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 March 2019
    Sarah (and Angus) Maude

    Stunning beauty in a geologically active area.

    Ecuador is a fascinating, varied and often stunningly beautiful. Apart from high up on some volcanoes, it is very green, with deep valleys dissecting the layers of rock formed of volcanic ash. The people are very friendly and the " indigenous " (as they are known) still live in traditional houses in some mountain areas and have colourful fresh food markets. The programme was well planned, taking in cloud forest, rain forest, the high Andes and the coastal plain. There were activities to appeal to various tastes including bird watching, exploring geologically active areas and wandering in the old colonial centres of towns like Quito and Cuenca. I enjoyed watching the scenery on the long coach journeys (occasionally obscured by rain, it being the wetter season). The hotels, especially the haciendas and the Santa Lucia in Cuenca, were comfortable and large portions of food usually tasty. With so many places included in the itinerary, the pace of the tour was fast with little "spare" time, but that enabled us to see and experience so much.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenic walk around the Cuicocha crater lake, beautiful and geographically interesting. The valley side train journey to the "Devil's Nose". The walk in the Cajas National Park - hills like the Scottish Highlands only bigger.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian, our group leader, was excellent. He worked hard to ensure everything was in order every day but always appeared confident and relaxed. His experience and sense of humour made him a good "minder" for the group, keeping us in order! He kept us well informed about the places and our future movements. I like the way he has so much respect for his countrymen, not allowing us to take inappropriate or intrusive photos.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a full-on tour with little time to relax, except possibly on the long coach journeys - unless, like me, you don't want to miss seeing everything you pass.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you to Exodus and to Fabian for a wonderful experience.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    philip isenhouer

    The Pluses and Minuses

    This is a nice tour with some highs and low points. Highs: Sachatamia Lodge for birds and I mean lots of different types and numbers. Chachimbiro Hots Springs, excellent We got onaly a 10 minutes and a 30 minute boat ride in the Amazon River Basin. Cajabama Indian Market, great local color of locals selling and buying fruit, vegetables, plants. Hiking in Cajas National Park for animals viewing and great scenery Churute Eloological Reserve for mangrove swamp boat ride to see many birds and bird species. Lows: San Clemente Indigenous Community, slow moving and boring. Papallacta Hot Springs, over crowded Not enough boat on the river time in the Amazon Basin. Should be at least 2 hours per 2 days. Banos, over rated town

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sachatamia Lodge for birds and I mean lots of different types and numbers. Chachimbiro Hots Springs, excellent We got onaly a 10 minutes and a 30 minute boat ride in the Amazon River Basin. Cajabama Indian Market, great local color of locals selling and buying fruit, vegetables, plants. Hiking in Cajas National Park for animals viewing and great scenery Churute Eloological Reserve for mangrove swamp boat ride to see many birds and bird species.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian is an outstanding tour guide. Exodus should be happy to have him

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go only in Andes dry season, July-September

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus needs to add more boat time on the Amazon Basin rivers. 10 minutes and 30 minutes are about 3 hours too little.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Brian Helsdon

    An excellent but busy trip

    This is an excellent tour in a country where variety really is the spice of life. You go from the Andes highands, in fairness this is most of the trip with heights, not including the peaks of 2600 to 3600 metres, to the cloud forest, rain forest and the hot and very humid coastal belt. It is very well designed but there are some long coach days. For example on day ten (to Cuenca) we did not finish until after dark having had two long coach rides. It also helps to be reasonably fit if you are to enjoy the more strenuous walks at Chimborazo and Cajas national parks. There are things I would leave out if I was designing the itinerary. For example there is the AmaZoonica Animal rescue centre which says it is not a zoo but it is really and a crowded and disorganised one at that. The Ingapirca ruins were really a non event and mostly reconstructions. One disappointment was the Mangrove boat trip. It did not happen. This was January 2nd and the boatmen simply did not turn up.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Two moments stand out. The first was the climb up Chimborazo from 4800 to 5000 metres. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. The second was at Cuenca. we were there on new year's eve. Totally unexpected and unplanned we came across a massive parade with local ethnic groups demonstrating their affinity with the deity. There were loads of floats and children and adults in colourful costumes plus music.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eddie was excellent, extremely knowledgeable and well organised. He was at ease with the group and enjoyed a joke. He had to cope with several issues affecting group members and did so calmly and effectively without this affecting the attention he gave the rest of the group, a real asset.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Outside of the rainy season you don't need a mosquito net for the rainforest. We didn't see any at all. For the rainforest take a bag that is big enough for all the things you will need for two nights in the rainforest. The boat to the lodge is not big enough to take the main bags. Also make sure you have a powerful torch both for the night walk and the room. There are candles but the matches and match boxes provided were useless.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take plenty of layers. On the last day we went from 3600 metres plus to sea level with temperature changes to match. It was the coldest and hottest day in one.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Rosemary Muirhead

