Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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18128 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2022

    What an amazing adventure!

    From the moment we met our local guide, Pedro Benavides and our excellent driver, Gabriel, we had the most wonderful two weeks visiting many different regions of Costa Rica. From the pounding surf of the Caribbean to the stillness of the lush forests and then from the heat of the Pacific coast to the cool air of the cloud forests and Paramo region at the top of the Continental Divide every National Park we visited had its own character. We were somewhat disappointed at the lack of birdlife visible (or heard) on many of the forest trails, but overall we saw an amazing variety of species and with sloths, iguanas, monkeys and crocodiles adding to the wildlife sightings it was truly magnificent. Accommodation was great - the various wooden lodges varied in character but all provided comfortable beds and in the more remote locations, which were all-inclusive, the food was excellent. The Hotel Presidente in San José for the first and last nights was very comfortable and its central location made it ideal for shopping, interesting museums and visiting the National Theatre and Metropolitan Cathedral. Our group of 14 travellers gelled together easily despite a wide age range and the overall verdict was that this was a trip which could be highly recommended. Thank you, Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The optional boat excursion on the Rio Tárcoles - Jungle Crocodile Safari - was a highlight for us all. So many birds and other creatures to see at fairly close quarters during the short boat trip - amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pedro was very good. He organised the days very well and without any fuss, giving us options where appropriate and on the whole making it clear to everyone what time and where to meet etc etc. He was quite skilled at finding wildlife for us and knowledgeable about the various species of birds we saw. He had a good command of English and a wonderful sense of humour. He was very proud to tell us about Costa Rica itself and good at pointing out things to see on our journeys. Our driver Gabriel was also good at spotting wildlife and where he could do so safely he would park the coach so we could all disembark for a closer look.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of insect repellant, antihistamines if you are liable to be bitten and lots of cool clothes but also warmer layers for the mountains. Be prepared to live out of your suitcase for 2 weeks. And where it's most humid be prepared for swimsuits taking a long time to dry.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend this trip highly. Although described as 'Leisurely' it was quite tiring. Pedro offered 6am wildlife walks most days and with other planned and optional activities there wasn't much time for rest - other than during coach transfers - as long as you didn't mind missing the scenery. It was a case of 'early to bed and early to rise' almost every day to make the most of all the opportunities on offer.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Fabulous, immersive week

    The activities, landscape and Basecamp were all excellent. I was concerned that the itinerary looked less active in the second half of the week but, in fact, it was cleverly designed so that we were introduced to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on days 1 & 2, and allowed to retain the equipment so that we could continue with these activities whenever we had free time. Also, quinzee building on Friday was interesting and very active. Our room was spacious enough, with good storage, a comfortable bed, decent shower and even hairdryer - all with a lovely view. And it was warm! Communal areas were also warm, and welcoming at all times of day and evening. Staff always made time for a chat. The forest, lakes (frozen) and rivers are so pretty, it was wonderful to explore them. As a huge bonus, we saw the Northern Lights - twice.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Dogsledding was thrilling. (Definitely worth upgrading to the 20K route.) It was so exciting to drive and be driven through that lovely scenery, with the most excited dogs we've ever encountered! I loved being able to "hike", using snowshoes, on a variety of trails. These were quiet and magical, but also well resourced with shelters and firepits. My husband enjoyed practising cross-country skiing, and he bravely slept in the quinzee.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Martti is a very good leader. He's an excellent instructor, with a fund of stories and a nice quirky sense of humour; also hard-working and really well-planned. His enthusiasm was inspiring. He often went out of his way for us and was generous with equipment to suit individual needs and activities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Basecamp really does provide plenty of kit, as in the Trip Notes, so that you only need baselayers and whatever clothes you want for the evenings. On the free afternoon in Ruka, we decided to snowshoe, and Martti recommended the Valtavaara winter trail. In mild March weather, this was quiet, well-marked and manageable, and the steep climb was rewarded by fabulous panoramic views. It's a really enjoyable option and only costs the price of the gondola.
  • Slothful, but not in that way.

