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 May 2011
    Anonymous

    TRAILS OF THE TURQUOISE COAST

    A first class trip. We rode through small villages in lovely scenery with spring flowers in abundance on the snow capped mountain side. The trails were a good mixture which required little technical knowledge but demanded care and concentration.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The numerous long fast descents were exhilarating & made even more enjoyable by the normal morning transfers high up into the mountains

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Ali, the tour leader and Mustafa, the support driver were excellent.  Nothing was to much trouble for them,  they were always cheerful and gave us lots of moral support.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Southern Turkey may be on the Mediterranean but some of the cycling is at almost 5000'  it can be quite cold so be prepared, pack a jumper or fleece.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    MOROCCO VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

    This was my 4th Volunteer to Morocco and Tijhza and it won't be the last! If you've ever wondered about taking a volunteer trip then this is a great project to join. You don't need to have any particular skills just enthusiasm.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's hard to choose! The speed at which the ground clearing took place and the obvious enthusiasm of the villagers over the project is an obvious one.Popping in to see the new preschool class and being amazed how 29 four year olds can go so quickly from tearing around the playground to sitting quietly and listening to their teacher.But for me the stand out moments on the trip were the times spent visiting families to pass on donations of clothing. The children are a little shy when being measured for size, but are absolutely delighted when receiving a pair of shoes or warm clothing (they get snow in winter), and there are smiles and hugs all round.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andy is passionate about this project which is very infectious. He knows Morocco really well and every where you go someone he knows appears out of no-where, delighted to see him. With that kind of knowledge you can't help but feel looked after.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book it!Packing advice - you really don't need to take much for yourself, pack as much as you can for the village as you'll wish you managed to fit more in. If it's space and not weight that's a problem use compression sacks.Don't expect anything to run on British schedules, Moroccan time is totally different. They have a phrase in French which roughly translated means that whilst we need to know the time to the minute, they prefer to know is it morning, afternoone, evening or night.Delight in any opportunity to meet the villagers, there are no rules to how many cups of mint tea you can drink in a day. Enjoy the hilarity of using made upsign language to communicate especially when painting - pretty much anything you try and ask for they will understand as tea! 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is one of the highlights of my year, I start to get very excited from around March onwards, but have already started collecting now donations to take next year. For some one visit is enough to start a passion for volunteering trip in different directions, for me it's almost an addiction, I'm not sure what I'd do if I wasn't going to Tijhza in spring!
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    THE TURQUOISE COAST

    Stunning area of the world. Friendly locals and good food. Not as much walking as we had expected from previous moderate grade trips, but what it lacked in quantity it made up for in quality. More of a multi activity holiday than just trekking.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The long mountain walk,surrounded by myriads of wild flowers constantly changing , the gentle walk downhill goes from alpine meadows at the start, through Cedar forests to eventually typical mediterranean flora. We were so lucky to go when we did as the display could not have been bettered.The sea kyaking was also great fun, the coast is fabulous to see from the boats.We chose mountain biking as our free day activity, it was so brilliant we are thjinking of booking a biking holiday next!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader tried really hard to get the group together and did a pretty good job in that area. However as he was new to the area we were travelling in his local knowledge was limited. I would have liked him to be better informed on things such as flora and fauna, history of the area, geology etc. I also think that he did not realise that for us the difference in our culture and the turkish was fascinating, and we wanted to know more. It was quite hard to get information from him as you had to constantly ask questions which were answered  if he knew the answer, but very often no further information was offered and it felt a bit like you had to pump him for information. He was always charming, his English was really good, and he tried really hard, but I don't think he twigged entirely that as a group, we were all a little frustrated with the lack of information. He did a really good job of organising evening group meals and all the extra activities, so I would not want to sound too negative about him, I just think he needs a little help to realise just what might interest us foreigners and to offer that information; which to him might seem mundane. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The one thing that really concerned a lot of our group was the blanket ban on any food and drink being brought into the hotel. We were not informed of that rule before we travelled. Everybody brought snacks, dried fruit and nuts etc for their trips, but no one realised that the ban would be enforced to the point of confiscation of any banned goods, including my sachets of decaffeinated coffee (compulsory for medical reasons). The hotel did not supply any decaff, and I cannot drink tea as it also has caffeine in it. someone else got an unopened can of Coca Cola confiscated!I feel that this ban should be CLEARLY stated on the trip notes, and  that the rule is rigorously enforced. This and the ensuing  argument with the hotel management did put a bit of a dampener on the holiday.Having had the argument with the hotel management, they insisted that they had told the management of Exodus on many occasions of this ban over the last 4 years,  and had asked for it to be put in the trip notes. It quickly went round the group what had happened to some of us and everybody then hid any food or drink they had in their dirty washing, bags etc. Thehotel insisted the ban was due to it encouraging insects into the rooms. It would be better if Exodus could negociate a more moderate rule that food and drink would be  allowed as long as it was kept in sealed containers and only consumed away from the hotel. This should be clearly stated on the trip notes.Having to furtively hide everything was irritating and made us feel uncomfortable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall a lovely trip to a beautiful country, well organised.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    A WEEK IN JORDAN

