Turtle, Ecuador

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125 Reviews

  • Reviewed December 2019
    Nigel Chapman

    Awesome trek with a great leader

    Having seen the Trango Towers on a K2 bae camp trek many years ago I always had an ambition to see the Torres del Paine and the didn't disappoint. Firzroy is also stunning.We were lucky with the weather which helped and all local guides were excellent.As said in other reviews Tomas our leader is a legend through his enthusiasm, knowledge and caring attitude. Would recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Leaving th Paine NP on the catamaran with cloudless skies across an azure blue lake with stunning mountain scenery all around- it doesn't get much better than that.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Where do I start.....Tomas was just brilliant.As someone who came land only to the group so joined later he made it easy to integrate.He was knowledgeable, kind, diplomatic and above all very very funny. He looked after everyone individually and his work rate was phenomenal. As others have said, a legend.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I'd reiterate a few of the previous comments: -there's a lot of bus travel (but necessary to see Fitzroy and Paine) -it's expensive to use ATMs in Argentina so take plenty of USD. -probably not as challenging as I was expecting (although all these ratings are subjective) -take a 30-40 litre pack as well as main bag for W trek in Paine NP. -don't forget earplugs (to aid sleep whilst in dorms on trek) and sink plug (most hosterias etc don't provide them) -enjoy.....
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Peter Gomes

    Cycle Lake District of Chile & Argentina : Great trip through stunning scenery

    Another terrific Exodus cycle trip comprising a mix of on & off road riding, flat & hilly sections in scenery that is simply beautiful. Enthusiastically led by Tai, ably assisted by his younger brother Yal, & side-kick Mattieu (the quiet one), our group of 16 bonded on the first evening, were buddies by lunch on the second day and firm friends thereafter. Excellent sea food and of course, steaks to be had and at bargain prices in Argentina due to the devaluation of their peso. Chile was more UK priced. Turquoise lakes & snow capped volcanoes were the centrepiece, topped off with the two day stay at the Eco lodge in the Conguillo National Park. We simply did not want to leave.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    As ever there were so many. Day 1: the view from the plane window as we flew alongside the Andes in the final run into Santiago. Day 2 : The sight of not one but three snow capped volcanoes from the lake shore by our first night's hotel set the tone for the superb scenery to come : a mix of Norwegian fjord, Scottish loch & English Lake with added volcano. Day 4: the first ferry ride and the discovery of an excellent hotel in the wilderness close to the frontier post - we were expecting a youth hostel given the remote location. Day 5: the off road climb to the frontier, and the supportive way in which all those at the top cheered on those further back as they arrived. Plus the rapid downhill that followed. Day 6 : The coastal ride round to Bariloche, passing Tai & Yal's house en route. Day 7 : the largest & tastiest steaks ever at Don Alberto's in Bariloche - not to be missed, plus lunch atop the view point at Cerro Campanario. Day 8: Racing along the downhill section of Route 40 (Argentina's Route 66) into San Martin. Day 10: the impromptu detour to spend the afternoon at the Termas (hot springs) en route to Pucon. Days 11 & 12 riding into and through the landscapes of the Conguillo National Park (volcano on my left, emerald lake on my right, monkey puzzle forest ahead of me - where do I look ?).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    With perfect English, Tai & Yal (despite their youth - mid twenties) were experienced, enthusiastic and capable leaders. Tai, in particular, managed well the different personalities on the trip which comprised five couples, three pals and three singles aged from late thirties to early seventies. He made sure everyone was comfortable riding their way depending on fitness, terrain & general inclination. His restaurant & even individual dish recommendations were consistently excellent. He was confident in his role and thus able to flex the itinerary as circumstances (weather or indeed our whims) dictated. As a strong cyclist he readily earned the respect of those who tried to take him on. Fortunately, his skills as a qualified paramedic did not need to be tested.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The November weather was mixed - Take layers so as to be able to cater for hot, cold & in between - plus rain. On some days there was much adding and removing of kit, with Yal or Mati magically on hand at the right moment to deliver to or collect it from you. This is also true off the bike with cool winds from Patagonia belying bright sunshine at times. The road sections are straightforward with drivers polite, separate cycle tracks on larger roads and wide verges to ride on minor ones. Off road sections are not particularly technical (I'm no mountain biker) and, taken at whatever pace you feel comfortable, readily ridden on the new Specialized hard-tail mountain bikes supplied. Food-wise the emphasis is meat and fish with pasta/pizza available but vegetarian food is a bit limited. Good range of beer and wine to be had and we rekindled our love of Pisco Sour developed on last year's Peru trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My slowest ride was the final eight miles back to the eco-lodge on the final afternoon. It took well over an hour. Why ? Because I simply didn't want it to end. I was not alone - it was practically a competition to see who could ride the slowest. I guess that's a pretty decent endorsement of the trip overall. If you seek a well led trip with excellent company, good food (& drink), fabulous scenery, and varied (and thus interesting) cycling then sign up.
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Helen Hartley

