Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous
    'On top of the world' describes both my feelings and my location on this trip. The trek to Everest Base Camp was awesome.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Everest so clearly and close up against a background of clear blue sky was incredible and the prayer flags streaming out from rocky anchorages just enhance the scene and emphasise the vastness of the mountains. Reaching both Base Camp and climbing Kala Pathar felt like real physical achievements but were surprisingly emotional experiences too and it felt a real privilege to be there.All along the trek was beautiful and ever changing scenery; small farmsteads, white stupas, the crystal clear river, blossoming trees and rhododendrons, tiny gentian flowers, barren rocky areas, woodland with dappled sunlight and weather from hot sun to a blizzard. It was a really humbling experience to see local Nepalese stoically carrying enormous heavy loads up and down the trail of anything from gas cylinders, yak dung (for fuel), food and building materials.Tengboche was a stunning location with excellent views of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam and other 6000m+ peaks in every direction as well as the impressive monastery, stupa and local life all centred around a small grassy area.As Exodus really promote the idea that trips should benefit the local community it was great to see their parabolic solar cookers in daily use at so many lodges.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa was an excellent leader every step of the way; from finding us so efficiently in the throngs at Kathmandu airport, to guiding us along the mountain paths to Base Camp and back and finally organising a celebratory meal at the end of the trip. He had an air of quiet confidence which made us all feel safe and his care and concern for our welfare was evident throughout and small extra touches such as carrying someone's rucksack when they felt unwell were much appreciated. The other guides; Pemba, Phurba, Nawang and Dorje (yak handler) worked well as a team led by Lhakpa and all of them were extremely helpful and friendly. After a full day walking they would all help out in the teahouse kitchen so that we  got our meals quickly and everyday they ensured a hot drink on arrival and brought us tea in bed in the mornings. Lhakpa had excellent knowledge of the history of climbing on Everest, local customs, religion and nature and seemed to know almost everyone in the Khumbu Valley. He took us to his family home to meet his father who was on the 1953 Everest Expedition; to a small monastery where we received prayer scarves, to his old school and to meet his friend Appa Sherpa, a 20 times Everest Summiteer - all these extras really added to our understanding and enjoyment of life in Nepal.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have the correct kit as your comfort, safety and enjoyment of the trip depend on it. The kit list provided in fairly good but you also need windproof overmittens. These were not on the kit list but were essential, fortunately our guide told us this and we could buy them in Kathmandu or Namche. Warm trousers or thermals/leggings under other trousers and quality tops to use in a layering system are important - this is stated in the kit list but I feel could be emphasised more. It is possible, but not that easy to wash a few small items on trek. I hired the Exodus sleeping bag and it was very good quality and I was never cold at night.Heed the advice of the guide and sherpas as they really know what they are talking about eg walk slowly, drink enough, have a good appetite, don't stroke the yaks.Drink lots of tea! This is the Sherpa method and it works. Having 3-4 cups of tea in the morning and lots of tea in the evening in the lodge helps to keep you well hydrated. Get together with 1 or 2 other travellers and order the pots of tea between you.You do need to be fit enough to enjoy this trek. You don't necessarily need to do lots of hill walking to prepare if you are fit from other activities or sports. Many of my group, including me, were distance runners and I found this good preparation. Amazingly all the group were of very similar levels of walking ability/speed which made for a really good trek. The guides explained that this is not always the case but the numbers of Sherpa guides can allow the group to spread out a bit and still be well supported.You should take extra snacks eg cereal bars, chocolate, dried fruit as most people need these, medication such as strong headache and stomach upset pills, toilet paper, wetwipes, anti-bacterial handgel, water purification tablets, torch and book / game for evenings. A metal water bottle is useful as you can have it filled with hot water in the evening to warm your sleeping bag and then drink it the next day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my first trip with Exodus, although I have done several group walking holidays before, and I would definitely recommend the company.I travelled on my own and was quite surprised to find that there was only one other individual traveveller in the group of 15, however this was not an issue at all as everyone was very friendly and all meals were