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 November 2010
    Anonymous

    NANDA DEVI & TRISUL

    Beautiful scenery throughout, absolutely stunning, however, the holiday could not be described as 'C Grade / Challenging' and it was let down by using very basic hotel accommodation (especially Haridwar which was unfit for human habitation) and problems with logistics (no air conditioned train carriage on the way back to Delhi instead we were put in 'peasant class').

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenery which never ceased to amaze, as mentioned above, it was absolutely stunning. In addition the trek crew were excellent, there was no chance of starving!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was good but a little on the casual side, for instance he didn't check that each member of the group had adequate insurance (the first exodus trip for me where this hasn't taken place), he made an error with our return train journey to Delhi (resulting in delays and an unpleasant travelling experience) and he never sent an email containing my fellow travellers contact details even though he promised to do so.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As previous reviewers have mentioned, this is not a Challenging / C graded trek (more like a Moderate), the days are quiet short and the trip looks like it attracts the slower walker (one of them was around the same pace as my tortoise, possibly slower!). If you are prepared to accept this, chill and enjoy the scenery then go for it, it is still a good holiday but if you want more of a challenge, longer days et cetera then book on the Zanskar and Moon Lake trip. In addition, the journey to and from the trek is long, however, it is also part of the adventure and it shouldn't put anyone off from going. The driver(s) were very competent and I felt completely safe at all times.I went on this holiday in early October and whilst the days were quite warm (especially Delhi!) the evenings were cool, overall the temperate was ideal for walking in a short sleeved top and shorts / thin trousers. In terms of gear, take a light duvet jacket with you for the evenings and a decent thermorest, cannot think of anything else!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Please Exodus sort out the hotel accomodation. I appreicate that when you are up in the mountains it is a case of take what you can get (Srinagar for instance), however, in Haridwar and Delhi there is ample accommodation. Before and especially after a trek some decent accommodation is required (something like the Royal Singi in Kathmandu is ideal, not too fancy but clean and centrally located). The hotel in Haridwar was absolutely filthy, bug infested and unsafe (exposed wiring in my room) and I was very pleased that I was only spending the one night there. Please look to book 3 star + or 4 star hotels in future, I don't mind paying extra. 
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON

    I had for some forty plus years wanted to visit the Mountains of the Moon but always found it out of my reach either financially or timewise. When I saw the trip in the Exodus catalogue and the very reasonable price for such remote area trip,  I had to go for it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the highlight of the trip was the ascent of Mount Baker. After all, this was the reason I had come on this trip. The mountain was not too technical but had enough scrambling to keep my interest up with just one difficult move near the summit. Unfortunately as we summitted, the mist rolled in and we only had tantalizing glimpses of the other major peaks that surrounded us. As we descended however, we did get some great views of these peaks.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Josephat the Chief Guide was a very able mountaineer and his knowledge of the flora and fauna was second to none. Throughout the trip he always set a steady pace, helping people when needed over obstacles and keeping the group together and imparting his knowledge of the area as he went.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Mountains of the Moon are muddy! I new this before I went but was still ill prepared for how muddy. The porters all walked in Wellington boots but these can easily get stuck in the mud, I would suggest that a pair of calf high lace up rubber boots with a waterproof gusset would be ideal and keep your feet dry. Another alternative would be Army surplus jungle boots and although  these do not keep your feet dry they would allow you to keep your walking boots dry for the mountain ascent and therefore dry warm  feet. Lots of small polythene bags or shopping bags are also handy as you can then put dry socks on, put a polythene bag over them and put your wet boots back on to wade through the mud at the various camp sites.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The porters on this trip worked as advertised and I had no complaints on that front. The trekking company however has a lot to learn. We were the first big group for them and they really did not understand the ethos of trekking and what should and should not be done. The staff seemed lost at times just to get the very basics of things done. It took hours sometimes just to get a cup of tea on arrival at a camp site. On saying that, the food was generally very good it was just that the camp staff lacked direction. In fact if Nik from Exodus had not been on the trip and chivvied the staff up all the time it might well have been a bit of a disaster. I do however appreciate that all the guys are on a very steep learning curve culturally and I  and others tried to be helpful with advice on what was expected so I hope some of it sticks.
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    PETRA AND WADI RUM LONG WEEKEND

