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 January 2012
    Anonymous

    TRAILS OF VIETNAM

    A great way to see Vietnam, with a little activity thrown in.  Vietnam had it all with history, culture, friendly people and amazing food too!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Kayaking in Halong bay was amazing - tranquil waters with incredible island scenery and the sun setting, and seeign the moneys on the cliff above

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thuy was great.  He was attentive to the needs of the individual group members sorting out little issues when they arose.  He was passionate about the history of his country and this showed.  He made sure we had fun on new year's eve and it was agreat night out, and the group stuck together til 2am.  He also got us singing karaoke on our halong bay cruise.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    leave space in your suitcase to bring stuff home.  I had a suit had in hoi-an which is lovely and i'm pleased with - for £200, also lots of opportunity to buy paintings and embroidery, and with all the amazing foods we tried most people wanted to take home something, even if it was coconut toffee or banana chips or fish sauce.The internal flights officially limit to 20kg but in reality don't really get too stressed if you are at 23 or 24kg

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes sound like there will be more walking and cycling than there actually was.  There was nothing that was wrong on the notes but one needs to understand there is a lot of travelling on the bus on this trip which then limits the amount of time doing activities like the walking and cycling.Of all the things we did, I was least inspired by the stay in mai chau, as we all had to share one room sleeping on mattresses on the floor, and there wasn't much to do (we paid some local teenagers to put on a show and drank lots of rice wine which made for a good night in the end).  I think a tour of the same length but without mai chau might be better as then could spend more time in halong bay or hue, for example.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: DOBBIACO

    A really great way to spend the week after Christmas, totally invigorating and great to be outside up in the mountains every day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Rather than one moment, it was simply great fun to learn something new and not have to worry about a thing. The biggest decision of the day was normally what flavour ice cream to have in the ice cream parlour across the road from the hotel where we gathered after a day of skiing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eric and Heather were exceptional. Their tuition skills were first class, individual attention was give to all and they managed to keep a range of abilities interested and challenged. Their knowledge and passion for x country skiing was infectious. They were also good fun to spend time with at dinner etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The hotel itself is very warm, so bring light clothing. Not a huge amount going on in the evening so if you're looking for some big après ski moments, Dobbiacco may not the place for you. However, if you want a variety of places to ski with some spectacular scenery then give it go!
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    KILIMANJARO CLIMB - LEMOSHO ROUTE

    Fantastic trip, wonderful experience, highly recommend. Guides, Porters and stomach engineer (aka, chef) all did an excellent job. Trekking is not particularly arduous although summit day is more demanding given A) you ascend overnight, (B) the cold and C) the lack of Oxygen at that altitude.If you have a reasonable level of fitness then, all things being equal,  you should manage to make the summit.While it can be warm during the day it can get cold at night. We woke several mornings to frost on the ground so take warm clothes with you and a good sleeping bag, either your own or a hired one.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the sun rise over Africa from Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa, was magical. Well worth the overnight hike. Oh, and having my photo taken at the summit to prove I made it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Simon from the African Walking Company, was superb. He was organised, approachable, calm, patient, enthusiastic, encouraging and had excellent English. He led his team of porters and guides very well. A true leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might want to consider taking Diamax to help combat the possibility of altitude sickness.The fitter you are, the easier it will be and the more you'll enjoy it. Try doing some hill walking in the Highlands, the Lakes or Snowdon before going. It will help build up your fitness levels.Take warm clothing. While it is warm during the day it can get cold at night. We woke up to frost on several mornings. The ascent to the summit is done overnight, that does get cold. I'd recommend thermals for legs and upper body. In addition I'd suggest you have another 3-4 layers of warm clothing. On top of my thermal vest I had another vest, a warm shirt and a windbreaker then my jacket. Gloves, a balaclava and a hat were also used. On top of my thermal longjohns I had lined trousers designed for wearing in the Scottish winter. That kept me warm. You'll be sleeping in tents so take a torch and a head torch. You'll need a head torch for the overnight climb to the summit. Make sure you take, or hire, a warm sleeping bag and good quality ground mat. The tents can get cold. Take cash in US dollars. Moivaro Lodge, where we stayed before and after the climb, don't accept Sterling but do take US Dollars as well as Tanzanian Shillings. Take your US dollars in small denomination notes. Tips for the guides and porters are paid in US Dollars. Most shops, street traders etc accept US Dollars.If you leave getting your visa until you arrive in Tanzania be prepared for delays. Try and be one of the first off the plane; first come first served. It's all a bit chaotic but they eventually get there.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Tanzania is a poor country. If you have clothes/boots/hats/walking poles etc that you no longer need then leave them. The guides and porters can make use of them. They will be very grateful to receive any such items.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: DOBBIACO

    A wonderful week ; excellent snow conditions and great weather . The hotel was up to its usual high standard to which I have been accustomed for about 10 times now !

