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

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  • Reviewed April 2019
    Linda Dawson

    Aptly described

    Against a background of knowing nothing of Bhutan, I found the trip so educational and broadening of my horizons with regard to the country's culture, customs, history, religion, etc. The trip fulfilled my desire to be immersed in the country's culture. I found it so interesting to listen to the two leaders in an effort to learn as much as possible of the country both of whom went to a great deal of time and effort to impart their knowledge and experience. I also enjoyed being amongst like minded people within the group and enjoyed listening to their stories, especially of their travels already made and those planned in the future.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Listening to Valerie Parkinson's descriptions of treks she has completed and generally of her experiences, especially in the Himalayas. She gave me such inspiration and an impetus to tackle more. This against a background of mixing with ladies in my normal life who are generally not very assertive and rather insular.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    2 leaders: Valerie Parkinson & Norbu Tshering: both excellent, both looked after our every need, answered all our queries and, what I appreciated most, were only too willing to take time to impart their extensive knowledge of Bhutan and the Himalayas in general Rinchi, guide, was also excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack Yak Trax if you have them; if not they may be purchased in Kathmandu. This was not on the list of things to take and therefore I did not take my own pair which would have been useful.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Caroline Scraggs

    Paro festival and Druk Path trek

    What an amazing trip which exceeded my expectations. Bhutan has been on my bucket list for many years and I particularly wanted to go on a trip which combined the experience of seeing the Paro festival firsthand, a visit to the Tiger’s Nest monastery and some trekking and this trip does just that. The festival was fantastic and such a wonderful and joyous occasion with the locals in their national dress watching in their hundreds the amazing storytelling through dance. The final day we were treated to a view of the Thangka which was beautiful. It was a real privilege to be able to witness this festival and be part of it. The trek had stunning scenery and was challenging enough I just wish it had been a little warmer at night!. Waking up to snow was a little chilly but the hot water bottles in our sleeping bags at night helped to take the chill off!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing my first glimpse of the Tiger’s Nest monastery. Wow!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu was an excellent group leader, very knowledgeable and also supportive of everyone on the trek.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Thermals, thermals and more thermals! It really was very cold at night. A Nalgene water bottle would have been useful as some members of the group had theirs filled with hot water at night to use as an extra hot water bottle and then used it as drinking water during the day. I don’t normally walk with poles but found them really helpful in the snow and ice. Also if it is going to be cold buy some yak tracks in Kathmandu to help you stay on your feet. I enjoyed the hot stone bath in Paro. It was certainly an experience!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This really is an amazing trip. You won’t be disappointed!
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Noreen Jennison

    Amazing, fantastic, loved it

    Loved it, loved it, loved it! I had wanted to visit Bhutan after seeing a film about scientists looking for the Yeti decades ago. Didn't see a yeti but found a country that is so special, with a landscape that is so special and with people that are so special. After the dirty madness of landing in Kathmandu the feeling of peace on landing at Paro airport for the start of the Bhutan trip was very special. Bhutan is a clean, welcoming country at peace with itself. The trek, although not demanding, was lovely and gives a snapshot of a wonderful countryside. The visits to various dzongs and stupas was interesting and the final visit to a monastery where the monks where involved in some of their rituals for a village festival the next day was fascinating. As a vegetarian and an animal lover this country was the nearest to perfect for me. Loved the food and the fact that although there were dogs everywhere (they are mostly cared for by the community or the monks) I never saw any in distress or starving (as I did in Kathmandu).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The explosion of colour at the monasteries, the prayer flags in the mountains, the fact that shop keepers put out food and sacking on the pavements for the street dogs, the peace, the tranquility of the mountains and the humility and care of the support crew on the trek.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Norbu and Ganga were kind, gracious and thoughtful. Norbu's knowledge of his country is excellent. The whole support crew both on and off trek were kind, considerate and looked for ways to help.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Kathmandu is dirty, loud and unpleasant. I was a woman on her own and would not have been happy wandering around after sunset on my own.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip is well with the money . I have travelled a lot and trekked in various countries around the world (sometimes with Exodus but often independently) and I have never been to such a friendly, peaceful country before. The values of the country are what we should all aspire to. The country and its people are inspirational.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Caroline Morse

