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 March 2019
    Brian Guest

    One bike - two countries.

    The snow-clad volcanoes and emerald lakes of the Andes mountains. Gravel tracks, black lava fields and ancient forests of monkey puzzle trees.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Crossing the Andes by bike: not once but twice!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tai and his younger brother Yal worked tirelessly to support the group. They gave a clear briefing on each day's itinerary and generated Stava maps to show the route. On the road they shepherded us through the traffic and managed to control both those keenest to reach our destination and those more content to just enjoy the scenery and walk the hills. They coped very well with the inevitable problems which occurred: our punctures; occasional falls; late transfers; variable accommodation; wet weather; etc, etc. They were always ready to chat with the group and explain about the local people, their history and culture .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes are not always updated and itineraries may well change. Our mountain bikes were very good but with limited space for carrying spare kit or a camera. Although the support vehicle was close at hand, you might consider a ruck-sac or handlebar bag useful. Research beforehand. More options are available for your free days than may be advertised. We really enjoyed excursions to Mount Tronador from Bariloche and later to Huerquehue National Park from Pucon. Take a good camera with a wide angle lens as the landscapes are stunning. And it also pays to get up early for the dawn light. Breakfasts are sometimes meagre but expect your waistline to expand: portions for lunch and dinner are huge! ATM's in Argentina restrict you to 4,000 ARS and cost a lot to use. Santander Rio have branches in all the towns we visited. If you have an account, it gives you a much better rate. Spend a few days in Buenos Aires if you have the chance. It's pretty safe and easy to get around. There's some lovely Art Nouveau architecture, a lively café-culture, craft markets at the weekend, fine Opera and bookshops, tango dinner dances and lots of urban art. We would recommend a 5-hour cycle trip: Hidden Graffiti And Urban Art Tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If the weather is fine, as it fortunately was for us, cycling in Argentina and Chile is a joy. Traffic is generally respectful and the distances covered are easily manageable in the time. Where the trip notes describe parts of the route as gravel, be prepared for some pretty rough going. In places it was safer to walk. But the best is saved for last: the Parque Nacional Conguillío - with black lava field and forests of monkey-puzzle trees under the brooding Llaima Volcano.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Brian Guest

    Grab your camera ....... big skies, mountains, lakes, glaciers and wildlife!

    Two weeks to sample Patagonia with long days hiking through beautiful scenery and the chance to view outstanding natural features and wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views at dawn of the Torres del Paine Massif.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas was more than excellent. He was very attentive to all the group and their needs. He gave us a great deal of information and led the tour very well. His only fault was I think he tried too hard to please everybody. Oh, and he does talk a lot!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes are not always updated and itineraries can change. Pack light. You're only allowed 15kg hold luggage on the internal flights - but you can carry 8kg as hand luggage. The airline does not always enforce its rules though. Research beforehand. More options are available for your free days than may be obvious. Expect crowds on the most popular hikes and attractions. The Perito Moreno Glacier expects half a million visitors a year but only 2,000 tourists get to La Leona Petrified Forest ! Take a good camera with a wide angle lens as the landscapes are stunning. Try to get up early for the dawn light and enjoy the sunsets. Wildlife can be elusive and more often spotted from the minibus. See the penguins! Breakfasts are meagre but expect your waistline to expand: we dined out every evening and meal portions are huge! ATM in Argentina restrict you to 4,000 ARS and cost a lot to use. But Santander Rio have branches in all the towns we visited. If you have an account, it gives you a much better rate. Spend a few days in Buenos Aires if you have the chance. It's pretty safe and easy to get around. There's some lovely Art Nouveau architecture, a lively café-culture, craft markets at the weekend, fine Opera and bookshops, tango dinner dances and lots of urban art. We recommend a 5-hour cycle trip: Hidden Graffiti And Urban Art Tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were expected to contribute to a kitty at the start of the tour for tips. This and the gratuity for our tour leader added considerably to the overall cost of the holiday and the amount of cash we needed to carry. While I agree we should reward good service, I felt this was excessive on occasions. We would have liked to have had longer to enjoy the El Chalten area and the Torres dal Paine. Maybe at the expense of the long journey down to Tierra del Fuego.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Barbara Dean

