Turtle, Ecuador

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17892 Reviews

  • Best holiday ever!

    We were furtunate to get our complete holiday in before the Coronavirus lockdown. There were 14 of us who all got on so well and our tour guide Glenda was fantastic. The places we visited and the wildlife we saw were out of this world, Glenda kept a list of everything and passed it on to us. We not only saw all the flora and fauna of Costa Rica but also learnt a lot about the country as we travelled round - we were impressed how fair the country is and how people are looked after and educated, it could teach our own country's leaders some lessons. Our two drivers - one on the boat and Geraldo on the bus were great too and joined in spotting wildlife to make sure we didnt miss out on anything. Would definitely recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The early morning trip on the boat as the sun came up and seeing a sloth for the first time

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Words cannot do justice on how great she was. She was with us almost 24/7 making sure we saw everything and were taken care of. She even took us on a walk to see a waterfall on what should have been her rest day. She arranged great places to eat as we all got on so well we chose to eat together. She was very efficient getting us from place to place with what seemed to be no effort at all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have a good camera and binoculars as there is so much to see.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The whole trip was great from the flights to the transfers and all the Costa Rican people we came into contact with. We hope that tourism can commence safely soon.
  • Reviewed June 2020

    Wildlife Documentary in Real Time

    Watching snow leopards on a TV in the comfort of your living room may get you close but you cannot feel the environment. By simply being there you can start to feel, appreciate and understand the very essence of the environment they live in and the remarkable way the local population and wildlife interact. 'in Search of the Snow Leopards' is the title of the trip but it is also a trip in search of many things. If ever there was one journey where the multifaceted aspects of geography came together - this is it. The sightings of the snow leopards being the pinnacle.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Simply being there. Drawing the threads together of previous trips to Ladakh. The very first sightings of the snow leopards. The drama of the landscape that provided the backdrop to these sightings. The opportunity to see the snow leopards in a variety of situations from a mating couple, solitary ones and mothers with cubs. The chance to engage with the local people as they openly shared their festivals with us and the sheer entrancement and enjoyment of villagers at the Stok Festival with masked dancers and the Oracles. All the smaller moments that made this trip - Exhilarating' - feeling the cold that draws the snow leopards down to lower altitudes at this time of year. Camping and the early morning calls from the team to muster behind the scopes which is the quickest I have ever crawled out of warm sleeping bag in such cold temperatures. The optional extras that put a real perspective on the challenges of living in such an environment - felt snow leopards from the local villagers - even each one of these having its own character, the ice stupas made by villagers to create a sustainable water supply for crops, winding up the road from Leh in a taxi as opposed to cycling up. The amazing opportunities we had to see so many snow leopards due to the expertise of the spotters. The trek and camp crew who always approach things with their great sense of humour and a smile. They are constantly in the background, and whilst I congratulated myself that I had survived the night in the cold, it is down to the team who make it all happen. Simply being there. Finishing off with high tea at The Imperial!!! They do a lovely scone and provide surreal setting to end the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I have never had a bedtime story of local tales read to the group by the leader in the warmth of the mess tent after a lovely supper - so soporific that snuffles can occasionally be heard from the darker corners!!!! Valerie makes it happen. She encapsulates everything positive about the moment. Everyone has a their own personal reasons for venturing on this specific trip, purely to see snow leopards, to capture the perfect photograph of this elusive creature, to engage with the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals, to go to a place few go to and especially at a perceived 'difficult time of year', to engage with everything the region has to off - the reasons are personal and with Valerie your own personal needs and wants are engaged. Through travelling, living and working with the locals and the environment over several decades you benefit from all that she has done and the understanding she has of the area. All the hard work has been done by Valerie and you can get the best of the area and still feel like you are taking ownership of your own experience. She is dedicated to the multifacted nature of the area. There is an honest openness to share her many years of experience, knowledge, respect and dedication to the region. Valerie allows people to be who they are and goes with ease between being a leader and a friend to ensure everyone is safe and most importantly has a 'trip of a lifetime'.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it!!! This very trip kept playing in my mind during the coronavirus lockdown of 2020 and I am so glad that I bit the bullet and booked the last place on this trip. Memories of the sightings, the landscape, the local people, the Exodus crew and fellow travelers kept me company during the months of solitude that followed our return. READ the trip notes and make sure you have all of the essential gear - it is a unique environment and there are challenges re the cold and altitude but by following the advice on the trip notes you will be able to enjoy and engage with every aspect of the trip. Go with an open mind - it is a trip of wildlife, trekking, culture, opportunities that arise that can't be planned for. For example one of the days 'scheduled' to see Leh at the start was 'diverted' to spotting the mating snow leopard couple. Don't understimate the cold - take responsibility for your own warmth and comfort. An excellent sleeping bag is essential and down jacket - there are excellent ones to hire through the trip notes if you don't want to spend loads of money. Weight of luggage on the flight to Leh is limited there are various ways to get over this so look at this before travelling. You don't need a change of clothes for every day but lots of layers. Even though it is cold the sun will burn so protection is essential - sunscreen and sunhat. Footwear suited to the environment is necessary - see trip notes. Enjoy the bedtime stories - sets you up for pleasant dreams!!! Book a porter to help carry your extra equipment - running to see the snow leopards early in the morning meant that those that had heavy camera gear were 'good to go' and spot and take photographs as soon as they got to the spotting platform. Totally trust the team with your phone - they were amazing at getting the shots of the snow leopards using your iphones/camera phone - using the scopes - people at home think I am a wizard with an iphone camera!!! Take advantage of some of the things to do in Leh and Delhi. Hiring a local taxi in Leh took us up into the hills and the local ice stupas. Delhi was the opportunity to take part in a tour run by a street children's charity.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a region that I have been to a couple of times, but never in winter and again it did not disappoint. The trip is unique in so much as the snow leopards don't appear at this altitude all year round - that is the reason to book it. If you are looking for real sustainable tourism then this is your chance - it is local, determined by the timings of nature and most importantly a chance to experience a Himalayan winter without going to remote extremes. It is a trip of a lifetime but I think I will join the 'cat population' and have nine lives so I can go again and it will still be the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy anticipation of considering going, booking, preparing, participating and most importantly reflecting on your return. It is one trip that will never leave you.
  • Reviewed May 2020