    A great experience

    A lot of travel but the rewards are well worth it. The scenery highlights are outstanding and provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The towns and cities visited en route are characterful and offer a great opportunity to see a different approach to life. Our guide’s knowledge and enthusiasm kept us stimulated throughout.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the peak of Mount Fitzroy close up in bright sunshine after a long, at times challenging, ascent on foot was the stand-out highlight. This was closely followed by relaxing on a beach by the Perito Moreno glacier and a beer in probably the most southerly bar in the world.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier is warm and gregarious with a good sense of humour. His knowledge of the history, geography and nature of his country is extensive. He is passionate about his homeland and its culture and is keen to share traditions with the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that this trip entails a lot of bus travel; many early morning starts; some basic accommodation and very little “free” time. As always on this type of tour, be aware that tipping for guides and drivers is not included and will come to around $100 per head.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Several of the hotels used on this trip were well below the standard that I expected for the price paid. Some barely had running water; many did not have showers which functioned efficiently and one was positively dangerous. The most comfortable hotel that we stayed in was 2 miles outside the town meaning that we had to catch taxis which was inconvenient. The accommodation overall was a disappointment and would make me consider using other tour groups in future. All other aspects of the holiday were exactly as described.
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Paul Rasdale

    Great Fun

    Really fun trip with a very sociable bunch of fellow trekkers.Quite a lot of travel(as it says on the tin).Not a trip for anyone not used to fairly strenuous walking.Bunk beds in refugios so if allocated a top bunk you have to be quite agile.Be aware that weather notoriously fickle in Patagonia and seeing the mountains not guaranteed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trek up French Valley to Mirador Britanico.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Everything complimentary that has been said in the past about Pepe is true.His professionalism,efficiency and unfailing cheerful good humour contributed hugely to the enjoyment of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try to avoid taking cash out of ATM's (very expensive) Chilean pesos not needed.Cards accepted in all refugios and nearly everywhere else.Dollars accepted most places(not taxis) and easy to change for Argentinian pesos. Charging and wifi available all refugios(not free)and hotels. Take a sleeping bag liner for Refugio Los Cuernos. Add extra day at beginning to explore Buenos Aires Wear insect repellant
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Alison Craggs

    Classic Patagonia Trek

    Excellent trek with lovely views of Torres del Paine in Chile and Cerro Torre in Argentina.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the Torres del Paine emerge through the mist.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pepe was an excellent leader. He arranged some lovely group meals in the evening and some little walks on our day off-a visit to a bird sanctuary in El Calafate and a walk to look for condors in El Chaltén.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Worth having a separate bag for summer clothes to leave in Buenos Aires You are given a very good travel towel and metallic water bottle in Torres del Paine to use on the trip. A sleeping bag liner was useful for the Los Cuernos refuge as they only have a sleeping bag and no sheets. Make sure your rucksack has a waterproof cover We had snow in El Chaltén so make sure you take layers When not on the trek it was quite nice to have different clothes for the evening Most places take Visa credit cards (MasterCard less so) though the internet is poor in El Chaltén so it doesn’t always work. You don’t need Chilean money at all. Even the San Telmo market stalls in Buenos Aires take dollars. Most of us were glad not to have booked an optional trip in El Calafate, we needed a rest!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Iguazu falls extension was well worth doing if you have time.
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Martin KNIGHT

