Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    KILIMANJARO CLIMB - LEMOSHO ROUTE

    I have to be honest and say that I didn’t enjoy much of the trip due to the lack of support from the rest of the group.  I still think about the trip even though I’ve been back for two months – the mountain gets inside your head!  I wish I’d tried for the summit, but it’s a different feeling being back home than being at base camp at midnight on a very cold and windy night (it was the worst wind they’d seen all season) and the temperature went down to -20 on summit night.  I will try it again one day!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    As I did not reach the summit, climbing up the Barancha wall was a real achievement – especially after our guide told us that he tried to help Roman Abramovich up the wall, but he gave up by the kissing stone!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    All the assistant guides were great, but I wasn’t impressed with the chief guide.  I struggled quite a lot to stay with the rest of the group, and I didn’t find him particularly encouraging.  When I said I wasn’t going to try for the summit, he didn’t encourage me at all.  My husband attempted the summit, but had to turn back due to altitude sickness.  Twice the guide told him to push on, even though he had been sick and had a very bad headache.  He should have taken my husband down to camp much sooner.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely hire an exodus sleeping matt, well worth it.  It gets very cold at night.  Only the first 2 nights were warmish, the other nights were freezing!  Wear lots of layers in bed.About half of our group didn’t take Diamox.  Two that didn’t take it ended up having to take it on summit night to help them reach the summit.  Stick together as a group as much as possible.  It’s not a race.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I did the climb again, I would definitely do it with people I know.  The other members of our group were not at all interested in walking Pole Pole (slowly slowly), as advised by the guides.  Even when I was asked to walk directly behind the guide, the rest of the group were trying to overtake me.  At the end of everyday, certain members of the group were complaining that they could have walked faster and longer.  On day one, everyone said that if we all stayed together, we would all make it.  This was quickly forgotten and it was every man/woman for themselves.  The guides didn’t try to discourage this, so the group was split everyday, 5 in one group, and myself and my husband in one group.  I found this extremely demotivating, being away from the rest of the group.  On summit night, I decided to stay in camp, and no-one tried to encourage me to try for the summit.  I felt extremely let down by the rest of the group and the guides.  Having watched the celebrities doing the Kili climb for Comic Relief, I was hoping our trek might be the same – everyone encouraging everyone else.  Our trek was not like that at all.I still achieved everything that the other members of the group did (apart from reach the summit), albeit a bit slower – but that is the philosophy of the guides, slowly slowly.On the plus side, the porters are fantastic – they’re simply not human!  To carry what they do every day is amazing.  And the chef was awesome, the food he served was better than some I’ve had in some restaurants!  To be served chips at over 3000 metres was super!
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    PYRENEES WINTER WALK & SNOWSHOE

    A real get away from it all experience. I usually do all my plotting and scheming when I'm walking but snow shoeing took all my concentration

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    High in the snow on the mountains, clear blue skies and sense of achievement , big dose of fresh air , meeting no-one but our party  and just animal prints in the snow

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Perfect mix of professionalism and friendliness

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes were comprehensive the only query we all had was whether you really needed a 40litre day packWe all thought smaller would do

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall great holiday , good combinationGlad I selected this trip, was looking at warmer climes
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLING THROUGH RAJASTHAN

    A brilliant combination of cycling and sight-seeing through a fascinating corner of India

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For an apparently unmoveable atheist, I found the deity 'dressing' ceremony at the Jagdish temple in Udaipur astonishingly moving.  The sheer number of waves and smiles from local kids (and their parents / grandparents - some of whom might have looked glum, but a smile, wave and 'namaste' almost always broke through the facade of indifference) was fantastic.  As was the sighting of Sarus Cranes just before dusk in the Keoladeo National Park, and the tiger in Sariska National Park, and the carving in the main Jain temple at Ranakpur, and arriving in Pushkar to a brilliant orange sunset... etc etc etc