taken as a group on one large table. Although acute mountain sickness is rare, most people have some affects from the altitude (headache, feeling sick, poor sleep, lose of appetite, coughs) and many had  a stomach upset at some point. Fortunately I was not ill but did lose my appetite and lost weight quite drastically. Whilst none of these things are ideal the guide was well equipped to deal with it all and could supply appropriate medication including Diamox. You cannot really prepare for altitude and relatively minor illness is a small price to pay for visiting such a fantastic location.Exodus recommend not buying bottled mineral water for environmental reasons but most lodges are very keen to sell it to you. You do need to ask if you want tap water which you can then treat with tablets as there is not always an obvious place to get it from. Having reached Base Camp, I thought it might seem as though the holiday was over and we were just walking back down, but by taking a bit of a different route and staying at different lodges, the guides ensured this was not the case.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous
    A well organised trip taking in everything that Nepal had to offer. The leader worked well with all group members taking into consideration the needs and quirks of British holiday makers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing Kala Pathar and seeing Everest in all her glory, from the South Col, South Summit, Hiliary Step and the summit. I couldn't believe that I was actually fulfilling a lifetime dream. We also had the privilege of meeting our leader's father who was a high altitude porter during the 1953 expedition. I certainly shed a few tears on our arrival back to Gorakshep.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    You knew the first time we met Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa that we were in safe hands. He was a quiet and gentle man with a cute laugh. He made the trip memorable with his inside knowledge of the culture and the climbing stories of Everest since the 1953 expedition. He was understanding and very helpful when we were not feeling great due to the altitude. Lhakpa always made sure the group had their meals before he and the other guides ate. Lhakpa went out of his way to make the trip so special right up to the time we had to say goodbye at the airport. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Altitude can strike very early, listen to your body and walk very slowly. Eating is important even when you lose your appetite and it became my most hated moment of the day. Normal paracetomols didn't get rid of headaches, we found we had to take things like Anadin extra but then ran out. The trip notes say take warm gloves, what they should have said was warm, water proof and windproof gloves such as ski gloves. We had to walk in a blizzard for 3 hours and if I hadn't bought some over gloves, I would have been in trouble. We also took dollars to change up and lost out on the exchange rate. I would take sterling and change it at the hotel as everywhere welcomed Rupees rather than dollars.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was lucky that the dates for this trip fit around the long Easter holiday, otherwise I would have done this trip when I retired from teaching and a lot older. However, I think as long as you are fit age did not matter with our group. The altitude can hit anybody regardless of fitness. I felt very privileged to see the "roof of the world" and the Nepalise people are some of the nicest I have ever met. A truly memorable trip.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous
    A truely amazing trip. In a short space of time we saw so much, not only monuments and palaces but the real India. The colours, smells and sounds were wonderful. So unlike anywhere I've been. A great first trip with exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to choose one but;Seeing a tiger casually walking up the track towards us at Ranthambhore National ParkThe Taj Mahal at sunrise, beautifulThe river Ganges at dawn. The smells, sights and sounds, magicalVisiting the prmary school and the potters family, experiencing the real people of India

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bali was superb! He went out of his way to make the trip and wonderful experience for everyone. The trip ran smoothly thanks to his great organisational skills. When venturing out on our own he made sure we got good deals with rickshaw wallahs and weren't ripped off. He has so much local knowledge which he shared with us with his talks on the bus. I feel like I learnt so much about Indian culture and way of life. Bali felt like part of the group, joining us at dinner and having a laugh with us. He even entertained us waiting for the train and managed to gather a crowd of local people! A great guy and group leader!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I found ear plugs, eye covers, loo paper and sleeping pills helpfull for the train journeys. Swimming costume for the hotel in Varanasi, lovely outdoor pool. Make the most of napping on the bus, as some days can be quite tiring.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go with an open mind and enjoy it!
