Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed July 2017
    Nat Black

    Fantastic trek around Mont Blanc

    This trip is a great way to see the Alps as you circumnavigate Mont Blanc. Along the way the peak appears and a disappears as the scenery changes. Going earlier on the season means the trail is less busy. It was a very peaceful two weeks in the mountains with lots of fresh air. The one thing I found quite shocking is how quickly the glaciers are disappearing! The camping is also a great experience, the group comes together so there is a real communal feel, teamwork is key.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the whole circuit and finishing at Brevent. The views are super and that is your reward for walking up hill all day (1500m). Going up the Aiguille du Midi is also incredible, it is great to get so close to Mont Blanc. The gondola ride across the glacier is also very memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jenny was a great leader, she was very knowledgeable about the trail and knew where all the lovely hut stops were.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to enjoy walking up and down, you are not often walking on flat trails, so practice those ups and downs. The Aiguille du Midi is definitely worth doing. It is cheaper to go up from the Italian side, however if the weather is bad wait until you get to Chamonix.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is a fantastic walk, the scenery is spectacular. If you are a keen walker looking for something a bit more challenging then I would definitely recommend this trip. The Alps are amazing!
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Claire Wright

    A Week in Jordan

    This is an excellent trip for anyone with a sense of adventure and a reasonable level of fitness (bearing in mind that 40 degree heat makes things a little harder). It is a busy holiday, but there are still moments to relax - for example swimming in the Dead Sea, having a hammam in Petra, and swimming and snorkelling in Aqaba. If you think you are up for an active holiday, and an adventure, then I cannot recommend this trip highly enough. Just book it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is hard, as most of the trip was inspirational...anyway, I'm going to say that camel riding in Wadi Rum was my favourite. It was fun, and it was an adventure, but it was also beautiful riding a camel out in the desert and watching the sunset. Petra is also amazing, and definitely doesn't disappoint, and Jerash is a lesser known but surprising gem of the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Zuhair is a fantastic ambassador for Jordan. He was brilliantly well organised, engaging and interesting. Not only did he tell us all the fascinating facts, history and culture of where we went, but he was also a wonderful story teller, and shared his inciteful views on the political situation in Jordan and the Middle East. He even arranged for us to go to the Jerash Festival at the end of the holiday, after we expressed an interest in it at the beginning, just one example of him going the extra mile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Jordan felt safer than I imagined it might, and the people everywhere we went were very polite, friendly and welcoming. As a woman, I was careful to cover up (shoulders, upper arms, knees) and not to wear anything clingy. I was glad I did this, but only because I wanted to show respect for the culture I was in, not because I ever felt judged. A common sense approach works fine (avoid very short and/or clingy dresses). I took a swimsuit rather than a bikini, but either was fine in both the Dead Sea and Aqaba. Useful things I packed: a torch (Karak, and the Bedouin camp at Wadi Rum), wet wipes, a beach towel (Dead Sea), sleeping bag liner (Wadi Rum), snorkel (nice to have your own kit in Aqaba, but not necessary), walking boots (I was glad of these in Petra, though others managed fine with trainers etc.), a pair of grippy sandals (useful for the sometimes slippery stone surfaces in Jerash and on shorter walks in general), water shoes (for Dead Sea and Aqaba) to protect against stones and sea urchins, and definitely a hat and sun cream. Things I needn't have taken: mosquito killing device (there were no mosquitoes, only a few flies...but I guess this may be a seasonal thing). Drinks: alcohol wasn't available in the places we ate in, but in Petra Zuhair told us of the 4 bars which sold it. We chose the one nearest the entrance to Petra (the Cave Bar) and enjoyed some beers there on those two days. In Aqaba, alcohol seemed more widely available. Prices were much the same as in the London area. Non alcoholic alternatives were usually delicious.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have written extensively because I want to persuade everyone looking at this to book this trip immediately! I had a holiday packed with new experiences, and many very special "wow" moments.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Milan Kucerak