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pramod and Sanjay did a fantastic job, and the trip wouldn't have been the same if one or the other had been missing.  Pramod's quiet approach perfectly balanced Sanjay's frequent aspirations for everyone to have a go at 'Indian' dancing... On the bus... After rum and coke.  Brilliant!  To see them at their most competitive, put them on opposing sides during a 'friendly' cricket match...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The first afternoon in Delhi can feel like wasted down time, but bear in mind that you'll be up at 6am on many of the subsequent days and have probably just endured a tedious night flight - relaxing by the pool is acceptable!  Not having visited India before, I was rather unsure of myself and wish (in hindsight) that I had taken myself off to the Qutab Minar complex, which wasn't too far from the hotel.  If in doubt, negotiate a price with the tuk-tuk driver and crack on.  Whilst it's possible to eat incredibly cheaply in India, we tended to adjourn en masse to local restaurants in the evenings, where you could expect to pay in the region of 600INR (including beer) for a decent veggie meal.  Don't worry if you can't get hold of small money from the FOREX places in the airport - I found that I soon had a stack of 10, 20 & 100INR notes after meals (10INR notes proved invaluable for 'toilet tipping'!), and there are ATM stops en route if you need to top up supplies of cash.This was my first ever group holiday, and I was nervous about booking it beforehand (it was a birthday treat and I didn't want to have a miserable time!).  I can honestly say that I had a blast and would do the whole thing again tomorrow. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There's so much to see and do on this trip that you'll find it almost impossible to have an early night - particularly if you find yourself in a group of cyclists who won't be rushed.  Some of the sight-seeing can feel time-limited, but the only times I felt really pressured not to linger were at the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.  If you get a chance at the latter, ask to see the mosque, which is outside the 'museum' complex and still in use - fascinating Sufi shrines inside and an interesting comparison with the Jama Masjid in Delhi.Luckily you'll get plenty of time in the Taj complex.  The mausoleum chamber itself can be unpleasantly crowded, but linger until the guards move you on (to let the next group in) and go round to re-join the line if you think you missed something. Finally - if you like good quality hand-crafted decorative items, then bring a card with plenty of credit.  The carpet I bought in Jaipur arrived back in the UK just after me (8 days)!  PS.  My only negative: The pre-trip bike preparation was rubbish - the bikes didn't appear to have been cleaned after the previous Exodus trip, and some were only just road-worthy.  Pintu did a fantastic job of puncture and general field repair en route, but I thought he'd been poorly served by the quality of his starting materials.  Luckily this didn't detract from what I can only describe as a fantastic holiday.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    LAND OF THE TIGER

    Tremendous. Abundant wildlife with highlight of Tigers, Taj Mahal and lots of memories

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    First Tiger sighting, silhouetted through grass, was thrilling, thereafter sightings just got better and better, with close encounters from the back of an elephant.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Krishna was wonderful. He was passionate about the survival of the Tiger and had a great sense of humour. When he heard a sound in the jungle, he would surprise you by saying it was a chicken laying an egg! He ensured our trip ran smoothly and always told us what to expect over for the day ahead. All except the weather which the didn't need to worry about.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Tolerate Twitchers, its amazing how much more you can appreciate in a 4 hour safari when there are no tigers to be seen.Girls, take a Shewee, I will next time!Be prepared for an early rise. Make the most of sightseeing, time can be a bit limited. And don't expect time to chill!Safaris are very dusty so dress accordingly and take a buff/scarf as well as a hat, mornings can be very cold but once the sun gets up it gets hot very quicklyDon't expect Sleepers trains to have compartments where you will change into your PJs and brush your teeth! Enjoy the company and try not to look at your watch too often, 12-14 hours can go remarkably quickly if you accept your lot! Just hope you don't need to use the loo too often, and try not to clock everything you see out of the windows.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The child beggars at the stations can be a bit of a heartbreak, if you have any food to spare it is appreciated. We took stationary and toileteries out with us which we took into the school at Bandhavgarh where they have an orphanage for 40 girls. Had we been aware we could have been better prepared.Looking forward to planning our next trip with Exodus!
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF TURKEY

    This trip really is a journey through the cross roads of the world.  Turkey is a colourful, historic and cultural journey with a range of activities for all the history geeks and adventurers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I am afraid I can't name just one inspirational moment but for me there are 3.  Climibing the top of a mountain to look upon a almost undisturbed Roman ruin with a complete theatre that hangs over the edge of the mountain and sits on the clouds was inspirational.  Capadoccia's eerie landscape and underground cities and churches were inspirational and of course Istanbul.  What can I say about Istanbul. A beautiful city with so much to see, so much history to immerse yourself in and a true feeling that you are standing upon the cross roads of the world.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kymet was a excellent leader.  She spent time getting to know everyone including their needs and tried to cater as much as possible for each individual. It is evident that she loves her country, that she loves history and that she loves her job as a tour leader and it makes the entire tour fun and interesting for all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My only advice would be to prepare for long drive times.  You travel over 3000 kilometeres in 12 days which is hectic but Kymet tries to make everyone as comfortable as possible and is especially happy if people need regular comfort stops so don't be afraid to ask.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In Turkey there is literally a WC everywhere and most are in good condition. It is also cheaper than you think it will be.  Most meals were around 50 lira for my partner and I which is about £20 depending on the exchange rate. Admitedly by the end of this tour you probably won't want to see another ancient city for a while but the journey to that point is so much fun and you learn so much that you feel it has all been worth it.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    EVEREST BASE CAMP