    Exceeded Every Expectation

    From the moment our amazing adventure started we did not want it to end. Now 5 months later we still don't want it to end. Sadly it did back in January (so many tears when it was time to go home) but the memories we have are secure and will last a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are so many highlights with not a moment wasted. Here's a few... The night walk over vertigo inducing hanging bridges in the tree canopy and coming face to face with a mother sloth cradling her baby hanging off said bridge. We never thought we'd get that close! The James Bond style speedboat race over rivers so wide you couldn't see both sides. The zip lining above a rain forest. I mean, what's more to say! The white water rafting. Awesome! Sloths. Toucans. Frogs. A snake. Etc. Etc. And, everything else too!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alejandro was the perfect guide engaging with adults and children alike with the enthusiasm necessary to keep interest high (especially on the long journeys between destinations). The supplementary knowledge of a native Costa Rican added the local insights we wanted to lear about and we're sure we wouldn't have experienced many aspects of Costa Rican life (e.g. local dining) without Alejandro there to support us. Nothing was too much trouble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the advice provided by Exodus. It's all pretty useful and relevant. Heed the warnings of rain. For the first half of our trip in December/January it rained a lot (perhaps more than expected). We found that swimming clothes and ponchos was a better option in many situations (not the jungle) than going for full waterproofs. Less to dry out because drying stuff out takes days in the humid environment. The rain is always warm.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you can do this trip (once all of this horrible pandemic stuff is out of the way) just do it. Spend the money if you can. This was by far the most expensive holiday we've every taken and it was almost certainly also the best value for money. Thank you Exodus!
  • Reviewed April 2020

    Fantastic Trip covering large part of Nepal

    Can highly recommend this trip, it was absolutely amazing from start to finish. It provides a fantastic insight into Nepal and you will see a lot in a short space of time, it far exceed my expectations and is worth the money. It is fast paced but a good mix of city/history and cultural introduction of the country to start with in Kathmandu followed by the excellent walking, and finishing in Chitwan before going back to Kathmandu. I agree that Kathmandu was not the highlight and in my view could of easily been missed altogether, or only covered at the end of the trip for half a day, it was very polluted and dirty, the hotel was a good standard for Nepal but not amazing, but fine for a few nights and comfortable. Definitely would recommend flying straight into Pokhara when the airport is open to International carriers in the near future. I could easily have spent more time in Pokhara and Chitwan. The walking was amazing, you do need a good level of fitness there are one or two steep ascents, poles are a good item to bring with you in your kit bag, the porters carry your bags for you as you walk, my recommendation is to pack light for the walking! Lodges were very comfortable and the people very friendly food very god standard and plenty of it! Cold at night but good hot showers and nice bathrooms, I loved that you were delivered a hot water bottle every night. Food in the lodges was amazing and catered for everyone. The walking thought the unspoilt and at times completely isolated parts of the countryside will be something that will stay with me for a long time, that was truly unique and in complete contrast to Kathmandu. We saw hardly any tourists and saw farmers at work and people living in the countryside, it was peaceful and you truly could appreciate this amazing country. Pokhara was fantastic and is an amazing city, with a lot to do, I would definitely go back there. Chitwan Safari was truly unique and the hotel was absolutely outstanding and luxury. A few opportunities in Pokhara, Chitwan and Kathmandu to have massages to ease away the aches of the walking. Our guide Keshar was fantastic, extremely knowledgeable about Nepal, the flora, fauna and history, there was nothing he could of done to make our trip any better. Going in December meant we had very clear views of all the spectacular mountain ranges and I would definitely recommend this time of year, albeit it is cold in the evenings. Each trip I do with exodus just gets better and better!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walking thought the unspoilt and at times completely isolated parts of the countryside will be something that will stay with me for a long time, that was truly unique and in complete contrast to Kathmandu.
  • Reviewed April 2020

