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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
    Liz Fraser

    Spectacular sights and scenary

    Chile is a stunning country that has something for everyone. This trip provided a wonderful insight and delivered a variety of sights and scenery: from desert and volcanoes, to lakes (and more volcanoes) then mountains and glaciers, followed for me with the legendary moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). As the itinerary makes clear, a significant amount of time is spent travelling (I feel I am now very familiar with Santiago airport!) but that is due to the large distances covered. There is very little 'down time' and several early starts so it is definitely not for someone who wants a relaxing holiday. However, if you enjoy spectacular views and new experiences then it ticks all the boxes. Our group of 16 got on well and, alongside our tour leader and drivers, helped to make it a fantastic holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is impossible to choose a single highlight as there were so many. The colourful houses and street art of Valparaiso; the Atacama desert with its rock formations, lagoons, wildlife and the most amazing night sky; the boat trip on Lago Todos los Santos, gazing up at the snow-topped Orsorno volcano; the breathtakingly beautiful Torres del Paine and Last Hope Sound; watching the mesmerising waves of the Pacific Ocean break on the rocky shores around Rapa Nui and visits to places such as Rano Kau and Ahu Tongariki.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nacho was calm, caring and a real gentleman. He enjoyed telling us tales of his life as a flight attendant and introducing us, with a mix of enthusiasm and humour, to his wonderful country. He always had a variety of restaurant suggestions for dinner to cater for people's different preferences. I was the only one in the group who had chosen the Easter Island extension. Nacho took me to the airport for the flight, met me upon my return a few days later and took me back again the next day for the journey home to the UK. He waited while I checked in and then, deciding that the queue to go through customs was too long, took me to another part of the airport where the queue was much shorter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took advice from a previous review and took Chilean pesos with me (which meant I could gauge exchange rates and determine when to purchase them). As a result I managed with cash throughout the trip but others in the group used their credit or debit cards without difficulty in most places. Chile is notably expensive. Just one main course and some water for dinner could cost £12-£15 and, in Easter Island, it was even pricier (for example, a fish and rice dish with a natural fruit juice in a café away from the harbour cost over £25). This was a more sedate trip than I had anticipated so don't choose it if you prefer or expect some proper walks or long hikes. It is a busy schedule with some long days. There isn't much time to do handwashing and get clothes dry before heading off to the next location so you may wish to factor that into your packing. The hotel in San Pedro also has notices in the rooms asking people not to wash clothes. I ended up wishing I'd packed more long-sleeved shirts as I found myself wearing them for sun protection in the desert as well as protection against both the sun and dengue fever-carrying mosquitoes in Easter Island. If you like a bath, bring a universal bath plug as many of the hotels don't provide one.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I investigated several companies who offered pretty much identical trips. I particularly liked the fact that Exodus included most of the activities (eg the visit to Valparaiso) in the upfront price, avoiding the need to budget for additional expenditure/take extra cash. Many in the group would have preferred to have saved time by having lunch in Valparaiso rather than Vina del Mar and therefore been able to include a trip to a winery on the journey back to Santiago. While I enjoyed the stay in Puerto Varas, I'd happily dispense with the walk in the Orsorno lava fields and the few hours in Puerto Montt seemed to be just a filler while we waited for the flight to Punta Arenas. I'd also have loved more time and a chance to do some walks (e.g. for 1-2 hours) while in Torres del Paine. I had visited the area previously on a similar tour several years before and know that there are some walks that could have been worked into the itinerary without turning it into a different type of trip. I appreciate that the main 'Discover Chile' itinerary has been designed to be accomplished in 2 weeks. However, for somewhere like Chile with the sheer distances involved, it would have been lovely if it could have been extended by a further few days, giving more time in Torres and perhaps including a boat trip amongst the fjords.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Marianne Hong

    Chile

    This trip covered a lot of ground in a short time frame. I (and the rest of my group) agreed that the one area of improvement would be to include a visit to the wineries and have lunch in Valparaiso.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the stars in the Atacama Desert and the landscapes of Patagonia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was wonderful. He was organized, attentive and had a good sense of humor.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring layers! It was unexpectedly cold when we visited the geysers.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Wendy Duckett

    Awe inspiring.

