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

    BHUTAN: CHOMOLHARI TREK - My best trip yet!

    Bhutan - fantastic scenary, people, & culture. Trekking - unique and remote, well organised, great food, helpful guide 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I've just left this section until last, mainly as I was struggling to pick one inspirational moment! I would say, crossing the first pass, the Nyile La. When you get to the top, with a fantastic group of people, prayer flags fluttering in the wind and beautiful scenery, it completely takes your breath away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our local guide, Kezang, was excellent. All guides in Bhutan have to be approved by the government and have to pass an exam, I think on an annual basis. Kezang spoke fantastic English, encouraged us to ask questions about his country, and on the odd occasion that he didn't know the answer he would find out by the next time we met. He generally tried to present a different topic to us each evening before dinner. Kezang also offered great support to those in the group when they were struggling and on occasion could be witnessed carrying 3 additional day packs on top of his own! There was no non-Bhutanese guide on this trip. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

     Kit-wise, this was the 4th October departure. Night-time temperature dropped marginally below zero on about half the nights. You need good down jackets etc. for the evenings, and I would suggest a 4 season sleeping bag. They do provide sleeping mats but I still took a thermarest as well, and was glad I did. You do camp by rivers freqently so that does give some opportunity for washing. We were incredibly lucky with the weather and only had one slightly damp and misty day.Boots - I would say yes, one of our group did the entire thing in a pair of asics running shoes with no issues but personally I'd want boots. Water treatment, lots of people just used the boiled water that the staff did each morning & evening but personally I still used water treatment pills as well.  Take energy bars!  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

     The route for our trip was changed significantly due to bridges being washed away in the monsoon. I believe the trip just before us was the first to trial this new route, but for me it may well have made the trip. Over the first 5 days there were other groups trekking, but from the 5th day we basically didn't seen any other trekkers until Thimpu. It was great to be the only people trekking a route, that you know wasn't wildly travelled, and was very remote. From what our guide said the route was more taxing, but they were very supportive and ensured that everyone was able to complete it. Altitude wise we peaked at 4950m.As with previous Exodus trips I was very impressed with the food, especially considering the remoteness. Fish, meat, vegetables. Bhutanese food can be quite spicy with chilli & cheese being one of the national dishes. Having said that they didn't make the food for us spicy unless requested, which a number of the group did.Difficulty wise, this was a hard trek but completely do-able and there was a beautiful reward with the scenery at each pass. 
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    ATLAS PANORAMA

    lovely walking,lovely company and I feel i am more informed re Morrocan culture

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The final day's walk to the lake and the company

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good, but could have volunteered more information re culture and aspects of the trip

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    walks can be strenuous with some exposure. Bring alcohol with you it is expensive and hard to come by

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    photo's of the exposure on the trip notes would have been useful
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    THE INCA TRAIL