    6 Snow Leopards, two Oracles and a Woolly Rabbit!

    Ladakh is a beautiful region of Northern India. Add to that the friendly welcome and the variety of wildlife and culture and you have a destination that it would be hard to find fault with. This was my second visit and this time I was there to see Snow Leopards. Except, of course, they're so rare that the chances of spotting just one would be very low. And indeed spotting just one was impossible - I saw a total of 6 during the 10 days I was there, including relatively close sighting of a mating pair on our first day in the mountains, a mother and her two cubs and a solitary Snow Leopard rolling in the dust to hide its scent before hunting. Our group as a whole saw 12. This amazing tally was due largely to the experience, skill and dedication of the spotting team and our leader, Valerie, who between them took us to the right places at the right time and found the well camouflaged big cats where we may have only seen a buff coloured rock. And let's not forget the Blue Sheep, Lammageier Vultures, Bearded Griffon, Golden Eagles, Woolly Rabbits, Uriel Goats and Alpine Chough. This is a challenging trip - cold, altitude and remoteness all add to the adventure although its well within the abilities of anyone with the right kits and who has trudged the hills in the UK. But it's worth it for the experience of the incredible Himalayan landscapes, the unique culture and the amazing flora and fauna. If you have the chance, book the trip that coincides with the Stok Festival, a colourful and spectacular celebration of Tibetan Buddhism in the form of music and dance culminating in the appearance of the village oracles.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many inspirational 'stand out' moments for me. These are a few of my personal ones. Watching the mating behaviour of a pair of Snow Leopards; the Oracles in a trance at Stok; having a local ask me if he could take a photo of me and his little daughter; the 'Street Kids' walking tour of Old Delhi. I loved standing outside the tent at 6.30am, watching the mountains light up while drinking a cup of steaming hot black tea. The rush up to the viewing platform when one of the spotters shouted 'Snow Leopard'. One of our crew demonstrating the correct way to slide down a frozen river on a flat stone.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This is my second trek with Valerie and she proved to be every bit the excellent leader on this trip as she did on the previous one. Knowledgeable, understanding of individual and group needs, Valerie's decades of experience in the region enabled her to be flexible with arrangements and cope with the changes forced on us by the Covid-19 outbreak at the end of our trip. Evenings were spent listening to her tell us about the region, the wildlife and the people. The crew she had picked were excellent and dedicated to the roles they played. They were clearly very loyal to Valerie.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In general, come prepared for cold weather. The nature of this particular trip means you will be standing around searching for wildlife or viewing and taking photographs so the heat normally generated trekking will quickly go. I found I was wearing a thick down jacket most of the time simply because although the sun can be warm, there is usually a cold breeze in the valleys and much of the time is spent stationary. If you're out all day, as soon as the sun disappears below the mountains the temperature drops very quickly. I wore thick winter socks for the same reason. The terrain underfoot was, in general, no harder than UK hills and a 3 season boot would probably suffice. We didn't need crampons but 'yaktrax' or similar might be useful as we had to cross a couple of frozen rivers. The Exodus kit list is a good starting point; vary it according to your own preference for cold weather. Don't skimp on the sleeping bag as this is your refuge and a good night's sleep is important. You don't need lots of changes of clothing because you don't end up sweating a lot and everyone is in the same situation. Exodus provide top quality spotting scopes (Swarovski) but you might want to bring your own, which can help with spotting and will enable you to digiscope. The nature of our encounters with Snow Leopards meant that big lenses were necessary because of distance and digiscoping would be ideal in these circumstances. Some great photos were taken with scope and mobile phone. Our encounters lasted a while, so a tripod (or at least a monopod) would makes things easier on the arms. But don't forget camera kit to cope with the amazing landscapes, villages and festivals too. Be aware that there is close scrutiny on the internal flights - all our camera kit had to come out of the back packs and was checked by the security people at Dehli before boarding the internal flight.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Approach this trip with realistic expectations and you won't be disappointed.
  • Reviewed April 2020

