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 August 2011
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER SRI LANKA

    Had a great time, it's a beautiful country with contrasts from the heat of the jungle to the cool tea plantations.  Friendly people and lots of interesting sights to see, and of course baby elephants!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were loads of interesting things - the temples at Dambulla and Polonnaruwa, and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.  Enjoyed the elephant ride, and seeing elephants try to push each other into the water at the orphanage.  We were lucky enough to be there at the time of the festival in Kandy which was brilliant.  Also were lucky to see two leopards on the safari at Yala National Park.  Enjoyed the walk on Horton Plains, high up in the mountains, and the Hill Club which felt like being in an Agatha Christie novel.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had Roshan Fernando who was brilliant.  He always gave us loads of info about what we'd be doing every day, how long it would take to get to places and what clothes would be suitable e.g. if we were going to temples or walking in the jungle.  He told us all about the history, culture and customs of the country, always making it sound fresh and interesting.  Loves dropping in jokes and sayings at every opportunity and had us all singing along with him and the mariachi band at a couple of hotels! 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely give this trip a try.  I've never been anywhere like it before and really enjoyed it.  There are some early starts but it's worth it and you get to see a lot, it's a very varied country. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't worry if you're not a massive fan of curry - I'm not and I found plenty to eat.  Most of the hotels do buffets so it's easy to try little bits of everything.  Take plenty of clothes, unusually I wore pretty much everything I took as it's so hot and, in some places, dusty.  A little thing, but you have to leave your bags out for collection in the morning when moving on and there's not always time to go back to the room to brush your teeth, so maybe take a little mouthwash if you like a minty feeling!  If you're there during the festival in Kandy, take a bit of extra cash to secure a seat at the parade, it's worth it as it's quite a long procession.
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    YELLOWSTONE WILDLIFE TREK

    An enjoyable holiday but failed to deliver the experience we had expected from the trip notes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The thermal and geological features of Yellowstone, in particular Castle geyser and Grand Prismatic. Also the spectacular views from the summit of Mount Washburn. Sitting round the campfire on a perfect starlit night in East Glacier with Parker and Ryan "jamming". The stunning, ever-changing scenery as we travelled through 4 States and around 3,000 miles. White water rafting down Snake River (don't hesitate, just do it, trust me, if my wife can do it then you can)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Parker and Ryan were great guys who did their very best for us at all times. They were experienced and competent guides but this was the first time this trip had run so not the slick operation we have come to expect from previous trips with Exodus. They had to cope with the pressure of a trip that was not fulfilling clients expectations and "fixing it" was not always possible. However, they took on board all our concerns, did the best they could for us at the time and it is all credit to them and Exodus that the subsequent trips have obviously benefitted from our honest feedback.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget your cameras (with zoom), binoculars, mosquito repellent and after bite cream. Get a warm sleeping bag (and don't forget to pack it!). Pack light, there is not a lot of room in the tents. Take micro-fibre towels, quick-dry walking clothing (nothing white, it won't stay that way). Prepare to be flexible with the trip notes as the weather is not predictable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our experience was marred by what we have had to accept as "first trip teething problems". As a result we would not book another new, unreviewed trip. However, as you can see from the excellent reviews from subsequent trips it now appears to be ticking all the boxes for the promised highlights and has the makings of a spectacular trip. However, don't underestimate the amount of travelling by minibus that this trip involves.
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    GORILLAS & MASAI MARA

    An excellent introduction to East Africa and its wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The gorilla trek was quite amazing. To get that close to such magnificent animals was an emotional moment. We were also lucky enough to do the balloon trip over the Masai Mara. Looking down over tens of thousands of wildebeest was breathtaking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Emias was a star. Nothing was too much trouble. He was very well organised. Skilled at dealing with a disparate group of people. Did his job calmly and efficiently. Hugely knowledgable and enthusiastic about all aspects of the trip. Leo and Francis (cook and second driver) were equally as skilled and as personable. Together they made a great team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take as good a head torch as you can get, we used them a great deal. Quite cool in the evenings, need a fleece or similar. You will take loads of photos - have enough memory cards. Truck has charging points, so batteries are easily recharged. Some long days on truck over rough roads but plenty to see.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Mark Twain said, "In twenty years time you won't regret what you have done, you'll regret what you haven't done." Book it now!!!
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLING IN SARDINIA

    A fantastic trip - great organisation, lovely route with stunning scenery, and nicely relaxed riding. A really good group too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the wonderful coastal scenery from the bike (and getting to the top of the hills, especially on the days where we had a strong head-wind!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Michele was great - very knowledgeable & nothing was too much trouble. He was also a very good laugh! Good support from Enrico too, especially organising a very nice beach picnic!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Padded cycle shorts a must. I took my gel saddle cover but it didn't fit the hire bikes. Not TOO painful though...