    Via Ferrata - A Challenging Superb Achievement

    My sister and I did the Exodus Travels Via Ferrata climbing holiday in the Italian Dolomites. After a day in Venice – great day as it was also the Bienniel art festival – we met the tour group going Via Ferrata at the airport, hopped on the bus to Dobbiaco and enjoyed the Italian scenery on the 3 and a half hour bus ride to Dobbiaco. Dobbiaco is a typical Tyrolian village in northeast Italy about 28 kilometers north of Cortina. The Dobbiaco area is/was heavily influenced by the Germans and the Italians throughout its’ history and, as such, you will find everything written in Italian or German. The town signs show “Tolbach Dobbiaco” with Tolbach the German name for the town. Everyone speaks Italian, German, and English and most also have their native tongue of Tyrolian. We stayed at the hotel Tschurtschenthaler which is located in the heart of the village. The hotel is family run having been built in 1972 and is currently run by one of the daughters of the folks who originally built the hotel. Her parents, both elderly, can be seen at the hotel during the day and evening – there is a neat picture in the foyer of the family with the daughter who currently runs the hotel as a little girl. The owner is super friendly and outgoing, always asking how we are doing and wanting to ensure our stay is going well. Exodus Travels has a long time relationship with Hotel Thursenschlater and the owner goes out of her way to make you feel at home. She works right along the serving staff during dinner time and is also there for the morning breakfast buffet. Breakfast is typical European with meats, cheeses, breads, yogurts, cereals, granola, and fruit. Any type of coffee is available – Americano, espresso, cappuccino, etc. Dinner is typical Italian and German cuisine with pasta and meats – dinner is a 5 course meal. You usually have a selection of three entrees each evening and you are given the evening menu at breakfast so you can designate which entrée you want for dinner. The rooms are typical European with enough space to do a little Internet work if you need to. The Internet is free. The hotel has recently upgraded their sauna area adding a modern spa setup with two saunas, two steam rooms, a spacious shower area complete with a cold water bucket dump for cooling off after the sauna or steam room, and ample changing rooms and lockers for holding your clothes while you use the facilities. The sauna and steam rooms are free and massages are reasonably priced. A word of caution as the floor is tile and very slippery when wet, especially as you go from the sauna area down the four steps to the pool area. The hotel atmosphere is warm and inviting and you are free to come and go as you please just as though it was your own home. There are seats and tables out front where you can enjoy the sunshine during the day or drinks in the evening. There is a coffee and ice cream parlor right across the street and the ice cream is to die for. The hotel has one outstanding individual who makes you feel right at home and is attentive to all that you want and that individual is Sara. She is the dinner server as well as the bartender in the evening. She gets to know you during your stay and is as efficient as she is pleasant. We felt like she was a member of our group and we were sad to leave her at the end of the week. Our typical day was up early for breakfast which starts at 7:30, but they opened at 7:15 for us as we had to be ready for our tour guides by 8:00 AM. Note; the hotel will pack a lunch for you for 6 Euros, or you can shop at the local grocery store just up the street on the same side as the hotel. The grocery store is closed on Sunday, however, further up on the opposite side of the street near the corner and this side of the church is a convenient store that is open on Sunday and carries food, snacks, sundries, wine, grappa, and has a small deli where you can get meats and cheeses for making sandwiches. A typical day is depart the hotel at 8:00 AM, drive the half hour to 45 minute ride to the mountains, climb for 4 to 6 hours, return to the hotel for ice cream at the ice cream parlor across the street and a briefing of the next day’s climb, sauna, shower, 30 minute nap to recuperate, and down for dinner which is served between 7 and 8 PM and typically lasts ‘til around 9-9:30 PM, and depending on how the group is feeling, a drink sitting outside the hotel or an evening walk around town and then off to bed. Note, the hotel has brochures on all activities in the area and one brochure in particular lists all of the via ferrratas in the Dolomites. It is a must keep souvenir of your adventure in the Dolomites. We climbed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday with Wednesday a free day and climbing again on Thursday and Friday. Each day became more challenging as our climbing guides were constantly assessing each of the group’s ability to climb. The first day we climbed Caldore Dolomiti or Golo di Fanes, which is outside of Cortina and part of the heritage park (the Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage site). Although at first sight the climb looked challenging (What?!? We are going to climb down THERE?), it was relatively easily in hindsight after a week of climbing and had the bonus of being able to walk behind a 100 meter waterfall – WONDERFUL to do. The first day was also an acclimation day, getting your body used to the altitude as our guides did not want us to get to 2,000 meters and pass out. We learned how to use our via ferrata equipment and how to negotiate going down the mountain as well as going up. The second day (Monday) we climbed Paternkofel. It was a mix of climbing and scrambling through long caves within the mountain – bring your head torch. Almost incredible to think how these were carved out of rock back