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 March 2011
    Anonymous

    SNOWSHOEING IN BOSNIA

    Third snowshoeing trip with Exodus and the most varied yet.  A brilliant way to combine snowshoeing with ancient & modern history in a fascinating country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the tops of well chosen peaks with classic 360 degree panoramas.The home smoked meat and stew in the katuni was remarkably good but if you have a clear night don't forget to look at the stars as it must be one of the few dark places left, especially with a bit of the home produced "apple brandy" to bring the heavens to life.    

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb. Lorenc and Samer were fantastic.  Really do not know how so much food for the lunches came out of their packs and they tailored the pace of the snowshoeing really well.  They went out of the way to provide insights on the places and history, including their experiences from the 1990's. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We had some warm and sunny weather (plus some fog) so take layers rather than really thick clothes.Loads of ATMs near the hotel and in the centre of Sarajevo but large denomination notes are not easy to use (you don't spend a huge amount!) so put in an odd amount (eg 90 or 190 Marks) rather than 100 or 200 to get some smaller notes and save coins for trams and museum entrance.  If reading older guide books, law changed in late 2010 so that tourist places don't take Euros directly.It was a small group and there wasn't enough take up for the Mostar trip but fear not as there is enough to keep you going for the day in Sarajevo.  If you want a blast of 1980s nostalgia - Torvill & Dean straight 6s - and happen to go near the Olympic stadium, the little (free) museum is quite quirky and the director was definitely a bit surprised to have some visitors in mid February.  For those who don't routinely take cold dips, a pack of wet wipes for the night in the katuni - it was a tad cool in the bathroom.  

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Reading The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway gives an insight to life during the awful siege especially as the hotel is in the part of town where the story is set.  The Tunel Museum (which we visited en route to one of the walks) and the Historical Museum are a must.  
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    KILIMANJARO & SAFARI

    A fantastic trip which fulfilled a dream, a great group, great guides and porters and a real sense of achievement upon reaching the summit, Uhuru Peak. The safari was an excellent chance to relax and recover whilst being spoilt by viewing some of the most magnificent animals in the world.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sunrise at Stella Point is a memory which will stay with me forever, as well as looking up and seeing that famous Uhuru Peak sign in front of me. We had perfect weather conditions and the photos we captured are amazing. Also though, to share the trip with some genuinely lovely people was great and although not everyone made it to the top, the team spirit was there till the very end. As for the safari, does it get better than a cheetah just a metre away or a male lion within touching distance?!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Florence was our group leader and he certainly is an inspirational man, great people's skills and a fantastic leader on the mountain, we were in good hands with Florence. I was fortunate not to need one to one assistance from any of the guides but consequently didn’t get the chance to get to know some of them like the others did. I am sure though if I'd needed it, they would have been there for me, like they were for others in the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Plan and prepare well. Don’t under estimate this mountain, it is a trek which any reasonably fit person can do but make it easier on yourself by getting that backpack on and hiking lots before you go, gym work is fine but it doesn’t beat getting out hill walking with your equipment. Speaking of which, make sure you have the right gear, borrow if you can’t afford it but don’t skimp on less than adequate sleeping bags / jackets etc. A good night’s sleep is essential and freezing to death won’t help with this. On the summit day I wore 6 layers on the top and 3 on the bottom but because the 3 of us walking together kept a good steady pace, I was a bit too warm! Take a decent lip balm and high factor sun cream. Jelly babies got me to the summit (they don’t freeze and don’t melt!). A small karabiner to hang my camera on from my waist band was my most treasured item, having it to hand at all times was ideal (except on summit night when it needs to be buried under layers). Trekking poles also highly recommended, essential for me on the descent. Also, drink as much water as you possibly can from day 1 and listen and take advice from the guides, they know their stuff!Binoculars for safari are really useful, open sandals are fine and small canvas bag or similar is ideal so backpacks can be kept in the back of the jeep with other luggage, leaving more room for moving around the vehicle when spotting those animals!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Above all, if summiting Mount Kilimanjaro is a dream of yours, then book it now and go for it - you won’t regret it I promise! If you have the funds and time then adding the safari is ideal, it gives you time to relax and enjoy Tanzania and stops your family and friends seeing you fresh off the mountain! I've travelled with various companies too and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Exodus to book and travel with.  Organisation, from office staff to the leaders, both on the mountain and the safari, couldn’t be faulted.
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    PETRA & PALMYRA

