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

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  • Reviewed August 2019
    Susi Quinn

    A long and varied road

    This amazing trip was like several holidays rolled into one. From the surreal weirdness of Ashghabat and Darvaza, through ancient archaeological sites to the stunning monuments in Bukhara and Samarkand, through the desert to the Afghan border then up into beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers and nomad camps, before descending back down to the modern post-Soviet cities… every day there was something new and wonderful to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many! Ashghabat set us up with three weeks' worth of jokes; we all fell instantly in love with Bukhara; the necropolis in Samarkand was an unexpected delight; the drive into the Fann Mountains was a welcome return to awesome scenery, and the whole of Kyrgyzstan was jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially the ever-changing colours of Son Kul lake and the brilliant stars on a clear night.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our fantastic tour leader Ale(jandro) was a major reason for the success of the trip - always on hand to organise things or deal with any issues, endlessly cheerful and calm, and full of entertaining stories about his previous trips. The local guides sometimes varied in quality, but the best ones were truly stellar - Bek in Uzbekistan and Valentina in Kyrgyzstan in particular were excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Tajik visa is valid for about 45 days, so allow a few days' leeway at the start rather than trying to calculate your exact entry date (a few people got this wrong and had to get new visas over dodgy Turkmen internet). The Turkmen LOI can arrive very late, not the "month in advance" suggested in the trip notes, but nobody got rejected. Take plenty of rehydration salts even if you have bowels of steel - nearly everyone had some troubles, and the salts are also good if you're sweating buckets (which will definitely happen at 46 degrees!). Learn some Russian if you can, it's spoken almost everywhere, and will help you understand the bill at restaurants. The transfer window at Istanbul Airport on the way home is very tight - do whatever it takes to speed things up, whether going through the VIP security check or hitching a ride with a motorised wheelchair (have some $$ ready to tip the driver), as you may have over a mile to run to make it before boarding closes - we all made it, but only just.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Make sure you have plenty of room on your camera memory card!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Andrew Davies

    Great Experience but too full on at times

    Bolivia is stunning and the salt flats and Lake Titicaca did not disappoint. It was incredibly cold despite thermals and down jacket etc so be prepared. Accommodation was outstanding in some cases (Palace of Salt and Lake Titicaca) and in others the best available eg in the desert it was basic but the only one available. Very rushed with a lot of early starts and not time to get bored! Would have preferred more time to explore La Paz and felt rushed at times. Great food and as a vegetarian I was pleasantly surprised. Melanie was a fantastic guide who worked her socks off to make the trip work with a big group and diverse dietary requirements. Go with a sense of adventure and expect to have flights delayed and itinerary changes which are an inevitable part of travelling in Bolivia. Overall an awesome but exhausting experience. Thanks Melanie and Trehan from Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Salt flats and Lake Titicaca. Do the trek on the island if you can - exhausting at altitude but so rewarding too. Buying a stick of dynamite to give the miners at Potosoi! Seeing vacuna and lamas flamingos and an Andean fox.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Exceptional. Melanie was so kind and helpful with our large group of very experienced travellers. Wise head on young shoulders. Mel made the trip for me. Always smiling and laughing even with crises that seem to be inevitable in travelling in Bolivia. She deserves a medal!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do take care regarding the advice on the cold and altitude. This is a totally full on trip rather than a relaxed holiday! Expect to be exhausted at times but repaid with stunning scenery.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to thank my group for being friendly and supportive even when we were all exhausted cold and in some cases ill. Hope Donna and John OK. Thanks guys!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Rachel Nockels

    Moldova & Ukraine

    An amazing insight into two lesser visited countries, each very different but unusual especially Transnistria. The state winery in Moldova was staggering in size but the wine not so good. The cities of Odessa, Lviv and Kiev were amazing and interesting. Could have stayed in each city for multiple days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trip to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, very interesting but sobering

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mike was excellent, always kept us up to date with the days plans and any items such as scarves that were needed. Very easy going but highly organised

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take US dollars or euros as cannot get currency outside each country. Also if going to Chernobyl you must wear long pants and a long sleeved top plus closed shoes.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Sarah Eddington

    Leave the West Behind

    If you want to leave the west behind until the last city on this incredible journey, then welcome to the former Soviet States that make up the silk road. This trip has everything, religion, wildlife, nomad living and amazing countryside and mountains. Forget McDonalds and Burger King, at times you won't even get social media!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    staying in a Yurt high in the mountains, seeing the nomad people living their lives as they have done for 1000's of years

    What did you think of your group leader?

    our group leader was good, and the local guides and drivers were exceptional

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not expect western standards, the food is basic at times as are the toilet and shower facilities. There are no home comforts which is what makes this trip what it is. Do not go expecting to get Wifi and social media, it isn't going to happen at times
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Marion Watkinson