    Excellent trip

    A very well balanced and well organised trip - a very good combination of a little time in Delhi, time at a festival and of course looking for snow leopards and other wildlife. We were incredibly lucky to see lots of snow leopards along with lynx, blue sheep, eagles and a mountain hare. Loved the festival too - lots of colour and a fascinating experience. The crew were efficient, knowledgeable and helpful - in fact, really couldn't have hoped for more. The hot water bottles at night were particularly appreciated! Quality of the hotel in Leh was great too. It was a shame we had to miss out on the homestay but coronavirus meant that we were asked not to do it by the local people (a very fair request). I found that where required Valerie was great at allowing flexibility during the trip and, all in all, I don't think it could have been better organised or executed. Just make sure you have lots and lots of very warm and appropriate clothing as it's really cold - and apparently it was warmer on our trip than it normally is!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the pair of snow leopards on the first day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Factor 50 sun cream and as many warm clothes as you can cram in your bag.
  • Reviewed April 2020

    Eye Opening Views and Great Weather

    On the interior of the island I sometimes I felt that I as walking through a set for a prehistoric film with towering spires of solidified lava, lush vegetation, and some plants that are pot plants in the UK growing wild to giant proportions. On the coastal walks it is mesmerising to watch and hear the waves battering against the base of the cliffs. Following the levadas along vertiginous rock faces and through caves, I marvelled at how they were created using only hand tools. The Madeirans are very friendly and the service in the hotels and restaurants is second to none. The drivers were always on time and I never felt rushed to be anywhere. The weather was exceptionally sunny for the time of year and we were able to swim in the sea very comfortably. The Christmas illuminations in Funchal were amazing. I have never seen so many anywhere else. For such a short flight from the UK I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone just to see this varied and stunning island.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were walking high up above the clouds and came round a corner to see cloud slowly filling a valley below us to the brim. We watched as the cloud reached the top and then slowly started to flow over a ridge down into the next valley like a slow-motion waterfall. Everyone went quiet and just watched. Later on we reached the ridge and walked across it through the flowing cloud.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Andre, arranged a birthday cake for me which was a really nice thing to do and typical of his caring attitude. Andre knows a great deal about the fauna and flora of the island and stops the walks at intervals to point out items of interest, and to explain something of their history and ecology. it is clear that he loves the island a great deal. He sometimes played his ukulele as he walked! Andre is funny and cheerful but could be quite direct. Most people liked this and but a few didn't. Personally I think that he was very patient, cheerful, and almost inexhaustible with what was a large group in sometimes dangerous situations. On a small note I would say that Andre perhaps needs to carry flyers or written information for trips that he mentions for our free day. He kindly booked whale watching for a group of us but we didn't have a contact number or location for the company (Andre pointed to the place on Google Maps on his phone whilst we were in a bar the day before). Never the less we found it and it was a great afternoon (albeit I left my sea-legs on shore that day).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Exodus does warn that this holiday is not for vertigo sufferers and with good reason because sometimes the paths can be very narrow with sheer drops to one side and a rock wall to the other, and occasionally you may have to very carefully pass walkers coming the other way. The paths are by no means like that all the time, and in fact some of them are wide and dressed with stone, but you can't avoid the narrow stretches. The holiday is graded as Moderate and I think that is fair but potential travellers should note that it is hard on your knees because of the very steep ascents and descents. Andre recommended walking poles to relieve the strain but I preferred not to use them because they can get caught in the cracks in the bare rock that formed some of the paths. A couple of people dropped out with sore knees but they still enjoyed themselves by visiting attractions and meeting us in the evenings.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Flights arranged by Exodus tend to be London centric but Madeira is accessible from many regional airports. One or two of group weren't aware of this and their journey times just to get to the London airport (Heathrow, I think) were longer than some of the flight times from the regional airports. On several mornings prior to our walk we were taken by Andre to the nearest supermarket to buy food for our lunch. This could take some time because the supermarkets were invariably very crowded even early in the morning. At a more remote location we were offered the alternative of a bag meal by the hotel. I think that should be an option at all the hotels because it would save a lot of time in the mornings. We were scheduled to be in Funchal for the final two evenings but ended up some way out of and above the town in a beautiful but expensive hotel (it used to be the British Embassy). If this happens to you, ask about hiring a taxi to go into Funchal for the evening especially if is Christmas or New Year.
  • Excellent experience and great guide