    A Volcanic Undertaking

    Once again Exodus delivered. Our guides were fantastic, the bikes were well maintained, and the accommodation was for the most part great. The food was also better than some previous trips and only somewhat challenging for a gluten free/vegetarian. Power bars go a long way! Finally, the scenery was picturesque and breathtaking. Lots of lakes and Volanoes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day 4 of the tour. We completed a 20km cycle on some serious gravel and then my husband and I opted to walk the 7.5km climb over 700 metre ascent versus cycling it. We passed a few people who ended up frustratingly walking their bikes but getting to the top felt like quite an achievement especially with blisters on both feet.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tai was a very impressive young man who did a fantastic job. His brother Yal was a great support and eventually their dad, Marcello joined us making the group complete. Their obvious bond as a family just made our experience that much better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A gel saddle wouldn’t go amiss as the gravel was sometimes more like boulders.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes need to be updated. For anyone interested in seeing southern Chile and western Argentina, I would highly recommend this tour.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Andrew McGregor

    Amazing Patagonia

    An amazing trip. We were blessed with excellent weather which made it all the more special. The hikes were incredible with stunning scenery. The food and wine weren’t bad either!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The three hikes: Torres del Paine Laguna de los Tres Lomo del Pliegue Seeing the Milky Way from the hotel in Torres del Paine. The glacier boat trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was great. Dependable and knowledgable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are some long driving days as per trip notes. Also the hikes are not gentle. Most are uphill most of the way and moderately difficult in areas. If you’re keen on ice climbing on the glacier book we’ll in advance. Currency: a mix of US dollars and pesos is best as not all places accept dollars. Get pesos out of cash machine but there is a charge. A few of us did a scenic flight in Ushuaia as the weather was so good. Reasonably priced and worthwhile. Book ahead. Suggest having a few days in Buenos Aires at the end to unwind and see the city in a relaxed pace. Even better - Xavier can organise kayaking trips in the Tigre delta which is a great way to get away from the hussle and bustle. When you arrive in Pueto Natales you’ll be wiped out and won’t want a fancy meal... ask about the pizza bar/restaurant along the road. Pizzas were amazing - and big. The beer is good too. Left overs served a great mid-morning snack the next day.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Melissa Willard

    Very happy with whole experience

    Our guide Xavier really brought to life for us the quirks and beauty of Buenos Aires and the Patagonia region. Everyone in the group was having a great time. The region is full of stunning scenery and interesting history and Exodus organised this in such a way as to allow us full enjoyment without any accompanying hassle. Food and accommodations were of a good standard although the plumbing in the Cyan Rocaleta was unreliable and Exodus may want to feed back to the hotel on that (shower unavailable on first stay because the switch between bath and shower not working, and water temperature could not be reduced on the second stay and we had to wait 1/2 hour for maintenance to come and fix it). However, this was a tiny, tiny glitch in a wonderful holiday that fully met and exceeded our expectations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    First steak in Buenos Aires....seeing birds and animals in the wild...fighting the wind on the fossil walk...seeing the Milky Way...hand print from 6,500 years ago on cave wall...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The best! Xavier is warm, direct, likeable, entertaining, thoughtful and a true professional. He obviously loves the region and his work. We couldn't have wished for a better tour guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Keep a journal otherwise the whole trip will be a blur and you will lose many memories. Binoculars would have been useful.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Roy FRANCE

    Classic Patagonia

    On reflection, I would of liked there to be more trekking. Land only booking is 11 days of which only 6 are trekking. I fully appreciate the size of the region and the need for transfers to see "it all" but given the distance travelled and the cost involved I think DAY 7 should be a trekking day rather than a rest day. There is plenty of time to rest during transfers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Las Torres

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pepe was outstanding. 10/10 only just covers it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    consider arriving a day early to see a little bit more of Buenos Aries. Take flip flops for the showers in the refugio's

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The mini and full ice trek on Perito Moreno are a full day excursion 8am-6pm. Our party signed up expecting a 4pm return with a view of visiting El Calafate before dinner but that was never the case which was made clear once we were picked up.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Will Potten

    Stunning

    A simply beautiful trip. We were lucky with incredible weather throughout, giving us deep blue skies reflected in the lakes. The cycling was superb, giving a good mix of roads and gravelly off-road tracks. Some mountain biking experience would be useful for these sections, particularly the long climb across the border into Argentina. The scenery was stunning - volcanoes, lakes, forests, and the food throughout was incredible. I’ve never eaten so much top quality steak in so few days. Despite the cycling, you might not expect to lose weight on this trip. Special thanks to our guides, Alex, Tai (hope I spelled that right) and Leah who regularly had her bike cannibalised when one of us broke down.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to choose. The final days cycling through the lagoons and monkey puzzles. The incredible views on the seven lakes road, and the climb into Argentina with a beautiful lakeside hotel at the end of the day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex was brilliant. Endlessly cheerful and enthusiastic and attentive to all our needs. A real asset to exodus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I loved the off road sections but I’m not sure that everyone did. Although most of the trip is on paved roads of good quality, to enjoy the cycling to the fullest extent, be prepared for some bumpy, gravelly and loose surfaces, especially when climbing.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Richard Greenwood