    Himalaya is really a big, (inside and outside) sort of place..and it is a very difficult treck as it effect you inside and outside.  I was really lucky and walked this path with wanderful human being (the travel mate, the guide and the porters were truly wanderful).  I could not have been more lucky.....Hope that you too will be as lucky as we have been becouse the experience is behond words. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspiring moment is made by all the little moments: seeing and manage to reach the top, speach with people, looking and admiring the life of the sherpa, being there with my soul and my body.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader were wanderful human being we shared lough, joy and they really cared.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just enjoy..it is a life changing experience

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be happy...remember that is the journey that matter not the arrival!
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLING THROUGH RAJASTHAN

    I took my 23 year old daughter and we both had a wonderful holiday. You need to have an open mind, willingness to accept what India has to offer rather than a critical eye, ability to get on in a group and  reasonable fitness plus tolerance of the heat if going in March. If you have all these you won't regret this trip. Organistaion was excellent and group leaders could not have been better. Quite a lot of time in the bus but this is necessary to get around the area. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No one inspirational moment but generally loved the madness of place. There may be a lot of poverty, little sanitation, no rubbish collection and insane driving but it all seems to work and most people are genuinely happy and pleased to see you. It was great to be free of some of the ever increasing restrictions that western governments put on their citizens. Loved the immense size and remoteness of Kumbhalgarh fort; the beauty of the Taj Mahal; the birds at Bharatpur; the bazaar at Jodhpur; the countryside in general.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    2 leaders. Both excellent. Could not have been more friendly or helpful. Well informed and willing to give of their knowledge. Also should mention the rest of the team - bus driver; bike mechanic; general helper. All were good at what they did and genuinely friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Carry Immodium! Take strong sun cream in March. Go for it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We spent an extra day in Delhi and it was worth it to see a few more of the city's sights, especially the bazaar area around Chandri Chowk. 
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLE INDOCHINA & ANGKOR

    This was a first class holiday due to the organisation used. Thailand was a beautiful peaceful place, Cambodia was lively and full of historical interest. Vietnam was noisy and amazing to learn and see so much about the place. The cyling was at just the right pace as we were a large group they had other guides to keep an eye on all of us. Back up team always came up trumps with cold drinks and fresh fruit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I surpose everyone writes Angor Wat and it is amazing but seeing little children in villages as we cylced through and village life is just as wonderful.The wonderful food so different in each country.Cycling along the back waters of the  Mekong Delta.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had three leaders one for each country.Siam in Thailand who over saw the whole trip. Very profressional and always managed to keep his hair on when things got difficult. Boarder crossings with so may of us wasn't any easy task.Flio in Cambodai was full of information and knew when and were to go to avoid the crowds.Yam in Vietnam was excellent also with lots of information about the local things to see and do also lessons on how to cross the roads!! Very important to learn .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go and pracise some cyling before hand so you are ready for long days in the heat. Though we had plenty of stops so they don't feel so long.Wicking tops for the heat and washing out easily.Camera to photo Angor Wat at Sunrise!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the best orangised trips we have been on and hard to beat for sights, cycling and atmosphere of places.Go for it while it is still unspoilt.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    GALAPAGOS WILDLIFE CRUISE

