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 February 2019
    Elena Jeffery

    Discover Costa Rica

    For anyone that loves birds, Flora and Fauna Costa Rica certainly does not disappoint. The itinerary is well put together, not quite as frantic as some I have been on, with the luxury of two nights in all locations apart from the start and finish in San Jose. Some of the walks are perhaps better described as Moderate, rather than Elementary but all are optional. The scenery is just stunning and we were, in the main, so lucky with all the lovely birds and wildlife we saw. It is a lottery and matter of luck but we were helped by our fantastic guide Eduardo and our lovely driver Victor. Even if the wildlife was elusive some days, the plants, flowers and trees are just so glorious, whether you are walking or travelling in the bus, that there is always something to please the eye. There is really nothing I would change about this trip spent with a great group of people. It was awesome and I loved every minute of it. Having said that, and being a self confessed foodie, Costa Rica is not exactly a gastronomic delight and the cooking mediocre at best. The fruit is wonderful and fish is probably the best option but I am afraid I found myself eating rather more sea food pasta's than is good for me. My favourite was probably Ceviche, raw, marinated fish. Local wine is not recommended so it was either beer, South Amrican wines and the odd cocktails.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was simply captivated by the stunning scenery everywhere you look but have a few favourite living creatures that we saw. The sight of three male Quetzels was sensational in the early morning light, I loved the tiger heron, the pelicans, especially twenty or so flying in formation as well as the Toucans and humming birds that flit from tree to tree but there were so many splendid species, in glorious colours, it is hard to single them out. The whole trip is wonderful and I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone that is wavering.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Edward Sanchez (Eduardo) who I would be at a loss to fault and I am not a novice on group tours and their leaders and can be a stern but constructive critic. His organisation, incredible knowledge of every aspect of his country and the wildlife, his excellent English with a fantastic sense of humour, not to mention his enthusiasm and the calm way in which he cared for each and every one of us made this holiday just one of the best, most unforgettable experiences ever. As you can tell, I loved it, every minute of it and having such an amazing leader and great driver was just the icing on the cake. Thank you so much Eduardo and Victor, a serious contender for Leader of the Year I would say!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you arrive on a Saturday, in particular, be prepared for a long haul through immigration. The organisation is not best and slow! For the trip stay well protected against the sun (although many of the walks are in the jungle shade) and mosquitoes although in our experience, in February, there didn't seem to be too many. We were also lucky, being dry season, to avoid nearly all the showers but do take or buy a poncho. I got caught out as after the first few days the locations were quite remote and no postcards were available for about a week, let alone would you want to post them, until the last day in San Jose. It was hot and I did find the humidity, for about 3 days, in the humid rain forest, quite hard to take while in one of the most magical places I have ever been. Take plenty of t-shirts as you just drip and everything takes for ever to dry.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go, you'll love it!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    John Forrest

    Discover Costa Rica

    The title does not reflect how 'bird' focus sed the trip would be. We saw 120 different bird breeds and only a handful of mammals, these latter predominantly in the grounds of the lodges we stayed in! That is a minor quibble, trip was well led, mostly comfortable (the roads/tracks left a little to be desired) and overall most enjoyable. Eric our guide was excellent on spotting birds, reptiles and near invisible mammals but uninformed and uninterested in plants.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The close up presence of hummingbirds (again, in the lodge gardens!).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent except for the plant quibble above. He filled our 'rest' day with well led activities including the wonderful viewing of Quetzals.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No. We experienced perfect weather but other friends have either frozen or boiled. Be prepared for all eventualities and expect lots of very early rising to see wild life.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Robert Beasley

    Costa Rica

    To call this an adventure is a misnomer it was just a trip followed by hundreds of groups following a well established route. Far to comfortable no sense of the unknown or unexpected. Perhaps as a 75 year old I am harping back to the days of Penn Overland. The majority of Exodus trips now seem to be aimed at the middle aged and upwards who have no idea of true adventure and are not prepared to endure a bit of discomfort. I think once again I am 30 years to late. As far as this trip is concerned avoid Manuel Antonio NP, its surroundings are just like Blackpool. How can you go a so called jungle nature walk when you meet people in swimming costumes on the same route, just ridiculous. What's wrong with Carara NP instead. Luckily I was in Costa Rica for some additional time and visited this NP, also a few volcanoes which seemed to be avoided on the trip itinerary.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The realisation that perhaps I should seek destinations more remote, to day getting more and more difficult.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Exceptional, his enthusiasm was infectious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do as much research as possible
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Maggie Godfrey