    What a wonderful weekend.  It exceeded my wildest imagination.  Wadi Rum was exceptional, a beautiful place and Petra was amazing.  People were right when they said the pictures just don't do it justice.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping out under the stars at Wadi Rum. Wow what a spectacular sight - all the stars lighting up the rock formations.  The friendliness of the bedouin.  This was the part of the holiday I was worried about as I had never done anything like this before - I didn't need to worry as it was so amazing I would go back tomorrow if I could.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader became part of the group instantly.  His depth of knowledge and articulation was such that he enabled us to open our eyes for us to take in everything we were seeing.  Not only seeing the big picture but also the history, feelings and cultural context of everywhere we went.  He was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't hesitate - book it and you will have a wonderful weekend made up of friendly people, inspirational scenery, good food and all in all a great weekend.
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    TUSCANY SINGLETRACK

    Great trip. Challenging biking beautiful scenery and topnotch family hospitality.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The summit at Pania di Corfino was incredible and we were up there on the best day with incredible views.....who knew you could get a mountain bike up there...brilliant !To be honest all the rides had great moments and the rest day in Lucca was a bonus. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rupert was our group leader he is based in Braccicorti and we were staying in his home. There is very much a family atmosphere with Angela his wife preparing the food and their two children helping to bring dinner outand the whole family getting involved with the group. I was actually quite touched by the way we were included into their family life and it was a privilege to stay there myself and my partner loved it.....and what a beautiful home........As far as the biking was concerned Rupert is very experienced and managed to swap days according to weather conditions etc so that we could get the most out of the week and despite the weather not being great the first two days we completed the whole biking itinerary as advertised which I thought was pretty impressive.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In order to enjoy this trip a good level of fitness is required.There are lots of climbs.Our trip apparently was near 1000m of climbing a day.But of course what goes up must come down and we enjoyed some fabulous descents there are a few technical bits but if you cant do them they are not very long and you can hop off and hop back on the bike again when you are happy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I really enjoyed this trip. There is no doubt about it a couple of the days are quite tough with long climbs so you do need to be reasonably fit to do it.I was the only girl in a group of 9 guys if you include Rupert our guide.I was at the back for all the climbs but the group always waited. I hope I didnt hold them up too much but to be honest it wasnt a problem as a group we got on really well and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so there are plans for mountain biking in North Wales next year. I would recommend this trip to anyone who enjoys mountain biking, great scenery, good food and Italian family hospitality. 
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    TUSCANY SINGLETRACK

    It's an activity holiday, rather like skiing and I loved it as am fairly active. The scenery, accommodation and food were great, so was Rupert and my fellow cyclist who I'd not met before.There are some climbs but all achievable for most regular sports persons and the down hills.............amazing (nice to get transported up 1,000m first though though!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I've cycled most places in the UK, Glentress, Coed y Brenin, Exmoor, Brecon Beacons, Lake District, Peak District, Aviemore (best in UK) but then there's Tuscany.............. Brilliant.The views were spectacular and the quiet cafe's (~1 euro for a coffee!) for morning and afternoon teas wonderful.No walkers,  no horses, hardly a car all week, just one tractor and loads of goats!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rupert knows every trail there, he's a great guy, and would help anyone. Take your own bike, he fixes it!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are some technical sections, but Rupert gives you options. I had a go..........eeek.The tracks are brilliant, you go through woods, across mountain paths and there's nothing so steep that you can't do it. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you sit at home eating 4,000 calories a day, only do "pretend exercise" and are Mrs Blobby then it's not for you. What is though?If you can cycle, do regular exercise and want something different it's brilliant
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    ZAMBIAN ADVENTURE

    A very good, fun and varied introduction to Zambia

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Canoeing on the zambezi was definitey the highlight, especially canoeing past a herd of elephants. However camping in Kafue National Park and having hippo just off the bank and then elephant wandering around the edge of the campsite was pretty amazing too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was excellent, always smiling, always keen to keep the group happy. The rapport between him, Doc (the driver) and Derek (camp assistant / cook) was fantastic and really added to the holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take more DEET insect repellant than you think you'll need, also be sure to take a small overnight bag as this is required for two nights. If you have dry bags then I would take them for the canoeing trip as they aren't supplied and gear can get quite wet.
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    TUSCANY SINGLETRACK

