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 March 2019
    Ann Ford

    Excellent

    As someone who wasn’t bothered about our trip to Costa Rica I can honestly say I have fallen in love with this country and it’s people. The trip with Exodus was so good. The guides, the activities and accommodation was first class. I would recommend this trip and Exodus to everyone. Fabulous.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Quetzel .. I have fallen in love with bird watching.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was brilliant. Helpful, inspirational and an all round wonderful guy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was just a wonderful trip, cannot thank Exodus and Camino travel enough.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Jenny Brown

    Costa Rica for variety

    This 2-week trip took us to several geographically different regions ; volcano, tropical rain forest, beach and cloud Forrest. All had their individual climate and wildlife. We travelled with our guide and driver in a comfortable air-conditioned coach, staying in each location for 2 nights.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1. Seeing sloths moving around in the treetops in Tortuguero NP , and seeing a sleeping toucan through the telescope of our night-walk guide. 2. The rough Caribbean Sea and the power of the waves

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was excellent. He is also a bird-watching guide and was able to identify everything we saw. He was able to answer questions on other topics too. He was very careful about looking after the 2 people who needed to eat gluten-free meals for medical reasons. His English was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for extreme climate. It is unbearably hot in the southern rain forest and you have to realise that doing anything, even walking, is exhausting.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was great to be able to drink the tap water. Food is delicious. Toilet paper has to be discarded in a bin, not down the pan.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Harriet Woodcock

    Everyday a highlight

    We'd wanted to go to Costa Rica for some time and this holiday did not disappoint. In two weeks we saw amazing things on the coast, in the mountains, in the jungle and in the cloud forest. Our guide, Katia, was extremely knowledgeable and was excellent at spotting wildlife and explaining all about it. Indeed all the drivers and guides we encountered on the journey were excellent and also good at spotting wildlife. The accommodation was good all round including some great jungle lodges. We really felt that we 'discovered costa rica' and were really impressed with the whole holiday and the country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's hard to pick the most inspirational moment of the trip as there were so many of them. Esquina lodge was special. It was a small lodge in the jungle and everywhere you looked there was wildlife. The afternoon we arrived we had a fantastic thunderstorm so we got to truly experience the rainforest. At night the jungle came alive with the sound of frogs and other wildlife. But we also were captivated by the sloths in the cloud forest, the monkeys at Manuel Antonio, the humming birds everywhere ( who knew there were so many varieties?), colourful toucans at Tortuguero, and of course the quetzal in Savegre Lodge.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Katia was so knowledgable about the wildlife and very patient with those of us who aren't natural 'birders' . She also gave us a great insight into the country with lots of information and stories to bring the history and politics to life. She was very personable and one of the best guides I've had on a holiday like this. A big shout out to Juan Jose our driver who was also good at spotting bird and kept the bus immaculately clean and tidy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a fab holiday with lots of opportunities to spot wildlife so book it now! The walks are undemanding compared to what we are used to doing, they use made paths or boardwalks and can easily be done in approach shoes or trainers. There are some steps and inclines and some of our companions found sticks useful but we didn't feel we needed them. All the lodges are designed to keep out bugs and beasties but occasionally some creep in (you are in the forest/jungle after all) so check your room before you go to sleep! The hotel staff are on hand to extract any unwanted creatures. Do try the coffee, it's excellent everywhere- non of this instant coffee stuff. There's lots of nice fish to eat fresh from the sea. You have to eat gallopinto at least once - I got quite addicted to it and will be cooking it at home. Only one downside and that was San Jose Airport. We waited three hours to get through customs on the way in so be prepared for a wait. We were told the average is around two hours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just a fab, fab, holiday. I truly have discovered Costa Rica
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Rosie Ritchie

    Well worth visiting!

