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 November 2018
    John Hirons

    Kayaking the Lower Zambezi

    This was definitely a trip to get me out of my comfort zone (wild camping and kayaks instead of hotels and minibuses) and certainly did not disappoint. The fact you get so close to the wildlife far outweighed the fact you are wild camping (which I though I would struggle with). The sense of achievement at the end of the week was overwhelming, having travelled such a long distance in a kayak. The safari element far exceeded anything you would imagine and felt far more real than if you were in the back of a safari jeep (which I have done in South Africa). Animals spotted included elephants, hippos, lions, warthogs, buffalo, impala, zebra, baboons (and other monkeys), fish eagle, kingfisher and lots of others too much to mention. The group I was with was amazing and everyone got on so well and helped each other. The food was good throughout the week and we even had a celebratory BBQ on the last night. All in all I can safely say if I can do this holiday (and enjoy it) then anyone can!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting so close to the elephants (which is the main reason I chose the holiday). the sense of achievement for actually getting to the end without breaking!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    CB was amazing. Very knowledgeable, humorous, kind, professional and clearly enjoyed his job. It is no wonder he is an award winner. Best made the perfect assistant guide and is clearly learning a great deal from CB. Both together looked after us so well and work brilliantly as a team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    sunscreen. I ran out of 2 tubs (although half of one ended up at the bottom of the safari truck). Deet - I had 2 and ran out although I was probably the one with more bites than anyone else. Bite cream offers a major relief for the bites. Head torch (with a red light), gloves for the rowing. Prepare for no showers until the comfortable camping half way through but we were able to cool off and kind of clean off in the river a couple of times. It is proper wild camping so there are no toilets until the comfortable camp but the views you get when behind the bushes are literally stunning :-) If you can, add on a quick trip to Livingstone for the Victoria Falls. You are so close it would be a shame to miss it. As well as bringing a load of school supplies bring an extra suncream with you if you can. They give any spare suncream to a charity looking after albino children as it is prohibitively expensive in Zambia.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bring your sense of adventure with you and you will not go wrong.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Lynne Bateman

    Best. holiday. ever

    Best. Holiday. Ever. I cannot recommend enough. CB is bloody amazing as a leader and guide. He's one guide I will always remember - most guides on adventure holidays are great but instantly forgettable. But his humour and patience meant I felt like he was a friend! Great knowledge and communication skills. A really well organised trip. Group size perfect too. Tents and mattresses perfect. Plenty of water and fruit. We were pleased that upon arrival we didn't hop directly in the canoes - we stayed at the mainland campsite (sunrise! Honking hippos!). This was fab because there is a shower block there and you are hot and dusty from the transfer/flight. The canoeing is awesome. The campsites were perfect. The food brilliant (I'm veggie). But the animals! My god! So many incredible experiences. I don't know if we struck lucky but every day got more amazing than the last. It's so much better to see animals from a canoe than from a Dusty 4x4. Lastly- the group were brilliant!! Tips: We got a kaza visa online, no drama - but you only need this is you are travelling after to Zimbabwe. You need a sticker in your passport not just a stamp! (Our first mistake). By the way, Livingstone is well worth a visit and CB organised a local bus for us. You need minimum kit - we washed in the river every day. As suggested, carry your canoe stuff ready to go in hand luggage. Bring a red light torch (for bugs) gloves (just in case) and definitely binoculars (We were so stupid!) And a zoom lens. And a bottle of rum?! We took a 10 litre dry bag each for clothes and another for the sleeping bag and then shared a camera bag.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The animals!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was just wonderful.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Phill Dixon