    Superb mountain biking territory, great location with some long, tough ascents and exhilarating descents, good food and a tour leader and his family who want you to have a good trip enjoying their countryside. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Several long descents on both mountain tracks and country roads where experienced mountain bikers could not help but be impressed.  The groups phrase of the week was "You have to earn your Metres" and on this trip you do. Its tough going up  (helped by some early morning vehicle transfers to our start point) but is more than made up for on the descent. I'm still smiling at the thought of them.  Lunch on the final day, taken at a cliff edge, surveying the mountains behind and the valleys with all the small picturesque villages below and working out where we had been cycling during the week. Then, later in the afternoon, looking back at our lunch spot from the valley and realising how big our descent had been. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Superb.  His knowledge of the area with its intricate network of mountain tracks is outstanding.  The weather during the week was very mixed, wet and cold on several days and his main concern was that we get the most out of the trip.  He kept us updated and changed the itinerary and rest day around to ensure we did. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get Fit.  This is a very good test of stamina.  Our average daily ascent was almost 1000 metres and each day there is at least one section where you are steadily climbing for a minimum of 30/45 minutes on rough tracks so be prepared. The brochure for 2011 has increased the grading from B/C to C (challenging) which I now think is correct.During the cycling day this is primarily an unsupported ride so take a pack or carrier suitable to carry your lunch, spare clothing etc. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Rupert and also his family, who produced some great meals, made us very welcome at  Casine di Braccicorti.  The group were all fit and kept up with one another and this added to the enjoyment of the holiday.  I feel privileged to have been on this trip.My only regret (apart from the weather) is I did not have enough time to play the golf course. I will save that for another year.  
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    EAST AFRICAN GAME PARKS & BEACHES

    The trip exceeded all my expectations, really enjoyed the safari itself but also loved travelling through, and camping in the midst of, these two very vibrant countries Kenya and Tanzania. The tour leader Chris Ncube and driver and cook Nebert and Bernard were brilliant, and travelling in hard conditions as a group added to the specialness of the trip. The rooms by the Indian Ocean at the end provided a much-needed holiday!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In the last of our 3 days in the Masai Mara, our 3 vans came across a huge group of elephants enjoying a wallow in a water hole. The big bull got in first and stamped and stamped to bring the water up, then family group after group came down and splashed about, while other groups waited patiently in the bush behind. There were well over 100 elephants, and we were able to stay with them for a long time, about 50 yds away.Also, just travelling through all the villages and towns - continually interesting and heartening to see so much vibrant life, such entrepreneurship and ingenuity, so many schools and churches and thriving small farms.The first reaction of people was to smile or wave - people were genuinely welcoming and appreciate the economic benefit that tourism brings.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chris is great fun, very knowledgeable, and able to deal with any situation that arises. I noticed that he was always on hand to help different members of our party when they needed particular assistance. We were a very mixed group in age, nationality etc but by the end felt like a group of real friends - and that is at least partly to do with Chris's leadership.  He is a great guy!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We took too many warm clothes which we did not need - but I guess another time it might be colder. The packing space is small so I suggest pack your bag then remove half before you go. I also took too many books but was far too tired at the beginning to read in the evenings - I only managed about a third of one book for the whole trip! Wet wipes are very very useful - take lots. We used deet every evening and changed into long sleeves, trousers, and shoes with socks and were hardly bitten at all. Other people got a lot of bites on legs and ankles. We took pens and paper for children. What people would also like to receive is small souvenirs from your home place - pens with writing on etc etc  and also (strangely!) coins from your country as souvenirs.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a fabulous trip. We took our sister in law who was very nervous and had never camped but by the end was loving it as much as we did. There are a lot of longish journeys, but the truck is very comfortable and you sit high up so can see everything around - and I found everything fascinating.It was great seeing all the animals - and we saw LOTS, especially in the Masai Mara, but for me even more thrilling was just to be in that big wild space with fabulous air. Also don't forget the wonderful trees and birds!I recommend the walk through the banana and coffee plantation - it is very long but fascinating as all imaginable things are grown next to each other in this very fertile forest garden technique. If you go, you will visit a school so you may want to take some exercise books and pens with you for the children. Don't forget  a swimming costume - some of the camps have swimming pools, and the Indian Ocean at the end is idyllic - you will also be able to go for a snorkelling or diving trip if you want. Stone Town in Zanzibar is your main shopping time. I recommend buying as many (£1 pair) bottle top earrings as you can find - they were universally admired, even by the Nairobi shop girls!
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    THE TURQUOISE COAST