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous
    Where to start? India is an amazing country with warm friendly people, wonderful culture,history and FOOD. Every trip, monument and experience, lived up to expectations . From the Taj Mahal, to the sleeper trains, to the sunset on the Ganges, to the crazy rickshaw ride in Varanasi, to the beautiful smiles of the children , to the glorious tiger we saw bathing at Ranthambore, this holiday did n't disappoint. Be prepared for long days and a non stop tour of fascinating experiences, and keep your loo roll and mozzy sprays with you at all times!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Very difficult to pin point because it is a country like no other. I think the friendliness of its people who loved to have their photo taken with you and who value family and friends above possessions were insperational. The eclectic mix of religions, their Gods and festivals were evident everywhere and the people were extremely welcoming and willing to share their celebrations with us. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Harish Kumar was excellent s a leader. He was extremely knowledgeble and was willing to discuss any subject, history, politics, cultural and religious issues. Completely informed about every part of the trip and was always vigulant about the groups safety. This particular group was made up of a family, couples and solo travellers so quite difficult to please everyones wishes. But Harish did with his diplomacy and friendliness nothing was too much trouble. While some went to a Bollywood film others , were able to do what they wanted too. A few of the party were ill but Harish ensured they were looked after and had the required medication. On the sleeper train some solo female members of the group found themselves booked in compartments with Indian male travellers. Harish negotiated with other travellers, to swap sleeper berths to ensure the girls would not be travelling alone. He really did ensure the safety of the group and tried to meet all our needs.He was also very informative about what and what not to eat to ensure a sickness free trip. He had an incredible amount of contacts that ensured we had top local guides at each stage of the trip. And when asked " what time are we meeting in the morning Harish?" with great relish and  a big smile he would answer "5 o'clock of course!" What a sense of humour. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Plenty. listen to your guide he has so many tips. Be patient , polite, but firm with the hawkers . Take an empty case to bring home the beautiful textiles on offer and make sure you spend all your cash because Rupies cannot be exchanged at the airport.Dive in, experience all India has to offer, you will see so much on this trip. Very long days and lots of travel but well worth the tiredness at the end of each day.  I want to go back asap.Oh and check the prices of G & T's at The Imperial in Delhi... but well worth it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be prepared to see lots of animals, some well cared for others, not so. Children especially are particulary wonderful and curious about you, so take sweets to give, as they love them. The hotels were actually far better than expected , and if you are unhappy with the room tell your guide. This is a wonderful trip and if you are only vaguely thinking about visiting India... TAKE THIS TRIP you wont be disappointed.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous
    The trip was a very informative and enjoyable one. What made also  this 14 days thrip so enjoyable was an exelent guide and a very good driver plus the group( age 24years to 72) were superb.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Istanbul was exiting, Cappadocia ,Efesus and all the Sites were wonderful to visit. It is fantastic to see how much has been excavated. We were in Efesus 30 years ago and it is amazing how  much has been uncovered since then.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Arzu Tutuk was our group leader. She is a first class leader, very knowledgeable,took great care of everyone and always happy.  Mustafa Akdag, our driver did also a very good job driving us  savely these 3500km!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is our first trip with Exodus and all the informations we got from them were good. If one reads their instructions well before taking off one will be save with them. One advice is: Always wake up every morning in a good mood knowing that that the day will be an exciting one and forget beeing grumpy about small things ect. and your day will be a wonderful one!! Have a nice trip with Exodus!! 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy yourself!
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous
    " Go while your hips are still working "   Advice given to aged self by a friend !!  I went, I saw and I conquered.  It was a wonderful two weeks,  with some unforgettable moments and memories.   

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When we went "off the beaten path"  e.g. improvisation needed to avoid landslides and avalanches.   This  necessitated detours along untracked mountain sides  and over  fragile and rickety  bridges, or across slippery river bed rocks.   Arising in the dark, donning head torches, and climbing up before dawn in time to see the sunrise at Poon Hill and Base Camp.  Unexpected richness of flora and fauna.  (  monkeys, wild goats, birds etc. )   

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pasang was first class.   He was very experienced and knowledgeable.  He    managed, cleverly and sympathetically , to cater for the differing needs  and varying levels of fitness of our group.  He was full of mountain lore, knew lots about the flora and fauna, the regional history, etc.  and was always helpful and cheerful.  

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To make the most of this special time,  ensure you are fit before you go.  Poles were very helpful - and essential  if you have dodgy knees.  Pack as little as possible,  as the porters have to carry it for you !    

