulanka Basecamp staff with their smiles at all times of the day, and hearty offerings of food and drink. We will return!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    What to choose? All of it, really.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Everyone of our guides were brilliant - helpful, friendly, informative and professional. Elina especially was great and contributed to making our activities such fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it. A brilliant way to spend a snowy unchristmasy but very special Christmas

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Nothing to add except we want to go back. Or do another Exodus trip......
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Claudia Radaelli

    Wilderness Adventure

    The experience overall was very good on many lelvels. The basecamp was not luxorious but the people are very welcoming and it is very clean. My only criticism is about the food, I cannot understand how it one can serve frozen berries with ice cream as dessert when it is -20 outside!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Northern Lights and the Husky sledging

    What did you think of your group leader?

    very nice indeed, lovely person

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    yes, bring warm undergarments!! the rest they provide.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Not at this stage, just better food please and more warm choices.