Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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

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  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    CARPATHIAN CULTURE AND WILDLIFE

    Carpathian Culture and Wildlife (May 2011) is a wonderful mix of visiting ridgetop villages and farms in the Transylvanian mountains, hikes up into the forests and pastures, nibbling on delicious fresh cheese at a shepherd's hut, and visits to other local highlights such as the lovely medieval architecture of Brasov and the castle known as Dracula's Castle which is surprisingly charming and lovely.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1.  Being in these beautiful Romanian national park mountains with fresh air, fresh food cooked by Katherine and family at the inn, and hiking every day in a different direction and meeting the people of the mountains, villages, and cities.2.  The dedication of our terrific guide Cosmos Dan and our hostess Katherine and her husband Hermann, and friends, to protecting and promoting the beauty of Romanian countryside and wildlife.  I was particularly moved by our visit to the bear sanctuary where rescued bears (captive & often wounded or abused for performances) are healed, rehabilitated to living in the woods, and protected for life.  3. Eating the best fresh cheese I've ever had in my 57 years at the shepherd's hut high in the mountains.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cosmos Dan is an inspiration himself with his dedication to protecting his national heritage environment for future generations and seeking to share the beauty of the land and wildlife with visitors.  He is a native of the area, knows every square inch of the land and the hidden trails and all about the wildlife).  As a former National Park ranger, he is particularly well suited to guide people with an interest in the ecosystems and wildlife of the area, but being a native of the region, he also knows everyone and has insights and answers to any and all questions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring an appetite for delicious Romanian home cooking and energy and a walking stick for the mountains and enjoy a wonderful vacation.  You will be very reluctant to leave.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF CENTRAL EUROPE

    Highlights of Central Central Europe (June 2011) was a marvelous overview of the cities, villages, and countryside of this culturally and scenically rich region, and made particularly enjoyable due to the talents of our guide, Eric S.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1.  The Tatra Mountains were superb.  I must devise an excuse to return to this region for more hiking.2.  Discovering an ethnographic museum in Krakow's city hall building, which has farmhouse rooms and workplaces, models of buildings and mills, hallways of embroidered folk costumes, and rooms devoted to every craft from woodworking to sheephering and spinning, etc.  This museum was a delight and unfortunately doesn't appear in any guidebooks I had, but is annotated on Krakow's "you are here" city maps which appear at key tourist sites.  It was looking in the lower middle of that map that enlightened me as to its existance.  And, it cost very little to enter, unlike the hugely expensive museums of Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eric is a delight to travel with and his English is excellent.  He has enthusiasm for the region including of course his own beautiful nation of Slovakia, and appreciates the natural and cultural wonders each nation on the tour has to offer and is eager to share it with the group, but in a nice low-key way.  Eric is unflappable, kind of like having Buddha for a travel guide, and able to make time for everyone's questions or problems, and yet manage to handle it all.  He also seems to know where every ATM is in every town we visited and has restaurants to recommend according to budgets.  He will go far out of his way to try to solve travel dilemmas (for example, since I had to leave the group early to connect to another Exodus trip and was worried about some short connection times that changed on me at the last minute due to an airline's own problems, he researched and advised backup bus options in case my plane connections didn't work as planned).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a walking stick and good hiking boots for the Tatras hike.  I was warned by an earlier traveler who helped me pack correctly for the trip, and he was right, so I am passing it on.  Waiting until you get there is too late to get boots if you didn't bring them with you, although you can borrow hiking sticks from the hotel (if your hotel loans them, ours did) or buy them.  If you only bring trainers/sneakers or slick soled shoes, you might slip and fall so hiking boots or equivalent are really most helpful.  The trail is good, but rocky, and if wet at all could be even more treacherous.  But don't pass it up unless you are really infirm, because the views and waterfalls are spectacular!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you for the excellent mix of Culture (musical concerts in halls and on a Danube River cruise, and assorted museums), superb Mountains (the Tatras for example), Castles and Fortresses, beautiful Cities (Prague for example), and many lovely Villages and Towns throughout the green farmland.  What a wonderful trip.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    MONT BLANC HOTEL TREK