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The descent on the old military road ; also emerging from the artificially-lit natural tunnel on the Cortina run into glorious sunshine !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Albert , whom I have known over many years and regard as a friend , organised our trip in his usual quietly efficient yet relaxed manner . He is great company and was most helpful to each member 's needs , ensuring that everyone enjoyed the holiday to the best of their ability . Good practical technical advice on the loipe was kindly offered when required .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Cross-country skiing is a wonderful winter activity and Dobbiaco is a splendid centre for participating at any grade .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As I have said before ,I just keep going back and never tire of the magnificent Dolomitic scenery !
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

    The time on the boat was fantastic. There was a full programme every day with usually two trips to islands and two snorking opportunities. Pierre provided us with three large, tasty and varied meals a day plus snacks in between.  The time spent, particularly on the smaller islands, was exciting and such a joy to watch the wildlife all around us. The only downside was that we never had enough time to sit down and just relax and watch. It is a photographer's paradise.In Quito go to Revolution Square for 11am on the Monday and watch the changing of the guard. It has a band and horses parading and the President may come out onto the balcony to watch. The Archaelogical Museum is also excellent and will take about two hours. Unfortunately they had no guides in English.Due to a problem in the Sierra Madre Hotel we spent the first three nights in the Hotel Quito and the breakfasts were wonderful. Lots of fruit and a lovely restaurant on the seventh floor with wonderful views of the city. Pity its directly under the flight path to the airport.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being up close to the birds and animals and watching them behave as if we were not even there. North Seymour island, on the last morning, was perfect. Frolicking sea lion pups as we landed and crimson breasted frigate birds and blue footed boobies all around us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sylvia was a very hardworking, experienced and considerate guide.  Myself and another passenger had a fear of water which she understood as she patiently helped us get from boat to panga to shore several times every day. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are concerned about being seasick as your doctor for motion sickness patches. Two will cover the trip and they do work.Early January seems to be a perfect time to go. The seas were calm, the sun shone and the Continental flight on the way home was not full so I was able to lie down and get some sleep.Go soon. The time spent on the islands is already restricted because of the number of visitors and this can only get worse.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't let the fact that you can't swim put you off. I do feel I missed out because I didn't go snorking but it was still worth it.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    COLOURS OF RAJASTHAN, INDIA

    We hadn't been with Exodus before,  been on an organised trip nor been to India so really didn't know what to expect. Have to say we were delighted with the whole experience and would certainly reecommend to others.The organisation was excellent and the programme couldn't have squeezed much more in. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Suprisingly it wasn't the magnificent sight of the Taj Mahal or Red Fort that was most inspirational,  though they didn't disappoint, it was the 'off the cuff' visit we made to a local village school that we happened to pass. The children were so delighful and welcoming and we felt we had a taste of India that wasn't just for the tourist. Another visit that sticks out was a walk round a small local village, eating from road side stalls and drinking in the fabulous colours all around us.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Avtar was simply amazing, always on hand to answer questions and explain the customs and rituals of a very complex county. He went out his way to show us a side to his country he is obviously very proud of.The 'Bollywood' movie was an experience!.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was definately a bit colder than we imagined ( December/January) especailly in Delhi. Temperatures fell to single figures at night and only rose slowly  during the day. It was also quite foggy/misty all the time so some views weren't as clear as at other times of year. Advise would be take an extra jumper or two. Getting clothes cleaned at Hotels was easy and very inexpensive. There are long road journey's ( it can't be avoided) so be prepared.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy every second. You can sleep when you get home. Don't be scared to taste and try. Try not to sleep on the bus as you miss some of the most 'exciting' driving you will ever experience.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER SRI LANKA

    Just the perfect combination of activities, scenery, history, tour leader, group dynamics, fun, weather, accommodation, food, organisation, information and support staff. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were quite a few. Achievement and reward - climbing Adam's peak (5,500 steps) and seeing the sun rise across the mountains and the shadow cast across the landscape behind - just magical.Scenery - from the walk to Worlds End and the view from the train journey were all awesomeEnjoyment - watching the elephants at the orphanage play, bath and interact so gently with each other it made you marvel at the sensitivities and humility of these fine large animals

