Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    WALKING IN TUSCANY

    Had a lovely break walking in Tuscancy. The holiday was not what I expected. I had visions of rolling green hills and instead got big mountain climbs. The holiday should be renamed climbing on Tuscan hills. However, overall it was very enjoyable. But take note, this is not for people expecting a gentle stroll, this is quite challenging.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definetly the views. Some spectacular views of the region.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara was a fantastic leader, very easy going but very well organised. A lovely lady with a wealth of climbing experience. She made the holiday very enjoyable despite the awful weather.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is challenging climbing holiday. Be prepared with good walking shoes and lots of warm clothes. We had awful weather in April, very cold, snow, hail, rain therefore come well prepared for all weathers.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    PERU EXPLORER

    A true trip of a lifetime. Busy itinerary which ensured we got to see all the highlights and diversity of the country and landscape, so you got a real feel for the country with sufficient time to enjoy it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Machu Pichu for the first time is always going to take top spot, though others come a close second - waking up in the rainforest and lying in bed listening to the animal sounds was amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rene Calancha was a fantastic tour leader - informative, fun, looked after us, and managed to organise the group very well. I'm amazed he manages to think of everything like he does, a true professional who is focussed on making sure people have a good time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the advice on packing very carefully - plenty of layers as it does get cold in Chivay, Puno and Cuzco, whilst the sun is still strong so you will definitely need good sun protection - they say at least SPF 15 but I would go for SPF 40-50!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I've been wanting to see Peru for years, especially Machu Pichu, and the itinerary on this trip does not dissappoint. You get to experience so much from the varied landscape and climate of the country, the people, the food, to the history and culture. There were so many highlights its difficult to name the top ones - Machu Pichu, the rainforest, the floating reed islands, the pre-Inka museums, Cuzco, Nazca lines, all were amazing. I didn't do the Inka trail, but my husband did and found it difficult but very rewarding - it worked really well for us that we had the choice whether to do it or not. We also did a Premium Adventure, and the standard of hotels was generally very good, the transport for getting us all around was excellent, the minibuses used were very spacious (though we were only a group of 8 so that probably helped). All in all, a fantastic trip and would definitely recommend this trip for anyone who would like to see Peru over several weeks and is happy with travelling lots to ensure they make the most of their time.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    VIETNAM ADVENTURE

    The Vietnam Adventure certainly lived up to its name in every way! It was a mix of an adventure in every sense from the many different (and often novel!) modes of transport we took and encountered during the two weeks, a culinary adventure experiencing different regional specialities and a sightseeing adventure from centuries old pagodas to the Cu Chi Tunnels from the Vietnam War. If you want to sample what Vietnam is all about this is the trip for you!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each place we visited had a highlight, from learning how to cook delicious Vietnamese food from an entertaining chef in Hoi An, kayaking around the many and mysterious islands in Halong Bay, visiting the My Son temple complex, exploring Tu Duc's mausoleum, the sights and smells of Hue market, crawling along the tunnels at Cu Chi to taking a cyclotaxi ride around Ho Chi Minh City, every day had numerous inspirational moments. The Vietnamese people are amongst the friendliest I've met which added to the experience. I would highly recommend visiting Vietnam for the sheer variety on offer.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Zung made the history and culture of Vietnam come to life and helped us to understand their customs and way of life. This was an invaluable way of getting a better understanding of the country and the people around us, which I definitely won't have got the most out of if I had visited Vietnam on my own.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book this trip now before Vietnam changes!!! You won't regret it. Don't forget to bring tropical strength DEET for the Mekong Delta as the mosquitoes in that part of Vietnam were particularly vicious!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I got so much out of this holiday both in terms of the sights I saw, the activities I did and the people I met. Having the opportunity to have dinner at a local family's house was a real highlight as not only was the cooking excellent but the company was warm and welcoming too. Since the iternary allowed for free time along the way you could make this either a relaxing holiday or a real jam packed sightseeing one which suited the group dynamics well.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    WALKING THE GREAT WALL