    Lots of wonderful wildlife and plants, beautiful surroundings, great company and leader :)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying at Tortoguero National Park was an education! We stayed at the lovely Laguna Lodge in comfy rooms within the grounds and within a few minutes walk of the Atlantic Ocean. Taking to the waterways to view wildlife was something I hadn't experienced before and I found it fascinating when the boat came to a stop so we could see birds, monkeys, iguanas and even orchids up close and personal.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hector really knows his stuff. And his love and knowledge of the wildlife, as well as the plants, really came through with everything he told and showed us. His patience in answering our questions was great and he is also resourceful. When we had bad weather on one occasion, he immediately found another activity for us, and he also had plenty of suggestions for good restaurants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember to take mosquito repellent, suntan lotion, a swimsuit, and a waterproof.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Anne Booth

    Costa Rica - fabulous

    Discover Costa Rica really lived up to expectations Wonderful wild life and plenty of time to see everything in detail An incredibly varied country - difficult to do it justice in 16 days but this holiday gives an excellent insight into a wonderful holiday Unhurried and relaxing holiday Accommodation - food - wonderful Costa Rica is very Eco friendly. It’s approach to living alongside wildlife is to be greatly admired and, indeed, the rest of the world should learn from Costa Rica approach The guide (Héctor) was superb Costa Ricans are fabulous people - warm and welcoming Trip notes are accurate However if travelling from Ecuador to Costa Rica it is necessary to have a Yellow Fever Certificate.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Experiencing the birds, iguanas, monkeys from the boat in the lagoons. On a night walk in the jungle listening to the nightlife with the torch turned off - drinking in the noise of the frogs, insects etc. was magical. Swimming in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall surrounded by high cliffs and amazing forest vegetation Watching the humming birds.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hector was wonderful. Having been on several Exodus trips I can honestly say he was The Best. Knowledgeable - interested in the people on the trip. Eager to learn and Europe as well as imparting information to us. He had a great sense of humour He wanted me make out time in Costa Rica special and memorable and he succeeded

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of spending money. The meals out can be expensive. All the extra activities are great - do them ALL - but budget accordingly If travelling from countries other than the UK check the requirement for a Yellow Fever Certificate. This is required from travelling via Ecuador

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is experiencing a boom in tourism. Book NOW before it gets too busy Friends of mine did this trip (with Exodus) 2 years ago. Swapping notes Costa Rica would appear to be much busier now Hector also confirmed that the tourism industry is growing fast
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Jackie Boot-Handford

    I didn't want it to end..........

    A superb trip, a lifetime experience As the other 227 reviews have said, the beauty of the environment, landscapes, birds and animals you see, hear and experience is breathtaking. I won't repeat the details again, but its all true! Costa Rica has extraordinary biodiversity therefore ecotourism contributes a big chunk to the GDP, and so they do tourism very well. They know their market and hit it square on. This tour, in a short period of time provides experience of a range of ecosystems, a new environment every 2 days and each day reveals a whole new range of fabulous things. While nature is the main draw to this trip, it also offers a great opportunity to learn about Costa Rica as a country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Varys day by day, really. For me it was the whole dynamic- you are taken to a range of wonderful places, with a group of great people, a super guide who you could ask about anything and who would give you an informed honest answer .......... maybe it was : the afternoon sitting watching humming birds and toucans, or the time on the water at Tortuguero or the sloths/armadillo/bats/agouti/coati/howlers snoozing by the road maybe San Jose and the sculptures maybe singing sea shanties with the group in the bar ask me tomorrow and it will be a different list - a lot happens in 2 weeks