    Awesome Landscapes

    This was our fourth Exodus Cycling Trip over the last few years and my favourite so far. The landscapes that we cycled through were simply stunning with snow capped volcanos, lush green valleys, blue and emerald lakes, monkey puzzle woodland and black volcanic ash and lava. The cycling routes were occasionally challenging but never too long. The accommodation was generally good (with two exceptions) and we were expertly led by Tia, his brother Yell and Matteus. It helped that the weather was pretty much perfect throughout our trip with cool mornings making way for clear hot afternoons. We also benefitted from a great group of cyclists, most of whom were of a similar (oldish) age and fitness level!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many, but I particularly enjoyed the Punto Panoramico ride with views of the Argentinian Lake District and the hike up (and rapid descent) of Villarrica Volcano. We also had a very special send-off from our hosts with drinks at sundown overlooking the Llama Volcano .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tia was amazingly competent and patient as our group leader. The trip involves some incredibly tricky logistics with crossings from Chile into Argentina (and back again), numerous ferry rides, transfers by minibus, luggage checks at customs points and the constant shepherding of 16 cyclists. Despite these challenges the whole trip ran smoothly. His skills as a paramedic were also tested on a few occasions. Together with his brother and Matteus they formed a formidable team

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. About 25% of the cycling is off-road, mostly on gravel tracks with ruts and stoney sections. It can therefore be tricky at times. Some experience of biking off road is necessary (though there was the opportunity to opt out of these sections and travel in the support vehicle). 2. Even with the fine weather that we experienced the mornings were cool and the afternoons very hot so we needed extra layers and lashings of suncream. 3. There were several opportunities for swimming on the trip so have swimming gear close to hand. 4. The lunches provided on the trip were often two and three courses- with large quantities- and it was sometimes difficult to do them justice without struggling to cycle in the afternoons! 5. Although American dollars could be used in several locations you do need some Chilean and Argentinian pesos for small purchases. Credit Card machines were fairly widespread in shops and restaurants.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were a couple of glitches in the arrangements for the trip. The first hotel was changed at the last minute by the local host (and it proved to be disappointing) so hopefully the Hotel Patagonia in Puerto Varas will not be used again. There was also some confusion about which hotel had been booked on our last night in Santiago; a full list of the accommodation in each of our destinations would be useful in advance.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    STEPHEN Randell

    Best trip so far

    This was our second Exodus trip as a family of four, all adults of course. The trip had a bumpy start as we were delayed and missed connections so ended joining the trip 24 hrs later, have to say Exodus were incredibly helpful and easy to contact outside of hours. We loved the scenery, saw loads of condors and some truly amazing views. The weather was perfect and the transfers mostly short. We also enjoyed some spectacular scenic lake crossings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along roads with lush pastureland one side and snow capped volcanoes on the other, sitting on a volcanic ash beach in Pucon and swimming in the lake on Christmas day

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Taiel and his family were super guides, very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful in every way

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We are vegetarian which was okay mostly especially in the towns, lunch stops a bit more challenging especially for our daughter who is vegan, we got by as we took lots of snack foods too. Be prepared for some rocky roads, lots of gravel at times but well worth it, especially near the lava fields.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Lovely varied accommodation which on the whole was very comfortable. Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone wanting cycling adventure in awesome locations with breath taking views. Some of the climbs were challenging but so worth the effort!
  • Reviewed December 2018
    marion gray

    Cycling the Lakes of Chile and Argentina

    Amazing scenery, excellent organisation and logistics. Superb guidance and information. A really interesting part of the world to visit and made me hungry for more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a condor,traversing fjord like lakes with snow capped volcanoes as a back drop. Cycling into the lava fields of Conguillo National Park and walking in the monkey puzzle fores.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Very good knowledge of the area, geography, social history, fauna etc. Good sense of humour and very encouraging when cycling was more challenging.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The rides are short but hilly and it is worth doing a bit of training!
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