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 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. 
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    CORSICA: THE GR20

    A great trek if you're fit and able to cope with some reatively easy scrambling. We enjoyed fantastic weather and 2 weeks of wall-to-wall sunshine. Rain would have affected route choice and could mean that some days are spent in a taxi and the bar. Accommodation on the GR20 is very limited and finding it meant detours off the GR to towns leading to plenty of descent and reascent on a few days - there is no real alternative other than a tent.  Take advantage of the rest days!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Scrambling in the Cirque was great but the final day views above Bavella were unforgettable, with bright sun on the ridge leading to mist rising up the pinnacles on descent to the final night's accommodation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Barbara had just recceed the route and this recent experience was a real benefit. She shared a lot of knowledge about the flora of the GR and this added real value to the trek. I thought she did well to get such a large group with mixed experience and abilities through the scrambling sections.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If youre a vegetarian dont expect too much other than pasta and (if youre lucky) omlettes - be flexible otherwise you may not eat much. Everyone should bring munchies as the breakfast is simply too insubstantial for the morning ascents. Bring a cheap pair of flip-flops for the huts. You can probably get away with a lightweight sleeping bag.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A highly memorable trek in good company. The trek notes for the ascent of Monte Cintu need to be corrected to give a realistic time for the ascent and decsent.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous .

    SPITSBERGEN EXPLORER June 2011

    To say it was an amazing trip does  not do justice to the sights and experiences we enjoyed. All the normal superlatives sound mundane. You'll just have to go yourself!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many - seeing polar bears in their own unspoilt environment; the stunning scenery and panoramas; the seabird cliffs; the Zodiac cruises amongst the ice floes; experiencing true wilderness and absence of human impact; plus lots more!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very professional and a true leader in every sense. Expert, inspirational and authoritative yet able to relate to people at all levels.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Can't think of any except to take note of the Exodus trip notes and clothing advice. Very sound!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It wasn't just the leader, Dave Wood, who was so good, but the whole expedition team. Experts in their field, experienced in handling the equipment (and people!), they did their best to ensure everyone enjoyed the experiences to the full.Mention must also be made of the Vavilov and her crew: a very stable and expertly handled ship with comfortable cabins, warm and scrupulously  clean with a friendly and helpful crew. Could not be better!
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    THE AMALFI COAST

    This was a stunning walking holiday! The walks were fairly challenging (we didn't find any of them leisurely to be honest) but totally doable, with the most amazing views, and we all loved it. The combination of walking, sightseeing at Pompei and the option of a beach here or there are just perfect. Highly recommended!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    * Sitting at the top of the mountain on our first day, with THE most amazing view of the whole of the Sorrento peninsula, enjoying our lunch and feeling proud of ourselves for making it to the top.* Getting to the beach at Amalfi at the end of day 2 and 4, after LOTS of steps and lots of tantalising views of what lay ahead (a refreshing dip in the sea!).* Going to Pompei and seeing the amazing ruins. Walking around this ancient town and being able to imagine what life was like in those days. * The Walk of the Gods was truly the most awsome walk I've ever done. Stunning scenery once again and just all around fabulous.* Getting to make a Neapolitan pizza and seeing Giovanni cook up a delicious 3-course dinner for us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suzy was a great group leader. Not only did she makes us all feel safe (very important in these mountains), she also knew lots of interesting things and was really flexible to what we needed and wanted (we seemed to have a penchant for the beach, as opposed to the cathedrals, and she made it happen oh so easily!). She was also an excellent table-football player and all-round good sport.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take your walking poles, proper hiking/mountain boots and light and loose clothing when you go in the summer (we had fantastic weather in June 2011 and it did get very hot). Some people brought water pouches and found those very useful (you do need a lot of water on these walks!).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think we all agreed that this should be marked "moderate" and not "leisurely/moderate". It is a fantastic holiday that I would highly recommend. The area is beautiful and the walks you've picked are all great. Not too long (the longest was 11K) so plenty of time for breaks and rest (and opportunity to take photos), and all of them different in some way. The family run hotel is really nice and the food is delicious. You even get a peek in the kitchen and join in the preparation of it, which is great fun. We all felt very welcome in the hotel and nothing was too much trouble (they even had free Wifi). And although we all would have loved for there to be a pool, we always enjoyed coming back to it at the end of a long day.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    THE INCA TRAIL