    Diversity, diversity, diversity

    This was the most inspirational trip and I can't speak highly enough of the country, its wildlife and its people. This trip ensured that we spent time in a variety of ecosystems that were all so diverse and each had so much to offer. Our brilliant guide Johnny made sure that we had every opportunity to maximise our time each day to experience as much as we could in every location. Our focus was birdwatching and we saw the most splendid variety of beautifully coloured birds of all types, including the quetzal, as well as many other animals including sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, coatis, agouti, iguanas, snakes , frogs and so on. The accommodation , mainly in lodges, was fabulous . It was always well located and often in lovely grounds and gardens with many opportunities for seeing wildlife before we even set out on our daily itinerary. We were also with a great group of people which made the trip all the more special.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a 3 toed sloth at close quarters in Tortuguero National Park but there were so many other experiences that I will saviour such as the hot springs at Arenal, the hanging bridges at Monteverde, the wonderful environment of Esquinas Lodge, the sound of frogs at night, the multitude of hummingbirds especially at Sevegre and the general beauty of the countryside wherever we went.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny was just brilliant. I think he must know every bird in Costa Rica by sight and sound and made sure we had every opportunity to see as wide a range as possible. But his knowledge does not stop there - his knowledge of all the wildlife, the different environments and the country in general is encyclopaedic and he is so keen to share it with you. He never seemed to stop working and took us out on many additional walks early in the morning and late at night . He was so well organised, could not do enough to meet our every need and had a lovely personality and sense of humour so that we felt at ease with him from the very beginning. It is no wonder that he won tour guide of the year in 2017.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go for it - it is a trip you will never forget.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Make sure you go prepared for all temperatures as it gets quite cool in the cloud forest and very hot and humid in other locations. Good walking shoes and closed toe sandals are advisable.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Maggie Eaton

    Bird watching in Costa Rica

    If you want a relaxed birdwatching trip to Costa Rica this is the one.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is hard to pick one highlight from this trip as there are so many. Lots of wonderful birds..........macaws. toucans, resplendent queztal,not to mention good views of sloths and snakes. The forests are fabulous.In San Jose the National theatre is a must.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny,our leader, and Olmond our driver, were both excellent.Johnny has a fantastic knowledge of all aspects of Costa Rica.He is a tenacious bird watcher as well as an attentive leader.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Eve Doyle

    A Wonderful Experience

    This was a varied and interesting trip. We had various wildlife encounters. We had an excellent group with a magical guide. I loved it. It was great to enjoy some lovely weather and stunning scenery in January!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking on the high bridges at Monteverde. The weather was perfect and the scenery stunning

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edward was brilliant. He was so knowledgeable and passionate about the wildlife we saw. He was also interesting, amusing and kind. I cannot recommend him too highly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't spend the whole time trying to take pictures of the wildlife, just enjoy the experience!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The bus had two seats over wheel arches which were uncomfortable on long journeys. Apart from that the trip was magical!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Ivan Pinto