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were all "d'un certain age"  -  we all loved this tour and would go somewhere else next time .   Take your camera and GO NOW BEFORE THEY COMPLETE THE ROAD BUILDING PROGRAMME  when it will become too accessible and over run !!  
  • Reviewed April 2011
    Anonymous
    The amalfi coast was gorgeous, the hotel was amazing, the people were so friendly and the guide was fantastic - need I say more?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk down the via Krupp on Capri was breathtakingly beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Barbara was the perfect leader. She knew just how much information to give you, when to get involved and when to leave us alone. She knew the answers to everything and had great rapport with the locals. I don't think we could have had a better guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather is quite changeable so pack for every eventuality. Also, some of the walks are more challenging than I expected so believe them when they say you need a moderate level of fitness!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A very memorable holiday - thank you.
  • Reviewed April 2011
    Anonymous
    A fantastic holiday, with a mix of short days and relaxation and more challenging climbs.  A real holiday of a lifetime!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of the Cho La pass and looking down on the Glacier, then turning the corner and looking down the valley to Ama Dablam - the thrill of reaching the top of the pass and then the views were truly inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sukman was excellent and very attentive.  He was continuously checking with us for signs of AMS and advising us so that we stayed healthy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember that this trip is at high altitude, drink the recommended about of water / liquid (I topped up on hot drinks in the teahouses), the recommended ascent is 400m a day - this means that some days you will be in the teahouses by 11.00am - if you are expecting to be walking for full days then this is not the trip for you.  Allow yourself time to rest when you reach altitude.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a fantastic and well-organised holiday - the trip notes are accurate and make sure you read them before you go.  The climb of Cho La pass is a tough one and undulating terrain in Nepal is not quite the same as in the UK.
  • Reviewed April 2011
    Anonymous
    A lovely break from a harsh UK spring. We were lucky to have fabulous weather and enjoy sunshine on all our walks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The 2nd walk in to Amalfi via the gorge was lovely. The little detour behind the gates, to which the tour leader held the key, to visit the waterfall was magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    None.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Nothing that Exodus can do to change this, but I was fairly shocked at how unkempt the Italian contryside is. There is lots of fly tipping and generally most verges are "adorned" by litter.
  • Reviewed April 2011
    Anonymous
    This was to be my third trip to the Himalayas, the last being the Annapurna Circuit in 2006 (before road building started on the circuit).  I was looking for something different this time, a remote camping based trek off the beaten track and away from the relatively crowded paths and overstretched teahouses of Annapurna and Everest Base Camp.  Manalsu more than met my expectations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were too many to recall! Those that spring to mind include:The nerve wreking bus trip over mountainous tracks to Arughat BazarWalking between rice paddies on beautiful sunny and warm mornings on the lower reaches of the Budni Gandaki Nadi river valley; the exotic sights and smells of the local farming communitiesReaching Jagat, the first truely Tibetan village we were to meet on a cold windswept evening after walking with goat herds on a narrow track in a steep sided river gorgeEarly on a sunny morning, the first glimpse of the snow covered Manaslu peak breaking above the clouds from the campsite above the monastory in LhogaonBreakfast in the sunshine after a bitterly cold night in Samdo seeing the footprints of our tents in the snow as they were being packed away and watching the yak herds being driven out to the early spring pastures.Trekking up to Larke Phedi in the bright sunshine between snow covered peaks towering above as far as the eye could see; enroute sighting the rare and protected "blue sheep" high above our path Reaching the prayer flags at Larke La after trekking for six hours up snow and ice covered scree and then facing the steep descent in a full-on blizzard; arriving in Bimtang to a hot bowl of noodle soup six hours later.Sheltering from the blizzard and huddled around a juniper fire with Pasang and his sherpas after dinner in one of the few small stone-built tea houses in Bimtang; awaking to a snow covered campsite on the following sundrenched morning.Walking down through the snow covered conifer forests towards Karche on a sunny morning under the ever present Manaslu towering above with occasional views of early flowering rhododendrums.Washing under village hose pipes or the occasional waterfall when the opportunity arose; the waterfall at Tal was very memorable although very cold!The amazing sights of the destructive force of nature in the two main river valleys; the Budni Gandaki in the east and the Marsyangdi in the west; very deep, steep sided and scoured gorges, recent landslips hundreds of meters high and wide and the massive amounts of natural debris including whole trees and huge rocks stranded in the river beds.  