    I have wanted to visit Jordan for a long time, but Jordan and this holiday surpassed my highest expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed it all, but there is not time or space to comment on it all.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was so much to see in Petra besides the Treasury. The Siq was truly awe-inspiring and the Monastery was monumental. The walk up to the High Place of Sacrifice was well worth the effort, as the views over Petra were terrific and there were hidden places on the other side of the mountain. I could have happily spent a month exploring Petra!Wadi Rum again was awe-inspiring and the distances so vast. I especially enjoyed the quiet and peace of Wadi Rum, when I got up at 4 o'clock in the morning and walked a little way in the desert with the full moon lighting up the whole scene like daylight. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Dougan, was very knowledgeable and explained things well. He had a sense of humour and he was very kind and took care of us well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The climbs to the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice are fine if you are reasonably fit, but the worn steps coming down can be a bit slippy with the sand, so just take care. I'm a bit of a coward and nervous of heights, but our group leader, Dougan, was kind and helped me down all the way. I am very grateful to him as I would have been disappointed to miss either of these places. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I enjoyed the camel ride in Wadi Rum. It was fun, but it also made you aware of the peaceful surrounding silence. We also saw quite a bit of wildlife - skinks, chameleon, hawks, hoopoes, grackles, common bulbul and a rosy finch!The food was very good too, especially the food in the Bedouin camp and the tasty takeaways! Last but not least, our group was great too, with friendly, like-minded people.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    INCA TRAIL & THE AMAZON RAINFOREST