    A land of so many sights, warm people and the impressive Andes mountains almost throughout.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Atacama Desert. Its forever changing scenery. The Lagoons, The Wetlands and Flamingo's, Geysers over 80 in one area. Sand dunes and forever rock formations. The long long roads and starry nights. Unlike any other desert I have visited.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nacho was brilliant. His charm, smile and funny stories, seeing us all through some very long days. He was Informative throughout the trip. His observations and empathy were outstanding. Great fun and ensuring everyone's needs were met. A calm and unstressful gentleman. Would be great to have Nacho on every Exodus trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Chile felt to be a very safe and friendly country from the moment if arrival. This did not change or alter throughout. Happy walking around alone. Don't expect your International adapter plugs to work. I borrowed one and some bought some locally. The 2 circular pins were much smaller. I believe it was the European pinned one that works.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A boat trip to through the Fjords would be a great addition to this trip. As would a few hours at one of the vineyards when driving right through them.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Sheila Silvester

    Chile

    Discover Chile is a great trip and a fantastic way to see all the best areas of this long thin country. It is full of travelling though and not just flying. However, as a brilliant and thorough voyage around the Atacama, Lakeland and Patagonia you can't beat it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention high Lakes in the Atacama, hummingbirds in the temperate rain forest and all of Patagonia!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our le.ader was knowledgeable, helpful, enthusiastic and fun. He made the trip much more enjoyable

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect to stop for long meals or have much down time but you do see a lot instead.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you can avoid spending a morning in Puerto Montt do so. Stay and have a better look round Puerto Varas instead, it is much prettier and interesting.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Margaret Hogg

    Good Title as we moved around alot to give us insite of what the country offered.

    The group of people on the trip all 'gelled' together and with the help of our excellent guide made a trip to be remembered. My only criticism, not your fault, was that I hadn't realized how warm / hot it would be and, as a result I didn't take enough light weight summer clothes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Volcanoes cone shaped and the tops covered in snow. The salt covered rocks of the canyons in the desert. Flamingos feeding in the lagoons. Watching the Condors circling overhead. The visit to Valparaiso, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. to view all the excellent wall art.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Ignacio Hewstone and he was excellent. Meeting and greeting at the airport went well as did all the other travel travel arrangements he made. His extensive knowledge of Chile was shown to us and it was interspersed with anecdotes (mostly funny) from his youth. This helped to further bring the group together. He was always around should any of us require help , or to advise us on where to eat - many suggestions were given.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Check the temperatures of the various areas to be visited. Take cash or card for money as at some places money can't be exchanged. Comfortable shoes or boots for walking in the desert. Enjoy the Pisco Sour !! and don't forget to bring a bottle home.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Eamon Keating

    Fascinating country

    We really enjoyed the chance to see so much of this great country in 2 weeks. The itinerary was excellent with visits to three very different regions. A good mix of walking and lots of wildlife and scenery to enjoy. The hotels we stayed in were all of a high standard and our guide gave good recommendations on places to eat in all locations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Patagonia is like nowhere else in the world and we were so fortunate to have great weather and see the Torres de Paine at their best. The flamingos in Atacama were equally memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was a terrific leader – hugely knowledgeable and very eager to ensure we had the best possible visit. He judged the group very well and tweaked our schedule to cater to our preferences. He is guaranteed to keep you entertained with stories and facts on all the bus journeys - like where the brand name Fanta come from.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you enjoy a cup of tea at days end pack a small travel kettle. Don’t fret about packing everything – all of the large towns in Chile had well stocked shops and pharmacies that will supply anything you might unexpectedly need.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus should reduce the time spent in Valparaiso and include a visit to a winery on the journey back to Santiago. They should also remove the morning spent in Puerto Montt where there is little to see and at the fish market you will be pestered by restaurant touts. Instead allow guests a free morning in the far nicer town of Puerto Varas. With these changes I would award the extra star.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Ilya Reyngold

    January 7, 2019

    Excellent trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Traveling through the different landscapes and climate zones

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex Aguilera is a very good group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's the excellent opportunity to see different parts of Chile in a single trip but any future traveler should be ready to spend a lot of time commuting from one place to another. It’s absolutely worth it but should be noted.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    To start the tour one day earlier (one more day) and spend an extra day in the Lake region
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Lester Wheaton