    A trip designed to show the diversity of Costa Rica whilst incorporating many good cycling days, and a range of activities. Busy, but there was a lot to squeeze in.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I just love hummingbirds, so an otherwise ordinary lunch stop turned in to a huge photo opportunity as the restaurant had feeders just outside the window to attract dozens of the tweety little things. Other than that, taking a boat to our Tortuguera hotel, relaxing in volcanic hot springs (with a bar), passing and smelling (eeuw) a palm oil factory, learning about tiny honey bees, not running off the road on a ferocious tarmac downhill and meeting a lovely bunch of like minded "cyclists" and crew.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I've been on many guided cycling trips with various companies including several with Exodus, and have always been thankful for the input of the guide. On this trip, our guide, Roberto, surpassed them all. There was nothing which was too much trouble, and no issue which he could not effortlessly resolve. Friendly, understanding and able to keep the group together in such a way that there never seemed to be any element of competition. A sense of humour. Information supplied along the way - tested by a challenging quiz on the last day where everyone won a prize!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you can, arrive a few days before as your sleep patterns will need a few days to adjust. Having said that, the few that arrived within hours of the start coped heroically. Better than me in fact, who had 5 days to acclimatise. Expect some early starts. If you have to fit in a boat ride before breakfast, some cycling, a few hours in the transport, lunch, more cycling and still have time to relax in the pool before evening meal, you'll understand.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Must mention the driver, and mechanic/peloton-shepherd. Both outstanding in their roles. Driver combined speed with safety, could guide the vehicle through the tiniest gaps and remain calm when other less careful road users got themselves in very sticky situations. Our mechanic was invisibly keeping all the bikes in perfect order, but on the road, came out of nowhere to offer support or encouragement. He fist-bumped all, even the (ahem) slowest of us.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Amazing Matera!

    Brilliant trip with pleasant walking, great food and wine, good company, fascinating towns (especially Matera....a real highlight for me), an excellent guide in Fabrizio (knowledgeable, efficient, very patient, making everything great fun.... the best guide I can remember having on any trip!). I enjoyed the hotels in Ostuni and Matera (though in Matera it was a bit 'luck of draw' as to what your room was like - and I felt I was lucky!) First hotel in Alberobello was a bit bland. But overall everything went very smoothly (even the dreaded covid paperwork) - and it was SO good to be out of country, somewhere new. What's not to like!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved coming into Matera

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabrizio was just the best!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In March weather varied from woolly hats at start of week to t shirts on last day. Pack layers for this time of year
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Petra and wadi Rum adventure

    This trip exceeded expectations, particularly the Wadi Rum trek. This part of the week was really well organised and the desert is even more impressive and interesting than anticipated. The combination of a few day's trekking and then a visit to one of the modern seven wonders of the world at Petra makes for a great vacation. You do have to be ready for some wild camping, but the support is excellent and the standard of the food and the regular provision of water and rest stops works very well in the hot desert climate.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment was walking towards the Treasury at Petra, having read so much about it and seen it in documentaries and films it was fantastic to be there in person and see it for real. In fact the whole site including Petra and Little Petra is quite amazing, is scale is vast and full of impressive carved tombs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader Abdullah was excellent, well organised, very friendly with a good sense of humour he very much made the trip such a great experience. I felt you could always rely on him to provide any help, assistance and advice when needed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You don't need to pack as much kit as you might think, but make sure to take worm clothing and a good jacket. Its cold ait night in the desert but Petra was particularly cold in March with a strong wind blowing through the canyons.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Climbing the Burdah rock bridge is a great experience but its done without any protection from falls. This is OK for people with some scrambling experience and this part of the trip is definitely optional. However any falls on this route could have drastic or even fatal consequences so it would be good to see some additional precautions taken on the more exposed sections of the route. One member of our group was hauled up the last few meters using a headscarf and a piece of string, a practice which carries considerable risks should anything go wrong.
  • Great walking on a beautiful island