    Tour of epic proportions

    The only criticism of the trip was that a number of hotels which were a good standard and a wide variety of styles and locations had very poor breakfasts of mainly cakes and issues with the rooms. Plumbing problems air con not switched on and difficult to control. One hotel set in a cave was wonderfully appointed in an ultra modern style but the toilet flush was problematic and plaster dropped all over the floor and beds and our hair and faces due to the damp. More attention to detail is needed on the part of management. I was very pleased overall and the tour certainly lived up to expectations in all other respects. This is a very expensive tour and difficult to justify but I loved all the places we went to and would certainly go back for more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say as it’s all so inspirational but probably the mosaics and the engineering achievements in construction of the temples and villas. The museums offered a staggering array of artefacts especially the one housing the Morgantina findings. Sadly a grass fire prevented us from seeing the site itself but do go on this optional visit if you can.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mileena was passionate and knowledgable about all aspects of the tour. A geologist by profession and a highly experienced tour organiser. A real gem of a guide which was all I had hoped for from Exodus and the reason I chose this tour over other companies offering cheaper options.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes. June was not the best choice for sightseeing as it was unbearably hot but good for the beach visits if you have time. Mileena advised that November could be good for both activities but the weather is so unpredictable so difficult to generalise. There are many steps to visit the baroque churches in tour but hop on hop off buses and land trains can get you to see most places if you have trouble with knees and feet. You need incredible stamina for this tour but no more than most Exodus trips. I found it easier than my previous excursion to the Greek islands last year rated grade 1 and this was grade 2.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Yes a fabulous island green and the scenery rewarding. It was cheaper to eat out than Italy and the wines better. There’s more variety of places to eat. I’d like to go again on a different itinerary with more seaside venues where it’s cooler.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Mike Frampton

    The Five Stans - A journey through history and the Central Asian Republice

    A great holiday with plenty of superb sites and stunning scenery. One reason for calling this the Silk Road was that silk was used to pay people. It started with the Chinese needing horses to fight the nomads from the north. By 53BC, Rome was spending half its silver production on silk and other products from the Silk Roads. Rome also had to introduce modesty legislation because of the number of people wearing only silk. Whilst Julius Caesar was invading Britain in 53BC, his friend Marcus Crassus was leading another Roman army to defeat by Persia, in an empire that stretched from modern day Iran to Afghanistan and north to Merv. 10,000 Roman captives were sold at the Merv slave market to the Chinese, to fight on their northern border against marauding nomadic tribes. The ruins of three cities can be seen at Merv, in southern modern day Turkmenistan. The first was built by Cyrus the Great when he created the first Persian Empire. Next to it is the remains of the city built by Alexander the Great and next to that the remains of the city built after the Arab invasion, which was destroyed by the armies of Genghis Khan 1221 AD, with up to a million people being massacred. Alexander is a hero in Turkmen, after he freed them from Persian rule. In Uzbekistan, Timor is the hero, as he rose from hired sword to ruler of a vast empire, stretching from the Chinese border to Egypt, destroying many armies on the way. He made Samarqand his capital and made it one of the greatest cities. In Tajikistan, it is Cyrus the Great who is remembered, partly because he was murdered there. In Osh, Kyrgyzstan, it is Babur, great great grandson of Timor and founder of the Indian Mughal dynasty who is remembered. Although it is Manus who is the local hero.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many. Merv, Bukhara, Samarqand to name three cities. The snow capped mountains, throwing snowballs and sweltering in the heat all on the same day, magnificent lakes, watching flocks of goats and sheep being moved to the high pastures and seeing the yurts of the shepherds. One surprise was the large number of roses and other plants we saw in the first three countries visited.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good. Unusually we had both a western leader for the whole trip, as well as local guides for each of the countries visited.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You may only spend one day in Kazakhstan, but a day time flight home, clouds permitting, gives you the opportunity to see the steppes and the salt pans of this vast country from the air, either through the window (book seat early) or as an alternative to a movie, using the plane's downward looking camera (which is an option in the My Flight screen). On arrival at Ashgabat airport, you have to take your invitation letter to the Visa desk before going to through passport control. The visa fee is also variable, partly depending on the exchange rate. We also found the fee charged to individuals varied from a low of $99 each to a high of about $130 each. Beware of each fresh fruit and salad, it is usually washed in local tap water, which can cause problems. Our costs per person were around: Turkmenistan - 200 Turkmen Manat for food and photo fees (June 2019 rate 4.42TMT = £1) Uzbekistan - 800,000 Uzbek Som for food and photo fees (10,700UZS = £1). Spending in the markets, pottery, silk and carpet shops is extra. Tajikistan - 380 Tajiki Somoni for food (11.93TJS = £1) Kyrgyzstan - 2,000 Kyrgyzi Som for food plus 500KGS for optional Arslanbob jeep tour (88.24KGS = £1) Kazakhstan - 15,000 Kazakh Tenge for food and market visit (481.79KZT =£1) Istanbul/other airport stop overs - don't forget this. Visa fees and tips are extra. Istanbul
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Maria Filancia

