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Reviews

Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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558 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Awesome trip, feel close to nature

    Whenever I think about to travel, every time I think about South zone because of their diversity, culture, beauty and nature. Finally I decided to visit South Zone and trust me nothing can be better than this. You can get everything here like colonial hill stations, beautiful temples, relaxed lifestyle, extra-ordinary scenery and the best food in India.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Houseboat trip is the one.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Excellent Tour with superb Tour Guide

    My first trip to India and with Exodus, this certainly wont be my last. Everything ran smoothly and was so informative and magical due to the charismatic and thoughtful tour leader Sam G Benjamin.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So much culture! Impromtu detours courtesy of Sam which was so interesting and which if we were travelling solo we would of missed. For example the Hindu festival at a temple with elephants, magical. The tuktuk rides! The walk around the rural village.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant could not have wished for better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with the flow!
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A fantastic introduction to Northern India.

    This was a wonderful trip. It needs some stamina as there are a lot of early starts and long journeys. Keep an open mind and take it as it comes, there are many rewards. The group got on really well and we had some great laughs. The tour guide was brilliant and was central to the success of the trip. It's made me want to see more of India.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many of these. Some of the hotels were so pretty with gorgeous gardens. I really value this on a busy trip so you have a bit of down time in the sunshine. We saw 2 young tigers in Ranthambore and this was a highlight. They were beautiful .Felt a bit alarmed the number of trucks all scrambling to view them, but they seemed ok and not traumatised. The Taj Mahal is very beautiful and Varanasi is beyond belief, especially the evening prayers which are akin to a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was amazing. Such a lovely friendly man, had us all eating out of his hand I'd say. He has done the trip so many times and knows every inch of it. He joined in with us and shared the fun. He was organised and gave very clear instructions for the itinerary each day. Was sad to say goodbye.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to love curry, journeying and you need, as on many adventure holidays, patience and an ability to take things as they come. The e-visa service seemed to cause problems at the airport, but it was a difficult time with Covid19. I had a year visa which meant I got through immigration very quickly. Those with e-visas took forever. Take your Powerbank out of your main luggage. Take some warm clothes for the early starts, it takes a while to warm up. No-one was ill, the facilities were nowhere near as bad as you might think they would be, even on the overnight trains and stations. Didn't open my medicine pack. Due to the time of year, I came back with pink and orange hair from Holi, but I'm getting used to it. All but 2 hotels were really good, but you take the rough with the smooth on these trips.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go. You'll love it. it was one of my best tours and I can't wait for the world to get going again.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A wonderful trip taking in a wide variety of locations and experiences.

    This taster of the tropical south of India offers the traveler a wide variety of locations and experiences, and while some may be more appealing than others there is always something to appreciate and enjoy every day. There are sharp contrasts between the manic street life of cities like Madurai and the peace and calm of the more rural locations such as Munnar, Periyar, and the backwaters of Kottayam. The pace of the trip varies and some days are more full-on than others, but there are opportunities to recover from the more strenuous periods and sufficient optional activities for those with the energy to keep going. The itinerary takes in plenty of interesting diversions, and more than a few extracurricular surprises. At the end you will be amazed by how much you have packed into the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many unforgettable moments, it is very difficult to select just one. The trek through the tea plantations at Munnar was an early highlight, although the mists and low cloud obscured what should have been stunning views. The whole experience at Madurai was amazing: a constant wall of sound, with crazy drivers (and a rollercoaster of a tuk tuk ride at night), an unmissable early morning heritage walk (with such a diversity of activities unfolding), followed by a visit to the wonderful Meenakshi Temple, and dining out on street food in the evening. The stop off at the spice garden was informative and offered an opportunity to sample and buy the local products. The cookery demonstration at Thekkady got everyone involved and was highly entertaining (with some tasty food as the end result), while the homestay gave us some of the best food of the whole trip. The houseboat experience was possibly the most inspirational moment, so peaceful and relaxing and a splendid way to wind down towards the end of the itinerary.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We could not fault San in any way. He was an exceptional leader with excellent interpersonal skills, and he organised the whole trip in a professional and responsive way. His knowledge of all aspects of local Indian life, culture and society was amazing and he was always ready to offer just the right amount and level of information, whether explaining what we were experiencing or answering questions from the group. His sense of humour engaged with the group and helped to make us a unit. We were aware he was having to deal with a number of issues behind the scenes (the spread of coronavirus was a constant concern) but he managed them calmly and kept us informed about everything we needed to know. We were always confident that he was acting in our best interests and giving us the best possible experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to take a travel plug for the basins if you want to use them for washing or shaving, as few - if any - of the rooms have them. Make sure you take plenty of hand sanitizer and apply a rigorous hygiene regime at all times, to avoid any unwelcome bugs; if you are careful you should be fine. Take a travel toilet roll or tissues out with you as outside of the hotels few toilets have any toilet paper. There are plenty of opportunities for laundering clothes during the trip and they are very cheap. Using them could reduce the amount of clothes you need to pack.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don’t expect much from the visit to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: it really is a matter of luck if you see any wildlife, let alone elephants (our guide tried valiantly but in vain to locate them), and you won’t see much from the boat cruise on the lake there unless you are seated right on the outside or the front. Day 6 in Madurai was very full-on and some in our group found it too tiring towards the end, after an early morning start for the heritage walk followed by visits to the temple and palace before a long evening out sampling the street food. All of these events offered wonderful experiences, however it might be better to have the street food walk on the previous evening (Day 5) to allow for a more leisurely end to Day 6.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Wonderful first experience of Northern India - highly recommended!