during World War 1 and the amount of human labor it took to do it. Great views of the surrounding mountains and an especially gorgeous view of the Three Chimneys (Tres Cimis). Climbs were challenging yet an excellent way to prepare us for the next few days of climbing. Day three (Tuesday) was the big climb, Fiames, reaching almost 2,740 meters and most of it straight up. It also had our first ladder climb. Stunning landscapes that when you looked down you saw you were a couple thousand meters above the ground hanging on to a piece of rock that made you think, “What am I doing here?” but clearly exhilarating, exciting, breathtaking, and a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when you reach the summit. There is a perfect view of Cortina from the summit. The return down the mountain was much easier albeit strenuous as we went down the back side of the mountain that gave us two options: a hike down without having to use via ferrata equipment that is a long hike that takes you through wooded areas and streams – very picturesque, or you can try your skill at “skree skiing” which is a much quicker yet riskier descent – essentially skiing the talus slope of the mountain. There were several options for Wednesday, our free day – hiking trails around Dobbiaco, walking or road biking the bike trail to the next town (if you hike it you can take the train back to Dobbiaco for 1.5 Euros), or you can rent mountain bikes and head to Cortina, which is what I did; my sister opted for the hike on the bike trail to the next town. I rented a bike from the City Mountain Electro Rent A Bike (take a right out of the hotel and keep going across the main highway intersection and it is on the left –street is via Dolomiti). Rental cost was 17 Euros for the bike and 2 Euros for a helmet. The bike was new-like in great condition complete with shock absorbers. The bike ride to Cortina was arduous for me as it is all uphill out of Dobbiaco with a comfortable gradient for about a third of the 28 kilometers to Cortina and then two-thirds of the way downhill on a steep gradient to Cortina – a real workout on the return trip. Lunch at an outdoor eatery in Cortina had a great view of the Dolomite Fiames that we climbed the day before. As I am a road cyclist and this was only the third time I have ridden a mountain bike, I was pretty wasted by the time I got back to Dobbiaco, but the trip back was punctuated by stops along the way to rest and enjoy the dairy cows that freely graze along and on the bike trail and watching locals cut and stack firewood along the trail. After a sauna and shower off to meet the group for dinner at a local pizzeria, Pizzeria Hans, which is south of town (take a right out of the hotel, keep walking to the main highway intersection and go right, it is the first place you come to). Excellent pizza and service – make sure you give it a try. They even have a pizza with French Fries! Climbing day four, Thursday, we climbed Cima Cadin to a height of 2,788 meters. It is a lonnng hour plus steep walk to a hut situated on a mountain valley which is the beginning of the via ferrata. Another mostly straight up climb with multiple ladders. Stunning views at the summit and a tiny summit at that as our party of 15, 13 of us and 2 guides, literally filled up the entire real estate of the summit. You did not want to trip or fall up here. The return was going down the same way we came up which was challenging yet, again, exciting. Our last day climbing, Friday, it rained. It was the only day of our tour that it rained. All other days were perfect weather during the day with a thunder storm late in the day or overnight. Friday was going to be our most challenging, “very technical” according to our guides, but due to the rain we went to “plan B” climbing near the ski slope in Cortina. Two of the three climbs we did that day were newer via ferratas and they were challenging. The third was an older one but one of the most picturesque and one of the areas a lot of the promotional pictures are taken. Saturday was breakfast and return bus to Venice and homeward bound. A few closing remarks: - Our guides are superb individuals who are experts in their craft. They are extremely safety conscious while at the same time wanting you to have the best experience possible. I never felt unsafe but there were a few times I was truly scared but never panicked knowing Hannes and Toni were nearby. - Our guides, Pramstaller Hannes and Toni Obejes are outstanding human beings. My sister was unsure of her ability to climb Fiames so Toni tied a rope to her and he led her up the mountain, giving her a congratulatory kiss on both cheeks when she made the summit making her feel like she had accomplished something significant in her life – which she did. She would not have made it without Toni’s can-do attitude and caring guidance up the mountain. I saw the same thing in Hannes as he did the same thing for another female climber who was unsure she could make it. - The owner of Hotel Tschurtschenthaler is a caring and outgoing individual who sincerely makes you feel part of the family and that the hotel is your home. We freely went in and out, used the sauna and pool, and enjoyed having drinks in the evening sitting outside the hotel. - Our evening waitress, Sara, is a treat. She is direct, all business, professionally dedicated to catering to the needs of guests, and as she gets to know you through the duration of your stay becomes a friend. - Exodus Travels had everything very well coordinated and our holiday went on without complications. When booking and confirming the holiday their staff is professional, friendly, and knowledgeable about the tour we booked. They are a pleasure to work with and we whole-heartedly recommend them. We can’t wait to use them for our next adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    See above