    For anyone interested in serious walking/trekking, the Tour du Mont Blanc is, indeed, a classic and should be on your list. It is full of variety, contrasts, lovely places to stay and Exodus does it very well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The constantly changing views of the mountains, valleys and villages were stunning. The late Spring flowers that changed as we progressed were a marvel. The "day off" exploring the (ancient Roman) city of Aosta in NW Italy was an easy excursion and well worth it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Frank Hibbert was excellent. He is hugely experienced; knows the route like the back of his hand and was excellent with the group. It is difficult to think how he could be improved upon.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you can spend a whole day walking, are reasonably fit, especially have a good pair of knees, go for it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Corsica is next on my list!
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    YOSEMITE AND THE CANYONLANDS

    Great fun, good walking, lovely people. What more could you want from a holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Well on return home I've been inspired to buy a dutch oven and fire pit and recreate campfire cooking in my back garden... but that probably was not what you had in mind!  Zion National Park was just lovely, an unexpected and delightful stop on the tour. The Grand Canyon is on everyone's must do list and didn't dissapoint, but on a personal note, seeing the sun rise over the Grand Canyon on my 40th birthday was pretty special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rebecca and Mandy were fun and caring women.  They made it their business to ensure we had a good time, with lots of little extras like: visiting the best pie shop in Utah; wearing the grizzly bear hat to ensure we saw one; visiting the funniest milkshake stop on Route 66, getting us up early to avoid walking in the heat of the day and creating culinary masterpieces on the campfire.  But seriously women, you've gotta get 'viva las vegas' on the ipod for that final drive down the strip!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack insect repellent and have the quarters ready for the showers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As an extra we went to Monument Valley instead of... well I can't even remember where we were supposed to be going!  Monument Valley is "awesome" (you'll hear that a lot) and I think deserves a place this tour... go on Exodus just add it on as standard.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    THE LOST CITY OF PETRA - FAMILY HOLIDAY

    My daughter and I loved this trip - beautiful landscapes, a range of things to do and great company.  I could never have gained such insight into Jordan in one week travelling on our own - our guide was fantastic.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camel trekking in the Wadi Rum early in the morning and the majesty of Petra glowing pink in the sun.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic:  extremely knowledgeable, patient, with a fabulous sense of humour and - with 5 of his own children - great with the kids.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't stress about any part of the trip - it is well organised, well paced, interesting, diverse and fun.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I could have spent much more time in Wadi Rum, really, I just loved it.  Consider doing a day's camel trek as part of the package.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI

    As a virgin safari traveller and photographic 'techno-peasant' I was blown away by the amazing sights of the week. Beats a day out in Barry Island any day! It was a pleasure and an honour to meet all involved; fellow travellers, Masai guides and camp staff, Bruce , Donna and Paul. I cannot fault the dedicated care and attention we had from all staff involved. It was so magical I can barely believe it actually happened. I feel that I have left a substantial part of myself in Kenya:

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a family of leopards including a cub feeding on a freshly caught Topi in a low lying tree with hopeful Hyenas inches below.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A unique specimen! He surely needs intensive therapy but I am in awe of the man. His enthusiasm is palpable to the degree where on occasions I thought he might spontaneously explode! He clearly wants to get the best shots for his guests and will attempt to overcome any odds to get results. He has a striking committment to the local community and behaves responsibly to the wildlife which sets an example to others.  A great raconteur, as well as a fantastic photogapher, who made the holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a thick skin, camoflague camera gear (as good as you can get), plenty of enthusiasm and some good dirty jokes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I recommend 3 heaped tablespoonfuls of kachumbari for breakfast each day (it set me up perfectly for an action packed day on the Mara).
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    SPITSBERGEN EXPLORER

