Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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18266 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Friendly, fascinating but wet!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Its true - the people really are amazingly friendly.  Adults and children would jump up, wave and shout hello whenever we passed and we were invited to join complete strangers for drinks. A visit to a night market in Trang was a memorable occasion.  A Buddist festival was taking place to mark the end of the rainy season (although it was still raining hard) .  We were the only western tourists there and it was a quite magical sight with all the highly decorated floats from each of the monasteries and the Buddist monks sprinkling everyone with water.  We passed on the deep fried maggots!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leaders (Al and Vasan) were like the Ant & Dec of Thailand - a constant comedy double act.  They kept us entertained but were always very attentive to our needs, ensuring we had excellent food each night and that vegetarian dishes really were vegetarian.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Avoid dates in or close to the rainy season - when it rains in Thailand its like standing under a high pressure shower!This isn't really an off road cycling holiday.  The majority of the cycling (when I did this trip) was on road (some of them quite busy) with the occasional non asphalt back road.  However, you always felt safe cycling on the roads as most have a hard shoulder used by cyclists and mopeds.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great way to experience the culture and countryside of Thailand, visiting many locations away from the normal tourist trail. 
  • Reviewed October 2007

    Meet our Eastern European neighbours

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching a fifteen piece Jewsih band rehearsing for a festival in the Jewish Quarter of Krakow

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I think this was her first time leading this trip.  She was very conscientious but found it difficult keeping all the group on the right track given the variation in cycling speeds.  She could have done with a support guide to cycle at the back.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Slovakia is a hilly country and although the trip notes say they avoid any long, steep hills there is a 6km climb on one day which took the group between 45 mins to 1 hour.  So you do need to be fairly fit and if you don't like hills this isn't the trip for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The bikes provided were of a very poor standard - but I'm sure they will have sorted that out before their next trip and won't make the same mistake twice.
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Best travel company ever used and a great trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visit to the Taj Mahal

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Best tour leader we have ever had.  You certainly felt safe in his hands.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Put your trust in Exodus.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great to have expert guides in each destination. Looking forward to our next trip within the year to Vietnam and Cambodia
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Didn't we almost see it all?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

     While in the Masai Mara we spotted a family of lions who came very close to our van. It was just starting to get dark - the end of a long day of spectacular game viewing. One lion came right up to the van and walked along the side I was sitting on. I had the window open and, had I been foolish enough, I could have stuck my hand out the window and stroked her. As it was I managed to resist and wasn't even able to get a photo before she wandered slowly past . I just sat and watched and was speechless  - I think my mouth may have opened and closed a few times but no sound came out. (This is very unusual for me!)The Masai Mara itself was an inspiration - as we entered the park I noticed a thin brown line on the horizon and I wondered what it was. As we got closer I realised it was a long line of wildebeests queing in an orderly fashion - it wasn't until later I realised they were waiting to cross the river - which we couldn't even see at that point (it reminded me of the queue for  the checkout at Tesco's on a Saturday.)We drove to the river and waited for hours for the wildebeest and zebra to cross They kept moving from one crossing point to another - followed by several landrovers and looking like they were about to cross - I swear they were toying with us. Eventually one of our number put in a desperate plea for a loo break and it was lunchtime anyway so we went off and had lunch.As you will have guessed, by the time we got back the animals were on the other side of the river - looking back at us. I'm sure this was a calculated act of tourist teasing! This was our only disapointment. Other than that we saw more than we could have imagined - elephants, giraffes,  cheetahs various types of antelope, hyenas, vultures and warthogs (my personal favourite) not to mention a close encounter with rhino. We saw a family of lions with a fresh kill. While Mum got stuck into the juicy bits, two of the four cubs knawed on a leg each while another two played tug of war with what looked like bits of intestine.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had various leaders and guides throughout the trip who were all very amicable, knowledgeable types.    

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are planning a walking tour - be very sure about what to expect. I went on a 'gentle' walking tour and discovered that 'gentle' is very much a relative term. It means different things depending personal fitness levels. 'Gentle' turned out to mean blooming hard work for one as unfit as myself. That said it was well worth the effort! (and the huffing and puffing and sweating etc etc)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have been on 2 tours with Exodus now and would have no hesitation in travelling with them again. They are good value, well organised and offer a good choice of itinerary.
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    A dream come true

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people were amazing. So many had next to nothing yet they had ear to ear smiles and were so friendly.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    "Often" was the best. He not only looked a bit like Eddie Murphy but was also funny, knowledgeable and just a very kind warm person. I still keep in touch and feel that I have made a friend. I would gladly go on another expedition with him anytime. I also felt very safe with him and all on our trip felt the same about him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I guess the biggest thing is that I saw and heard of people bringing balloons, candy etc to give to the children. The balloons will break and just add to refuse problem that already exists. Candy rots teeth and many of these children will never have the opportunity to visit a dentist. Bring school supplies that you can leave at a school or orphanage that you visit. Also respect the people and do not bring your own values to their country. Be careful as there are scams that people try but listen to your guide and all will be great. Above all, be respectful of your travel mates and have a great time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have dreamed of going to Africa all my life. I have never really travelled anywhere. I went on my own across the world and met the most amazing guide and travel companions in a most amazing country. This journey met and exceeded all my dreams. Thank you..... I will return and will likely do another route that Often covers. Great trip !!!!
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Ice is nice!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Polar Bears are a huge feature and a huge attraction - but this is not a zoo so you do have to work to find them. We saw 9 bears, which seems to be fairly average luck - but no-one was disappointed. Whilst looking we also found incredible ice bergs, towering cliffs teeming with birds, curious seals, glaciers, a pod of white Beluga whales who milled around the zodiacs and a sky-hopping Humpbacked whale. We also saw walrus (we were a little unlucky and saw relatively few) and a polar mirage