    Inspirational trip - I loved everything from the scenery, archeology, weather, walking, guide and my fellow travellers. Also did the Rainforest Extension - definitely recommended. Still buzzing a week later.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many fantastic moments - sunrises and sunsets on the campsites, incredible views of the mountains, and of course Macchu Pichu. Getting up Dead Womens Pass despite being desperately ill and collapsing with altitude sickness and dehydration 3/4 of the way up.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan was probably the best Exodus guide I've encountered (and I've done quite a few trips with Exodus, all with wonderful guides). His knowledge and enthusiasm were unsurpassed, and he looked after the group very well, despite a very wide range of physical abilities. When I was severely ill with altitude sickness and later dehydration, he looked after me brilliantly, but without compromising the rest of the group, and with superb tact, even coming to check on me several times in the night and sitting up with me in the middle of the night when I was not feeling well. Nothing was too much trouble for him and he was friendly and sociable with the group without being too forward. The assistant guide, Wilson, was quiet and shy but extremely competent and with a great sense of humour. He'll make an excellent main guide when he becomes a little more confident.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Most of it's been said in the reviews, but do also check the Arrivals Gate forum on here, because there's lots of good advice there that I missed before I went. Unless you're very young and healthy, take trekking poles, they really help with all the steps even if you don't particularly have knee problems. Don't do this trip if you do have knee problems though, you will really struggle (one of our group had real problems) and it then slows the rest of the group down.Also take your own down sleeping bag, it weighs so much less and the weight limit is quite restrictive otherwise. Advice varies but your sleeping bag is not going to get wet (the tents are very waterproof) and there's no other reason why you wouldn't want to use down. I took a 3 season sleeping bag with a silk liner. On cold nights they fill your water bottle with hot water to put in your bag - excellent idea, and worth (as I did) taking a metal bottle just for that purpose, even if you drink out of a Camelbak during the day. I used a Thermarest and my own down sleeping bag, total weight 1 1/2 kilos. Some people were already up to 4-5 kilos with just those two things.You don't need many clothes, just a couple of tops, a couple of pairs of trousers, some decent thermals and a few changes of underwear. After our first day in Cusco was absolutely freezing, I couldn't believe I would ever be in shorts, but the weather changes dramatically from hour to hour and also in different locations. Do take trousers that zip off into shorts, much more practical. Also do take good wicking base layers (not cotton tshirts), you won't regret it. Also plenty of layers that you can put on, especially at night. In the day I wore mainly tshirt and shorts, plus at times a light fleece and a fleece jacket and poncho (and long trousers), in the evenings I wore 2 thermal base layer tops, a fleece jumper and a light down jacket, and thermal leggings under light trousers, and was only just warm enough. If you wear shorts during the day, use mosquito repellent even if you don't see any mosquitoes...I never saw any but they found my ankles all right! I was nervous about the "toilet tent" but it was not nearly as bad as some reviews have indicated - actually far nicer than the public loos and they never smelt at all!Invest a few soles in a plastic poncho (sold everywhere) to go over or wear instead of a rainjacket - it can get very wet and they are very effective at keeping the worst of the rain off, especially for your backpack too (use a waterproof backpack cover too). You really don't want to get everything wet on the trek as it'll never dry out. Most important thing of all: even if the weather is not hot, drink lots of water and take rehydration tablets too. They say 2 litres a day - I'd recommend 3-4 litres. Don't underestimate how much the altitude will dehydrate you - I thought I was drinking a lot and still suffered severe dehydration, to the extent that I collapsed a couple of times and started to lose consciousness.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do the Rainforest Extension trip too (I think there's now a proper combined trip with the Inca Trail). But be aware, there are lots of creepy crawlies, snakes, piranhas and so on, so if you're afraid of these, the trip is not for you! Even more important to take good technical wicking base layers - you need long sleeves but it is extremely hot and humid so you will sweat buckets. Take a good book as there isn't much to do in the evenings and during the free time. Binoculars are really essential if you want to see wildlife (and there is plenty to see) and invest in lots of plastic ziplock bags for anything you don't want to get wet, and take a bin bags to line the kitbag they give you, as it's not waterproof. My only criticism of the guides in the Rainforest is that they were informative, but nowhere near the league of Exodus guides. They were a little distant and didn't give the impression of looking after you, just of instructing you. For example, our guide didn't ask about any medical problems, carried no first aid kit on a full day's walk in the jungle, and wasn't even interested when I fell and dislocated my shoulder, not even asking me how I was on the following days. Not a problem as I am pretty self-sufficient, but not what I was expecting, having been used to the caring friendly and organised nature of the Exodus guides.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CUBA: LA ISLA GRANDE

    A very good informative holiday with quite a lot of variety - beach/walks/culture - amazing to see the diffrerence in culture of a comunist state but the only down side was on the back half of the holiday there were 3 days of long traveling in a coach back to havanna - to me this could be broken up a bit better in planning of the trip -personnaly I would also like to have a bit more beach time but I did go for the culture as I know this will change soon

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trinidad town & the snorkeling boat trip to the remote beach

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good and informative

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware there are 3 very long days on a coach transferring back to Havanna

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    None
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLE THE BACKROADS OF SRI LANKA

    A great holiday, great cycling (tough enough to keep it challenging, but not too tough we couldn't enjoy a few beers in the evening) in a beautiful and interesting country - possibly with the 'best group ever'?!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the 2000m summit at the end of a gruelling day. We were exceptionally well supported - so everyone who wanted to made it!Also the close up leopard viewing on safari.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great. Very well organised, good knowledge of biking and Sri Lanka and supported by an excellent team.... Shame about his dancing in Colombo though ;o)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A trip worth recommending. Advice would be to remember your mosquito net - they're not too agressive, but some of the hotels didn't have nets and I wished I'd thought to take mine.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLE NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA AND PANAMA