    I have rarely enjoyed a holiday as much as this one ... fantastic people (and the group was great too); fantastic sights to see; well organised and well guided.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tough question: Seeing the sunset at Palmyra was awesome (if a bit cold!). The colours in the rocks at Petra were incredible; Wadi Rum was brilliant; Aleppo - maybe that was the highlight: I loved the souk, the bazaars, the soap factory (!). And getting lost in the narrow souks!But the real highlight was the friendliness of every one we met in the bazaars, and wherever. Particularly in Syria - I have never met such friendly perople ... and there was none of the baksheesh that you get in Egypt. This was genuine Arab hospitality and warmth.My friends may be tired of me telling them about the trip ... I'm not!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Adana in Syria and Yousef in Jordan were excellent. Very differnt, but both knew what they were talking about and told us the stories. Very differnet characters - but that is part of the fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget your fleece for Wadi Rum at night ... I left mine behind and had to macho it out! The hotel in Palmyra was pretty basic - but I can't  and won't complain. I loved it! And if you're worried about getting up to the High Places at Petra - there are donkeys available to take you up. That's what I did and it was totally worth itProbably worth goinbg at this time of year and the autumn from a weather point of view.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is the best! Part of that was the group we had - good friends, made for life I reckon. But also the stories of Syria and Jordan - which I didn't know and should have done.If you can, you should take or read 'The Holy Mountain' by William Dalrymple ... a story about the Byzantine church from Turkey through Egypt ... you will visit many of the places talked about.I am incredibly glad i went a year ago - going now would put additional worries on e and family. But would also allow me to question the surface of harmy that was there. MAybe a lesson is that ordinary peopel (you and me) have to live our lives out and that means eating, sleeping, chatting ... normal things without a political content. But I wasn't asware of any undercurrents and now feel I missed something.
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    SOUTHERN ALPS SNOWSHOE TREK

    We thoroughly enjoyed this holiday aided by wall to wall sunshine and good snow conditions. We liked reaching our destinations by foot and spending long days out in the fresh air.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were three moments. The first was walking up a narrow gully, enjoying the silence and looking at the strange formations where the snow and rocks blended in the river bed. The second was walking along an exqusite ridge where there were fantastic views of the mountain ranges as well as views down to the village we were going to stay in that night. The third was watching Chamois running across the mountain slope ahead of us as we approached a col.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vincent. the group leader, was very knowledgeable and friendly. He had put a lot of preparation into the trip and supported each of us to achieve what we wanted from each days walk.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Accommodation is in dormitory style rooms and so there is little personal space or personal down time. For a week this was not a problem although we would have been better off not packing so much clutter in our cases! It is worth taking some long walks in preparation for the trip and to get familiar with your walking boots to aide comfort.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We will certainly be looking for future holidays that fit the format of this one.
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    VIETNAM ADVENTURE