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All of the Vavilov's crew are great at what they do - Dutch, Aaron, Woody & Annie, Scottie, David McG & David Sinclair, Bjorn, Maggie & Chloe, Ian. They are passionate about this place & work hard to make sure their passengers leave equally enthused

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have warm clothes because an afternoon sat on a zodiac drifting through an ice field can be chilly - but then if you do find bears you certainly don't want to cut the experience short by returning to the ship. Also, you do need to be flexible and not need a rigid itinerary - ice is beautiful but unpredictable so your route may need to be adapted at short notice to accommodate this, and wildlife is never predictable so you can not guarantee to see the animals you want at the precise time you want.
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Polar Bear magic

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Without doubt the most inspirational part of our trip was seeing two families of mother polar bears with twin cubs from the ship at really close quarters.   The captain hovered the ship, the bears were unconcerned - we must have looked like a big ice berg.  Knowing the bears habitat is under such threat from global warming, I feel very priviledged to have seen them for myself.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Well, what can you say about Paul Goldstein's leadership? over the top, loud, enthusiastic, full of himself.  On the other hand the regular leader Woody was great without the noise!  There were so many really knowledgable members of staff that every outing was a treat - It didnt matter whose zodiac you were in they all were so enthusiastic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We stayed one night in Oslo both going out and coming home and this I can thoroughly recommend.  It provided a good break in the journey and was completely different from Spitzbergen.  It was just lovely to sit in the sun enjoying a beer by the harbour on the way back having spent ten days dressing up in many layers of clothing and boots.  The hotel by the airport was fine.  It's in such a good position and the train ride into the centre of Oslo is so easy.  If you are a 'senior' you can get a discount on the train fare but you have to go to the ticket booth in the airport to buy your ticket rather than using the machines on the station.For the ship, take many layers of light clothing.  You will need liners for your gloves and three pairs of socks.  Neoprene or sheepskin boot liners will keep your feet warm.
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Hard work and exhilarating

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top and decending from the Skiing station

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great a joy to be with

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I beleive that this is a class c ride, so make sure that you our fit  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The direction to the home base were a waste of time
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Something new and amazing to experience every hour of every day

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The phenomenal wildlife sightings - polar bears, walruses, seals, whales, Arctic foxes and all the varied bird life - so many of which were truly 'up close and personal', thanks to the knowledge, patience and skill of both the expedition and ship's crews.  Particular mention must go to the captain's amazing maneouvring of the ship among the ice floes, which gave us outstanding polar bear viewing.Also the ever-changing, awe-inspiring landscape.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding, as were all the expedition crew, who demonstrated unlimited energy, patience and good humour, alongside their expert knowledge, which added immeasurably to the whole experience.  My favourite guide had to be the inimitable Martin Gray - join him on just one of his 'contemplative' walks and you'll be hooked; his knowledge and humour made each one a walk to remember.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect the itinerary to be as shown in the trip notes - they really do tear it up on Day One.  But don't be disappointed about that, because the crew's expertise and knowledge of the area means that, wherever you go and whatever you do, it will be memorable.  It's not 100% guaranteed that you'll get to Ny Alesund, with the world's most northerly post office, or that you'll cross the 80 degree parallel - we didn't do either and it really didn't matter.  Given the choice between sending a postcard from Ny Alesund or focussing on the scenery and wildlife viewing, I know what I'd choose.  Be as open-minded and flexible as the crew and you'll have the experience of a lifetime.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This clearly isn't a cruise, but the ship's communal areas and cabins are nevertheless extremely comfortable, the cabins (we had one with our own bathroom, on deck 5) being surprisingly spacious with more storage space than we needed.  And the food is phenomenal: a good variety, excellent quality and ample quantities.This trip is clearly not cheap, but you will absolutely get what you pay for - it is worth whatever it takes by way of scrimping and saving to do it.  This was undoubtedly the most memorable trip of my life and, nearly two months after our return, I'm still missing the Vavilov, the landscape, the animals, the crew, my fellow passengers.  One final warning: be prepared for a major dose of post-holiday blues if you go on this trip!    
  • Reviewed October 2007
    Anonymous

    Fire and water

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was all pretty amazing: climbing up a volcano in Guatemala, swimming in the warm seas off Roatan, white water rafting in Costa Rica, seeing red hot lava streaming down a volcano while having dinner on a hotel terrace in La Fortuna, watching baby turtles hatch on the wild beaches of Tortugero, catamaran trip in Bocas del Toro, where we snorkelled and saw dolphins playing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was very organised, approachable and good fun. Had valuable local knowledge of activities and places of interest to see in all the different areas, including the best restaurants and bars!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's great if you know a little Spanish. I wish had learned before I went; I think it would have added more to the trip.