    This was an amazing "starter" trip for anyone wanting to begin to experience India. Packed with highlights, everything ran like clockwork (yes, even the train!) and there were no disappointments - friendly people, incredible sights, amazing experiences and incredible food. Highly recommended!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were several highlights but, for me, Varanasi was just amazing and a place I will never forget. It is hard to put into words, but it is amazingly moving, vibrant and life-affirming - truly a unique place that should be visited by everyone. Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Agra and our amazing tiger sighting all ran Varanasi a very close second, though.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour leader really brought India to life. He could handle any questions we threw at him but, best of all in my opinion, was his interpretation of India’s many religions. Rather than a dry talk about each religious site – Hindu, Sikh, Muslim – he vividly described what each religion meant to him, bringing out the colour and vibrancy of each which more than matched the amazing temples and activities we saw. Even as an old student of RE, I learnt more from our tour leader on this trip then I did in3 yrs of studies and without ever feeling I was being lectured to. Really great, and a real enthusiasm and love for his country and culture on show - much appreciated!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get involved and try everything - whether it is dressing up or trying the local delicacies, just do it! The optional evening boat ride in Varanasi is very atmospheric and moving and really shouldn't be missed. If possible, sit on the left hand side of the bus so you have a better view of all the amazing street life - great for photos and it means you definitely will never be bored on the longish road journeys.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A highly informative trip that covers three states in south Inddiaa

    The trip covers a significant part of south India; our bus covered 2,800 km. At times, the trip seems rather rushed with only one night stays in some locations. This said, our leader Santo certainly got the best for us. Street food, a variety of hotels, different languages, beautiful green countyside, fresh fruits and vegetables, food not too spicy when requested, fantastic elements of the trip spent on boats etc. Exodus, as always, had all angles covered and we were able to enjoy ourselves, especially the walks and boat trips with interesting wildlife to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The houseboat trip was the highlight for me, sadly only one night on the boat, could have extended this!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Santo was excellent. I have never had a better tour leader. He is so well-informed and is great company. Without him, the trip could not have beeen so enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do cover all angles as far as power connectors are concerned. The variety of sockets in hotels is nothing short of mind boggling.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thr trip could benefit from one less location so that single night hotel stays are limited/avoided. The chances of catching sight of tiger are very slim indeed! The option to travel on the Miniature Blue Mountain railway was not offered. But, we did travel on a 1 metre guage railway.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Busy itinerary packed with highlights

    This is a busy itinerary that covers all the major sights in the 'Golden Triangle' of Northern India, plus two tiger safaris and Varanasi, in only 7 days off work. Most itineraries on offer for this part of the world won't give you so much in such a short time period. This makes it a great option for travellers with little time to spare and who want to see as much as possible of this part of the world. There is little 'down time' and it can feel a bit rushed at times, but for me this was far outweighed by the opportunity to see so much and visit places I simply couldn't have fitted in at all any other way. The trip was very well organised and run and I enjoyed everything we visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Taj Mahal was so impressive - it really is worth seeing it in real life. Pictures and TV can't do it justice. The whole trip was worth it just for that. Seeing a tiger in Rathambhore was thrilling especially as many groups aren't that lucky (but the safaris are worthwhile and enjoyable in their own right even if no tigers appear). Varanasi was fascinating and an unexpected highlight for me. Also visiting the Sikh Gurdwara and its communal kitchens in Delhi was a really interesting trip and gave an insight into an aspect of a religion I knew little about.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very well organised and efficient. He did a fantastic job keeping a large group together and getting us through an incredibly busy and tightly timed itinerary in sometimes difficult circumstances. He made the trip run smoothly which must have been a mammoth undertaking.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It really does get very cold in February, particularly on the game drives and sunrise starts. You can't wear enough on the early morning safari to keep warm. So pack accordingly! Layers are best as later in the day when the sun's out you won't need your jackets. Most days you have access to a bus so can leave things like coats. European plug adaptors are the most useful to take and can be used in the majority of the hotels. The train does have power points by the bunks. You can purchase a chain and padlock to secure your bags on the train very cheaply at the station - so if you don't already have one, don't splash out in your home country on one. As with all Exodus trips, a softer, smaller bag will serve you better than a big hard suitcase, particularly when trying to fit it under the train bunk beds. There are a number of optional excursions and these aren't always listed in the trip notes. The cost was generally around 1000-1500 rupees per person for a group of 16. It would be higher for smaller groups. The excursions offered were a cooking demonstration on the first evening, a hot air balloon ride on the second morning (this would be more expensive than the cost above), watching a Bollywood film at a local cinema on the second night (this was about 700 rupees and was well worth it, really enjoyable), a sunrise cruise on the river in Varanasi to see the burning ghats (highly highly recommended), a trip to Sarnath on the second day in Varanasi (miss-able, but does pass the time if you don't want to wait around at the hotel), and a sightseeing trip in Delhi on the last day. You won't necessarily see the standard sights on the Delhi trip but the places we went were well worth visiting, especially the Gurdwara. If you do all the trips and eat with the group, you need at least £200 spending money. The shopping trips can't really be avoided despite what the trip notes say as they are done 'en route' to other things, although you can opt to stay on the bus if you prefer. Take a kindle or phone or something else to amuse yourself if that's the case. The items you see are all high-price and outside the budget of some travellers, so if you're going to have to watch your money and find temptation hard to resist, you might also want to sit these out. If you're a keen photographer or historian, planning ahead for your visits is a good idea as you'll get very little time at some of the sights - in particular, those in Jaipur, and Fatephur Sikri. Reading up in advance will help you make the most of the time you get and ensure you don't miss anything you particularly wanted to see/photograph.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Stunning trip