    A fantastic trip

    We have had an amazing time, our guide Pepe was extremely professional, helpful and made the group feel we were in safe hands. The scenery was beautiful and the treks were hard but well worth the effort.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Torres del Paine once we reached uptake top of the trek, a lovely lake and fab mountains.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pepe was an outstanding leader, he was extremely professional about his job, was patient and good fun. I felt confident we were in good hands. Pepe was also good fun and a team player.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try to take only the minimum amount required on the 4 days trek as I found I took too much and my rucksack was very heavy!!
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Hari Pillay

    Patagonia is unpredictable

    The weather is unpredictable and Argentina is huge, so there's a lot of traveling and different temperatures to deal with, but it's unmistakably unlike anything we're used to in Europe. Winds like you wouldn't believe! From glaciers to jungle (if you do the Iguazu extension as I did) and a big city in-between ... It has it all.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Going on the optional boat trip to see glaciers, and Iguazu. They leave you speechless, awestruck and a little overwhelmed.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas del Toro I think is an exceptional being. His energy and enthusiasm will make you smile and motivate you to keep going and ignore the wind and rain of Patagonia, when it happens. His attention to detail, general knowledge and expertise, humanity and humility will exceed your expectations of what you think the trip will offer.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do it!
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Katy Smith

    Cycling in Chile & Argentina

    This was the one of the best cycling trips we’ve done and couldn’t recommend it more highly. There was so much contrast and diversity in the landscapes and terrain each day! No 2 days were the same! From high plateaus, salt flats, rainforest, rocky landscapes, river valleys, great tarmac roads and gravel tracks .... it was just breathtaking! Much of the trip was at significant altitude but the itinerary allows for appropriate acclimatisation. The whole team were great and the organisation from behind scenes was superb- especially the coffee stops and picnics!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had its own inspirational moment - the Moon Valley in the high desert, the Tatio Geysers at sunrise followed by a dip in the thermal pool, cycling on the salt flats, the 2 incredible 35km descents, the breathtaking geological features and amazing colourful rock formations.... I could keep going on!! One really special moment was being entertained by local musicians in the incredible amphitheatre - a fallen cavern created by an ancient waterfall.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ale was first class! He was a great leader and went over and above the call of duty every day. He also had great knowledge of the political and local history - fascinating sensitive and charming. Also the support team were fantastic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for altitude- much of the trip is at significant altitude but the trip allows for acclimatisation. Also bring clothing for all temperatures- above 4000m it is quite chilly and it’s well below freezing visiting the Geysers at dawn! Others on our trip have recommended a good saddle or padding for the rutted gravel and a good camera is a must!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I just couldn’t recommend this trip and the leader and more highly - both were exceptional (legend) Book it - you won’t be disappointed!!
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Alice Dain

    Fantastic scenery

    Great riding, fantastic scenery and superb support staff.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Salt plains, geysers and hill of 7 colours. Two awesome downhill rides.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ale was excellent- not only in role of trip leader, but also in imparting knowledge of local history and politics. Very organised and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Walking boots or shoes recommended for sand dune and geyser walk. Trip rating of 4 feels right. None of us had significant altitude symptoms. The only climbing at altitude was on the last day of the trip, when we had acclimatised. The 30% non tarmac was on sandy/gravelly/corrugated roads which needed some care for the uninitiated. The birdwatching/ barbeque option for the day off in Salta was hugely enjoyed by the 10 of us who chose this.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The scenery was stunning - pack your best camera
  • Reviewed October 2019
    James Roscoe

    Brilliant variety of rides. Best trip ever!

    Such a variety of cycling through such a variety of landscapes. Some of the best days riding we’ve ever done.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ride through the rain forest; riding on the pampas.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant - your tour leaders are always good, but Ale was exceptional and inspirational. The support staff were brilliant too!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t be fooled by seemingly short distances - most of the rides are at high altitude, so pace yourself.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were astounded by the variety, the silence on the high planes. The best trip ever.