    This was a brilliant trip that packs a lot into 2 weeks.  The service and standard of organisation was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The moment where you climb the steep stairs up to the Sun Gate and suddenly spot Macchu Picchu for the very first time!Reaching the top of Dead Woman's Pass, and then surviving the descent in the pouring rain!  Being in the Amazon rainforest is an incredible, if intense, experience. Watching the sun set over Lake Titicaca. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan (the main group leader) was excellent, he has superb local knowledge and a real passion for his country and was very inspiring.  He was also a great laugh and kept the group constantly amused with his jokes!  He arranged plenty of extras such as a laundry service.Wilson (assistant guide on the Inca Trail) was also fanastic and general life saver!!!! The local rainforest guides were also very knowledgable and friendly. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be positive on the Inca Trail and enjoy the scenary.  It's hard work, but there are plenty of rest stops and no pressure to hurry up, everyone can take their own pace and it is ok if the group is quite spread out.  Do some training beforehand to improve fitness and stamina.There is a LOT of packing, unpacking and re-packing so be organised with your gear. Take two bags - a nice spacious suitcase for general use and then a soft carry all or the exodus kit bag that you can fold up and put inside the suitcase.  The suitcase is fine to use in the cities and for the jungle and trek you can use the soft bag and leave everything else in the suitcase.  Bring a suitcase with some space left in it as it is bound to get filled up!  We had to unpack and repack our gear in the check in area of the airport at one point as our stuff was spread over 2 bags and we needed to fit them all into the suitcase again for the flight.Beware - 7kg for the personal Inca Trail gear allowance does not go a long way!  Most of us carried that almost much in our day packs too!  The sleeping bags that some of us hired were very warm but also heavy so took up most of the weight allowance.The porters are amazing and the meals on the Inca Trail (in fact the food over all) is a very high standard, we had meals whilst camping that were better than you might get in a restaurant!  Get several large dry bags - for both day packs and hold alls.  No'one cared about wearing smelly, dirty clothes day after day but no'one wanted to wear wet clothes!  It can pour with rain at any point in the trip and it is possible for bags to fall into rivers.  Also have a plastic wallet/folder for passport, paper etc.  You will get a lot of bits of paper so I took an A5 clear wallet with me to keep them safe. Bring a Nalgene or Sigg/Karrimor water bottle as you can fill them up with hot water and use them as a hot water bottle at night.Take one reasonably nice (but easy to wear/fold up) shirt or blouse as there are several opportunities to eat in a restaurant.  I felt like a real scruff on the final night wearing the same casual shirt I'd worn for so much of the trip. Take plenty of batteries for your camera if it takes AA/AAAs.  If it is a rechargable one, bring a spare as there is no where to recharge on the trek (you can in the jungle for several hours each evening). Be prepared for some energentic dancing as there will be a fiesta on Amantani Island!  It is great fun and you will also dress in local clothing styles! Bring anti travel-sickness pills if you need them as there are long bus and train rides. Bring plenty of lip balm and moisturising cream as the Inca Trail and Lake Titicaca  can really dry your skin out. The trip notes say to bring dollars and change small amounts into sols along the way, but we found it much better to keep most of the currency in sols and only keep a smaller amount (about 30%) back left as dollars.  Everywhere takes sols anyway.  It is also good to have a lot of change and small notes in sols rather than big bills. A lot of public lavatories charge 1 sol per visit so keep a supply of coins!I found a pair of good walking books, light trainers/tennis shoes and a pair of sandals good for the trip but in hindsight I would have taken light walking shoes instead of trainers (as well as good, worn in boots) and sandals. There are plenty of times such as day trips, bus rides, plane journey etc where you don't want to have to wear the heavy boots all the time but there is still a reasonable amount of walking around and tennis shoes had a bit of a thin sole.if you forget anything for the trek there are plenty of good outdoor shops in Cusco which sell all the usual gear.  The best thing I bought was a waterproof rucksack cover!   Shopping in Lima for gifts was very expensive (western prices) - try and buy your gifts at local markets instead. Get a woolly Peruvian hat in Cusco for the Inca Trail , they are excellent and only about £2 from market vendors!Take an small inflatable pillow if you need a pillow for the Inca Trail, or a pillow case that you can stuff with your fleece, spare clothes etc for sleeping on. Bring a small (handsized) travel towel for the Inca Trail as they give you a bowl of warm water to wash in so you want something to dry with. Be prepared for every type of climate - from 0 degrees to 30+ and high humidity!  A good wind proof jacket and a light fleece are both good ideas, or a thick windproof fleece. I had a thick fleece but it would have been a good idea to take a micro fleece or thin zip up jacket as well for in the citiesor when it was not too cold.  Get really good waterproofs - do the shower test if necessary!  No point in getting an expensive goretex jacket if it lets the rain through coming down Dead Woman's Pass, as some of our group discovered!!  There is a LOT of tipping, not just on the Inca trail, but the drivers and local guides as well.  So budget for that as the trip notes make out that you just tip the Inca trail team and main guide.During the homestay on Lake Titicaca the reed boat ride, lunch and dinner on the first day are  not included in the overall price and you need to pay in sols for these when you are there (5 sols for the boat ride and 15 per meal), it is not much but it used up most of the money I had put aside for local crafts.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was generally a fantastic trip but be aware of a few things, the airline (Iberia) was a let down and it would have been much better if Exodus had chosen a different airline.  The first 2 days were very rushed and no'one really remember much of those days or took much in but after that it was fine.  It was nice to have a lazy day on the coach after the days doing the Inca Trail, we all just napped or the coach all day or chilled out.All in all a fanastic trip. Everything was run very well and the guides couldn't have been better. I would certainly recommend it and it is great to do so much more in Peru than just the Inca Trail. LOVED IT!!!! 
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THE ATLAS