    The holiday fulfilled my expectations, because I am an experienced kayaker, and therefore fairly independent  and not in need of significant supervision by the group leader. I am aware that some of the less experienced kayakers were less happy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was no one moment. I enjoyed the kayaking. I enjoyed having the benefits of the support boat. The skipper was charming and responsive to requests. The food on the boat was delicious. The days itineraries were well planned with manageable distances and well-timed breaks for a swim, lounge on a beach or exploration of an island.The accommodation on land was adequate and welcome, to be able to have a shower and my own space with privacy - essential on a group holiday with starngers

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I thought she was delightful as a person, and clearly a strong and able kayaker, who has the potential to be a good group leader. She offered her mobile number, in case we wanted to contact her, but did not press it on us. It was up to us to choose whether to take it. She treated us with respect and as mature responsible adults. I suspect her youth might have been a challenge for her as leader of a group of older, strong minded and at times opinionated individuals, some with considerable egos.Her lack of experence as a kayak group leader was evident, and this is an area where time will lead to learning. Perhaps more time spent as assistant to a more experienced group leader would help. It is important that she is aware at all times of the abilities, strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in her group. She was not always aware when people were ill (sea sick), and it was left to others in the group to look out for and after unwell group members. She needs to keep the group closer together on the water. At times the group was spread out over a considerable distance. Her assistant also must be more disciplined and keep his place at the rear, instead of joining her at the head of the group, particularly when there are group members who are unwell, less experienced and less fit than those at the front.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was pleased to be able to sleep on deck on the support boat on 3 nights. It made the holiday for me. I would not have enjoyed having to camp in a tent. I was annoyed that I had asked beforehand for confirmation that we could sleep on the boat, and had been informed in no uncertain terms that we would not. I asked, because I had been told that we would be able to, and I wanted to know what equipment I needed to take. I had bought a sleep mat (expensive) for the tent, which I did not need. I could have done without the cost and having to carry it in my luggage.
  • Reviewed November 2010
    Anonymous

    KILIMANJARO & MERU

    The most incredible experience. Challenging. Rewarding. A beautiful country, stunning scenery, helpful guides, friendly porters, a fun group. Awesome!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of Africa's highest and tenth highest peaks were, of course, the most inspirational moments of my trip. In fact, so incredibly rewarding that I shed a tear. Looking down from above the cloud line across African plains felt almost unreal, and watching sunrise from the top of Kili created an unforgetable memory. Each day of trekking brought with it a different kind of landscape to admire, and it was exciting to see wildlife such a giraffe, zebra, antelope, buffalo, warthogs, and various monkeys on the trip up Meru.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guides were all fantastic: good fun, encouraging and knowledgeable. They even sang throughout much of the night-time walk to the top of Kili, which was a very moving distraction from each tiring step. The leader, Musa, was particularly good. He had a great sense of humour, was incredibly helpful and very reassuring. He took great care of us and was very responsible. We were in safe hands.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I highly recommend adding the Meru trek to any Kili climb. Not only is it an equally impressive yet very different experience to Kili, but I have no doubt that climbing Meru first significantly helped us to acclimatise ensuring that we all reached the summit of Kili. I also recommend that you take some good 'summit snacks' for the summit climb on Kili. It is a long and tiring day and I found that the energy drinks and caffeine shots I took were invaluable. Furthermore, be prepared for extremes of temperature and take everything on the kit list Exodus supplies. You will use it all.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do it! You won't regret it.
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