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 September 2009
    Anonymous

    CLASSIC TANZANIA SAFARI

    Fantastic safari - we saw so much more than I was expecting. The Tanzanian people are really friendly and there is great wildlife viewing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting around the campfire in the evening under the African stars talking about everything we had seen during the day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was excellent - he could spot a leopard up a tree whilst driving along bumpy roads - amazing!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a woolly hat for Ngorogoro as it gets quite cold at night. Also, you can pay for almost everything in dollars, so dont worry too much about local currency.
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    A JOURNEY THROUGH POLAND

    This trip was ideal as an introduction to Poland as we visited so many places, and experienced many of the different sides to Poland. There were some long days in the minibus but these were necessary to cover the miles, and were always broken up by stops which added to the holiday. This also enabled us to see lots of the Polish countryside. The trip was well organised and the hotels we stayed in were comfortable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My daughter's favourite day was in Jaworki, when we did a mountain walk, and she then hired a bike with a couple of others in the afternoon. She also enjoyed swimming in a lake in Mikolajki, despite the freezing temperature!I enjoyed our guide's surprise stops, which broke up the long journeys. These were often in small villages and of cultural interest. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Tomek, was very well organised and very knowledgeable about Polish history and culture. I don't think anyone had a question he couldn't answer. We were given maps and information about each town before we reached it, and by taking us to typically Polish restaurants he encouraged us to try Polish specialities. We wouldn't have been brave enough to try these places and foods on our own.  

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take something waterproof, even in August! Mosquito repellant is also a necessity, especially in Bialowierza, as is some cream for when you are bitten.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had some wonderful local guides throughout the trip, and our driver, although he spoke very little English, was also very friendly and helpful. A fabulous introduction to Poland, with a very varied itinerary, with a mix of culture, history, and countryside.
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    SOUTHERN ZANSKAR & MOON LAKE

    We just didn't get good weather in September. We were snowed in the valley on day 12. Never did see Moon Lake.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Back tracking back out over Shungo La in the snow. Getting over the top was a relief to say the least. Zanskar Valley is nice but I didn't want to stay there until April 2010!!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was good and didn't shy away from a tough call to return the way we came when it snowed on day 12. Holiday over it was a case of getting out the valley the safest way possible. That said we didn't have a Sat Phone with us so would have had no idea of the weather forecast after it started snowing had we not run into the Indian Army (on trek) in the Valley. Lucky this time. Had we been caught by the snow half way up Phitse La it would not have been at all funny.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This may well have been a very good holiday had the weather held. Note however that September often has bad weather in this area (we learned when there) and the views described in the brochure are often hidden in the cloud. You take the risk with the weather effecting you holiday and my rating reflects my experience which was dictated by the weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We spent some spare time due to the re-organization of our schedule camped off the road to Manali. The weather was too foul to walk in and some tents were washing away (pitched in a gully). The group decided to pay for a hotel to get back to Manali. It was the correct decision as the Rotang pass was closed for days shortly after our bus crawled over it in a snow blizzard. I feel Exodus should have made that call to go for the pass asap. I sense that lack of budget by the local representative to pay for the hotel rooms seemed to prevent this sensible and obvious decsion until we all agreed to pay for ourselves. That felt like a pretty cheap and small minded end to the holiday really.
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    CLASSIC KENYA SAFARI & ZANZIBAR

    Overall a great trip, we had a fantastic time. The Masai Mara was incredible and Zanzibar exactly what we wanted, i.e. chill out for a few days!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See lions on our first foray into the Mara was a great start to being in the area. Also the day we spent by the Mara river was just amazing. We were a few days late for the great migration but they were still thousands of animals about, pretty awe inspring stuff.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Charles was first class and was ably assited by Robert. They both tried very hard for us to see qas muhc as possible. We only missed out on cheetah and leopard and saw lots of lions so can't grumble too much. They organised everything very well and were very accomodating of the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are thinking about doing this trip and can't quite make your mind up, my advice would be DO IT!!! It really is holiday of a lifetime stuff. We had one disspointment along the way and that was a slight debacle around the hot air balloon ride but even then the rest of it was so good it wasn't too bad.Don't get too concerned about the mosquito's - we didnt see that many at all which was a relief.Take most of you money in Dollars, and you will spend a bit more than you think - drinks were fairly expensive at the camp in the Mara (which is incredible by the way!) and at the lodge in Zanzibar. Book the Ballon ride when you get there - see below.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus does need to look at the hot air ballon ride. It is an expensive thing to do and call me naive but i expected there to be no problem with it actually taking place.....We did as we we told and booked prior to going on the trip wheras some of the others booked through Charles when we were there. it turned out that they had a wonderful experience and the Balloon went up without a hitch whereas our trip was ultimately cancelled because of the wind. The reason for this is that the launch site for us is basically in a poor area and the pilot had said that he hadn't been up for the ten days before we went! The other guys, although they had to travel further (and get up earlier to get there), took off from a site that was better protected from the wind near the Mara river and had more things to see in any case. We were really disappointed on the day as we had built ourselves up for an amazing experience only to be let down because it was a rubbish take off site.
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF LADAKH