    I had travelled to La Palma with Exodus in March 2020 and sadly the trip was cut short by the Spanish Covid lockdown without any the walks being completed. I've very glad I persevered and returned in March 2022. The walking was excellent with the walk on the rim of the caldera above the clouds, and the walk within the caldera below the clouds being the highlights of the trip. Our tour guide took us to small local restaurants for lunch on a few days, and it felt good to put a little money back into the community after covid and the eruption. The first hotel in Barlovento was excellent with really friendly and helpful staff, while the second on the edge of Santa Cruz was very spacious, but a bit soulless and could do with improved housekeeping. Weather in March was excellent and made for comfortable walking, not too hot and not cold.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the caldera, very unusual.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Wim was an excellent leader. The whole trip went completely smoothly without a hint of all the work behind the scenes. He told us so much about all aspects of the island and kept us entertained.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is definitely a grade 4 trip. La Palma has few flat places so the going is normally up or down, with some rough tracks.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Spectacular

    This is an action-packed trip with so much variety of history, culture, food and landscape to discover. There was always something new and enough time to stroll around the sites.We saw all the highlights mentioned in the guide books! Jordan is not a big country so travel is a reasonable proportion of each day. All journeys are interspersed with visits or sights. We would heartily recommend this trip to others.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Jerash was an amazingly complete Roman city where it was possible to imagine the shopkeepers in their shops and the theatregoers at the theatre. Covering an enormous site we had plenty of time to explore and also saw the oval forum. Views from the city are exceptional. The flowers in the desert of Wadi Rum were a real surprise. So small and delicate that at first they are unnoticeable, their variety and beauty cannot fail to excite. Set in the stunning landscape they enhance any carefully framed photo.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nidal was outstanding. He combined a thorough knowledge of the sites, their history and significance with a good understanding of British humour and an excellent grasp of the English language! He organised the group well without being officious and was flexible to enable us to see as much as we could of the country. He handled issues in a friendly and appropriate manner and generated the overall respect of the group. He listened and responded well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can be very cold in March! Bring at least two warmer tops and a warm jacket in case. It was colder than in the UK! Pack essentials in your hand luggage - sometimes baggage arrives late! Western Swimming costumes aren’t easy to buy in Jordan markets.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Mohammed Odwan was an exceptional driver. He was kind and caring and always had a spotless bus. Despite very bad weather conditions, he ensured the windows were always cleaned and we could see out and take photographs. He was a real gentleman.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Lovely Week's Walking Despite the Snow

    Firstly we did not expect snow on this holiday! Nonetheless we had a very enjoyable week and met some lovely people in our group of 16. Some parts of the itinerary had to be adapted and changed due to the weather conditions but this did not affect the overall enjoyment of the holiday. Walking on the first couple of days was a bit tricky due to the snow and ice, meaning walking poles were essential. In normal conditions none of the walks would have been especially challenging. Gizer was a great guide, very knowledgeable and mindful of the group. We appreciated the extra trips to Famagusta (on free day) and Nicosia (departure day). Hotel Pia Bella is a good base with friendly staff and the bonus of heating in the bedrooms. It has a lovely outside pool area (shame it was just too cold to enjoy). Worth noting that if you enjoy wine the house stuff is not good, instead ask the hotel for a bottle (affordable) and keep behind the bar. Organised restaurants were very good, especially the last evening one. The restaurant next to the hotel serves a nice pizza too. All in all a good holiday and so much history in Northern Cyprus

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting Salamis and Nicosia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, very knowledgeable on history, culture and flora and fauna

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of warm layers. It does get cold. Also walking poles useful

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take Turkish Lira
  • Reviewed March 2022

    Friendly people, Roman ruins and Petra!

    This trip was an excellent opportunity to see the best of the historical ancient sites of Jordan - it has many! The food was wonderful, the people we met were friendly and welcoming, and the sights were always better than expected.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The best moment of the trip was walking along the Siq at Petra and seeing the Treasury for the first time. However, there was so much more to see and explore in Petra and we loved it all. Petra by Night (optional) was also a highlight. The night in Wadi Rum was special and Jerash was stunning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nidal Al Ateeq was kind, attentive, very knowledgeable and managed our group very well given difficult circumstances. He had a sense of humour which was well received.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take layers! It was much colder than expected for the time of year (March) - there was a strange cold snap and it snowed! The night in the desert was pretty chilly. We wore fleeces and down jackets for the whole trip so be prepared for all weathers. The flight arrives very late at night and we did not arrive at the hotel until after 2am. We had to get up at 6am to start the first tour. It might be better to come a day early and have time to get some sleep.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Jordan is a very welcoming place and we always felt incredibly safe even when out and about on our own. There was a lovely enthusiasm to help tourists and make sure that they saw and experienced the best of Jordan.
  • Reviewed March 2022