    Beauty and the Beasties

    Ever wonder what people mean when they harp on about microclimates, well just visit Costa Rica and experience it for yourself. From tropical coastlines to dry forests to rain forests and cloud forests, Costa Rica seems to have it all. The variety of climates gives rise to a diverse range of plant life which it turn supports a wide variety of beasties. Drives between locations were a pleasure as the scenery was so beautiful. Gardens whether local or at the lodges we stayed in were extraordinary in the variety of flowering plants and wildlife. You do not even need to leave the lodge premises to experience the wildlife. We saw sloth, iguana, coati, agouti, monkeys, armadillo, frogs, toads, lizards, bats, toucans, motmot, hummingbirds, quetzal and zillions of other colourful birds all in the gardens of lodges/hotel we stayed in. It was wonderful to go to sleep with the sound of nature as a backdrop. We were fortunate to have good weather throughout (apart from one morning) so were able to enjoy the included walks fully as well as some additional walks our excellent guide Gio kindly added for those who wanted to go. Good closed shoes with 'grippy' soles are recommended. It was hot and humid throughout (apart from evenings/early mornings in the mountains) and the pace of the walks was easy to suit the conditions. Many of the lodges have their own marked trails for those who want to make the most of the locations. If you have any interest in wildlife, nature or stunning landscapes you would enjoy Costa Rica.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tortuguero waterways and beach was beautiful as was the lodge we stayed at. The wildlife was just stunning, giant green male iguana in their bright orange breeding colours were a highlight as was our first sloth. But that doesn't do justice to the other wonderful locations and lodges visited as they were all of a very high standard and everywhere had it's own special moments, whether it was the hummingbird garden in Monteverde, the sloths at Manuel Antonio, the volcano and waterfall in Arenal, the moment a bird eating snake slid into then out of a birds nest in Esquinas lodge or spotting Quetzal at Savegre.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gio was a excellent leader who was very professional in his approach. He was very good at spotting and identifying the multitude of birds and animals we saw, while Juan-Jose (our ever smiling driver) was excellent as both driver and wildlife spotter. Gio went the extra mile in organising additional walks for those interested as well as arranging two excellent group meals on a couple of occasions when the evening meal was not included. He was happy to share with us the history of Costa Rica and it's peoples during the journeys and always ensured everyone was informed of the plans for the next day so that all activities went to plan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If travelling from the UK, embrace the jet-lag! You will wake early which helps as there are many early starts. The early to bed, early to rise mantra works in this case as the lodge gardens are wonderful for wildlife so get out at first light (about 6am) and enjoy them to the full. The other benefit of not trying to overcoming the jet-lag is that you adjust quickly on returning home!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have any interest in wildlife and/or botany or simply wonderful landscapes then this is a holiday you would enjoy. Add the high standard of accommodation in remote, 'away from it all' locations and it becomes unmissable!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Julia Southall

    WIldlife Paradise

    An amazing holiday with lots of stunning wildlife and rich forest. Moving every 2 days so a lot of travel on gravel roads. Lovely lodges, good food and surprisingly civilised amenities even in the deepest rain forest. All about the wild environment. No nightlife. Great country. Group size was 11 which was very friendly and we had our own boats, bus and visits except for day 1. Suitable for singles. Climate changes are dramatic so carefull wardrobe planning needed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so much to enjoy. This truely is a Garden of Eden and it is humbling to be able to see all these creatures and the forests. The canals of Tortuguero where a boat takes you around the river estuaries/ canals are stunning. Swimming in the warm Pacific was gorgeous, getting up at dawn to see the reslendent quetzal less inticing. Night walks to see sloths, sleeping toocans, tree frogs, bats, green vipers curled on twigs, emerging cicada and Toasty the caiman gulping down fish, were fascinating. The birds were spectacular: scarlat macaws, humming birds and birds in every colour imaginable. There were many at hotels and restaurants eating bananas. The monkeys leaping across the canals and pathways were greeted with oohs and aahs as they leapt the gaps between trees. The white faced capucine looks so human. Boats and the bus stopped immediatley whenever a special creature appeared.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A brilliant man who knew how to find the wild creatures and had lots of knowledge about the flora and fauna. Unlike many trips, wildlife does not stand around so the holiday is much less predictable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need clothes for humid hot weather and cold mountains (but no frost), and a plastic cape is useful for downpours. I imagine that this is a very wet country in the rainy season. We choose the dry season but missed the turtle egg laying. Ask the guide to tell you what to wear and take each day. Some of the extra trips are expensive for what they are and there is enough to do without them. The night walk at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge was well worth it and the better one of two. Take closed toe walking shoes but walking boots would be rather hot. Take a travel towel for swiming in the National Parks. Do not leave bag unguarded at the beach. Monkies! The accommodation is in wooden lodges except for San Jose. They have wonderful gardens. Take your own plug for the sinks! Most have hair dryers. All have good showers. Wifi was good. Do not attempt to do any laundry in your room because it does not dry. Laundry at Esquinas is $15 for a sackful! San Jose is not worth any extra days. A tour of the Theatre was lovely and the National Museum taught us the history of the country. We had no trouble with mosquitos inside or outside in January but we did choose to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts. The bus is air conditioned/heated, the driver was very good but many miles are on gravel roads and very bumpy. You move every 2 days so have to be organised. Early mornings meant early to bed for us and there was no nightlife, music or dancing. Take binoculars and good cameras. Your holiday snaps will wow your friends! My son who usually confines himself to the top 10 photos of my holiday, is insisting on 50 with an option for more this time! This trip is not for you if you would mind restaurants with no walls so that the wildlife comes in too: lizards on the walls, birds flying through, bats on the wall behind the bar. Always take a torch and watch where you are walking especially at night. Cases were delivered to rooms. Dollars are acceptable everywhere. Not USA coins.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was almost spirtual. Such an honour to see such wildlife. There is plenty to eat and if you are veggie/vegan there are times when the restarant needs to know in advance but most meals were buffets. Alcoholic drinks cost about the same as in Britain.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Lesley Galvanoni