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go for it & keep your fingers crossed for good weather - ours was a bit variable!
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL EUROPE

    I have just returned from this fantastic holiday travelling through the historic cities and towns of Central Europe.  The hotels were excellent, more comfortable and centrally located than I expected.  The trip covered so much ground that it represents great value for money.  Thanks to Eric for keeping us well informed and unhurried in the busy schedule.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Such beautiful architecture in every location as well as striking scenery.  I was glad that the cities were punctuated by a couple of days in the mountains, a chance to chill out and appreciate the mountain views and wonderful clear air.  I particularly enjoyed the free open air cinema in front of the Rathaus in Vienna, mixing with the locals and enjoying a local brew on a warm August evening!  Brilliant!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eric set a leisurely pace within a tightly structured timetable.  He gave good advice on currency (imporant when travelling to 5 countries in 14 days) and recommendations for restaurants were sound.  I followed all recommendations for additional activities and they were very worthwhile: concert in Vienna, evening cruise in Budapest, the visit to the glacier lake in the Tatras, the Salt Mines and Auschwitz in Krakow.  Eric is easy going and relaxed.This tour was different from those I have taken in Sri Lanka and Vietnam.  The guides there spent much more time with the whole group and meals were almost always taken as a whole group.  On this tour, people split up and did their own thing in the cities so there much less of a 'group ambience'.  And the guide was less prominent as each city had a specialist local guide to accompany the city tour.  I enjoyed having the CD of additional photographs which Eric produced.   

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Fruit and vegetables are best consumed at breakfast!  The menu for vegetarians was a bit limited but for 2 weeks it was OK.   Most of the diet in restaurants consisted of meat with dumplings of various sorts.  I took walking poles for the hike and these were useful to take the strain off my old knees!  There is not much time for browsing or shopping on this trip - a wooden toy, paprika, some Polish pottery, a book of poetry from Auschwitz and finally some Baltic amber.    

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The whole trip was well balanced and very interesting.  I have waited a long time for a chance to visit these historic cities and the progression through the countries was a real immersion course in central european history.   It was wonderful to visit the smaller UNESCO World Heritage towns, which I had never previously heard of but really appreciated.I would recommend this trip to friends, and would do it myself again without hesitation! So the following comments are just personal ideas to add that final gloss to an excellent travelling experience.I would have enjoyed more cultural insights; this could take the form of a collection of books to browse on the bus, or general information such as some big pictures books to browse through.  I did have some printed material that I had downloaded but did not bring all the guide books due to packing realities!  A road map to have a look at would also have been interesting.As some of the stops were very short, a sketch of the town showing the location of the most important buildings + other highlights + good cafes would have been useful: some stops were only 45 minutes and although it was impressive to just stroll, I would have preferred to have had a map when doing so (e.g. Sopron, Levoca, Szentendre).  One photocopied A4 page, expanded from the trip notes, would not be too difficult to produce and would be very useful to maximise the interest in the visit to the town.The minibus from the Tatras to Krakow is rather cramped.  There were a few taller people in the group and they could hardly fit into the seats.  I am 5'3" tall and my knees were against the seat in front of me. Those sitting over the wheels also had even more restricted legroom.  This is only for one afternoon, so was bearable, but only just! I was able to find a vegetarian restaurant very close to the hotel in Vienna, but otherwise I did not have any recommendations.  A list with one or two vegetarian restaurants for each city would be useful but most restaurants do have some dishes to offer.... but do they use meat stock in the vegetable soup?  Better not ask!  
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    MONT BLANC CIRCUIT

    A great holiday with good company , ahappy group . our leader Graham was excellent and careing [ i was one of the slower walkers] graham helped on several occassions and carried my pack one day! he was ably assisterd by our chef tout les jours chris. accomplished miracles of food preperation sometimes in difficult circumstances. would call the tour an enjoyable  experience rather than a holiday

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    reaching the sumitt of le breton 2,527mts the last ascent of 1,500mts having set off at 06-30am so as not to slow the rest of group.Followed by the last 3 hours, walking a scenic route along the valley contouring  to the cable car at F ?? with 2 Aussies and an Irish colleen!!.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    excellent character cannot reccommend him more highly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    make sure you'r fit and don't underestimate the amount of ascent and descent on the trip. It helps if you have a GSOH

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    porridge for breakfast some mornings would have been much appreciated by the writer!!
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    HIDDEN GEMS OF SLOVAKIA & THE CZECH REPUBLIC

    My first Exocdus trip. A great introduction to a country I knew nothing about. Stunning scenery & plenty of activities. Excellent guide and friendly travelling companions