    Excellent Trip

    We flew in 3 days early to see more of Quito, which was a good idea as had altitude headache first day. Could easily spend more time in Quito. Tour is full on, varied and really good. Poundland ponchos came in useful for showers, even in the hailstorm as we weren’t cold because we were walking. Spent $300 in total. Would recommend to anyone of reasonable fitness. Excellent holiday

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the night walk through the rainforest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edi was excellent, best tour guide we have had so far.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Poundland ponchos, deet, if you like wine Clos litre boxes in the supermarkets are great for a pre dinner drink (a box costs $6 which is the same as a glass in the hotels)
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Rosemary Muirhead

    Excellent Trip

    We flew in 3 days early to see more of Quito, which was a good idea as had altitude headache first day. Could easily spend more time in Quito. Tour is full on, varied and really good. Poundland ponchos came in useful for showers, even in the hailstorm as we weren’t cold because we were walking. Spent $300 in total. Would recommend to anyone of reasonable fitness. Excellent holiday

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the night walk through the rainforest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edi was excellent, best tour guide we have had so far.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Poundland ponchos, deet, if you like wine Clos litre boxes in the supermarkets are great for a pre dinner drink (a box costs $6 which is the same as a glass in the hotels)
  • Reviewed October 2018
    richard boner

    Wonderful

    Amazon to Andes involves a fair amount of bus time, but the diversity encountered is well worth it. Some exertion is required, since walks of a couple of hours at high altitudes are involved; but anyone reasonably fit will do just fine. Most of the tour is above 8000 feet; two nights in the Amazon are lower, as is the final day around Guayaquil. Mosquitos were (surprisingly) not present except in the mangroves, last day. Ecuador is a very easy and interesting country to visit. People are friendly, and are obviously proud of their ecological and cultural heritage. Accommodations and food on the trip were excellent, and the tour leader was well informed and experienced (20 years). Highly recommend this trip for anyone interested in exploring this wonderful small country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really too many to count; it depends on whether one's main interest is in the Various cultures or in the huge diversity of flora/fauna.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was amazing - highest marks!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't worry about bugs, mosquito nets, or anything like that. Just come with some dollars for food, tips, and a few souvenirs and an adventurous spirit. You will need a sweater and windbreaker on a couple of occasions (hiking on Chimborazo or in the National Park), but otherwise moderate temps are typical everywhere. Long sleeve shirts are normal, but a couple of short sleeves will also come in handy. Bring a swim suit in case you want to spend 30 minutes on floating down the river.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Tony Lloyd

    Memorable trip, huge variety, breathless scenery, superb guide.