    A trip with stunning scenery and an interesting insight into Berber life style. Beautiful hikes, but long afternoons, so bring a good book - maybe even two.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed the silence and the view at the top of Jebel Toubkal. Berbers are friendly and welcoming people. Marrakech is colorful, confusing and compelling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A nice man who knew much about the Berber lifestyle and mountains. Not very social.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the afternoon without any activity than sitting on a rock and enjoying the weiv over the mountains. A delightful and relaxing activity - especially if you have a good book - but not very action packed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our group ended up just including 2 people. We lacked clearly dynamic from a larger group. Check with Exodus before departure, how big your group will be.
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLING THE DALMATIAN COAST

    Hotels were good, hire bikes and transport excellent, organisation excellent.  Croatia is great cycling territory, great group leader and driver.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the optional ride on the last day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding. Knew the territory, was very safety conscious, looked after us all day and night. Best of all she was great company and very friendly towards everyone. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take rain gear, you may not need it but we did,

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'll do another Exodus trip at an early opportunity
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLING THE DALMATIAN COAST

    A fabulous time seeing parts of Croatia I would not have normally visited!  Loved the islands, and it was great to have such a fun, diverse group.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along the coast and through the vineyards - stunning! Also getting into the support vehicle with Boris (our driver) when it was bucketing down with rain!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabulous!  Lots of fun and very supportive!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Practice a bit of off-road mountain biking before you go, will help you handle the gravelly bits!
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    TRAILS OF THE TURQUOISE COAST

    My first Exodus trip and I had a superb time with the small group I was with. The scerery was sensational, with cedar trees, a dusting of snow on some of the surrounding mountains and breathtaking terrain with thrilling rides downhill.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The family we stayed with were both friendly and were greeted warmly, we all got a rare insight into Turkish semi-rural life. Kas is a beautiful town, not yet destroyed by English tourism, a lot of local people and culture made the place friendly. The excursions are worth every penny, I did the kyaking over the sunken city, Turkish Bath and for our last day we did a BBQ on a boat recommended by Ali, all were really special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader for this was Ali and his sidekick driver Mustafa. Both were warm, generous and friendly. All the group gelled well together. We certainly had a few laughs as both of them had a good sense of humour. This really made the holiday for me. Ali was well organised and certainly made a good leader. His recommedations were good and on the last day he gave us a few choices. If you go on this trip I would recommend the boat trip BBQ with the captain Ottoman, we all had the best time with tasty food and danced; complete with disco lights at the end of the night.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes bring a hoodie, jumper or fleece! I went at the end of May and for the first 3 days it was chilly especially up in the mountains also I would also recomend a thinner layer for some of the downhill sections.Bring a gel seat saddle (or your own saddle) and cycling shorts with padding is recommended because it does get bumpy.Depending on your skin, plenty of high factor suncream. Banana Boat is a good sports cream and worked well without sweating into the eyes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I will be booking with Exodus again next year!
  • Reviewed May 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLE CILENTO & AMALFI

    This was my first cycling holiday and I wasn't disappointed. The hills were sometimes daunting but it was a buzz when I got to the top. Hotels were fine, although the food was not good in the first one. Cilento is chilled out biking with hills and the Amalfi coast is more dramatic (scenery and traffic!- someone did describe it as millionaire's cycling). I really enjoyed the trip, I was pleased with Exodus, but the main thing was we were fortunate enough to have a fab group dynamic. If I was marking that alone, I'd give it five stars!  

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    That would be when one of the group arrived at the top of a hill on the last day after really struggling with the cycling for the first few days. It was great to see his improved fitness and high spirits - there is no beach in the world that could do that.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was great, shhhhimply couldn't wish for more.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you're a cycling holiday virgin like I was, just give it a go!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The fab thing about a cycling holiday in Italy is that you can eat the pasta and pizza and still come home a few pounds lighter!