The constant noise of rushing water.Cooking was inspirational and every meal was greatly anticipated and appreciated: lids were whipped off aluminium pots from which emerged an amazing choice of well prepared and tasty food including porridge, omlettes, home-made bread, various hot and spicy soups, yak stew and curried yak, tuna, fried spam, lentels, greens, cauliflower (the best we had ever tasted), dumplings, pancakes, curried potatotes and chips, cinnamon cake...........the list goes on.The evening at the last campsite in Bhulbhule where we all realised how lucky we were to have been in the company of Pasang and his team of sherpas, cooks and porters for such a challenging and magic sixteen days.  The mutual support and enjoyment of my four trekking companions where very fortunately we all appreciated and undertook the trek in the same spirit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pasang, a very experienced trekker and mountaineer was a truely gifted leader.  Apparantly Manaslu, unlike Annapurna to the west is known for having unstable and unpredictable weather.  On the days leading up to crossing the pass, the weather started to deteriorate as the wind picked up and although we had many sunny mornings, the cloud brought snow flurries at dusk. Pasang correctly assessed the weather and the ability of our small trekking group and decided to dispense with the normal rest day at Samdo and keep heading for the pass in order not to be caught by the impending bad weather.  The crossing was very arduous taking twelve hours instead of the normal eight or nine caused chielfly by recently fallen snow and ice underfoot.  It was only when we got to Bimtang that we realised how well Pasang had read the weather conditions, assessed our team and lead us safely with a minimum of fuss over the pass.  In 10 years of crossing Larke La, these were the worst conditions he had encountered; the pass was virtually closed to all except for a couple of mountaineering groups for the best part of a week afterwards.  He constantly and quietly encouraged our group and his own team through long and tough days with great humour, anecdotes and authority always ensuring we were comfortable, not over-stretched, well rested and most importantly well fed. I think we were very lucky to have him as our guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When it comes to what equipment you should take, you should follow the Exodus advice closely.  For example two of our group did not have the recommended trekking pole arrangements and I think they may suffered for it.I did not bring a spare memory card or battery for my camera thinking I would be OK; I wasn't so as a result I was unable to take photos on the last four days of the trek. I now understand that extreme cold drains older batteries down quite quickly. Exodus arranges occasional evening meetings in London where a famous wildlife photographer gives great advice and tips for amateurs like myself.  Sadly I didn't go (not knowing about it) but two of my fellow trekkers went and greatly benefitted.If you are travelling on our own, you might consider going "solo", i.e. having your own tent.  Luckily I was the odd man out and had a tent to myself.  Being somewhat awkward in confined spaces and valuing my own privacy, I don't think I could have managed sharing a tent with anybody else for sixteen days.  Follow the Exodus advice for getting fit and preparing for this challenging trek if you want to get the maximum pleasure from it.  I am in my sixties and knew before going that I was older than my four travelling companions and didn't want to let anybody down so I made an extra effort to get fit (it helps when you are retired!) and it paid off.If you are in any way interested, it might be wortwhile before you travel reading up on the various cultural groups you will encounter enroute and the flora, fauna and geology of the Himalayas; it certainly adds to the enjoyment of the trek.  Also bring a small pair of binoculars (fortunately we had a pair between us).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a truely rewarding experience for our small group of five trekkers.  Having stayed in teahouese on my two previous occasions in Nepal, camping for me is now the preferred way to go if at all possible.  We had a great Exodus team including our leader, two sherpas, a cook and four kitchen helpers and seven porters.  These guys made our trip memorable in way that a teahouse trip could not.  You soon get into the daily rhythm and routine of a camping trek, what is expected of you and what you expect of the others, both your co-trekkers and the Exodus team. The success of a trek depends on this mutality which I had not fully appreciated at the outset; Pasang's great skill was to ensure this mutality.
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