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    See above
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Mark Craven

    Tour du Mont Blanc Hotel Trek

    This trek coupled with excellent weather and brilliant company, ranks as one of the most enjoyable adventure tours we have undertaken in the past 10 years. It was challenging at times, and the days were usually long, but that first ice cold beer never tasted better. Constantly changing scenery, beautiful flowers and butterflies makes for a photographer’s paradise. Our advice if you love walking in stunning scenery is to do the trip while you can, the sense of achievement for us was as satisfying as completing Kilimanjaro.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The final days walking to the high point at Brevent was long, but the culmination of two weeks of arduous trekking, realising you’ve achieved your goal, standing at the top taking in the spectacular views, with a bunch of strangers who had now become your best buddies, makes for a fabulous experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    You just couldn’t get a more knowledgeable, understanding or thoughtful guide than Peter. He was relaxed yet in full control, helping and encouraging where needed, nothing phased him at all. His lunchtime picnics were a culinary highlight of the day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Apprehensive of the walking grade at altitude we did train quite a bit, probably not as much as we should have done due to leading normal busy lives, but if you’re a regular walker and are used to putting the hours in, you will be fine. It goes without saying to get your kit sorted out and bedded in beforehand, there isn’t much time once you’re underway, but bring Compeed in any case, as even the most comfortable boots and socks can play up after 10hrs plus day after day. Also pack light as there are plenty of opportunities to rinse out and dry trekking gear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The terrain was challenging at times, as described in the notes, with little flat walking, and the descents can be hard on the knees. Accommodation was always of a good standard, food was variable, with not a lot of choice for any special dietary requirements, but on the whole it’s was pretty decent. At the end of the day you undertake these types of trips to challenge yourself, so small hardships should be expected, just keep a smile on your face and everyone will oblige. In summary this is a well organised fantastic trip and we would recommend it to all.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Graham Keetch

    Spectacular !

    A stunning location. A good hotel close to the centre with great food and service: the leaders Albert and Ingrid were excellent and had well researched all of the walks. A great week was had by all. Thank you

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Stunning location with spectacular mountain walks.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both were excellent and very professional

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A beautiful part of the world
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Katie Shilton

    Amazing Amalfi Coast

    An absolutely delightful trip with lots of stunning scenery, great days out, wonderful company and lovely food. The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been - and I have been to a lot of them. There are no long drives on this trip at all which is great but even when you are on the bus the views are so spectacular the journey just flies by. The Hotel Due Torri is a lovely family run hotel with fabulous meals. I particularly enjoyed the optional evening in which we did a bbq as the seafood was divine. They also have a great cocktail menu which most of us took advantage of.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the Path of the Gods walk as it is just stunning and wasn't as hard as I expected. I enjoyed it so much I would be tempted to go back and do the walking tour as it is a very nice area for walking. On the free day we did walk down to Priaino and Marina Dei Praia which was great as well. Capri is just stunning and I would also recommend going to Villa Cimbrone in Ravello as many of us felt this was a definite highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Severio was a good tour leader. He was a really nice guy and everything ran really smoothly. The only thing I would say is that I would have liked a little more information on some of the places we visited.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go!
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Lorraine Grant