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mayer Jiménez is an excellent leader- he will definitely get my vote for best leader this year I have the impression that the quality of leaders is high. They take a 5 year tourism degree covering the whole range of information visitors may want, not just around the animals, birds and environment but all aspects of Costa Rica including socioeconomic, sources of energy, you name it . The quality of knowledge and information he seemed to be able to supply and skill in knowing just how much was wanted was great. His ability to spot animals and birds was extraordinary, however this links to one of the things I particularly liked- he seemed to love doing it and his interest and enthusiasm was infectious. So a clever guy, highly trained very experienced, well organised and smart at handling the group. His happy place seemed to be with a pair of binoculars around his neck but he had great people skills too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1) Packing-Pack light Remember you will pack and unpack 6 times plus the guys loading the bags do so by hoiking up on to their shoulder then through the back window. They don't bat an eye but I couldn't watch knowing the weight of mine! I didn't need my heavy walking boots, or camel back. You do however need walking shoes & sandals with GRIP. Most surfaces have loose surface I'd consider getting one of the adapters you can attach to your camera then take pics through the guides scope Load up a Costa Rica animal app- they are very good 2) Places San Jose Don't just see San Jose as a place to stay post and pre flight. It is a very interesting city. I loved the sculptures in the parks. We were lucky to be there when Jorge Jiménez Deredia was exhibiting which was fabulous. Visit the Cathedral, National Museum of Costa Rica, MADC and Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. If I had another day I'd have done the Jade museum and Museum of Costa Rican Art ............and more cake shops and cafes La Fortuna/ Arenal -10 min walk into town- great icecream shops mmmmmmmmmm! Supermarkets reasonably priced Santa Elena- Beso coffee shop for great coffee and lovely bakery products at other end of the high street. You may be taken to the very pleasant tree house but try to push outside of comfort zone and go elsewhere (Amys was good pm but all of them look pretty sound) . Supermarket here is reasonable and I wish I had bought more in the tourist shop ( I got a mug for $6 here which was $16 in duty free/ airport. In evening, go into town to a restaurant- give the bus driver night off and get a cab back- only $6 and gives you freedom to do as you want. Use official cabs- red with yellow triangle . The views in mountains en route from Santa Elena to Manuel Antonio are so wonderful............then suddenly from nowhere you crash back to reality, urbanization, palm oil plantations and Manuel Antonio- about 15 shops/ overpriced supermarkets and a couple of average restaurants. However........there are nice places Mayer took us to an amazing restaurant next to a bar with a real aircraft in it. Great for sundown. There is also a nice restaurant near the hotel ( ask at reception). The pool is small but nice to chill out by- but watch the cheeky whitefaced monkeys- they will pinch your things. You can also see squirrel monkeys near the hotel.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were very lucky with weather, tour, group and guide. I think though I liked the fact you had freedom to do as much or little as you liked and draw from the tour what suited you.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Helen West

    Discover Costa Rica

    My recent trip to Discover Costa Rica was absolutely amazing - I certainly 'Died and went to Heaven - as I was in Heaven', the trip ran so smoothly, perfect in fact - the transfers, accommodation, boat trips, wildlife and birdlife were in abundance. Our tour guide Mayer was simply Perfect No1, who know everything we asked and had an excellent sense of humour. I really cannot fault this holiday at all - simply perfect. I want to do it all again if I could. I have worked in hospitality for around 7 years but have never experienced such a well organised trip. Well Done and thank you so much Exodus, I will certainly be booking my trip with you next year, perhaps seeing the Jaguar in Brazil! Helen West

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting under the tree watching a Mother Sloth with her baby, eating leaves. She was on the beach then walked back along an electric line to the rainforest - truly memorable. Toucans at Esquinas Lodge and Tortugera NP were also amazing to watch.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mayer was No1 Tour Guide he answered everything so well, and had a great sense of humour. Never got stressed, very patient and accommodating.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You won't have any regrets going on this trip, you have to go and see for yourself how amazing this place really is. With 2% biodiversity of the World..... and heading for carbon neutral and recycling.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No - except thank you so much for taking me to Heaven and back!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    (Edna) Pat Alette

    What does this mean?

    An excellent trip covering a variety of different locations enabling us to get a feel for the country and especially for its wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing 5 male and 1 female quetzals together

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos was absolutely excellent. His ability to see creatures hidden in trees or a long distance away was exceptional and his knowledge of the wildlife was phenomenal.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Paula Cooke

    A superb trip

    My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to Costa Rica. The group of sixteen bonded well. ( ages 40+ - 70+ years)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The abundance of wildlife is amazing. The sight of many Spider monkeys swinging and then jumping above us to cross the river from over hanging trees was so thrilling. ( What an incredible birthday gift!) Finding two and three toed sloths and even patiently waiting to observe them moving along trees or even crossing a road along a wire! Seeing several sightings of the resplendent Quetzal - and especially coming across a ‘pre selection ritual’ with 4 males and 1 female amoungst the trees. We also saw many beautiful humming birds. Too many to list all of the incredible moments.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leader Johny was phenomenal. His passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the wildlife, ecology and his country was infectious. He was patient, kind and fun. Johny is a real ambassador for his country, full of respect for creatures, environment and people.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some quite steep climbs ( at heights of 3000 metres above sea level) although it says level 1 some of the members of our group found it challenging, even though all were fit. Take enough layers for wearing at high altitude - it is cold up there even if it doesn’t rain. Also prepare for incredible heat and humidity at the low levels, the sea and waterfall swims are very welcome. Staying in the midst of the jungle in the small wooden lodges was perfect, and the jungle tends to be noisy all night. ( Ear plugs may be handy for some)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Even many little things are delightful so it is worthwhile looking everywhere such as tiny bats on logs, difficult to spot. There are beautiful sounding frogs, a surprise to the eye though! The early morning chorus of the jungle is a pure heavenly sound.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Jenny Knott