    Exhilarating

    ‘Discover Chile’ was a fantastic holiday and certainly in my top three tours over the last 20+years. The main reason it was fantastic was that we had brilliant weather throughout and considering this holiday was to principally look at the natural landscapes within the country this was essential. Although it was a certainty that we would have clear weather in the desert which was confirmed, the bonus of views of the snow capped Mt Osorno and others in the Lake District, and also the fantastic Torres del Paine against cloudless backdrops was the icing on the cake.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many highlights on the tour but these are my top three: 3. Mt Osorno in the Lake District 2. Antiplano Lakes and Mountain Scenery in the Atacama 1. Torres del Paine Mountain Scenery in Patagonia I could never get sick of the view of Torres del Paine from outside my room in Patagonia.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was both competent and very pleasant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to spend a considerable time on planes (5 off internal flights) and the associated waiting time in airports, also early get ups (2 before 5am) and a late finish (11pm). Flight schedules can change at short notice but none of ours were seriously affected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall the hotels were average with the one in San Pedro (Don Raul) being very disappointing (my room (42) looked nothing like the images on Tripadvisor) but the hotel in Patagonia was exceptional in the views that it had. Chile is a long distance from the UK and the tour could have benefited from an extra two days, one more possibly in the Lake District and one to explore the Magellan Strait near Punta Arenas. Although our tour was not in the absolute high season nowhere we visited was ever considered to be crowded, I suppose the busiest area (excepting Santiago) was San Pedro. It was disappointing to be in the Atacama during the full moon, therefore our stargazing tour (provided via Exodus) was not available.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Pauline Davies

    Amazing!

    I overused the word amazing on this trip which far exceeded my expectations because of the spectacular nature of the country. It really is an excellent way to see so many totally different parts of the country in a short space of time. The variation in climate from the Atacama Desert down through the Lake District and to Patagonia was huge and, hence, the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Go for it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So hard to pick but I think it has to be Patagonia. I highly recommend exiting via the optional zodiac trip! In reality, the inspiration to visit Chile on this trip comes from the diversity that you experience. I have a myriad of colourful images and experiences in my head that will last with me for a very long time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was friendly with everyone and imparted a wealth of knowledge about his beloved Chile. He knew people all around the country which helped and he helped individuals in the group with any issues such as money, health, eating etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack with layers. You need sun protection everywhere....I used long sleeved shirts and light trousers, sunhat and trainers in the desert. But, also, it was minus 10 at the start of the geyser day so you start with fleece hat, warm jacket, etc. Patagonia was actually warmer than I expected and you don't need full on English winter walking gear but still go with the layers. I managed it all in about 16kg but it's worth planning what you take. Waterproof trousers add an extra layer of warmth and wind proofing but can be removed later in the day. We took anti mossie spray but didn't need it much...so, have some but it's not a great problem at this time of year. Take paracetamol.....helps to ward off altitude sickness in the desert....but, mainly, follow the advice of the guide to breathe deeply and go slow! Only 1 of our party was affected and it didn't last long.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    GO! If in doubt....and you are looking for a trip that shows you Chile in a short space of time, this is the one! Also, I was so pleased with the variety and numbers of local wildlife and flora that we saw which I hadn't picked up from the trip notes. Brilliant!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Ryan Clark

    Indescribable!

    I say indescribable because I struggle to find words to capture just how amazing and stunning Chile is. The beauty of this trip is that you are given the opportunity to visit a diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna. The range of climate between regions varies spectacularly from being hot in the north to wrapping up in the south. I can't recommend this trip highly enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one, so from each region I would pick Valparaiso, to the geysers in the Atcama Desert, the waterfalls of Lake District, the 'towers' and seeing icebergs in Torres del Paine to visiting the statues on Easter Island.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio (nacho) was a very good tour leader. Always thinking of the group's best interests and how to get the best out of each day by adapting the itinerary to the weather conditions etc. He was very engaging, witty and definitely felt like he was part of our group. It was interesting to hear his stories from personal experience of living and working in Chile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For this trip, pack for all seasons and all weather. I didn't need to pack all the footwear I did as I mainly wore my walking shoes and occasionally on Easter island my sliders. For those that suffer from altitude sickness, be prepared when visiting Atacama Dessert and Osorne Volcano. I personally didn't suffer but a fellow traveller did and was quite poorly.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend adding the Easter Island extension. Whilst it's relatively expensive, it's well worth it and rounds the holiday off nicely.
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