    Paddling adventure into nature

    This is a great active safari that will get you close to nature and sleeping out under the stars. We saw lions, birdlife galore, paddled past hippos and were able to stop the canoes and get close to herds of elephant. The canoes are the perfect vehicle for the journey, yes you need to be relatively fit and have a bit of knowledge about a canoe ( they can provide advice or in uk go on a simple paddle start of 1 star canoe intro), but you get so close to animals and they were often relaxed. Also you have great fields of view across the water front. Yes the campsites are basic - pitch a tent on a sandy island but the food is great and plentiful, you don't need a shower you can dip in the safer shallows of the Zambezi, and you get to wake up to beautiful African sunrises. You do have early starts and early nights but what you get back is worth it. Advice is to have plenty of drybags and try and get a paddle suitable for your height. But anyone with a sense of adventure, a desire to see wildlife and reasonable fitness will enjoy this.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Paddling to one of the islands to watch the gorgeous sunset with elephants eating 50m away. Then listening to them as drift off to sleep. Seeing a pride of 5 lions on a game drive was also pretty special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    CB was well liked by everyone, right combination of humour, knowledge and always there with advice or a calming reassurance. He clearly loves the job and all the guests agreed he was as much like a friend on the tour as well as never stopping in looking after us. If you needed it then CB would have it or find a way to get it for you. First class guide and especially nice to see him teaching Best the assistant guide in any downtime.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Packlight but bring an extra t-shirt or top. Antibacterial soap can wash hardwearing clothes if want to do that too. Plenty of bug spray and sunscreen as you will use it. Bring a good point and shoot as well as dslr as in the canoe wielding a big lens isn't always practical. Change about $50 at the airport and get a few bonus items at the shop on the way - you will need about 1 - 2l for the drive in the heat. Try and find a right sized paddle Lastly have most of your stuff for the first 3 nights ready to go in a separate daysack in your softbag. When you reach the 1st camp it is often dark and you don't have much time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is an incredible adventure and feels like a true old style safari up river. It isn't for people who want air con lodges and to be sat 200m from the animals, but if you can skimp on the mod cons it is worth every penny
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Sally and Tony Chewter

    AMAZING!

    One of the best wildlife experiences ever - to get so close to the hippos and elephants on the river in the canoes was incredible

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sat in the front of the canoe looking a huge male elephant in the eye just 19 feet away

    What did you think of your group leader?

    TK and his assistant Beste were fantastic - helpful, knowledgeable, encouraging, great cooks and brilliant sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take rowing gloves to prevent blisters

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You do get very close to the wildlife and the hippos and elephants graze and walk through the camps at night - magical moments but not for the faint hearted. And this really is wild camping - no creature comforts but absolutely brilliant .
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Andrew Hankinson

    Just Wow!

    Since coming back from this trip, I am finding it extremely difficult to put into words just how amazing it really was, so writing a review is going to be even harder. The wildlife is exceptional and not in short supply. The scenery both in the day and in the night is just phenomenal. And finally the whole experience is once in a lifetime!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Jumping out of the minibus just hours after we landed, in the pitch black night, and looking towards the sky to see the brightest sky I have ever witnessed

    What did you think of your group leader?

    CB and Besty were amazing group leaders. We did not have to lift a finger at all over the 6 days.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I wouldn't worry about taking too many clothes as everyone is in the same boat (excuse the pun!) I would take shoes that you don't mind getting reasonably wet or ones which are easily dried Buy your alcohol at the store on the way to the first campsite (For a 6pk it is around 80 Kwacha)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go and enjoy it!
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Francesca Woodman

    An amazing camping and canoeing trip

    This trip was a truly wonderful experience, canoeing on the Zambezi and camping out under the Milky Way on sandy islands in the middle of the river. We saw very few people and it almost seemed like we had the mighty river to ourselves - only sharing it with hippos, crocodiles, elephants and birds. Paddling downstream with the current the route varied between wide stretches of river and between reed beds on narrower channels, which enabled us to get close to the wildlife. A great group, great guides and a fantastic trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping on the islands under the stars surrounded by the river and wildlife.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is not for people who want constant social media contact or a hot shower every day.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Chrissie Coyle

    Zambezi Valley - Awesome

    This really was roughing it for 4 days and nights wild camping and canoeing, 2 days in a fly camp with comfortable beds and showers/toilets and 1 night at Zambezi Breezers with a Bar! An awesome trip with great people and a fantastic guide and assistant guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching and experiencing wildlife as it should be. Hippos, elephants, antelope and deer, warthogs, a variety of exotic birds, just amazing. Being outdoors and on the river, experiencing sunrise and sunsets which photos just can't do justice. Waking up and looking out of your tents to see wildlife wandering nearby. Drifting along with the river, soaking up the sun, breeze, atmosphere, scenery was simply bliss.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    CB (Cuthbert) was truly amazing, he worked like a trojan, was knowledgeable, looked after us all extremely well, kept 12 novice canoeists safe and all with a brilliant sense of humour. His assistant Best, whilst quietly spoken, worked extremely hard and with CB made sure we were very well looked after.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There isn't much time to re-arrange bags and it could be dark when you arrive so pack enough for 4 days in one bag and pack light, you don't need loads of stuff. Be prepared for long transfers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We canoed for 4 to 5 hours a day for 4 days and met a lot of headwinds and so it was really tough but definitely worth it.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Daniel Otto