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ice cave experience was stunning - although you need to be fit to do the 20 minute steep climb to the entrance of the cave. Also enjoyed the raft experience down the Dunsajec Gorge. Also loved the candlelight tour of Bojnice Castle - fun was had by all!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Zuzana was everything a group leader should be. Knowledgeable, caring, friendly, flexible & with a sense of humour. She obviously cares about her country very much and this came across in her in depth knowledge of all the sites we saw. She put 110% into her job and we all felt we had made a good friend when we parted at Vienna airport.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As one of my fellow travellers on the tour, Margot mentioned, be prepared for some uncomfortable journeys. The a/c wasnt particularly effective and the seats on the minibus had limited legroom. The itinerary is not leisurely, as much is included and you need to be prepared for packing & unpacking almost daily. No very early starts though!Take your own decaff coffee as Slovakia doent seem to have heard of this and many of my co-travellers weren't impressed with Slovakian teabags!It is cold in the ice cave & coal mine so take a fleece & waterproof, also good walking shoes or trainers are a necessity. I would also take some Czech currency as it was very tedious having to wait inline in a bank to change euros!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As Margot mentioned the transport really needs to be addressed. My husband is 6'1" and spent a very uncomfortable day in one of the front seats behind the driver.On other days he had to seat on an end seat with his legs in the gap by the door! I am 5' 7" and also found the seats short on legroom. Everyone changed seats daily but this didnt alter the confined feeling we all felt.  I understand a bigger bus would be more expensive but several of us agreed we would definitely  pay more for a greater degreee of comfort.I would not use the 4* hotel again either and would prefer a reverse itinerary with Bratislava at the end of the trip.Or either - an earlier flight from Vienna to London on the last day would be better or spending more time in Mikulov and leaving for the airport after lunch. We hadn't factored in being at Vienna aiprort by 10:30am for a flight home at 8pm. The trip notes just say return to Vienna for flight home. The only alternative to spending the day at Vienna airport was to go into the city. It was 32C and we had to spend 12 euros each on the bus to the city, plus lunch & Vienna isnt a cheap city! 
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    CUBA: LA ISLA GRANDE

    I really enjoyed this holiday which was made very interesting and entertaining through the help of our guide and driver. Although August is a bit hot and very humid, it didn't stop our ability to get a real taste of Cuba in every way from swimming in the clear waters of the sea, walking up the Sierra Mastra to Che Guverara's hidehout and the fascinating towns and cities. A wonderful holiday which I would certainly recommend - just go at a different time if you don't want to drip with sweat all the time - the coach was a pleasant place to be after a long walk!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The music everywhere - at every meal!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An excellent group leader who made sure that we all knew about the fascinating history, the social situation of the people, the flora and fauna and made sure that we were all comfortable all the time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel in May - this is supposed to be a good month to travel as Cuba is not so hot or humid or quite so busy.
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    KERALA & TROPICAL INDIA

    This is an excellent trip. Every day is so different and there is something new around every bend. Cycling is a super way to see what this part of India has to offer. Not only do you get to see the sights but you also get to hear the sounds and smell the smells as you cycle by. You would miss so much if you travelled by bus or car. The cycling is very doable with the climb to Ooty the only really big challenge. On some days we did cover large distances but these are broken up with tea stops and a lunch stop. The trip covers a hugh variety from the busy streets of Mysore to the stunning Bandipur National Park and the quiet backroads and backwaters of Kerala. One of the best trips I've been on! 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of Ooty was a great achievement, having counted every one of the 36 hairpin bends on the way up! We were also very lucky to see a tiger while on the jeep safari in the National Park which was fantastic. Another enjoyable morning was cycling through the heavy rain and trying to cycle through an almost foot deep flood! The houseboats on the backwaters were also fantastic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leaders Safi and Joseph and our backup driver Shibu were all superb. They were very knowledgable of the area and did everything they could to ensure we were happy with the trip. They were very diligent in looking after and maintaining the bicycles. Safi gave us a run down on the following day each evening after dinner and gave us directions each morning on the day's cycle.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No need to bring bicycles from home as the bicycles used are of excellent quality. Would recommend bringing a gel saddle or saddle cover from home as some days are quite long.Safi suggested a group kitty which covered all tips and meals not included on the trip. This was a great idea as we all joined together for each meal and it saved all the hassle of splitting bills etc. We were also brought to some very different places to eat which we possibly wouldn't have gone into on our own.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're thinking of going on this trip I would say "Hurry up and book it!"
  • Reviewed August 2011
    Anonymous

    HIDDEN GEMS OF SLOVAKIA & THE CZECH REPUBLIC

    Great countries to visit wonderfully introduced to us by Zuzana our fantastic group leader. Rather too much driving though.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Raft trip down Dunajec Gorge. Wandering round beautiful Czech towns like Mikuluv.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As good as any I've had in 7 Exodus trips. She was very knowledgeable, inspirational and an all round lovely, fun person to be with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some very long journeys in a hot, rather uncomfortable van.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

     Transport really needs to improve - a proper minibus would be much more comfortable. I'm only 5' tall and was squashed ! I think the itiniary could be improved - spent time in the High Tatras but only did a short stroll around a mountain lake. whilst the trip was graded 'leisurely' it still seemed a wasted opportunity not to do at least a half day's walk. The overnight stay at Skalica was 'wasted' - dull hotel (even if it was 4*)  in a dull setting. Would have been much better to spend 2 nights in nearby Lednice - good hotel in stunning location.