Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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18128 Reviews

  • An interesting tour of this region

    This is an interesting tour overall. The three main places visited - Matera, Alberobello and Lecce - are all so historical and individually fascinating to explore, yet completely different. The accommodation is similarly characterful and varied; potentially having a cave room in Matera, next a trullo in Alberobello, then a converted monastery in Ostuni (my room, in the roof, had the original guttering inside the room!) and finally an old palazzo in Lecce. There is a lot of free time outside of the designated free day, which might not suit some people, particularly solo travellers who don't bond as well with others in their group (our group of twelve had six solo travellers and those who wanted to could always find someone to explore with, as everyone was pretty sociable). Although this trip is graded as leisurely, there is a lot of walking around the various places visited, sometimes involving quite steep climbs on steps/cobbles/slopes, especially in Matera.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying in the trullo in Alberobello was such an unusual experience - I instantly fell in love with "my" trullo as I walked into it! Castellana Caves was the best cave system I have visited (despite the rather horrible guide!), with some truly stunning formations. The olive farm tour and tasting was a surprising highlight due to the sheer knowledge and enthusiasm of the guides there as well as the preserved historical aspects, plus the superb oil!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabrizio was very sweet and enthusiastic, drawing us in with his "hello friends" welcome from the start! His information wasn't always totally up to date, possibly because of Covid, and he hasn't yet realised that toilets are an important need after a journey, but he was still lovely to be with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure that you have comfortable walking shoes with a good grip - the cobbled streets can be slippery if it rains and in most of the places visited, but especially Matera, you will mainly be going up and down steps/slopes when walking around. Be prepared to be left to explore on your own at some point of every day, sometimes for quite a few hours! Castellana Caves is the option I did on the free day - superb caves, and big (3km underground, in sometimes slippery conditions, and very humid too - so we got very hot, especially as we had to wear FFP2 masks throughout the tour). I gather that Monopoli was very enjoyable from those in our group who chose that. Our guide arranged transfers to both, the cost of which was split between those going (so we paid 16 Euros for the cave transfer but those going to Monopoli paid 37.50 Euros as there were a lot fewer of them).
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Jordan

    A very full trip with more amazing things to see than we ever expected. Everything from Nabatean Cave dwellings, Greek Palaces, Roman Towns, Crusader Castles and Saracen Forts. Not to mention the Highlights of Petra and Wadi Rum. Local food was excellent and good accomodation. The people of Jordan are most friendly and helpful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Both Petra and the Roman City of Jerash were outstanding.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Leaders knowledge and enthusiasm brought our group together from day one which added greatly to our enjoyment. We must praise our driver for his ability, friendliness and his smart appearance.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Wadi Rum was inspiring but the Bedouin experience lacked atmosphere. There was little interaction with the locals and the meal was dished up whilst we expected something more communal. Aquaba made a great end to the trip but the promised coral reef was minimal with little to see.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Could do with being a little longer as there is a lot to experiance.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    A great week's walking and culture

    This trip was fantastic for me because of the combination of the walks and the culture. The walks were quite varied and the castles and monasteries added to the variety. It was a little warmer than I expected (mid 20s) but I know three weeks earlier there was snow so I think late March/early April is a great time to do this tour, it also being an ideal time for the wild flowers. The hotel is very nice and a well located base for the week's activities. Our tour leader Gizer was excellent in terms of both his organisation of the trip and his knowledge on the history and the flora and fauna. He joined us for three evening meals, the other evenings were on our own but all Gizer's suggested restaurants were very good. The optional trips to Famagusta and Nicosia (not currently on the itinerary but it seems usually an option on the final day) were both well worth doing. Our group got on with each other really well which added to a great trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I can't really pick out just one, for me the variety was what made the trip. The views on the walks, the castles, the Roman remains at Salamis, Kyrenia and its shipwreck were all fantastic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gizer is a brilliant guide. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he really went out of his way to deal with any requests that we had. He knew and explained the history of the island and the sights very well, and pointed out various things in the castles and in Salamis that added to the experience. He obviously knew the walks very well as he could always tell us how far there was to go, and he was also an expert on the wild flowers - my favourite was a large group of "naked man orchids"!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't buy Turkish lira in the UK. There are plenty of places to change GB pounds into lira and the rates at the exchange bureaus are very good - there is one less than 100 yards from the hotel. Credit cards were accepted everywhere and the rates seemed good as well. Do the Famagusta/Salamis optional excursion and if possible the undocumented excursion to Nicosia on the final day. The Covid paperwork and regulations are now minimal so this should not now be a concern.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel staff are very friendly and accommodating, one of the managers visited us most days at breakfast and was able to move the two group members who had rooms overlooking the road to the quieter side of the hotel overlooking the pool and garden.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Fantastic!