    Discover Costa Rica

    An amazing country with such diversity. Each location has it’s own appeal. The Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, and the interior rain and cloud forests all have their own beauty, wild life and scenery. 16 is a good group size, and our new friends and brilliant tour leader- Glenda, made it a very special holiday. The lodges are comfortable and each is perfectly located for the adventures ahead, most have beautiful gardens. Usually basic lodge facilities, not always a hairdryer. Swimming pool in several locations , great to cool off! We were lucky with the weather though sudden rain showers need to be considered- best to pack waterproofs or cape. Concerned before we left about temperatures in February. Mainly between 26deg and 32, but Monteverde and Savergre cooler early morning and evening and a fleece useful. We did a 5.30am walk in Savergre (2100 metres) to see the elusive resplendent quetzal and was the only time l felt cold! There is an emphasis on the trip to see all the beautiful birds, though we were also delighted to see slouths, iguanas, lizards, camens, monkeys etc. The itinerary was much fuller than listed, with our guide adding extra walks and finding interesting places for us to stop. Although San José has little to offer, we appreciated going a day earlier to acclimatise and see the town- excellent restaurant with Costa Rican specialities 10 minutes walk from hotel- Nuestra Tierra. Also consider flying from a local airport via Skipol (Amsterdam) if you don’t live near Gatwick. It worked out cheaper and more convenient for us when considering hotel and car parking in Gatwick.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were inspired by the beauty of the country. It’s lushness and biodiversity. Our great guide Glenda was so passionate about her country she made all our areas visited inspiring for their individual charm. The waterways of Tortuguero were fascinating, and we particularly liked the cloud forest in Monteverde. The colourful birds in Savergre were stunning especially the toucan that sat on a branch within a few metres of us having our lunch in Savergre Hotel and enjoyed the attention! We enjoyed zip wiring through and over the tree canopy in Monteverde, organised from the hotel. 3kms of zip wires, 9 zips including across a valley over the lodges. Never thought l would have the courage, but felt safe and thrilled l did it. We enjoyed the night walk at Piedras Blanca organised through the hotel, frogs, snakes, tarantula etc. Our visit to a typical Costa Rican home for traditional fayre on our last day gave an enjoyable insight into the lifestyle of this country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Glenda was the best group leader we have ever encountered. Her knowledge was extensive on all aspects of Costa Rica. She was extremely well organised and made sure we all had a brilliant holiday. She was sensitive to our individual needs, as well as keeping the group happy. She went beyond what was expected of her to ensure we filled our holiday with many memorable encounters. Her energy and enthusiasm never faltered , and her passion for Costa Rica was inspiring. Her warm and friendly personality, together with a good sense of humour made her the perfect host. Thanks also to Louis, our excellent driver, who kept us all safe and was happy to transport us around additional to the itinerary .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Presidents Hotel in San José had a good rate of exchange, so we took dollars and changed some at hotel, then used credit cards as much as possible. Often best in markets, shops etc to pay in Colons as dollar price worked out more expensive. Check your universal adaptor is suitable for Costa Rican sockets as several of us caught out (American style) . No plugs in sinks, could take a universal plug. Expect some early starts but not so bad if you only adjust your body clocks by 3hours! A good camera and binoculars are very useful. Personally get attacked by nats/mosquitos. Advised to take antihistamine tablets by pharmacist from two days before travel, also used deet repellant. Possibility of getting bitten in all locations but not such a problem as anticipated.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A 20 seater touring bus was used. Cases between locations were stacked on the back seats. As these were loaded by passing through a window, it is best not to take more than you need as storage space is at a premium, and if this space isn’t sufficient, cases may have to be lifted on to the roof.
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