    Stunning scenery, amazing people, wonderful food, etc

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The friendly people

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are fully aware of what travelling on the roads in that part of the world entails.
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    THE OMO VALLEY

    What a fabulous experience! The itinerary was very well organised and whilst there wasn't much free time, I did find the trip relaxing because there is so much to take in that you totally switch off from reality. We wouldn't class ourselves as seasoned travellers but we managed just fine. So long as you are clued up, read the trip notes and have an open mind, you'll be fine.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I still keep thinking back and smiling. Here are a few things that will stay with me: - The friendliness of the children as we past from village to village. Whilst the people of the Omo Valley have relatively little, it was wonderful to see just how content  the children seemed and how they made the most out of every little thing they had. - The amazing wildlife- Meeting and chatting with the tribes. One particular moment that sticks with me was when a group of Karo girls learned my name and started following me round singing it!- The Hamer camp was a brilliant experience: unzipping my tent to see a Hamer warrior walking by with spear in hand, playing frisbee with some of the Hamer boys and hearing the Hamer tribe singing and dancing in the distance whilst on the loo late at night!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gebre was excellent. He is an intelligent, kind man who is very knowledgable and passionate about his country. If there was something he didn't know, he would find out! He did a great job of organising things and making sure they ran smoothly. On one occassion he checked the rooms of a hotel we were due to check in to and decided they were not up to scratch so, whilst we were eating lunch, he managed to find another hotel down the road and check us all in with 10mins notice! He was totally professional, right up until the last minute and even waited at the airport until he knew we were able to change our unused birr back to dollars.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Money: we took about £350 worth of dollars each but ended up having at least a third left over (even though we did buy a fair few souvernirs). Don't worry if you can't get small birr notes at the airport (we were given two 1 birr notes!) as the guide can organise to stop at the bank in Addis before you leave for the Rift Valley if you ask. Since the bank is a proper bank, not an exchange, they should change the money for you. Please note that it was VERY difficult to change the birr back to dollars. The hotels refused and the bank at the airport would only change something like $150 per passport holder. Health: A few of the group had upset tummys for a few days. Unfortunately, I picked something up in the first week and had it for 12 days. A course of antibiotics when I got home sorted me out fairly soon but I did lose a lot of weight in a short space of time. Immodium is often handy for practical reasons, especially if there are long drives. A big must though are rehydration powders! Take at least several boxes just in case. General stuff: We took hand-held torches and realised that we may have done better with a head torch. Be aware that some of the villages take turns to get electricity so some days and nights you will be without any. This was sometimes true of the water too. Whilst a bucket of muddy water was always provided for flushing the loo, we sometimes didn't have water for washing for a day or two. When there was water, it wasn't usually hot. Some people did have boilers in some rooms but they didn't always work. I would strongly recommend a good supply of wet wipes and toilet roll too. Other essentials include hand-gel, cereal bars (especially good if you are feeling a bit dodgy and want something familiar to eat) and maybe an umbrella for the time in Addis. Which reminds me....I found it quite cold in Addis, so you may want to bring a thick cardi or jumper and possibly a lightweight waterproof jacket if you have room. Don't take too many clothes. Although things will get quite dirty, the boys at the campsite do a fab job of cleaning them (I don't think my trousers will ever get washed as well as they did!) for very little money. One last point is about gifts. On some occasions, members of the group handed out sweets to the children which usually caused quite a commotion since there were never enough to go round (children would come running from miles away and 10 quickly turn into 30). My own opinion is that it is more responsible to reward incentive and buy things from them instead. The odd gift (such as beads, tobacco etc) given VERY discreetly to elder tribe members, after building up a rapport can be a nice thing though. Generally though, the more you give, the more it is expected and may ruin future visitor's chances of a more genuine interaction.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

     I would second Anita's comments about camp food. The soups were great and the little added extras (snacks and tea waiting for us at camp after we returned from trips) were really appreciated.  The only reason that I haven't given the trip full marks is that whilst I appreciate that Ethiopia is a developing country with little infrastructure, there were times when I felt like some of the hospitality trades should buck their ideas up a bit. Just a few examples: I don't expect sparkling but did feel that some of the rooms could have been cleaned a bit better and general organisation in some of the hotels need work (e.g. bringing starters after the main, forgetting who'd paid for drinks and making us explain several times (this happened on many occassions). None of these comments are a reflection on Exodus or its staff. I expect that these things will improve naturally over time anyway as tourism increases in Ethiopia.I hope I haven't put anyone off - it certainly wasn't the intention. This is a trip of life time and you will experience things that will stay with you forever. Just go with an open mind and a sense of humour and you will love it!
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    KILIMANJARO CLIMB - NORTHERN CIRCUIT