    Just completed a fantastic two-weeks traveling around the wonderful country of Costa Rica. This was primarily a wildlife viewing holiday, and it certainly didn't disappoint - sloths, caiman, crocodiles, monkeys, lizards, iguanas and of course birds. Many different types of heron and flycatchers, plus tanagers, honey creepers, toucans, mot mots, macaws, humming birds - the list is long! We even saw and photographed the elusive but absolutely Resplendent Quetzal! Overall, yet another fantastic Exodus trip!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say! Probably seeing the Resplendent Quetzal at Savegre, but the sloths and Capuchin monkeys at Manuel Antonio were highlights too, as well as all the varied wildlife at Tortuguero. The Esquinas Rainforest Lodge was absolutely delightful. It was great to visit the different types of habitats - coastal rainforest, dry forest and cloud forest - and the various hotels and lodges that we stayed at were all great.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Alejandro did a brilliant job, not least stepping in at minimal notice when our original (and also great) guide unfortunately got sick. He had just come off two back-to-back tours, but quickly got up to speed with all the arrangements, and was really informative as well as being great at spotting wildlife. Our driver, Chico, was first-class and also helped with the wildlife spotting on the way.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good pair of binoculars, and if you plan to photograph the wildlife take a good camera with a long lens! If you can, arrive a couple of days early to get over the jet-lag before starting this fairly full-on trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just one small disappointment - at times the group was too big for really effective wildlife watching; it would be great if options could be given to go off in smaller groups with additional guides. Overall though, yet another fantastic Exodus trip!
  • What a Blast!

    Visiting Egypt and the Great Pyramids has always been a bucket list adventure for me - and this trip exceeded my expectations! We hit all the major highlights of Egypt - from climbing inside the Great Pyramids to sailing the Nile River to seeing King Tut face to face. I highly recommend Exodus Travels for a first-class experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Do I have to pick just one?? Seeing the Great Pyramids was just the beginning. They're much larger than I expected. Coming face to face with King Tut's mummy was another. From the chaos of Cairo to the serenity of cruising down the Nile... this trip has it all!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Andrew, was fantastic! As an Egyptologist, he's so knowledgeable about the history of every area we visited. But he was also invaluable when it came to the language and culture of Egypt. Not to mention he was a ton of fun!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack less than you think you'll need. And be prepared for hot weather in Aswan and Luxor! A hat or even an umbrella for shade are a good idea, and make sure you drink lots of water.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved my trip with Exodus - and I felt safe and secure the entire time. It's so nice to let someone else worry about all the details, and just enjoy!
  • Disappointing

    I really looked forward to this trip but unfortunately the trip was spoilt by poor planning and one really horrible hotel. We travelled in March and unfortunately the weather was very cold when we arrived. No effort had been made to prepare the first hotel on Naxos and it was bitterly cold, many of the aircon units didn’t heat up and we had to sit in coats to eat breakfast. If you’re walking, you need somewhere warm and comfortable to relax afterwards. It’s a shame as it’s a nice hotel Being March, a lot on the islands was closed as the season doesn’t start until Easter and it would have been good to know that from the trip notes as tavernas on the walking routes weren’t open and toilets not available. In some instances it was difficult to find somewhere to eat at night. Full of praise for our Guide, Cecile who did her best to resolve problems with great kindness and humour. She’s a gem The islands are very lovely at this time of year, full of spring flowers and without the crowds. The walks are lovely and very varied, taking in little villages and mountain scenery. The terrain can be rocky but the pace allows for that, so this would be a wonderful holiday if Exodus didn’t insist on using cheap, poor quality hotels. The Hotel Pandrossos on Paros sadly left a particularly sour note. The beds and pillows were filthy and the sheets full of cigarette burns. Heating didn’t work, no hot water, everything was broken and the whole place could do with a good clean. I don’t know what’s happened to Exodus as I’ve always rated them highly, but my experience post-Covid is of obnoxious staff and couldn’t care less responses. Very sad

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the walks, particularly on Naxos, walking the ancient tracks between villages. The scenery was stunning

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cecile was lovely, very funny, very knowledgeable and managed the shortcomings of this trip really well. She knows the islands inside out and is well received wherever we went. On one walk, the owner of a closed taverna opened up to offer us a coffee and toilet because of her friendship with Cecile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I’d avoid this trip until Exodus sort out the hotels. Exodus trips aren’t cheap and no one needs their holiday spoilt by cheap, filthy hotels
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Brilliant trip!