    For someone who's never been to China before, this was a perfect introduction. Thanks to this trip, I really want to go again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being able to walk the wall in your own time/pace.  Take it all in and enjoy the scenery!!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kevin was a fantastic tour leader, always trying to accommodate everyone as best as possible. He's easily one of the best tour leader I had with Exodus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a sleeping bag liner, a travel towel and spare toilet paper. Unless you're travelling in the summer, take a long base layer with you, just in case it gets cold at night. If you're into landscape photography, this is a fantastic opportunity to take some unique pictures, take a ND Grad filter with you - the light can be quite harsh (something I didn't expect). I didn't have one and now I wish I did.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had some issues with the food, as I'm not only vegetarian but also quite picky in general. Make sure you tell your tour leader in advance so that he/she can try to accommodate you. Other than that, this is a brilliant trip, with loads to see and experience. You won't regret it.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    The Atlas Panorama trip was a great introduction to the variety that Morocco has to offer. Perfect combination of mountain peacefulness and vibrant city life. Good company, with lots of laughs. Food very good and certainly plentiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's hard to decide on a favourite part, but probably have to settle on the walks in the beautiful mountain scenery, with the views of the snow-capped mountains, beautiful valleys and picnics by the river. Then again, the square and the souks in Marrakesh at night were a smorgasbord of smells, sounds and sights. Lots of nice memories - sitting chatting over cups of mint tea in the gite at night, wrapped up in blankets then venturing outside to see a skyful of stars.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We felt very confident in Hassan's experience and knowledge of the mountains. He had an innate sense of timing in terms of walking pace and stops. Certainly won't forget the snowball fights at the pass on the second day's walk! He was always calm, friendly and good-natured. The staff at the gite were lovely, too. Managed to get some recipes out of the cook.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Always take warm clothes - especially gloves and hats! Don't believe forecasts that predict the mountain temperatures will be 3-5 degrees lower in the mountains than the city. We travelled in April and it was very cold, although worth it for the snow scenery!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Visit the Marrakesh Museum and Ben Yousseff Medersa if you have time once back in the city - beautiful buildings. Don't miss the square at night.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER THAILAND, LAOS & CAMBODIA

    The group quickly divided up into sub groups with different agendas for the holiday. I wasn't expecting that and it created a frustrating atmosphere which seemed to throw the guides who obviously wanted to please everyone - but usually accommodated the most vocal minority to the detriment of others.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Laos - especially cruising down the Mekong and the general ambience in Luang Prabang.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Their (3 No.) hearts were in the right place but I think they were exasperated by the disparate nature of the group and didn't know how to deal with it eg at one point 7 of the 16 had opted to go back to the hotel and 5 of us were left locked in a minibus for 90 minutes at the roadside while the guide and 4 of the group went to watch a sunset, if I'd known I was going to be left that long I would have gone back to the hotel too or demanded the minibus took us there as it was only 30 mins away. The Cambodia guide was the only one transparent about how the 'tips kitty' was spent and even then I was surprised this wasn't on hotel porters etc, and it went eg to the official government guide at the Killing Fields who I wouldn't have tipped anyway as he didn't allow enough time either there or at Tuol Sleng

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't go Feb to May if you can avoid it, the air in Laos is smoke-filled with burning of vegetation which besides reducing the visibility and appreciation of the scenery smarted the eyes. Dollars are only needed in Cambodia so taking £ alone would have been ok

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was disappointed at the ethics of some of the group. Even though the guide in Thailand/Laos asked the group not to take photos of children without their parents' consent some did this anyway, how would they like a foreigner who didn't speak English walking down their street taking photos of their kids without their knowledge? Likewise some people bought souvenirs off street children even though we'd been specifically asked by the guide not to as it only gives the children a reason to stay on the street. I was also a bit gobsmacked some people bought caged wild birds to release, thererby perpetuating the practice by the locals of trapping and caging more wild birds to sell
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    EVEREST BASE CAMP

    I was so excited to be setting off on my EBC holiday at last.  the holiday from start to finish not only fulfilled my expectations, it surpassed them.  i came home feeling that i had had a wonderful experience.  all queries to exodus were dealt with promptly prior to the holiday and our leader Pasang resolved any problems that arose during the holiday with seemingly effortless ease.  Nothing was too much trouble for him.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were woken early on the morning that we were at Thyenboche to come and look at the view.  The sky was a brilliant blue, the air was cold but the sun was out.  We were thrilled to get our first view of Everest, nestling behind Nuptse and Lhotse.  It was beautiful and I know that that vista will stay in my memory for ever.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    What can I say about Pasang.  His beaming smile met us at the airport after our long, tiring journey.  He was entertaining, bright, efficient, helpful, charming and knowlegeable.  He assisted us with our many queries throughout our holiday, he gave us good advice and seemingly effortlessly guided us to our destination.  I think I can speak for the whole group in saying we felt very lucky indeed to have Pasang along with us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would simply reiterate the advice given by exodus.   some of the walks are challenging because of the altitude and therefore I would advise potential travellers to get themselves as fit as possible prior to their holiday.  although one cannot always avoid altitude sickness, you can cope with the effects if you are  fit and well in other respects.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    the holiday was great.  I enjoyed the company of the rest of the group, our assistant guides and the yak man were great fun to be with.   pasang was wonderful.  I even have fond memories of the toilets!
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    WHALES AND LEOPARDS OF SRI LANKA