    I was well impressed with Sri Lanka - charming people, friendly and calm perhaps due to the widespread effect of Buddhism. Our well planned route took us inland, through the mountains and round the south coast with expert guide Nalaka, so we got a great overview of the island. Lovely hotels, most with pools, and superb food - buffets with the chance to try everything mixed with home cooking on banana leaves. We had the opportunity to travel in different ways - rafts, bikes, jeeps and trains; we saw wildlife close up, especially elephants of course, crocodiles, monkeys and a wide range of birds; and we explored some incredible historic sites. A very memorable and fun trip with a lovely group.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was particularly inspired by the view from the top of Sigiriya rock in the early morning mist, the folk museum and the life of Martin Wickramasinghe and the cheek of the monkeys!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nalaka was an excellent tour guide - charming, well organised, informative and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No real need for adaptors - most hotels have sockets which take UK plugs. Walking boots are pretty useful - the Horton Plains track in particular is rough. And 'temple clothes' are needed - even just a sarong which can cover the legs or shoulders and old socks to wear on the hot rocks.
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Lindy Fozard

    An amazing country

    Recently returned from a wonderful trip , travelling with a friendly set of companions and Kibrom as our guide. It is a deeply spiritual country with amazing scenery and lovely people. The accommodation is generally good although not everything works ! The Ethiopians don’t have a culture of eating out so restaurants menus are simple and somewhat repetitive - and I didn’t really like Injera which is a classic staple in the Ethiopian diet. Our guide was very knowledgable especially about the church and Ethiopian history and it was interesting to discuss cultural differences with him, which often challenged the Western way of looking at life. Some of the days are very long , with early starts , toilets in restaurants can be a bit grim and you have to accept that “ bush stops” ( girls to the right and boys to the left ) are often required . I think the Exodus assessment of activity levels is an under estimate and a reasonable level of fitness and agility is required especially as many of the sights are at high altitude which can make you feel tired and breathless with minimal activity.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking in the mountains, sitting with the baboons, and the walk to the waterfall on market day. We were humbled to be part of the Timkat festival and share in the excitement and fervour of the local people.The boat trip on Lake Tana was very relaxing and enjoyed stopping off at monasteries hidden on the islands.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kibrom was very knowledgable and once he got to know us was able to share jokes and stories about himself and his family . I wasn’t at the Timkat accident( when a neighbouring stand collapsed with multiple injuries to local people) but I gather he got everyone to safety very quickly. His religion is clearly very important to him and he was able to talk about the churches in great depth.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are lots of visits to various holy sites - so please bear that in mind when you book if you are not particularly interested in the religious part of the trip . You need to be fit and agile as lots of climbing up and down steep rocky paths, walking poles are a good idea. The suggested amount of spending money on the Exodus trip notes is too low, most people ended up looking for an ATM ( not that many available) Food , drinks and shopping are not expensive but there is a strong tipping culture .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Addis Ababa airport is very security conscious, we had to go through security checks 3 times. Don’t buy water in the departure lounge to take on the plane- there is another security check to get to the departure gate , and the water is confiscated immediately ( even when the bottle hasn’t been opened) Tourism is in its infancy and we feel privileged to have visited when we did.
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Rosemary Sampson

    Ethiopia in Depth

    Overall, it was an interesting and very enjoyable experience. Our guide, Yitbarek, was very well organized, knowledgeable, and his love for his country and people shone through. Scenery was spectacular. Hotels, food, and wine ranged in quality, but I went knowing Ethiopia’s infrastructures were poor as were many of the roads. Timket was amazing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Timket festival.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Well organized, calm, and accommodating when possible. As stated in Summary, his love for his country and people shone through.