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 October 2018
    Mike Willingham

    Not my favourite holiday!

    Booked this tour with Grand American Adventures who run it with Exodus, both of which seem to be under the umbrella of Trek America, who contracted the tour out to Windigo Travel. Who exactly was running the show??? The places visited were interesting but not spectacular. The accommodation was generally very good, and we were taken to some reasonable eating places for our meals. Don't forget only 3or4 breakfasts are included in the price, and in some towns you are very limited with the choice of eateries available. The amount of travelling in the mini-bus is extensive and can get very boring with few changes of scenery from the huge expanses of forests. The walks were often through woodland but none were difficult by length or altitude if you are used to walking regularly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I found Hopewell Rocks and the Bay of Fundy particularly interesting. PEI was a nice place to visit - a bit different to most of the other areas.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had Alexis, and the poor lad had been given 2days notice that he was doing the trip - which he had never done before, although he had visited the area. He was grossly overworked with long driving hours plus the organisation of meals, loading and maintaining the vehicle, plus the general organisation of the tour. He was often very tired, but he tried to keep the group happy. He was unable to give us much background information on the areas and places we visited. On some of the walks he did not accompany us - not a problem from the route finding point of view, but who was carrying the first aid in case of an accident which could easily have happened on the uneven rock and root strewn forest paths?

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is the scathing bit!! The vehicle provided by Windigo was like a school mini-bus. There were 13 of us on the tour and there was nowhere to put your day sacks other than on your knees or round your feet. Some of the seats were narrow and uncomfortable to sit on, and all had a small rake distance from the seat in front which made it impossible to sit with your legs straight in front of you if you were over 5ft 8inches tall. When you are travelling -sometimes 4 or 5 hours at a stretch- comfort is an important factor on a tour, and this tour was often very uncomfortable. If you are of a small stature, or if you are lucky enough to be in a half empty bus - fine - but if you are larger, think carefully about any tour that uses these small vehicles!
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Stephen Clements

    Amazing Canada

    An exciting trip around the island of Vancouver. We couldn’t believe the amazing wildlife encounters we experienced, and enjoyed the hospitality of our cheerful Canadian hosts.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Grizzly bears feed on the spawning salmon with their cubs on the Orford river . it was great to be hosted by the Homalco people in their ancestral home.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marie- Helen was always upbeat and cheerful. She was resourceful , giving us lots of alternatives. She was dedicated to making sure our holiday was a trip to remember. We couldn’t help getting swept up in her enthusiasm.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Waterproof trousers and a woolly hat are useful for the changeable weather and chilly boat rides. Have a go and enjoy the country.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be prepared for a couple of longer journeys in the minibus as Canada is bigger than you think.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Craig Caldicott

    Whales and bears

    Very good trip . Just prepare for the rain . Saw lots of wild life . Would recommend the trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing orcas , whales and bears

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was a great guide . Very knowledgeable and keen .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take some rain gear

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Canada is a great place
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Dina Stylianou

    A great trip for mountain lovers and walkers

    Canada is a wonderful country. Everything is on a huge scale and beautiful. The selection of walks offered give a real insight into some of the most beautiful parts and walks there are in the Rockies.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyone will have their personal favourite part of the trip - some of mine included the Iceline Trail, Moraine Lake and Sentinel Pass, the Glacier Walk and simply being in the van driving from one campsite to the other, listening to music and spotting wildlife and driving past miles and miles of mountains.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leaders worked very hard and cooked some fabulous meals. They were both very passionate about the environment and the wildlife. Where they didn't quite reach expectations was in their rigid views of how we should experience the mountains resulting in me sitting out of a couple of the walks. The guides are a really important part of the trip and how they treat you in the mountains is crucial to your enjoyment as well as your safety. Where they fell down even further was their inability to provide a customer service which included listening to the views of the group

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, Canada is a lovely country. Be prepared to be wowed but also to flex the itinerary due to wildlife and the weather and other things outside of anyone's control. Find out about your guides approach before you travel if possible - this is key and a common complaint amongst travellers on these trips.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was a very well organised trip, the food was fabulous as mentioned and the itinerary was great.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Peter Sumpter