    Bucket List Bhutan

    If seeing Bhutan and hiking in the Himalayan region is on your bucket list, then the Land of the Thunder Dragon tour is for you! This trip was such a good mix, that it made me really feel like I got to see a good variety and experience Bhutan to the fullest. We got to trek for five days, seeing beautiful scenery, visit two festivals (including a really fun, smaller local one, and a more famous and larger one in the city), and visited many cultural sites. Exodus Travels has an amazing local staff in Bhutan, and the guides were all great. Everything was organized down to the last detail, and the trip was executed flawlessly. I can't recommend this trip enough!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On the fourth day of our hike, the clouds cleared and we got to see some of the world's tallest unclimbed mountains!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders, Norbu and Tshering, and they were both excellent. They knew the answer to every question anyone could possibly have about Bhutan! They both had outgoing, fun personalities and worked to make sure everyone on the trip was happy and having a good time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack warmer clothes than you think you'll need for the hike, and pack modest but cooler clothes for the rest of the trip if you're going in September.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Clair C

    One of the best Exodus trips

    Although the price is high, this is a great holiday and worth the cost. The only thing that could have been better was the weather, as we had two days of rain during the trek, but that made us appreciate all the other days of good weather more. The scenery was fantastic, the itinerary was perfect, and we were very well taken care of. We certainly left with a positive view of Bhutan.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really, the whole holiday was inspirational. Watching the sunrise during the trek was beautiful and we were glad the guides woke us up to see it. We also visited Punakha Valley even though we were supposed to miss it as we were going to a festival and we were very glad we got to go as it was great. All the dzongs were interesting and the buildings were photo-worthy everywhere we looked.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu was very knowledgeable, attentive, and accommodating. He had clearly been a guide for a long time. Our other guide was also helpful and a very nice man, although his English and his knowledge were not quite as good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can be very cold on the trek, especially at night, and very hot in the valleys. You are also likely to get sunburnt on the trek, no matter how much sunscreen you apply. Pillows are provided on the trek. Take cash on the trek for the tips as this will be given to the camp crew at the end of the trek before you get to the hotel in Thimpu. The recommended tip in the trip notes didn't include the main guide on our trip. Take cash -- some people had trouble using cash machines. Leave some clean clothes in Paro before starting the trek. You will get them in Thimpu after the trek. You have free time in Kathmandu at the beginning and end of the trip -- there is nothing organised before dinner. It's not difficult to visit sites on your own but if you are a woman travelling on your own, try to go with someone else. Sole women often get harassed, probably not as badly as in some places, but enough to be a nuisance and, potentially, slightly menacing. People in our group experienced this. For myself, on one occasion I was walking behind my husband so it wasn't clear that we were together and I was followed by a man who wouldn't take no for an answer until my husband turned around and threatened him.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of our best holidays!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    virginia morris

    Fabulous country, fabulous trip...go!!

    We did this trip with some fear and trepidation as we would be trekking at altitude for the first time. We were very keen to visit Bhutan before it modernises and we also hoped to see the rhododendron in bloom in the Himalaya. We had done quite a bit of training for the trek and this paid off as we were fit enough for the grade of walk. We loved the country, the people, the Buddhist culture and the government philosophy of 'improving gross national happiness'. This is evident everywhere and seems very genuine. From the minute you land in Paro you know you are somewhere very special. It is quite wonderful to be immersed in their culture for the whole time you are there. The trek was not what we expected as we had snow every night and had to walk on icy surfaces some days and were perhaps colder than we had anticipated. The excellent trip notes had suggested we bring adequate sleeping bags and down jackets, so we were always cosy at night. We did perhaps miss some of the spectacular views because of the weather and the rhododendrons were only just in bud..so if you want to see them you should plan your trek in May rather than April. However, we were able to be a part of the Paro festival and this was fascinating. Exodus puts together a very good and varied itinerary, in comfortable accommodation, with great guides, good transportation and excellent food throughout. You are well acclimatised to altitude and the trekking is not too hard. We were disappointed to have to share campsites with other groups. There are a lot of trekkers on the Druk path and if you want solitude on trek you should go on one of the longer treks. This is a great introduction to trekking in the mountains and we felt extremely well looked after. My gluten free meals were always varied and plentiful. The main food is rice and veggies and many differing ways of cooking them. Breakfast was always wonderful too. We thoroughly recommend this trip and Exodus as a company. Go...you won't be disappointed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the highest summit and hanging prayer flags.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Norbu was absolutely fabulous. He was calm and confidant and always with a smile. His knowledge was outstanding. He always helped out if anyone was struggling with the trek or altitude.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take adequate warm clothing and a good sleeping bag.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I cannot wait for my next exodus trip
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Tim Brooks