    The Zambezi Valley

    Great adventure with loads of hippos (did not expect to see that many), elephants, birds and many others. Canoeing was more a bit harder in some areas than what some of us expected for a leisurely/moderate trip. I would say the trip is at least moderate.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Whilst we had lunch on the 3rd part an elephant herd passed us by, including a what we were told a 1 year old baby elephant. Furthermore, seeing most the animals in harmony with each other made us wonder sometimes why humanity cannot do this.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leader were great and brought a lot of fun to the trip. They were very easy on changing the plans (for example to go swimming) to suit what we would like to do, which was great. Organisational wise (only real downside), I would have hoped for us getting told at the airport to prepare our bags. Packing bags in the darkness, which we had to do and not knowing what we expect in the camps would have been beneficial. I packed far too much of the wrong things, because I didn't know what to pack in the darkness.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack you bags (for the canoe trip) at the airport when you arrive!!! It is the last time you have light. Bigger bag for clothes and things, small bag for thing you need to walk around when you stop (majorly water) - possibly large water bottle is actually enough + dry sack with camera. Water is available the minute you arrive on the campsite, so no need to buy loads of water like on other trips. Money: You actually only need money for tipping and on the first/last day, otherwise there is no possibility to use your money.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip, really enjoyed it :-)
  • Reviewed October 2016
    John Young

    Exhilirating -- and a little bit exhausting!

    This is the one for you if you're happy to rough it, leave the comfort zone, sleep in tents for seven nights on the trot, go without much booze, but gulp down the thrill of knowing you're transported yourself along a gentle giant of a river and gazed at game from a breathtakingly short distance.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking at dawn to see the sun rise over the Zambezi, knowing the day held in store a manageable physical challenge, a sense of manageable danger, and every chance of watching elephant, hippo and crocs at very close quarters.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cuthbert was exceptional. Tireless. Talented. Wise. A great cook, manager of people, reader of moods. And above all, he knew where the boundaries lay between safety and danger.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be ready to rough it -- seven nights under canvass are indeed seven nights under canvass, and four of them really are without any washing or toilet facilities at all -- though the Zambezi itself makes a wonderful alternative to a shower. And if you feel a beer or glass of wine over dinner is fair reward for five or so hours on a canoe -- insist that your driver stops so you can stock up before you rich the river on day one. Otherwise this becomes a six day detox you may not have bargained for.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Stock up in your luggage with as many things as you can for the school you visit on day six. It needn't be expensive -- raid the Pound Shop for pens, pencils, calculators, crayons -- we regretted not bringing more when we saw the reality of how little the children have.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Yvette Fernley

    The Zambezi River

    An excellent trip, one of the best holidays we've had

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Prepare to leave your comfort zone and enter the world of the Zambezi with its currents and wind taking you so close to its wildlife that you feel that you've entered their world. Relaxing and tranquil but with plenty of excitement and wonder: hippos swimming under the canoes, crocs slipping off the bank into the water as we passed by, an elephant mother and youngster feeding only feet away from us. Not to mention frequent stops for cooling swims in the very clean water. And the Zambezi is big, and wide, banks with only sparse evidence of human habitation and desert islands for our overnight stops, add to a complete sense of wilderness. All in all an unparalleled experience. Although to be fair, if its big cats or the herds of the plains you want to see, or if you crave the luxury of the game lodge. this may not be the trip for you.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Of our guide, CB, Cuthbert, what a guy! Expert on game, great cook, kept us safe, exemplary leadership skills, and massive fun. Not for one moment did he stop trying to give us the experience of a lifetime. All at a comfortable pace. African time. Pole pole. Coupled with an excellent guide, we had an awesome group which provided endless fun and memories to cherish.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy plenty of beer or wine at the shop outside Lusaka. We made a mistake and didn't provide enough to accompany the simple but excellent food prepared by the guides. Early October was hot with strong sun, so be prepared. Not bad on the mozzy front and the tents are insect-proof, but of course Deet is essential. Those with plenty of painkillers for injuries and sore muscles proved popular! Changes of clothing seem to become less and less important as you go, so save on packing and chill!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do take as much as you can for the school orphanage. We all have so much and they have so little and they need and deserve all the help they can get.
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