    So much potential - but sadly not delivered on this first running of the trip

    What should have been a great trip, was sadly something of a disappointment. The trip notes certainly enticed with numerous hikes, endless wildlife viewing, and much more. Yes, there was stunning scenery, simply vast. However, this was largely enjoyed as we drove rather than when we were walking, although admittedly we did stop on our drives in some lovely spots. The wildlife viewing was marginally above none. I’ll leave others to discover the “delights” of the gold rush town of Skagway! They are the three identified trip highlights. A closer look at the trip notes is the start of the problem for me. Somewhat confusing, conflicting and at times clearly in error, but very "selly". A level 3 for activity and adventure, while the pace was 3-4 miles per hour (really?), and with hikes including those graded as strenuous and difficult. Making sense of what was actually essential to pack was more than tricky. The Yukon territory is not within the Arctic Circle, a part of it is. I don’t believe they are termed “American Indians” in the 21st century, but either First Nations or Native Americans. It's possible that the situation with the trip notes is accounted for by the number of companies involved – Exodus marketing a trip offered by Grand American Adventures, whilst it was ultimately a trip established by a third company (I'll not name them). It was a new trip, despite my contact at Exodus appearing to be unaware of this. Therefore it seemed surprising to assign a group leader without any personal experience of the region. This was a mixed trip (e.g. hiking, wildlife, history), from what could be taken from the trip notes, and local knowledge would seem invaluable, particularly on a first running of a trip. Of the eight hikes on the itinerary, only three were actually walked. Some alternatives were offered and followed, although generally without any explanation as to why. My assessment would be that three or four of the hikes delivered what was imagined when booking the holiday. Yes, at times the scenery was indeed wonderful, although the time to dwell, to admire the wonderful alpine flowers, was lacking. Maybe we really were expected to walk 3-4 miles an hour up mountains. There was not going to be the endless wildlife viewing opportunities, for two or more reasons. One was that the group leader was keen to make a great deal of noise due to the threat of bears. An action the local guide we used for two hikes did not seem to feel was necessary. Wildlife viewing are generally about being in the right place, at the right time, and then being quiet & patient. We were not. Finding out more about the region, its history, wildlife, peoples, etc. is always a valuable part of a trip, particularly one such as this. Here our group leader was very sparse with the commentary. I learned more through staying in an AirBnB in Whitehorse for four nights and talking to local people. The camp food certainly did exceed expectations. That was put down to the staff both being French Canadian. But this wasn’t a culinary tour, appreciated as the food was.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The stunning scenery, simply vast. The (alpine) flowers. The gorgeous skies. They were all combined on some occasions.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An experienced backcountry guide he was, for sure, and worked very hard throughout, as did the other member of staff. But he lacked the local knowledge (the hikes, the wildlife, etc) and did not provide the commentary expected to enhance the trip. Great cook(s).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For now, wait until the trip has been run more times, the itinerary appropriately revised and the trip notes updated to address the current issues within them. Then go for it. Such a great region. Yes, there are mosquitoes, and they were just about everywhere, although certainly not unbearable. Don't take the "essential" swimwear in June or July as the rivers are running with glacial melt.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    On this occasion, Exodus did not deliver a trip to the standard that they set for themselves and that I have experienced in the past.
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Diana Lester

    Wild Alaska

    Sailing aboard Island Roamer to explore the Alaskan Wilderness was an adventure beyond my wildest dreams, a truly magical, unforgettable experience. It was a privilege to share this stunningly beautiful wild place and its spectacular wildlife with an outstanding crew and group leader, all passionate about the environment and keen to share their knowledge and passion with us. Quite simply the best trip I have ever done.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I hoped to see bears catching salmon, I didn't expect to be able to watch both brown and black bears catching salmon all day long! And when a big brown bear looked me straight in the face I was mind blown!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Stig Brondbo is a first class leader, calm, enthusiastic, patient and good fun! He is a great encourager and excellent teacher willing to share his expertise with everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of warm layers as well as 'summer' gear - you might need both! And waterproof gear is essential.
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Michael Hellier

    Island Roamer Charter

    An outstanding trip in all ways. The yacht was beautiful, very spacious and comfortable. The crew were extremely knowledgeable, professional and great people to be with. The food was delicious and the cook Annie a joy, full of fun keeping us all laughing and singing to us on her ukulele. The wild life got better and better and can only be described as spectacular. At various times we were surrounded by breaching humpback whales and whales bubble netting seen both from the yacht or at closes quarters from the zodiacs. We had great views of grizzly (brown) bears and a day watching black bears catching salmon. Wow, what more can I say.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Impossible to limit to one moment but perhaps the breaching whales.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We really had two group leaders. On the yacht the leader was the skipper Brien. He had huge sailing experience and was clearly an outstanding skipper. In addition he was a mine of information about Alaska and more broadly conservation issues world wide. Our other leader was Stig out Norwegian Photographic expert. Stig was excellent in all aspects of his job. He was hugely attentive to all of us and made a point of looking at all our photos regularly. I learnt a great deal from him. He was a charming and humorous leader

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just get ahead and book

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Thomas Piner

    Canadian Rockies

    The trip was very enjoyable and our tour leader Simon was very pleasant and organized. He was very positive and enthusiastic about all aspects of the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Canadian Rockies are incredible. It needs to be seen to be believed

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Simon was very pleasant and organized. He was very positive and enthusiastic about all aspects of the trip. He made time to chat to all members of the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Mosquitos repellent is a must in summer

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Tweedsmuir Provincial Park; Anahim Lake; The accommodation was at Eagles Nest. They seem to have different levels of accommodation for different group members. Standard minus - no electricity and no heating. This was the accommodation assigned to me. Standard - with electricity and fridge. Assigned to some members of the group. I asked for an upgrade to a room with electricity as other group members had. But was told that I needed to pay $47 for the upgrade. I did pay the surcharge and got a better room. My view is that all group members should be given the same type of accommodation.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Glenn Russell

    Alexandra the Great !