    Mongolia, Nadaam, Gobi. Great experience

    Fantastic trip. Huge statues, more goats, sheep, horses and cows than you can imagine. A vastness that boggles the mind. The Gobi desert is to be experienced just to get an idea of the size of it. Living in ger camps is worthwhile too. You get to sample what nomadic life can be like. The local people were friendly and open to us visiting their ger homes, and we were offered goats cheese, fermented milk and simple vodka. It's rude to decline the offer! It's hard to pick one particular highlight but I think the Nadaam Festival comes out top.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Witnessing the Nadaam Festival was a highlight. The two hour opening ceremony was terrific with displays depicting Mongolia's history. While we didn't understand the language, the display was clear. The men, women and children wore very ornate and colourful national dress and were happy for their photos to be taken. The newly elected President officially opened the festival. A goodly number of children released white doves at the start and balloons were realised at the end.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was a very pleasant man but perhaps due to us being in four vehicles, it was hard for information to be given regarding the country or the people. This would normally be expected when the group travels in one vehicle. That said, he tried to accommodate the wishes of group members, which did at times prove challenging. Not his fault though! Our tour leader arranged for two facilities to open when they ought to be closed which was very appreciated. One was a monetary and the other a museum.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather was much warmer than I had expected given I'd been checking weather updates prior to travel. A few days while we were in the Gobi were around 40 degrees and very windy indeed. Driving in the Gobi is very rough indeed as no tarred roads and dirt tracks the only routes. The ground is very hard and rough and car passengers get a lot of jostling around. A word of warning if you have back issues! Accommodation in the capital was fine but some of the ger camps didn't have hot water for showers and/or was restricted to certain times of the day, as was electric. This isn't a problem though as you expect such restrictions in rural areas. Meals were excellent throughout. Usually three course set lunch and dinner, with small portions. Mutton dishes were offered most often. The vegetarians were catered for too. Bottled water was provided at each meal and the guide gave water to each guest to use in their own water bottles. When driving long distances in the Gobi, toilet stops are infrequent due to simply not being a toilet to go to! You have to make do with a boulder or bush.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you get the chance to visit local shops and markets take it. You see what locals buy and can pick up some items you might not see in the capital. A wonderful experience driving around the vast wilderness of Mongolia and the Gobi. If you can visit when the Nadaam Festival is on you'll be in for a real treat. It was very hot and extremely busy with thousands of people milling around but worth it. You are given tickets with your seat numbers for the stadium but they are small spaces on plastic seats. Not the most comfortable but adequate. We were lucky as under the canopy for shade but the tour guide gave us all umbrellas for shade if needed. To sum up, just go and enjoy Mongolia.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Becky M

    Awesome Adventure!

    This was a great holiday! I've been on 5 other Exodus holidays and this trip ranks at the top. I had so much fun! Great hikes, great food and great fellow hikers made this trip unforgettable!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Do to the hot weather, Yves decided that we would like the planned day 7 hike on day 1. Oh boy....it was the day of lavender. Beautiful! It took my breath away with how gorgeous the fields were. I felt on top of the world as I have always wanted to be in this beautiful scenery!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Yves was awesome! He took care of us. He gave us great tips for hiking, encouraged hydration, and he is very knowledgeable on the region. He gave us a great packet on our first day with wonderful information such as maps, an itinerary and information on restaurants in Greoux Le Bains (our home base). He also graciously booked restaurants for us for our dinner meals. All the restaurants were delicious! Remember that dinner is not included on this trip, but also you are not required to eat at the restaurants as well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Great holiday! You should go! You will love the villages Folcalquier, Moustier and of course Greoux Le Bains. They are gorgeous! But of course you will love the Verdon Gorges as well! The hikes are very nice! I enjoyed all of them. For me, the hikes were not too difficult, but there are a few scrambling bits. Yves will help you! The distance hiked is pretty accurate on the trip notes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I am very glad I booked this trip. I had a lot of fun. My group was spectacular. I am honored to have met every person that was on this hike with me. : )
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Heather Prestwich

    Fantastic challenge

    Wonderful views, challenging walking, but oh so worth while.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views, climbing, it's a beautiful country

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both our group leaders were great and worked well as a team. We had an extra leader on the climb up Triglav which made a big difference for those who needed support with the via Ferrara. They were very encouraging and caring when you needed it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Slovenian Alps only go up and down, and steeply, and the paths are rough. It is a punishing walk because not much of it is level or smooth. The hours of walking with your pack are accurate. There are plenty of rests and the pace is good.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You need to be fit
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Steve Rollason

    Very good

    The resort and general area are stunningly beautiful, the hotel is very good and the two leaders are also very good

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Any time there was a view of the lake on the walks

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I have come across both leaders before and gained a positive view the first time round. That view hasn't changed and I would be happy to see either on future trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a walking pole. I've never used one before but found one useful here to help keep balance on some slightly gravelly descents

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Plenty of cake stops on the level 3 walks, what's not to like?
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