    Do it, do it, do it!!  This will be one of the best experiences of your life.  Exhausting and exhilarating!!  I'm sooo glad I challenged myself to do this.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All 11 members making it to Uhuru Peak.  That was something special!  We took it slowly, doing what one of the members called 'the Kili Shuffle' (head down, tail up!), and made it!  The Northern Circuit gives you lots of time to acclimitarize as well as seeing lots of stunning scenery that you wouldn't see on the shorter routes.  I'd really recommend this route.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The African Walking Company (who Exodus use for this trip) were brilliant.  You can't help but admire their local knowledge and physical strength in getting tents, kit and the equipment up the mountain. They made the experience fun, but also took care of us making sure we were okay every step of the way. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit!  Make sure you have the right kit (warm sleeping bag, very comfy boots, lots of layers, take an iPod/MP3 player especially for the final ascent, etc).  Drink lots.  Keep snacking.  Take it slowly - it's not a race.  And most importantly, keep smiling! : ) 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I went with a fantastic group of travellers who kept smiling and laughing - even when hitting the diamox to cope with the headaches and nausea!  Time spent getting fit beforehand is definitely time well spent so you can enjoy the days walking.  Don't be fooled into thinking this is easy because Comic Relief went up it!  You'll soon have huge respect for them.  Be prepared to be dusty (no amount of washy wash will shift the dust that accumulates over 8 days!), to be so tired you're ready for bed by 7.30pm, to laugh, to sleep wearing your thermals and woolly hat whilst clinging to the side of a mountain, and most of all to have a fabulous time!!
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    NEOUVIELLE: THE HIDDEN PYRENEES

    Fantastic holiday with really special group of people.  Great food, excellent guide and superb location, what more could you ask for!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being in a refuge at 2225m with a shower, a bar and great food...just amazing and so simple!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant, helped all members of the group and made sure that everyone was ok, kept group together, kept great pace and so knowledgable!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take earplugs for the refuge trips and pack the minimum!
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    Zanskar, a Secret Kingdom

    Some of the most magnificent landscapes on earth. A tough and challenging trek at high altitude through remote and mind boggling scenery, but not a trip for the faint hearted.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of those high passes. Surviving the river crossings. Watching those incredible Zanskar horses crossing glaciers and rivers that nearly washed them away.The many moonlit camps and fabulous night skies.The almost medieval lifestyles lived by the people in the villages, especially the miller and her little daughter.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cannot praise Jeremy Russell enough. Probably the best leader we have ever had anywhere. His knowledge, skills and affinity with the people and the country were unsurpassed

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some tough days especially over the high passes.Some of the river crossings are adventurous to put it mildly. The rewards of this trip are immense but it is not a trip to be underestimated, it is isolated, temperatures can be extreme especially in high altitude desert but you will never forget a spectacular and exciting experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Get there before 21st century technology does.
  • Reviewed September 2009
    Anonymous

    THE TIEN SHAN

    One of the best trekking trips we've done and there have been a few!  For the most part we had excellent weather while we were walking which certainly helps the enjoyment. There was also a great variety of scenery with the walking ranging from fairly easy to boulder hopping across rivers to scrambling to the tops of the passes for outstanding views.   Other than the scenery there was a fantastic disply of alpine plants in full bloom and we encountered numerous Eagles at close quarters.  The helicopter flight not to be missed was the icing on the cake.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although a trekking trip the most exciting moment for me was taking the helicopter trip to the South  Inilcheck glacier and then flying between the mountains to the North Inilcheck glacier.  Other memorable moments included a glacial river crossings on horseback and the views from the Tyuz pass. The final days walking turned out to be a lot tougher than expected  only because the weather was so good we climbed to the very top of the pass above the tin mines and had absolutely fantastic views all around us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Having done a fair few trekking trips with both Exodus and numerous other companies  Susy has to be one of the best trek leaders we've had.  She didn't rush the group and those who were quicker paced who wanted to do so went ahead with the local guide while Susy usually remained at the back.   Having led this trip previously she was also very knowledgeble of the trek and country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you do the optional helicopter flight, it was fantastic!  We were lucky the weather was very good and we flew to both the South and North Inylcheck glaciers.  The weight limit for the bag for the portes to carry requires some consideration and some sacrifice of a few luxuries, but still managed to fit in a bottle of Vodka and two packets of Jaffa cakes. Gear not required on the trip can be left in Karakol.
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