    Beautiful Hawai'i

    The tour allows you to visit 3 Hawaian islands. It is a good way to get a flawour of life, food, nature and culture in these beautiful islands. Recommended for solo travellers who want to cover lots in short time. It is a share that Kauai is not included!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Learning about life and culture in Hawaii.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tim was really knowledgeable and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Add one or two days in Honolulu and add Kauai at the end of the trip.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Carl Thomas

    excellent trip to two lesser visited countries

    Overall, this is a great trip to two of the least visited countries in Europe. You see so much, from the quirky Moldova, where it was like going back in time to the 70's & 80's to the vibrant Ukraine which has a great vibe and atmosphere to the country. The trip itself went almost without a hitch and couldnt be faulted. The hotels on the whole were great, but the one in Kiev was slightly of a lesser quality than the others. One downside to this was the customer services when booking this tour. This is the first time I have travelled with Exodus, and from the time they didnt want to book me (and others it turned out) into a single room, to transfers, you got the feeling that they put money before customers Luckily the trip far outweighted these issues

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It had to be the additional trip to Chernobyl, which people should book. Its sad, powerful and a sad indictment on how humans are dealing with the world. It was an amazing and fascinating day and would recommend this to everyone who books this day trip

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Overall he was very good, and pretty unflapable. He was very helpful and attentive to everyones needs. Being a true vegetarian, I do wish he had offered help to me when ordering from menus in restaurants which was a struggle at times

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Cash machines were everywhere so worrying about bringing cash shouldnt be a problem, but Moldova and Ukraine currencies are closed and wont be able to change the currencies at home

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The city tour of Kiev was a 3 hour walking tour. However, the city is quite spreadout and a walking tour only covered a small part of this fascinating city. The better option would have been to have a bus tour that included the major sights outside the centre allowing the group to see more
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Heather Quinn

    A exceptional trip to Assam!

    This trip to Assam was truly exceptional! It fulfilled all it promised in the travel notes ....... and then more. It was India for those that wanted another view of this beautiful country, an alternative to Mumbai, Goa, the Kerela back waters, Delhi, The Taj and the Golden Triangle; when you have been there, come on this trip for a delightfully different, certainly a less tourist-visited part of this amazing country of contrasts. The scenery, the explorations and the experiences our small group of eight clients had, made the trip an absolute delight. We had an amazing guide Nivan Gurang whose knowledge and hard work on our behalf made sure the trip was what we had all hoped for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many inspirational, exciting experiences such as our safari with lots of elephants, the promised rhinos and even a distant but huge tiger by the lake. Our hike down to see the ancient amazing, tree root bridges was not as formidable for our group as we were warned, tough yes but satisfying; we saw beautiful landscapes, memorable sunsets over rivers and hills and met some warm, accepting villagers who still saw non-Indian tour groups as a novelty. We were promised ‘Head Hunters (retired) ‘ and we did drive up into the mountains to share a ‘nice cuppa’ with them as they sat round their fire on a cool mountain afternoon! What we heard from our super guide, what saw and experienced gave us an insight to many different ways of life for all the wonderful people who actually seemed pleased to see us as we travelled along; No there was not the continual hard sell that we have come to expect in India and other tourist-dependent countries, this was not inspirational but it was marvellous.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nivan Gurang Exodus could not have asked for a better guide for our small group of 8 clients. Nivan was exceptional in both his industry on our behalf and his knowledge. Without his leadership our trip could have been so much less fascinating, even mystifying. Hie knowledge of the many and varied facets of his country brought a greater understanding of what we were seeing, experiencing, why our route was thus, how and why this 21st Indian century worked in this area and always with introductions, discussions and sharing a glimpse of the lives of local people. All around us as we walked, hiked and travelled he found the evidence for what he was telling us from Government notices, ancient sites to babies vaccination cards of village mothers. His friendliness, his courtesy to local people we met, the great relationship he had developed with our hosts/ hoteliers and his hard work on our behalf meant we experienced and hugely enjoyed Assam and Nagaland. He made sure the trip lived up-to all Exodus had promised. I valued that he took care of the daily tipping on our behalf. We all appreciated his care, his sense of fun and warmth. Thank you Nivan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the ‘Trip Notes’ before you book, they accurately reflect what the experience will be. ..... then follow the advice given. Don’t take huge packs, you may have to carry them short distances. This is a very different trip to the luxury hotel of the big cities ...... that is its appeal and delight. This is not an area to visit as an individual and see the best of without a good, Indian speaking guide and your own tough 4 wheel drive vehicle due to the undeveloped roads. Our driver, Dinesh was great, he avoided all the many, many road wandering cows, crazy drivers and was patient and considerate helping with our packs and our comfort.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks to all ‘background’ Exodus staff who put together such a fascinating trip that ran so smoothly. Good staff training helps but hard work and good organisation makes it work.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    John Bagshaw

    Eastern Europe

    Interesting trip including unusual destinations in Moldova and especially Transnistria.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All of the trip was enjoyable but perhaps without any stand-out moments. Transnistria, not an obvious attraction when booking proved to be one of the highlights. Eating an incredibly good value lunch in a workers canteen above a furniture shop next to a bust of Lenin was certainly memorable. Lviv and Kiev were both interesting and attractive cities without the tourist hordes of the more commonly visited Eastern European cities.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nir was a very likeable guy with obvious organisational skills. I thought the sheet he gave out at the welcome meeting, detailing key times for the week was a very good idea. On the odd occasion when there was a small problem the support provided could probably have been better. His inability to read cyrillic ws a drawback.
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