    What a fantastic way to spend a couple of weeks! Amazing wildlife, enjoyable walks, good snorkeling, relaxed life on board the yacht, great food, siestas after lunch and fabulous weather. Perfect!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved all of the wildlife, but the absolute highlight for me was snorkeling with turtles. I enjoyed a full half hour in the company of a couple of grazing turtles who were within touching distance (I didn't - I resisted the temptation!). I had to keep circling to prevent myself from bumping into them in the swell - just brilliant. I also enjoyed the occasions when sealions came to investigate/play whilst snorkeling. Oh and the sky pointing, feet lifting displays of the blue footed boobies on the last morning of the trip - I love those birds!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Silvia was a great group leader. She shared a wealth of knowledge and clearly loved the islands and the wildlife. She was a very good organiser, ensured everyone was taken care of and was also great company. Thanks Silvia! Stefan in Quito was also extremely helpful and ensured that we got the best that we could out of our short time there. I was a little concerned about safety in Quito, but his advice ensured we were ok.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light - storage space is limited - it's easy to wash and dry clothing by using the pegs provided on deck. I was unsure whether I needed a wetsuit for snorkeling at this time of year - In the Eastern islands I found the snorkelling warm enough to wear just a t-shirt for sun protection, but in the Western islands it was cooler (actually quite cold in two places) - I had taken a wetsuit type t-shirt, which was fine for all but the two coldest snorkels - I just had to swim a lot to keep warm! Shoes were recommended, but in the interest of travelling light I managed fine with good quality walking sandals, although I am used to hill walking in them. Closed toe sandals with grippy soles are all you need though. Take sea sickness tablets with you just in case - we had a couple of days of Spring tide, with quite a swell and a few people needed tablets. The photographic opportunities are amazing - from reports I read before I went I almost didn't take my 100-400mm lens, but I'm so glad I did as it enabled me to get some really intimate close ups. To get the best out of the trip I'd recommend a wide and a zoom lens. But if you only have a compact, you'll have just as much fun with it. The entire trip requires cash (not cards) - keep it safe in Quito and ensure that all cash is in $20 notes or less - they rarely accept larger notes. Tipping is an integral part of the culture so ensure you have sufficient to tip the crew and guide in accordance with their service levels. You'll need insect repellent on a few of the islands (but not on most) - it's always handy to have some with you just in case.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend the two week trip - the greater abundance of wildlife is on the Eastern islands and I enjoyed these islands the most - but my highlights mentioned above all occured on the Western islands. My only sadness was that Exodus don't run the two week trip in April as I'd have loved to have seen the waved albatrosses who hadn't arrived in time for this trip. We went in the' hot wet' season, but don't let the 'wet' bit put you off. Temperatures were over 30 degrees, the islands were green (which isn't the case in the dry season) and it only rained during the night on one occasion, so the weather was perfect. I enjoyed the snorkeling - in places it was good, but in others it was quite murky with not a lot to see. I've been lucky enough to snorkel in the Maldives where the fish are much more plentiful - but the sealions and turtles made up for the it. Overall a  fantastic trip and I'd highly recommend it to all those who enjoy wildlife and a relaxed life on the ocean wave. 
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA AND PANAMA

    This is the perfect holiday for somebody who loves to be on the go all the time, likes the idea of whizzing through 3 beautiful and interesting countries on a bike, and doesn't mind a bit of time spent on a minibus,  but likes to fit in lots of other things too - birds, animals, history, scenery, rain forests, seas, boats, volcanoes and endless cocktails!  

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult question - was it the vulture migration - amazing; was it finishing a 45-mile hilly cycle ride in the windiest conditions possibly ever known to a cyclist; or was it standing at the bar at the Hot Springs looking in wonder at the sight of 10 Pina Coladas lined up in a row!!!   (Not all mine I'd add!) Have to say the River Raft Trip was also brilliant, as was the long, fast, downhill ride in Panama around Day 12 or 13 with such spectacular views, and spending 2-weeks trying to spot Toucans was great fun!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rob was excellent - organised, knowledgable, professional and got us where we needed to be at exactly the right times.  Made the need for 'thinking' a very limited requirement for 2 weeks, as he very efficiently seemed to do all my thinking for me!!! Perfect if you want to give your personal decision making skills a good rest, go with the flow and have fun!!! 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip is rated moderate/challenging - which is probably about right.   We had 3 days of particularly windy weather - windier than any normal person would choose to cycle in at home - so it was a bit of a challenge for most of our group!!   I'm a 50 year old female, fairly fit and active - did 2 RPM classes a week through the winter prior to the trip in March - getting out in the winter in the UK and going for some longish hilly road rides would have probably been a sensible pre-holiday plan!!     Also taking time to really sort out your own saddle if you have a preference, your gel cover and good cycling shorts before you go might be a good idea!!!   

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A brilliant trip, brimming with memorable experiences.  
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