    You have to be lucky to have a great holiday. We were lucky to pick this great tour, lucky to travel with a good group and very lucky to have Alex as our guide!This amazing young lady really made the trip - and even altered the itinerary a little so that we would get the best out of every day irrespective of the weather. Although a native french Canadian , she knew everything about Vancouver and chatted animatedly with everyone , answering every question that was sent her way. There are always things that go a little wrong -our room at Ucluelet was very dark -but she immediately fixed a change with the hotel. She also knew great places to eat and varied it as much as possible. The highlight of the trip was a day long visit to see grizzly bears feeding on Salmon migrating up the river. On the way we got close to a large humpback whale . With the boat engines stopped we could hear every breath of the whale and managed to get some great pictures - a magical moment. The zodiac trips to see whales were fun, but our boat skipper kept a very long distance (much greater than the mandatory 100 yards) from the whales even when invited to approach by other boat captains. Considering we had travelled many thousands of miles to see the whales this was disappointing. The penultimate day was spent in Victoria. We had tasted "beaver tails" -a cinnamon doughnut - in Ottawa many years ago and wanted to repeat the experience. Alex , once again, made it possible and found a local source of this delightful sweet! As we said our goodbyes to our new friends on the final day, Alex was on hand again to make sure all went well. We hope she continues as a guide - any other have a hard act to follow!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The grizzly bear trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above -outstanding. 'merveilleuse !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a really great trip and our first holiday with a group we had not met before. It will not be our last !
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Kevin Grewcock

    Canadian Rockies Wilderness Walks

    Generally a nice holiday, in spectacular scenery. The food was varied and very plentiful (although having 10 females in the party of 12, plus 2 male guides might have had a bearing on this). Assorted dietary restrictions were catered for. The sites were fine, with the exception of the "last" one near Waterton Park (Waterton Springs Campground) which, in all honesty, was unacceptable for a holiday costing in excess of £3,000 for 11 days camping. We had a 1km walk to get hot water for anything, the toilet facilities near our tents were basic and only just about acceptable (if you ignore the lack of hot water) and the sinks for washing up in were disgusting. They had a large number (40-50) of RVs on site, all situated next to the office and all facilities. We were put as far away from there as was possible on the site (presumably so that a "noisy" group wouldn't disturb their main source of income - the RVs). There may have been another 5-6 people in tents while we were there. We were unfortunate in that, due to fires, Waterton Park was closed the day after we arrived and then totally evacuated, so I cannot comment on the walks there. This was a shame as I had visited there for 2 days last year and really loved it - there is what looked to be a reasonable site in Waterton Park itself, beautifully situated next to the village, although I can't comment on its facilities as I was in a hotel. In fact, returning there was a major factor in me choosing to go on this holiday. On the plus side, we only stayed at the poor site for one night. The tour company arranged a new site, well away from the fires (a 500km drive in fact), in a much nicer site, at very short notice.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I didn't find anything "inspirational", but I am generally not one for strong emotions.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    On the whole, good. At times he did almost seem to be showing off how good a "walker" he was - fast and very agile - but not to the point of doing anything dangerous. It did seem to take us a long while to have breakfast and out on the walk at times. Due to a combination of circumstances, the group naturally split into a faster and a slower group. The two guides handled this well, I thought. Even suggesting some alternative, shorter, routes for the slower group (which included me) on some days so that we didn't feel that we were holding up the faster group all the time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To enjoy this holiday to the full, you don't just need a good level of fitness, a good level of experience of exercise (walking, running) in hilly terrain is almost a must. I run 3/4 times a week, up to an hour at a time, but there are not many hills near me. The first 2 days left me with very achy muscles from the amount of continuous, uphill walking - often steep and often more than an hour at a time. I sat out day 3 to recover. Although I could have done the walk, I may well have then had to rest for more than a day. If you do not travel light, you might want to pay to have a tent to yourself. Although there were 2 men in the group, the other one was with his wife, so I got a tent to myself. I found this a benefit, apart from putting up and taking down the tent. However that was pretty straightforward, even for one person. I took a 4 seasons sleeping bag, but was too hot every night. However, others were cold on some nights. The overnight temperature (Aug 28 to Sept 7) didn't drop below 10°C in my tent. Personally I think that a 3 seasons bag plus a light blanket would be a better recommendation than a 4 seasons bag.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The holiday was rated as 4/10 for fitness levels required. Not sure what a 10 would be (climbing Everest?). Personally, I think 5 would be more appropriate.
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