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Faultless. He was well organised, calm, polite, knowledgable, humorous and good fun. He also cared a great deal about his county, its people, history, culture and its future so you empathised much more with the country through his knowledge, passion and balanced observations. He joined in with the group and at the end he said "he felt he was on holiday with us". I think that is a great compliment to him and the group that went.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Yala National Park was not as good as anyone's expectations. So either make it an option or be a bit clearer on what to expect. Jostling mad jeep drivers, too many cars for the area, a dust bowl due to number of jeeps making photography very difficult, animals keep their distance (due to noise I expect), roads are in terrible condition so ride is horrendus, area open to visitors is not that large as only a fifth of the park area. 
  • Reviewed January 2012

    CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: CHAMONIX

    A brilliant week with perfect weather and snow conditions, and magnificent scenery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We went to different areas to ski each day, all very beautiful. Snow ploughing down hill and round bends was such fun.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Oliver was a good and extremely hard working leader, and attentive to the wishes and needs of the whole group.  He was good fun to be with, with his extensive repertoire of aweful jokes.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The chalet is warm and comfortable in a homely sort of way.  Its a completely different atmosphere to being in a hotel. I loved it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Elaine fed us extremely well with  good breakfasts and enormous packed lunches with delicious cake. After a long day's skiing we were welcomed back to the chalet with bread, tea and more cake, then tasty 3 course dinner. Very good value!
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    SOUTHERN ALPS SNOWSHOE TREK

    Excellent programme of snowshoeing in very quiet, unspolit valleys and mountains with spectacular scenery. Typical French alpine village scenes and natural surroundings were complimented by staying in traditional gites, each with their own various charms eg wood-fired sauna, excellent food, quiet lounges, complimentary larch-flower liquer etc!The treks were exceptionally well planned by Vincent for variety - terrain, scenery, distance etc and the day off was welcomed to rest some muscles and use others in Saint Veran - eg skiing, dog-sledding, reading a book in the sunshine etc. Good transport to and from the trek to Turin airport made life easy and not having to worry about luggage transfers between gites was a God-send - just take your daypack and packed lunch and "snowshoe - Allez!"

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of some of the summits especially on Day 2 - La Gardiole de l'Alp with a total ascent of 1080m seemed beyond some of us (me) but Vincent stoically led me and the view was just sooo worthwhile. The bit that out me off the most - worrying about coming down again! - But, the snowshoes are amazing! I never totally let myself just run downhill but at least the technique improved with practice and I got faster!The run down through the Bois de Moulin from the top of the Crete du Curlet (opposite Sainty Veran village)- exhilarating and fun, helped by the fabulous weather!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vincent Lamy who was our experienced and highly trained mountain guide was fantastic throughout the trip.He was thoughtful, caring, considerate and had a never-ending supply of mid-walk munchies, snacks and hot tea / coffee that came out of his rucksack, along with toolkit to repair things with and gadgets to examine snowflakes close up etc etc etc!! Despite being French (!!! - NOT a bad thing) he has an excellent command of English and understands out jokes too - and could give some back as well!He naturally knew how hard to push the group or not and it was a pleasure to walk with him and have him share his extensive knowledge of the locality, the mountains and his love of outdoor pursuits, especially the snowshoeing.THANK YOU Vinc!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can be really cold - -10C so good gloves, neck scarves / tubes and hats are important but you will find that when walking uphill with snowshoes you will get very hot very quickly - so a windproof but not too warm top layer is important and then layers - ski vests, fleece etc so you can regulate your tempreature more easily.Camelbak water bottles for inside your rucksack (and some insulation!)Head torch. Some good books - for the evenings before bed! - we all wanted to stop pretty early.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would Highly recommend this well planned and fun but challenging week with Vincent. But, you do need to be fairly fit, even though Vincent doesn't speed along unnecessarily the mountains are steep and the days involve 6-7 hours of walking much of the time (albeit with stops for yummy snacks and water breaks!)
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: DOBBIACO

    My 4th holiday in Dobbiaco and the best yet. A combination of fantastic snow conditions and a friendly and fun group

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being able to ski at high levels and get a feeling of being up in the mountains was wonderful. It's definitely not true that x country skiers plod along the bottom of valleys! The railway track to Cortina is spectacular, and gives a great sense of achievment as you cover a lot of distance. Wherever you are, the scenery is always breathtaking

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Albert is an excellent leader who combines efficiency and good organisation with a relaxed style of leadership. He's always willing to advise on your skiing, but doesn't push you into doing things you don't feel comfortable with. He ensures that all guests get the best from each day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Dobbiaco is a great place for skiers of all levels as there are so many tracks of different lengths and degrees of difficulty. The excellent local transport network accessed using a weekly season ticket means there are lots of options and you aren't necessarily committed to a full day. There are plenty of cafes for morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, beer, gluhwein ...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Hotel Tschurtschenthaler is a friendly place and it was good to be recognised and welcomed back. Food is very plentiful and rooms comfortable, if a little hot.
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