    A Brilliant cruise: very friendly and well organised, plenty of variety, great trip leaders, comfortable ship, and wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities. Talks and lectures were excellent and informative. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the flowers of the tundra, watching the ice slide past the ship, having the chance to watch polar bear interactions at some length, being surrounded by tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousand sea birds. Being able to listen to and talk to real experts in their fields.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely excellent. Extremely well organised, but flexible and relaxed and willing to change plans at very short notice to maximise opportunities. Information was regularly updated, so we always knew when and where to be ready, and what to expect. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read as much as you can about the Arctic, fiction and non-fiction, and research on the internet. Make sure you have read the trip notes so you know exactly what to expect. Only go if you are prepared for a flexible itinerary, for possibly getting wet, and are prepared for steps and stairs. (That said, several travellers on our trip found getting into Zodiacs somewhat challenging, but all the staff, crew and other passengers helped so that no-one was unable to undertake any activities in which they wanted to participate)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We could not speak highly enough of the staff and crew, who did everything possible to ensure that everyone had the best opportunities to observe wildlife, and the the most comfortable accommodation. We loved the talks and lectures, all of which were really useful in explaing what we'd seen and giving additional background information, and we really appreciated the level of expertise available from people with such wide experience over a broad range of subjects - polar mammals, birds, plants, ice and glaciation, climate change, adventure travel, geology.It's difficult to imagine how the trip could have been improved, and it met our expectations and desires many times over.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    GORILLAS & MASAI MARA

    Amazing experience. We were extremely lucky on our game drives in the Masai Mara seeing more in two days than I have seen in several other safaris combined. The mountain gorillas however were the clear highlights, nothing could compare to that.  The scenery is outstanding, Rwanda in particular is stunning, rolling hills, steep winding roads, so that even travelling days are not to be missed and there is always something to see. It's a well paced trip, not too long is spent driving, there are a good few easy days and rest allowed, with strong trip highlights at each end of the two weeks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The time spent with the mountain gorillas. We trekked for almost two hours as they fed then kept moving so that we caught tantalising glimpses before coming across a clearing. We watched as the silverback (Charles) speed up a tree. The rest of his family followed and we stood below slighly disappointed that we did not get to see them up close. Finally they came down and moved directly in front of us, the silverback in the lead. His family gathered around him and sudddenly the group was only feet away from us, the young playing, mothers cuddling the younger siblings and to cap it all the silverback then made a display of his strength to put a younger member in his place. He beat his chest then charged at the younger gorilla in a tree, bending the small tree over and then shaking it madly. Satisfied he had made his point he abruptly stopped then lay down. It was truly amazing even if sl;ightly scary to see. The guides had warned us it was about to happen they read the situation perfectly. The hour with the gorillas flew by.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chris was excellent. Cool, relaxed, knowledgeable and always in control. He allowed everyone to relax on the trip, gave excellent advice and clear instructions. His casual approach makes it really feel like a lesiurely trip, he looked out for everyone, took care of any problems and was very perceptive. This is a full service trip and Chris and his colleagues are the reason why it is worth booking if you want a holiday expereince which also allows you to simply chill out.  

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I have been on many trips but this one stands out. It really is something special and I am so glad that I did it. If thinking about this trip I would strongly urge you to book and guarantee you will neither regret nor forget this one.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just book it !
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    GORILLAS & MASAI MARA - June 2011