    Excellent Trip

    Costa Rica was truly amazing, I hadn’t realised the diversity for such a small country. So much wildlife and beautiful scenery, I felt I didn’t want to miss a thing. Although I had travelled through Costa Rica before, this tour offered so much more, I still can’t believe how much we saw in just two weeks. Glenda our tour and driver Carlos were constantly on the lookout, making sure we didn’t miss anything.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife and beauty of the country. The amount and variety of the hummingbirds were for me a highlight, having plenty of opportunity to attempt to photograph them.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Glenda is a wonderful leader, one of the best. Not only as a wildlife spotter! The guide that spotted the quetzal first! She is kind, friendly and funny, sorting out problems and queries with ease. Her organisation and knowledge second to none. Glenda went out of her way to make the holiday special for everyone. I really appreciated the time to take photographs, Glenda never hurried us and we had plenty of time just to enjoy the beautiful country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to pack for all weather conditions. It can be quite cold at the high altitude locations.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you like wildlife and nature Costa Rica is a must. I stayed on a couple of days to see Poàs and Irazu volcanoes. Well worth if you have the time.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Vivienne and Michael Hodgins

    Wonderful trip to Costa Rica

    This was our 8th Exodus trip and one of the best. The tour leader was excellent..Giovanni Madrigal. He was very knowledgeable, professional in his approach and good fun especially as he had a great relationship with the driver, Juanjose who was also part of the team. Gio made it clear from the outset that this was a group holiday and group harmony was important. We were encouraged to rotate the seats on the bus so everyone got a chance to sit at the front. The group really got on well. There were many excellent group meals and we had a good mix between travel, group walks and downtime by the pool. The accommodation was very good....wooden lodges set in wonderful surroundings. We stayed for 2 nights in each place which was great. Much of the food was included so it wasn’t so expensive when we were there....most hotels had happy hours! We saw so many birds, mammals and reptiles. Gio knew where to look and had a scope so we could all see. There are additional trails we could walk on our own which we enjoyed. He knows his country and was keen to pass on his knowledge.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the quetzal, the scarlet macaws, the toucans, the monkeys,sloths, iguanas,snakes, crocodiles,caimans.......etcetcetc. So much to see everywhere we went. The fantastic Pacific beaches where you can swim...you can’t in the Caribbean where we were. The hot springs at La Fortuna The suspension bridges at Monteverde The waterways at Tortuguera Manuael Antonio Park Esquinas lodge and its surroundings The night walk

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb. My husband fell on gravel and had to go to the doctor to have stitches. Gio and Juan were great, taking him,staying with him etc after a long day. Gio was very patient and knew how to see birds and wildlife. He took us out some evenings in the bus to great restaurants. He ensured the trip ran according to plan....it was a very professional approach. He shared information on politics, history etc....not just wildlife. We felt very well prepared for the National Museum in San Jose.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take dollars or colones...both accepted everywhere. Take a hairdryer if you like to use one...a few lodges didn’t have them Take warm walking clothes and good rainwear...we only had rain one morning but it was wet! Closed in shoes....walking trainers are necessary .Godd walking sandals are useful. You don’t need walking boots or poles. You need a good camera and binoculars although the leaders have scopes. Swimming stuff...great pools especially the natural stream pool in Esquinas. We also swam in waterfalls and hot springs. Mosquito spray.. Light towels for Manuel Antonio and the waterfall. You don’t need to stay longer to see San Jose...you have enough time to see the few sights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We went on the group flight...we often do land only so we can recover and see more of the city but this one was fine as we arrived early enough to relax and although the first morning is an early start ,the first 2days at Tortuguera are very relaxing so no real need to go early or stay on. If you do go to the Pacific...I could have stayed in the Manuel Antonio area for a week at the end! But I love the sea.
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