    A truly great holiday - the biking built up at just the right pace, some really amazing sights, the people along the way were lovely and the accomodation very good.  I can't recommend this trip enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The hot springs were amazing - the live volcano was something I've never seen before (nor again).  overall, the wildlife was such an unexpected delight, cycling being almost silent mean't we'd past the frequent spectacular sights rarely even startling anything.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kevin was absolutely excellent - I would not hesitiate to recommend him and hope to travel with him again.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On a very practical level I started to take a change of clothes onto the bus for the early afternoon drive onto the sights rather than sitting in slightly damp cycling gear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks to Kevin and the team for such a great event - sorry for the delay in posting this, we're looking at another tour with Exodus.And finally to Kevin - would you believe the brochuure?
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    SENEGAL & GAMBIA ADVENTURE

    After spending some time in Northern, Eastern and Southern Africa in recent years, I thoroughly enjoyed getting a taste of West Africa. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was really pleased that I made it up the hill to the Bedik Village with my gammy leg and then to the (freezing!!) waterfall later in the day.  Pelicans in flight feet from my lense and feet from the water were also great, but (for me) this wasn't really a trip with particular highlights here and there, it was more an overall experience of the area.  The looks on some of the kids' faces even as we just drove by proved that they really don't see many (Toubab !) tourists at all outside of the bigger towns so we did feel slightly adventurous for that. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I thought Mohammed did a grand job.  He was obviously completely comfortable with making things work, by hook or by tip, for his clients, and was always on hand to see that we had everything we needed.   Perhaps he could have made things a little easier for himself by limiting the options for arrangements sometimes and I think maybe as this trip goes again he will pick up on the fact that most(?) Exodus type clients would probably rather have good, hot, local style food than have the hotel staff prepare more western dishes that they are not so good at...  Adama was always helpful and entertaining and our driver was superb, navigating some VERY dodgy roads safely and with minimum fuss.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As it says in the notes - there are some LONG drives and some of the roads are dirt and/ or pretty badly potholed.  Ipod, camping pillow and, for your turn at the back girls, maybe a sports bra (seriously) would all be useful.  I found all of the Senegalese hotels clean and perfectly fine for a grand night's sleep, again, as it says in the notes, the Gambian nights are a bit more basic but nothing an Exodus traveller won't have seen before.  They do like their pillows hard however so, again, you might be glad of a softer camping pillow and many of us had our sleeping bag liners with us, just in case.  The night in the desert WAS a bit cold so suggest a fleece, some long jammies and a bunnet if you really feel it. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I lost LOADS of stuff.  Don't grudge it to whoever picked up what I was careless with as their need is greater than mine but I would make one warning....many of the hotel rooms have beds and other surfaces covered in brightly patterned materials and ~30watt light bulbs....might be a good idea to tell yourself to pass a hand over them rather than just a glance as you leave the the room.  Also, if you're a night reader, might want your head torch or a wee reading light.  Hot water wasn't as frequent as we had hoped so if you NEED "clean" hair everyday, might want to pack some of the dry spray shampoo.  OTOH, the water is really soft so you'll get a decent lather in the lukewarm.I took some wee bouncy balls and some cheap yoyos to give out to the kids.  The bouncy balls don't bounce in the sand, doh, and the yoyos were TOO cheap.  You've heard it before but they really wanted pens.  Next time I think I will pack pens, balloons maybe and possibly some of that bubble blowing liquid.  Won't last long but might raise a smile or two when you've got 20 kids under 5 all clamouring around you for some entertainment.This was a super trip for getting a grand feel of the place.  No two days were the same, yes the walking day, followed by the longest day on the bus, were a bit draining but the next day was the beautiful cruise along the empty river Gambia and all was forgiven.
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    GORILLAS & WILDLIFE OF UGANDA

    Having been to other East African countries, Uganda surprised me by being very lush and green - in fact, very very beautiful. This is a great trip with lots of highlights but the people and the wildlife stood out for me. It's Africa with a smile.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I've wanted to see mountain gorillas for years so it's a given to say that coming face to face with a fully grown silver back was a heart stopping moment. However there were many other magical moments - the leopard perched obediently by the side of the road, the elephants crossing the road holding tails or maybe the lion escort back to our lodge one night.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very new so has a lot to learn but this will come with experience. She was lovely and friendly and so eager for us to have a great time. Our driver was amazing - the roads are very poor and he spent long hours delivering us safely from A to B.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Top tip - take a good zoom camera!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just book this trip - you'll love it!
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLE THE BACKROADS OF SRI LANKA