    On this trip you'll travel through three very different countries, see amazing scenery, great wildlife and meet some  cool people. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Gorillas are of course very special and an absolute highlight of this trip.  The Masai Mara for me was also very special - it kept delivering spectacle after spectacle (just when we thought "it can't get better than this"  - the mara proved us wrong).  Seeing a small pride of lions with a kill on an early morning game drive was just amazing.  Between the Mara and Nakuru we managed to see all the big 5 - plus cheetahs, giraffe and an elusive serval cat.  On day one you have the option of taking boat to Elsamere - this is very worthwile, especially watching the fish eagles catching their lunch!The nature walk at Lake Mburo in Uganda was great highlight of the second week - the chance to get on eye level with animals is a truely wonderful experience).  The walk is also great for birdwatchers - who'll love the variety of feathered critters.The visit to the genocide museum in Kigali is rightly challenging - but you leave with a good understanding of the events and underlying causes of the 1994 genocide.  Oh and drinking Nile Special, next to the Nile, that was quite cool too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chris (leader), Francis (co-leader) and Jonas our cook were great.  The guys work so hard behind the scenes to keep us well fed and on track - all the time with a smile and great conversation.  Chris shares his knowledge of geography, history and wildlife throughout the trip and I learnt so much as a result.The guys are also great at advising you where and when to change money, what rates to expect and how much to change. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Aside from go ahead and book it I would say:The gorilla trek can be short or long - if you have any kind of condition that may limit your endurance (I suffer a bit with asthma)  tell your leader and they will do their level best ensure that you are matched to a walk that's within your capabilities (don't worry - there will be one, a lady of 82 had been to see them the day before us!).  Be prepared for the pace to increase a bit once you catch up with your designated family (again don't worry - if I can do it, pretty much anyone can!).  Take lots of water with you (2 ltrs or more) you will need it!Again on the gorilla trip if you have gaters or a method of closing the bottoms of your trousers then I'd advise using them - nipping ants can be an irritation. Long sleeved shirts are also highly recomended.Take a stuff sack - it's great for taking ummm stuff from the truck to tent.  Also be aware the when you head up to the Mara you leave the truck at Naivasha, so a small bag to take required kit in is necessary.Lake Bunyoni offers a great opportunity to aclimatise to the conditions you'll encounter on the gorillas - the nature walk and the trip to the orphange are great ways to get some practice walking at a higher altitude to normal, in a hilly environment. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip for anyone wanting to visit africa for the first time, it's also a great trip for anyone whose been there before (it was my second time with Exodus).  As the trip is fully catered you don't have to lift a finger (unless you want to) which means that time is totally your own.  You get a proper taste of "real africa" on this trip - be it camping in Lake Mburo National Park, with hippos and warthogs strolling between the tents  at night, the bustle of Nakuru town or the quiet relaxed atmosphere of Kigali.  So while the trip has a real wildlife focus, the other elements that make East Africa an amazing place to go are all well catered for.If you are a photographer - this trip offers a lot of good photo opportunities - take plenty of memory and batteries - charging is available at a number of places and on the truck (when moving).Now stop reading this and go and book it - when you get there say Hi to Charles the Silverback for me.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    HIMALAYAN FLOWERS & VILLAGES

    There were only three participants on this trek, (June 2011), all keen photographers so we had plenty of time to stop and photograph the wonderful scenery and superb flower meadows.  Thank you to our leader Philippa Russell for showing us the beauty of the mountains, the profusion of flowers and for sharing her knowledge of the way of life of the villagers - this made a good trek even more memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Finding the elusive Himalayan blue poppy.  Getting up at 5.m. to photograph the mountains reflected in the calm waters of a lake at our highest camp site of Thanpatan.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Philippa  Russell lives in Dharemshala with her husband, Jeremy, and knows the trekking area well.Philippa was an excellent leader helped by a well trained trek crew.  She paced the trek to our needs, both for photography and for coping with the altitude and terrain.  She shared her knowledge of the local people and their customs and was able to adapt the trek to give us the best experience possible.When the return flight to Kullu was aborted Philippa quickly arranged road transport for us to get us back to Delhi.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go and experience a beautiful, quiet rural part of India with no tea houses and once above the villages, only the occasional shepherd and his flock. Add a small nailbrush and a small pair of scissors to the trek list.Take a Frisby or similar for the trek crew.  They enjoyed a game with the one I took. Recharge camera batteries in Manali.  On trek to save battery power don't be tempted to review your photos until the end of the trek.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trek is a linear route, essentially going up one side of the Miyar Nullah river to the high pastures and returning down the other bank.  It probably would not suit those who like to do a circular tour and scale peaks.  Although the daily distances were not long, the altitude at times made it seem harder.  However it is a varied trek, visiting villages, going over gorges on wobbly bridges and hunting for mountain flowers. 
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