    atlas descent - 12 march 2022

    An unforgettable experience not for the faint hearted. Exhilarating continuously due to the beauty of the environment, the challenge of the conditions and the terrain but terriftying at one or 2 points due to the rock falls. The beuty is that each trip will evolve along with the changing environment, additional tarmac routes, rock falls .....If I ent back in October, it would probably be a very differnet experience and that is good. It is not a descent, it is more down than up but there is a fair amount of on roand and off raod steep climbing. Some of the descents were challenging to most memebers of the group which ranged from highly experienced and competent Mtb's / road cyclists to people who were fit and resilient but did not cycle greatly. I have only moutain biked for a year and not on such extreme terrain, I should have spent more time adjusting my bike /tyre pressures as we almost immediately had a very challenging descent over a partial rock fall. I also asked for the brakes to be changed so the back brake was on the left and front on the right. I do not feel the overview gives sufficient weight to preparation in terms of clothing, decdnt fitness and some mountain bike experience. The bikes we used were Cannondale 2 x chani wheels, not as reported. I have undertaken many cycling trips and this is as memorable as any and given the proviso's above, would have no hesitation in recommending it or going again in the future.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspiration The variety of terrain and weather, the companiionship and resilience of the group, Hicham, Addul and the team, it sure was a challenge but NO ONE spent any time in the bus, we supported each other through it. Part of 1 days cycling had to be cancelled due to blizzards, Hicham managed to arrange an afternoon at the Berber museum with lovely food, music, tour by the resident, stories and total joy. To see all the mechanics singing and playing instruments in total happines sharing their culture with us after the difficulities of th day was very touching. A Hamamm was also an expeirence I wont forget and would recommend.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hicham I could not fault Hicham. He responded professionally and with charm to the many unforeseen circumstances that are part and parcel of such a trip in the mountains, the vagaries of climate change and the altituude and isolation meaning we had snow blizzards, high winds ....and covid to add. There was a mix up with my transfer from the airport and after discussing the next day with him, he ensured I would be recompensed and ensured this did not reoccur. His knowledge and insight into the many cultures of Morocco and of his beloved Beber tradition gave a depth to the holiday, the cycling was great but was augmented by his rich, genuine insight. His knowledge of food and restaurants similarly so. He was a leader to his team and worked effortlessly with them to provide us with bikes each day even given the toughest of workouts. He was instrumental in ensuring the fitting of tubeless tryres to all bikes, this is vital to such tough / hard terrain / the rock fall..... without theses, we would havfe had numerous punctures and the trip may have been badly affected. Such a trip requires adaptability by all and snow blizzards but it also needs an experienced leader

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip will vary greatly depending on the tiime of year..... however the altitude and nature of the mountains will always provide a challenge. I was inexperienced in mountain biking and struggled at 1st given rock falls, tyre pressures and saddle a little high and set off too quickly, i had falls. However by the end of the holiday, I was loving it, at 1 with my bike, tyre pressures and saddle raised. I would advise taking a little time to get used to the bike, fork, tyres....saddle height etc and to check each day whetehr they need changing. You need to be quite fit to enjoy the many climbs and descents and the pounding the body does take, the extremes of temperature and terrain on our trip meant we had snow blizzards and high winds, changeable rain / but a lovely last 2 days of low 70 degree cycing. You truly need to come prepared for ANY weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm glad that such trips exit still. We spend too much time examining health and safety / controlling everything we can..... This trip was barmy at times but all the better for it. I shook my head a few times but always ended with a huge smile on my face. You need to be prepared for anything and adaptable I like a nice and easy cycle and luvly food with the best of them, this is not that, it is much, much more GO for it.