    To be honest, I had never previously considered a visit to Indochina, but I was outvoted. Having agreed that Vietnam was to be our next destination to visit, we did lots of research comparing the itineraries of many tour operators before finally deciding on Exodus. The trip that they offered certainly ticked all of the boxes, and appeared to be good value for money. I had only one concern, and that was food, but during this action-packed trip, my fears were unfounded, as the Vietnamese food proved to be wonderful, and I was never disappointed with any of the restaurants that were suggested by our guide - Even when dining independently from our group/guide the food was found to be excellent. Vietnam really has it all - relaxing beaches, bustling cities, beautiful countryside, and the people are just amazing, so welcoming and friendly. If this 16 day trip is typical of Exodus tours, then I'm sure we'll be back for more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    During our stay in Vietnam, each day brought something new, and we had so many varied and wonderful experiences that it's very hard to chose one thing over another. Crossing the road in Hanoi, The countryside and beach in Hoi An, or the simplicity of life in the Mekong delta, but if pressed, then I would have to say that the highlight for me was kayaking around Halong Bay. Just paddling around this beautiful bay with its limestone peaks was absolutely stunning. The visit to the War Remnants Museum was sobering, but seeing the extent of the atrocities inflicted on this nation really made their positive attitude and friendly nature even more endearing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Upon our arrival at Hanoi airport, our guide Thang was there to greet us and was with us from morning to night, always on-hand when needed, and ensured that all of our trips and transport went like clockwork. It was rare to actually need to ask for advice or assistance, as Thang seemed to sense what we might need at any point of our trip. He was always polite and professional, but gelled very well with our group without being intrusive. His stories about Vietnamese history, culture and life enabled us to gain a good insight into this country and people. Every day he 'went the extra mile' to ensure we had a great time, and he looked after us admirably. Thang is an absolute star!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I'm sure I won't be the last person to mention this, but, with the availability of tee shirts, and contrary to other reports that I've read, underwear etc., along with the ease of arranging laundry, and the provision of towels at all hotels. PACK LIGHTLY. You might need to barter to get the prices down (the Vietnamese love this), but you'll bag yourself a bargain, help the local economy, and save yourself worrying about packing. (My 10.7Kg proved far too much!)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Absolutely wonderful trip - I'll recommend this to all of my friends
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER COSTA RICA

    Costa Rica is a wonderful, safe and very ecologically friendly country. It has a wonderful range of fauna and flora and, if you love nature, this is a must-do trip for you. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The entire country and the vast biological diversity is inspirational! Over 30% of the land is devoted to wildlife reserves. Throughout the boat rides in Tortuguero and the many walks through a range of habitats we saw lots of mammals, reptiles, insects and over 100 species of birds. The trees and shrubs are also incredible, especially in the rain- and cloud-forests. Moments like seeing the quetzels in Savegre and scarlet macaws flying free by the Pacific were special; however, I have an especially soft spot for humming birds. Costa Rica has 57 species which you can see at several places. Typical of the country is stopping for coffee on the Pan American highway at 11,000 feet and finding that the cafe has sugar feeders outside the windows buzzing with humming bird activity.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Jeff was outstanding - not only was he very efficient and good with people but he also had an incredible range of knowledge on flora, fauna, and geology. One day, for example, he would be telling us, in excellent English, about the life cycle of the banana plant and next day he would be describing how Costa Rica has been shaped by volcanic activity. He was very passionate about ecology and proud that Costa Rica is aiming to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Jeff was very good at arranging some very interesting additional optional outings. He was ably supported by the driver Francisco who drove very well, while at the same time somehow being an excellent animal spotter!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a range of climates. Remember that when it says it is the dry season that is a relative term! We had periods of torrential rainfall in Tortuguero, lighter rainfall in the cloud forests, hot and humid weather on the Pacific coast, and then fairly cold weather in the mountains. Meals are not particularly cheap. To cater for optional outings, extra meals, tips and incidental costs you should budget on about 500 USD per person. ATMs are available at many of the stops.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip covers a large area of the country from the Caribbean coast in the north-east, down to Golfito in the south-west near the Panama border. However, Costa Rica is a small country and none of the journeys were particularly arduous. The trip was very well organised with good activities. There are plenty of early mornings but these are well worth it, and tend to be compensated by early nights!
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    VIETNAM ADVENTURE