    Ecuador is a very interesting country, much of it at significant altitude. In March, on day one, on the equator the temperature in Quito at over 2000 metres was only about 20 degrees C but I got quite badly sunburned in just an hour without a hat. The variety of environment was , as indicated by the name of the trip, extreme from canoe trips in the Amazon rain forest to wearing most of my clothes at nearly 5000 metres on Chimborazu.. In the past we have shied away from group trips after some bad experiences but this time it was the people that we were with that helped make the trip more enjoyable. However what really made the trip memorable was our excellent guide Fabien who took us to places that we would never have dreamed of going to and introduced us to fascinating people that again we would never have met without his help. Other than Guayaquil this was one of the best holidays we can remember.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a full size crocodile launch itself into the river in the Mangrove swamps - too quick to get a photo. I had no idea that crocs existed in South America.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was excellent. Despite being under stress from both vehicle issues. (We had to abandon the first minibus after just two days) and domestic issues (his flat in Quito had caught fire because of a defective refrigerator) he remained calm and made sure that we were all comfortable, well informed and well fed. Specifically he took us to fascinating markets, through doors into extraordinary buildings and into roadside sugar processing plants. He had a wicked sense of humour but showed great compassion when one of our party had to return home early because of an unexpected bereavement and when my wife struggled with the altitude.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Wear a hat during the day. The mosquito, dengue and yellow fever risk in the part of Amazonia that we visited was minimal to non existent. Don't buy a toy blow pipe. Only an 8 foot long one is accurate enough and powerful enough to amuse your relatives in the UK. Wine is exceptionally expensive. Do try to learn a bit of Spanish before you get there. Consult your GP about tactics to overcome altitude problems. Coca tea is pretty ineffective.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Miller Alison

    Fabulous Trip

    Absolutely brilliant trip. Everything I’d hoped for. Loads to see and do. Lovely country, lovely people. Interesting and varied accommodation. Great group of travelling companions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved it all - but the stand-out moments were the visit to St Clemente, the time in the jungle and shopping in Cuenca.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was excellent - extremely knowledgeable, very friendly and highly organised. Mauricio our driver was also fantastic - I always felt very safe on the sometimes challenging roads.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Things I took which I didn’t need! 1. Mosquito net. 2. Expensive and heavy Electricity voltage converter - the cheap 2- prong adapters worked perfectly well. 3. Thermals and too many cold weather clothes - we really only had one activity where extra layers were required and even then only a fleece and light-weight jacket, although a warm hat was welcome. 4. Beach towel - towels are provided for the hot spring swim and tubing.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Caroline Speller

    Andes to Amazon

    A great trip - to somewhere that most tourists don't visit. Fantastic scenery, lots of wildlife, loads of views of volcanoes and some quirky places to stay. Some days are long but the travel is always broken up with things to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the cloud forest - the birds and plants were glorious. Cuenca is a lovely colonial city and it is relatively flat - a nice change as most of the time the trip is up and down hill.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian was the best guide we have ever had. Showed us and told us about the country and its life, stopping the minibus when something caught his eye. He had a fantastic sense of humour. We were looked after but never smothered with too much fuss.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Midge repellant, anti histamine and and sun screen. The midge bites were rare but very itchy. Long sleeves are a good idea. The altitude can take it out of you so tell your guide if you feel rough. Walking poles handy and walking shoes/ boots essential. Warm hat for high altitude volcano walk, sunhat at other times. You need waterproof cover (poncho/mac) for the waterfall but goretex would probably be too hot. Dark swimwear for the thermal baths as the water will dye light colours. Wellies are supplied in the rainforest but your feet can get very sweaty so take several pairs of dry socks. No electric so you need a torch, which you also need for a night walk. You can only take a small bag (not your main bag) to the rainforest.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a bit of everything trip - scenery, wildlife, insects, culture, hot, cold, altitude, river, mountains. Accommodation is good but because the days can be long you don't always get to make the most of it. There are a couple of hotels where you stay 2 nights which will do laundry.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Robert Harris

    Andes to Amazon

    A wonderful introduction to a hugely diverse country in terms of people, culture, nature and landscape. We came expecting a developing country and found a first-world one with a wealth of natural resources.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The diversity of the flora was amazing - particularly ferns and the general greenness of the diverse topography. The constantly changing landscape and ecology that the trip itinerary presented was quite breathtaking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo Molveda was one of the best tour leaders we have experienced in nearly 20 years of travelling in small groups. He was patient, humorous, knowledgeable, kind and inspired confidence - the perfect guide to a new country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Despite your grading of leisurely/moderate we found the trip relatively full-on compared with others we have experienced. Whilst we were happy with the pace of the trip, others may find it a little strenuous with respect to activities and the amount of travelling/moving on between hotels and the relative lack of free time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The driver (Mauricio) was probably the best we have encountered and everyone felt supremely safe in his hands.
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