    Land of the Thunder Dragon

    Bhutan is a country whose culture and environment are still free from the negative influences of the modern world. It's a quiet even serene place, free from pollution and benefitting from a low population (just some 700,000 people live in this small kingdom). The five day point-to-point trek was well run and enjoyable. It included visits to a couple of fascinating monasteries. The highlights have to be attending the spring festival in Paro and the half-day trek to the world-famous Tiger's Nest monastery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although the spring festival in the Dzong in Paro was amazing, it's the unexpected things of most trips which last in my memory. For my trip in Bhutan, this was the welcome we got from the monks in the monastery on the last day of our trek as we headed down the valley towards Thimphu.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Norbu and his team looked after us very well. I hope to go back one day and see more of this lovely country. Norbu informed me that Exodus is thinking about opening a new trek in the high Himalayas in the north-west of the country. I couldn't see this trip as an option in 2018 - but will keep a look out for it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bhutan had been on my bucket list for quite a few years and I was not disappointed. While the cost of the trip is prohibitive, the tourist tax means that there are still relatively few tourists in Bhutan, meaning it's unspoilt. Furthermore, you really don't need much spending money as the tourist tax covers pretty much everything from the accommodation and transport to meals. The only money you'll need is for drinks and souvenirs. This makes the price of the trip more bearable in the overall scheme of things.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now before others do. We were lucky with the weather on our trek, but others are not so lucky - so go prepared with all weather clothing for the trek. The approach by plane into Paro airport is not for the faint-hearted. However, it's one of the most fascinating airports in the world, rivalling Lukla in Nepal for hairiness. You will be amazed how close the runway is to the mountains. The plane makes a sharp left-turn in its final approach to landing - so have your camera ready for some aerial shots. The terminal building is impressive too with typical Bhutanese painted walls.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Pam Peers

    Interesting trip to a fascinating country

    A good combination of an interesting, short trek and cultural visits, including the Thimpu festival.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hanging lots of prayer flags at various of the summits. The momos at the end of the trek were very welcome.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu and Ganga were excellent guides! Great fun to be with and very informative about the country they are so passionate about. The team as a whole was excellent and looked after us really well

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take gaiters ... we didn't and regretted the omission. The descent on the final day was very muddy. Definitely take walking poles ...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Karaoke bars in Thimpu are well worth visiting , a real insight into modern day Bhutan.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Simon Cuming

    Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon (18Mar16-30Mar16)

    Excellent trip packing in the cultural highlights, a festival, and trekking which is kind of necessary given the daily rate charged by the Bhutanese authorities! So probably the best and most affordable! way of experiencing Bhutan

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    a toss up between the Paro festival and the 5 days trekking

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu was an excellent leader; extremely knowledgeable and helpful in explaining his countries culture and showing us the sights, including an impromptu archery lesson!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For the 5 day trek I would suggest that people prepare for lower night time temperatures, possibly down to -10 degrees C
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Marian Watson

    Trekking with Culture in Bhutan

    Although we had disappointing weather - it rained mostly while trekking - this trip takes you to one of those beautiful places which the majority of people still haven't heard of. And that's the beauty of it. There are few tourists and the Bhutanese themselves are delightful and unspoilt. The Buddhist culture and local traditions are fascinating There is no hard sell and there are no hawkers. They are happy for you just to have a look at their crafts without buying when you go into the shops. This is after all The Land of Gross National Happiness.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    More like highlights, of which there were many. The walk up to the Tiger's Nest Monastery. An out of programme trip organised by our leaders to visit the beautiful dzong in Punakha together with an impromptu visit to a local festival in Wangdue Phodrang. Stories of the Divine Madman and seeing phalluses painted all over the houses which are a sign of good luck here. Watching boy monks dancing in costume inside their dzong. Assisting in a ceremony inside one of the temples. Watching the festival in Thimpu and observing the locals dressed in their best ceremonial clothes, and more mundane things - but not least important! - like hot water bottles at night on trek, solar lamps, delicious pizza and cake made by the camp chef.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Norbu and Karma were excellent leaders. Both were well organised and took great care of the group. Karma took care of the monastic/temples side of the trip explaining everything about the Buddhist religion, whilst Norbu told us more about the politics, royal family and social/environmental structure of the country and how they are striving to get it all right. Both were complimentary to each other. Karma fell over backwards to try and keep us happy......during the rain! He even washed our muddy boots in the river at the end of the trek!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is NOT a trek for BEGINNERS. The altitude is something to be taken seriously (over 4000mts asl) and also physical fitness is an absolute must. Trekking, albeit the foothills, in the Himalayas is hard on the body. However, if you are used to hill walking , you will love it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just that if you do go, try to go over one of the festival periods as it's well worth it. Oh, and if you think you will lose weight with all the walking......you won't! The food on trek is wonderful and loads of it!
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