    Fantastic trip for my partner and myself. So much so we decided to announce our engagement at the end of the trip! The guide: Roberto was superb...He was relaxed, good fun and very informative providing us with lots of cultural, historical and animal kingdom facts. He really was the best guide we have ever had on a Exodus trip and he made the trip for us. We also had a great group of 15 people and we all got on really well. Overall an excellent experience and one we will remember forever...

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving at the Pacific coast beach for a swim and a hot sweaty day's cycle...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb..10/10
  • Wildlife & Wilderness of Botswana Trip

    "Wildlife & Wilderness of Botswana trip is great." No matter where you go, Wildlife & Wilderness of Botswana trip is the coolest, most happening thing around!"

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Safari
  • Trip of a lifetime

    Our first trip with Exodus, and first adventure on the bikes. This trip with Roberto and Jeyson guiding and Luis driving exceeded all of our expectations. We are hooked on this type of trip now and cannot believe we haven't found you before. We packed in so many wonderfully different terrains, views and wildlife experiences, it will be hard to replicate. The bikes were great, the cycling was the perfect amount for reasonably fit older adults. The first cycling stop where the water container was opened and we had the vision of perfectly arranged fresh pineapple and papaya was when I knew we would love it. This was the perfect time of year no rain, occasionally a little too hot but no need to carry excessive cold weather baggage. The tour guides at the national parks were exceptional and our tour guide Roberto had done all the upfront work to make our travel and experience of these phenomenal sites as smooth and streamlined as possible. We are truly grateful for a magnificent experience in difficult times pura vida!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are a few inspirational moments. Firsly finding that we had a great mixed group to share our holiday with. Some couples, singletons, siblings and lifetime friends, many who had been on previous trips and had advice and experiences to share from those. In particular two wonderful 70 old ladies who often headed up the group on our way up the hills gave me hope for another 15 years of these type of holidays. Along with the wildlife which was exquisite and varied I found the vegetation to be awe inspiring. I loved the Wilson Botanical gardens and the rides through the mountains as we descended from that area. Seeing the various different plantations from pineapple to coffee and bananas was fascinating. And finally our beautiful afternoons by the the beach first the Pacific at Agua Dulce and then the Carribean for our impromptu swim, which Roberto realised was a necessary addition to the itinery.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roberto is an excellent locally based leader , who is fluent in English, with the skills to manage and rearrange the itinery to suit the group requirements and the ensuing pandemic that we sadly were having to contend with. He was prepared to manage finances for various meals to enable us to get the best out of our time in the country, a truly experienced and skilled leader. He patiently repeated his instructions when asked, and pulled us into line when needed. His knowledge of the country and the wildlife was exceptional and he sets the standard very high for all our future trips. His helper Jeyson was also a delightful young man, who is a valuable addition to the team. With Luis and his exceptional driving they are a formidable group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As we were new to this style of trip, we hadn't thought through how it would work, it did perfectly but here are the things we learnt. Moving accommodation every night was an organisational challenge and being very prepared for this in your packing would help. 'Packing cubes is a recommendation I will take home from another guest'!! We set up early a group whatapp which enabled us to share photos and co-ordinate meeting in a timely manner this was essential. We had a fair degree of bus time and these journeys were made much more fun by having an inclusive group vibe, where everyone was helpful regarding possessions and spotting bathroom opportunities. Each person, couple is looking to get something slightly different out of the experience if everyone in the group is mindful of that it works brilliantly, as it did for us.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were somewhat anxious about various different aspects of this type of trip, even before the coronovirus effect. However within a very short space of time our fears were allayed. we weren't sure that our cycle level would be ok, but with the back up of the bus that becomes irrelevant, so long as you are comfortable covering the required distance at the pace that is recommended if you want to have bus break time that is no problem. We felt under a little pressure the first couple of nights, as we had missed our connection in Madrid ( do not book flights with only 2 hours connection window) due to French air traffic control!!!! It took us a while to settle in but having a positive attitude to dealing with hiccups helps and it was no big deal. A night in Madrid gave us a chance to practice Spanish in a plaza, and I had a couple of hours reading by a pool. We have loved our hotel based activity holidays for many years especially as the children grew and we had busy work lives. This more immmersive experience of travel though will suit us for many years to come.