    We were so lucky! The best group ever! Excellent weather, beautiful countryside, beautiful people, great food!Fantastic cycling. Some challenging days followed by the reward of long down hills! Best trip so far.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Sri Lankan people (including an army convoy) waving and cheering us on!Seeing Leopards (three), elephants, crocodiles and lots more on safari. Whales(six) and about a thousand dolphins! 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter and the whole team were great.Peters knowledge of the country, animals etc is amazing. Saresh and his map! The speed of AK!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try and get some cycling in before hand as there are a couple of days of challenging climbs.The food service in the hotel in Kandy was rubbish (2 hours and no food). Go to the pub at the bottom of the driveway. The beer is also cheaper.If you do the day of the big climb when there is a full moon make sure you buy any beer etc the day before as it can't be sold on full moon. We had tea!In the Hill Club don't order sparkling water. It will cost more than your meal! 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There have been some complaints on this forum about the hotel at the beach. Our accomodation was fine but the staff were unfriendly and don't try the breakfast unless you enjoy cold scrambled eggs and bacon!I would recommend to Exodus that they try out Peters sister'n'laws place up on the red cliffs. Stunning location.  
  • Reviewed January 2012
    Anonymous

    INCA TRAIL & THE AMAZON RAINFOREST - Moonstone trek

    This was my second holiday with Exodus and something I had been considering for some time and never booked it, I am so glad I did as it was an excellent trip. Everything was very well organised for us throughout the whole trip, which meant we did not have to worry about anything. You get a full and divers perspective of Peru all of which was extremely enjoyable. The group I was with was really good and we all got on well, the Jungle was an unforgettable experience and the scenery on the moonstone trek was just amazing. I can highly recommend doing the Moonstone trek as an alternative to the standard Inca trail.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It would be difficult to pick just the one moment! The Amazon rainforest was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the jungle on the nature walks seeing all of the different animals and creatures that live there.  Reaching the top of the Accoccosa Pass on the Moonstone trek was amazing and well worth the effort. The views when on the tops of the mountains were incredible and we did not see a single tourist for the whole trek J

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Fabrico was really good, well organized and made all of our arrangements for us sorting everything out making our two weeks trouble free. He also looked after us well, and made sure we remembered to drink plenty of water and to put sunscreen/ insect repellent on. The local guides should also get praise. Emerson and Hugo in the rainforest were great and spotted all sorts of insects and animals we would have walked right passed. Even a 6m anaconda when we were canoeing on the lake.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I can highly recommend doing the moonstone trek as an alternative to the Inca Trail; there are no real restriction of your luggage weight as it is carried by horses. The views when on the top of the mountains are amazing and we did not see a single tourist for the whole trek. Prior to getting to Macho Picchu you can book the Wayna Picchu mountain trail. The Climb is a bit of a hard slog but well worth the views at the top looking out over Machu Picchu (assuming the weather is good). It takes about 2 – 2 ½ hours to do the full loop including the Great Cave. Machu Pichu - best to opt for the hotel rather than camping, as this would have been less rushed. It was a bit hectic getting to the hot springs and then only having a hour to enjoy them before having to get back to the campsite for the evening meal. It would have been less of a rush to have booked a hotel in town allowing you to enjoy the hot springs followed by a meal in a local restaurant. ·         Good waterproofs are a must especially on the trek; mine were good and meant I was dry when we reached our tents in the evening.·         Some Euros would be handy for snacks if you are travelling via Europe (Madrid) ·         When you arrive in Lima change quite alot of dollars into soles straight away and get small notes (they give you 20s and 50s you need much smaller than that). The trip notes suggest you can use dollars (and you can) the exchange rate is not very good and we it was easier to use soles. ·         Don’t forget the Deet 50 or 100 a must for the jungle, sun screen and walking poles for the trek. ·         Pack as light as you can and be organised, work out what you need for the jungle and trek. It will make repacking your bags much easier as you are limited to what you can take.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Gifts for the local home stay on Amanti Island - It would have been good to bring something from the UK rather than the market in the port. It was hard to chose an appropriate gift as you do not know if the family you will be staying with will have children or not! The reed islands were disappointing - it was extremely interesting to see how the islands were constructed and how the people live on the islands, but this was followed by the hard sell of their items (which were on offer everywhere) before the next boat load of tourists arrived. Tipping got somewhat tiresome as it was hard to work out who you had to tip and how much (Tour Leader, Local Guides in the Jungle, Titicaca, the bus driver to Puno, all staff on the trek).   You should visit Peru at least once in your life and this trip is a good way to see it.