    This is a very good trip with the right amount of time spent in each place. We went in April and saw lots of blue whales on the first 2 boat trips. At Yala you are very likely to see leopards, though the sightings may be unclear due to the "bush" or sometimes long range.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having 5 blue whales in sight at varying distances from the boat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had a main leader who was reserved, pleasant and competent, and an enthusiastic naturalist who came into his own at Yala.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Money: You will need to plan for c£30 for a tips kitty + your own choice of tip for the main leaders at the end. You will not need money for lunches at Yala as you eat a massive late breakfast after returning from morning drives. Currency rates were competitive at hotels as well as airport. I only spent £120 including all tips.Camera etc : 400mm quite enough for the whales, which are quite big! You may want a longer zoom for the birds in Yala. I found video clips via the camera were the best way of capturing the whales.Hotels: Yala is superb, completely faultless. Mirissa the hotel was in itself fine and fronted onto a lovely beach, but could be better managed. The lock on my room patio was a bit dodgy in the 2nd stay, and food on two nights was poor. The whale watching trips seemed to be based at the hotel-as the whale trips were really well done it might be tied in with this hotel being used? Nothing wrong with it that some more attentive management couldn't improve.Yala leopards : I had one sighting at close range but at the dark side of dusk, another clear but at binocular distance, and another of leopard and cub at long zoom through thicket. I don't think you should make leopards the be all and end all. Yala is very rich in birds (eagles, owls, bee eaters etc etc), mammals (including elephants) and reptiles. If you just hare around from place to place trying to find a leopard you will miss a lot.Visa eta: They now seem to have sorted this out.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think it is a good time to go on this trip. Since the civil war finished Sri Lanka is in a phase of strong economic development, and trying to attract "mainstream" tourists to the excellent beaches on the south coast. Best to go now before it gets more crowded.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    VIETNAM ADVENTURE

    It was a great country but the demographic i.e. mainly older couples, lack of night time activities and more exciting daytime activities were lacking for me.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really loved Halong Bay and the kayaking, but heard the music on the other boat and they were clearly having more fun, jealous.The Mekong Delta was also beautiful and the locals lovely and friendly, the homestay was a bit quiet for me though.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Was initially dissapointed as took an early dive on the 2nd night and decided we didin't need a group meal, the first three days were tough as lack of information on what we were doing and not properly kitted out for the day trip. However; once he asked what was wrong and I explianed he bent over backwards to make the trip really enjoyable. Very knowledgeable guide who was proud of his country and clearly enjoyed his job.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Shopping in Hoi Ann is amazing, bought several tailor made suits and wok shirts which were well made and dirt cheap, so leave space in your luggage and remember you can do laundry there so don't over pack.
  • Reviewed April 2012
    Anonymous

    GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

    I had high hopes for this trip, having read previous reviews, and was not disappointed. Tourism on the islands is carefully controlled, which allayed any concerns I might have had about encroaching into the natural territory of the abundant wildlife. The opportunity to see these creatures in their natural habitat ane experience their environment was truly wonderful. The accommodation, food and hospitality - both on Cachalote and in the jungle (we did the rainforest extension) - was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many great moments on this trip. Walking amongst wandering giant tortoises, stepping over myriads of marine iguanas, watching sea lions at play......Seeing a whale and calf breach the surface of the ocean ahead of the yacht - even momentarily - ranks pretty high. As did cruising with a pod of Dolphins at our bow - who remained with us, leaping and dancing, for some minutes - especially as our guide had assured us Dolphins don't do that in the Galapagos! Also not forgetting the snorkelling with large numbers of turtles, sea lions and the occasional penguin.Generally, it was the wildlife that provided the highlights - which is what you would expect and the reason we chose the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I would single out Esteban, our mainland guide in Quito, for special praise. Nothing was too much trouble for him. He is clearly passionate about his country and went to great lengths to ensure we got the most out of our time in Quito and had the opportunity to see as many of the highlights as possible while we were there.The joining instructions advised we would be meeting Darwin (who has received many good reviews) in the Galapagos Islands. Our guide in fact turned out to be Franklin, who was knowledgable about the area and the wildlife, and keen to share his knowledge - and his opinions. We were a small group (initially there were just five of us) joined part way through by others (a family of three) and we felt Franklin could have done more to stimulate group cohesion. He also had his own views about what we should want to see, rather than group members' specific interests. We also all felt a little bit abandoned on the first evening on board Cachalote after Franklin left to go to a meeting and the crew retired leaving us to our own devices!In the jungle David was knowledgable but the real star there was Hugo, our local guide, whose wildlife-spotting capabilities were amazing.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go - you won't regret it, but don't forget the seasickness pills. (Better to be safe than sorry.)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The rainforest extension is well worth doing. It would seem a shame not to take advantage of the opportunity having gone all that way! It's hot and humid (as you would expect) but the lodges are comfortable and it provides a contrasting wildlife spotting experience after the Galapagos Islands. A minor word of caution, though. When you arrive at the Napo Centre you are "grouped" with the people you arrive with. We were the only two Exodus travellers with two other couples, both of whom were considerably older (and less fit) than ourselves and, bizarrely, seemed to have little interest in wildlife. In order to get the most out of this short extension we had to persuade the guide to split the group for some activities.