    Truly the trip of a lifetime! The whole trek from start to finish was very carefully thought out... the guides, the team and the scenery could not be beaten!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are so many!Reaching Dead Womens Pass (with the help of the guides Disnardal and Wilson after my daughter had been sick ALL day!) On the third morning getting up to see the sunrise over the mountains.Getting my first glimpse of Machu Picchu.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Disnardal was absolutely amazing.....very knowledgable and passionate about her country and it's amazing history. Disnardal always made sure our group were happy, had everything we wanted/needed and she made sure we were clear on what was expected of us at each stage of the trek. The assistant guide Wilson was equally amazing, very patient, without him and Disnardal my daughter would not have conquered Dead Womans Pass!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Only take local currency (nuevo soles) we ended up having to visit the bank quite a lot (my daughter loves shopping!) We understood that the dollar was an accepted currency, but you never know what the rate of exchange is!Take walking poles, I was really grateful for mine!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is made possible by an amazing team...The Guides, I really could not praise enough, both Disnardal and Wilson brought the Inca's to life.The head chef Hernande and the assistant chef Alesandrjo, who each day produced hot, delicious meals (in the evening a 3 course meal!) The food really enabled us to keep trekking! The fresh soup was amazing!The porters did such a fantastic job, without any bother or fuss, our camp was dismantled before breakfast was finished, when we arrived at the next site our tent was ready to go!I would like to praise the poor porter who looked after our toilet facilities he did such a sterling job under difficult circumstances!!!
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    WALKING IN TUSCANY

    Arrive at Braccicorti, get out of the mini-bus and just stand and admire THAT view. It's truly stunning. Then be greated by the genuine warmth of "Mamma" - her smile delights - and her cooking's not bad either!!Trek high in the mountains, enjoy picnic lunches looking at the terracotta villages with their church towers way below and enjoy that cold beer on the descent.A rather special place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching those high peaks giving such rewarding viewsThe charming villages with geraniums spilling from every window boxWaking in the morning and just listening to the birds singing, distant church bells and the hum of the combine harvester somewhere in the valley.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz was a gem.  A real star.  Fit as a fiddle, practical, an excellent driver and her love of the job and location showed.  She looked after us so well, ensuring we all had adequate water and clothing as necessary.  We enjoyed her company very much and admired her stamina as she really does work hard.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walking can be quite tough in parts - take poles if you have them they certainly help. Good trail shoes or lightweight boots are a must as some of the paths are uneven.  Don't think about wearing walking sandals - your toes will be cut to ribbons!It's all very casual at Braccicorti so travel light.  A torch is necessary for the trot along to "Il Grotto" on the free evenings.. and do try their ravioli with ricotta in a walnut sauce.Plenty of lovely local produce to try, buy and bring home so don't overpack going out.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go on a diet before you spend a week eating Mamma's delicous food.
  • Reviewed July 2011
    Anonymous

    DUBROVNIK & THE DALMATIAN COAST

    Sunshine and laughter, warm seas, cold beers.  Peaceful idyllic islands, hectic Dubrovnik.  Cutural, classic and unhurried.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The serenity of Mijet Island National Park.The hustle and bustle of the "cruise ants" around Dubrovnik.Food, glorious food - freshest seafood, crispy pizzas, gooey pastries, gelato of every flavour imaginable!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dalibor was excellent, professional and efficient.  Underwent his duties with care, consideration and with hissense of humour

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't bother taking Kuna's - you'll get a much better rate of exchange once you're there.Travel light - it's all very casual.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would have liked an extra night in Trogir, a really pretty harbourside old town.We all ate together every night, which although great fun we did pay the price - not in Kuna's however, just the length of time it took to for meals to appear, but hey ho we're on holiday and when it did arrive it was scrummy.  We just had to have another glass of wine whilst we waited - no hardship there!Croatia is still very unspoilt in parts, beautiful islands, bays, scenery and people - a world away from your "bucket and spade" brigade.  Hospitality was generous and gracious.Put it on your "to go" list - and make it soon!!
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