    A fantastic week, in excellent company, with a wonderful guide. José's commitment to our enjoyment and safety ensured that every member of the group benefited from his care and attention to detail. We were fortunate with the weather - cold, but sunny and clear, providing some of our best ever mountain days. José arranged our itinerary to ensure that we had the best possible conditions. The mountains of Sierra D'Aitana are imposing and beautiful, offering stunning views across the entire coastal region. Throughout our stay, we enjoyed excellent traditional Spanish meals at our hotel, as well as the best ever packed lunches! Thank you, Exodus, and thank you José.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of Aitana - a long and challenging trek which handsomely repaid the effort. But also the stunning 360 degree views from the summit of Serrella on our final day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Simply outstanding! Thoughtful, sensitive to the needs of all members of the group, with fantastic local knowledge and information about the history, flora, fauna and geology of the area. José's enthusiasm was infectious, and his sandwiches life-changing! José used his local knowledge to determine the best itinerary fro us. He went out of his way to ensure that each of us had the best possible all-round experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you enjoy walking in the mountains and enjoy a challenge, this is for you! But make sure that you follow the advice in the trip notes to ensure that you're fit enough to deal with some steep paths. And take plenty of layers, as the temperature varies with the landscape.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    The Real Walk of the Gods

    A very full week of walking and yes, lovely food and wine at the hotel. Amalfi, Positano, Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii, walks in the hills and a touch of coffee culture are the highlights of this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first view of Positano from the Walk of the Gods is mesmerising and stopped everyone in their tracks. Smiles all round and a great photo opportunity. The winding path brings sight of over-hanging cliffs, running streams, unusual flowers and the best sea view.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was excellent - she had a detailed knowledge of the area and set a steady and considered pace for the walking. She had a lovely manner, engaged with the whole group and managed the weather-related changes to the itinerary very effectively.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the "moderate" end of the walks - nothing over straining but the walks might leave you needing a nap in the late afternoon!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you don't use the free day to take a boat to Capri, or the bus to Sorrento, consider a trip to Naples Archeological Museum for a close-up look at the fantastic relics from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • Reviewed April 2022

    Hidden Treasures of Jordan

    Not much to add to the previous reviews, as they are comprehensive on what to expect. Visit Jordan – you won’t be disappointed by the many ancient sights and lovely people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through the Roman city in Jerash, seeing the Treasury at Petra for the first time, floating in the dead sea, sitting around a camp fire in the desert, too many things to mention ……...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mohammed was friendly with a great sense of humour, he explained a lot about the modern way of life in Jordan which was interesting, but not as knowledgeable as perhaps we would have liked on the sites we visited – nothing a good guide book or Google couldn’t sort out though.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It does get very, very cold in the desert at night, pack more warm clothes than you think you'll need. Be aware if you have binoculars in your luggage as you will be stopped numerous times at the airport when leaving Jordan, they will be taken away to be checked, bizarrely by the same person but in different areas of the airport, in all I was waiting around for over an hour!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus really should not use the Olive Branch hotel in Jerash, it was disgraceful; bare live electric wires in the rooms half-heartedly taped up, unclean bathrooms with bad plumbing (wet-wipes to the rescue that day) and very unhygienic areas on the way to the ‘breakfast room’. The other hotels were perfectly adequate, the Holiday Inn being the highlight or was that because it was immediately after the night in Jerash?
  • Reviewed April 2022

    An excellent tonic after two years isolation

    Interesting and varied wildlife opportunities every day at a very leisurely pace. Some long journey times but with adequate breaks that made it manageable. A great driver (Carlos) and an excellent guide (Jorge) made for a great journey.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day there was something different from animated sloths, ant-eater, racoons and the vivid colours of the birds through to an encounter with a turtle, humpback whale and a Sailfish. Expect to be woken early morning by Howler monkeys (you'll need to be up anyway). If you want to see the Quetzal expect to wait and wait and wait. You might get lucky and see one in five minutes but that wasn't our lucky. One day we waited for two hours, we saw the tail feathers of the male and nothing else. Another day we waited for another two hours. This time we were rewarded with a glimpse of the head and shoulders of a female Quetzal. The programme didn't schedule this much time but we just made the time after all not that many Costa Ricans have seen their National bird.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant! Any other comment would be superfluous.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As the Trip Notes mention you need to be prepared for all weathers. 30 minutes before a 6am departure to look for wildlife on the river the heavens opened and the rain was torrential. Just a few minutes before our departure it stopped. We were lucky, a few minutes either way and we'd have been soaked to the skin. Throughout the trip the humidity was high - bottom line, you will not completely dry any clothes. Savegre will come as a shock after many days at 28-30C because at night in the Rain forest you'll be looking for fleeces and trousers to wear (unless you're Canadian). On the journey to Drakes Bay you will spend around an hour in a high powered motorboat. Sitting mid-point in the boat the sound levels were consistently around 100dB. You might want to consider some ear plugs. Cold is not an issue at Irazu but the altitude could be. It effects different people in different ways but just remember that at 3,400m you'll be above the clouds and the air will be thin.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our visit as the pandemic declined was well appreciated by all the local people we met. We were well looked after by our guide and driver who ensured we had a memorable visit to their country while maintaining safety for us and the wildlife we wanted to see. It's a country well worth at least one visit and I'd be very happy to travel with Jorge and Carlos again.