    I had yearned to go to Vietnam for years and the Exodus holiday did not disappoint.  It was a whistle stop tour from north to south.  The whole trip was very well planned and organised and our tour leader, Thang, was the model of efficiency and tact.  From the bustle of Hanoi to the relative calm of Halong Bay, the pretty town of Hue on the Perfume River, Hoi An with its many tailors, Nha Trang, fast developing as a coastal resort, Saigon’s markets and mopeds and the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, there were so many diverse aspects that we couldn’t possibly have seen if we had travelled under our own steam.  It is the first time that we have travelled with Exodus but I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in seeing as much as possible of the country and people in two weeks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the highlights were staying on a junk in Halong Bay, cycling to the beach at Cua Dai, the train ride on the Reunification Express and visiting the Mekong Delta, although all of it was fascinating.  The Vietnamese people were very friendly despite their horrific past.  Also the food was wonderful and varied from a seafood lunch on board a junk to a DIY barbecue, not forgetting the elephant fish and pineapple spring rolls in the Mekong Delta and a couple of upmarket restaurants in Hoi An and Saigon.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Thang, was very efficient and helpful. Any problems, such as dietary restrictions, were dealt with smoothly.  If we needed a taxi he would speak to the driver and ensure they had the correct instructions.  He also gave us a lot of insight into the Vietnamese way of life with anecdotes about his own life, family and work.  His knowledge of the history and politics of Vietnam was encyclopaedic and I don’t think there was a single question he was unable to answer.  As well as this he joined in with the group socially although at times he must have been exhausted.  At our request he organised a cooking lesson in Hoi An, which had not been on the original agenda.  One of the group was presented with a surprise cake on his birthday, which Thang had also organised with the restaurant.  I don’t think he could have done more to have made the trip a success. His knowledge and good humour made him the perfect team leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I also agree that it should be mentioned on the trip notes that there were laundry services available at least twice during the trip.  It was also unnecessary to take a towel as these were supplied by the hotels, even towels to take to the pool / beach.  Pack light – you may need a thin waterproof for the north depending on which time of year you are going, and lightweight clothing for the south.  Do make sure you have plenty of space to take back souvenirs. and haggle for them – this is part of the Vietnamese way of life.  You will need plenty of mosquito repellent especially when you travel to the south and the Mekong Delta.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go as soon as possible in order to see a way of life that will disappear fast once tourism takes hold.
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    COLOURS OF RAJASTHAN

    A very full and hectic programme - just what it said on the tin. We had a great group which is a bonus on this type of trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It would have been difficult to identify a single highlight - it was all brilliant from the Taj through to driving through the villages. However, we saw a tiger (twice) and not just a fleeting glimpse but a full 45 minutes showing many aspects of his behaviour.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Arvin was etremely organised and efficient - a credit to his Country

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to hit the ground running and keep running till you get on the plane home.
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    THE AMALFI COAST

    Great trip. Relaxed, but packed trip, with lots of food and exercise in lovely scenery and good company.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the walks.  Especially the start of the Walk of the Gods with the mist on the terraces.  Even the rain on the two days we walked down to Amalfi were so atmospheric.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Suzi was great.  She was considerate, encouraging and safey conscious on the walks and went out of her way to ensure we got the most out of our week.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware of the hotel's charges. They tried to charge us E4 for taking a teapot of hot water to the room every evening and for drinks which we did not have.On the night when dinner is not included go to the only other decent restaurant in the village. Turn left, going away from the village centre, at the supermarket and it is just round the corner on the left. Food is better than hotel and cheaper.  Service was good and lots on local people use it.Supermarket next door is good.  Fabulous local green olives and white wine at E5.  If you ask hotel will serve you same wine for E12 which is better option than their 'all you can drink' wine for E10!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip needs to be 10/11 days so that you can have, at the very least,  a full day in Pompei and a full day in Naples as well as all the other excursions available in the summer months.  Ravello is also worth at least 3 - 4 hrs.  When there go to Villa Cipriani and follow the map they give you to make the most of your visit.  Allow at least an hour.  The view from the end of the path is breath taking.  Mid February was a good time to go. Apart from 2 days of rain we had calm, bright cool days and the roads and sites were still quite busy.  It must be awful in the summer because of the crowds.
  • Reviewed March 2011
    Anonymous

    CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: RAMSAU

    Good hotel, good company, excellent leader shame about the poor snow but that was outside everyones control!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Skiing on the Dachstein glazier, 2750m, good snow here and great views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Anne was excellent, well organised and good company.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go as early as possible to guarantee the best snow. The loipes would have been excellent with full snow cover.
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