Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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18154 Reviews

  • Reviewed May 2022

    Getting a flavour of Albania

    We travelled to Albania at the end of April 2022 and had a brilliant experience. Three days in the mountains followed by three days by the coast. Scenery was stunning so we ran out of superlatives to describe it. We were met by our local tour leader - Erlis- at the airport who competently organised everything. Food on the trip was very good. Mediterranean in style, lots of vegetables, fresh fish and many plates of chips. We were very well fed. Cycling was challenging particularly on the first and last days with some long ascents however the bikes supplied were pretty good and gearing coped well. All the effort was definitely worth it. We have travelled to a few remote places around the world but Albania was completely different and well worth going to. Erlis gave us a good briefing on some of the recent history of the country opening our eyes to this part of the world. Definitely a place to visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Starting to get an understanding of this little known country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Organised everything.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Predictive tech

    Technology needs to do what it is told.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    You will see my review from the other day below is grammatically incorrect. The group leader section starts with Variously obviously..... This is totally wrong. I typed Vania who was our leader. It is Vania, Vania, Vania not Variously. Word obviously decided it didn't like Vania and made something up. With all the money I have given Microsoft a refund is obviously due.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vania is a star. Never met Variously.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Rant over
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Good view of former Soviet states

    Group leader (Andrius) was perhaps the best part of the trip. He was born under Soviet rule and just as he entered university the Soviet Union dissolved and his country declared independence. His insights and knowledge of history and society were a real treat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above. Andrius was skilled at meeting the special needs of some travelers without inconveniencing the group. We had a schedule that was very flexible. Summary - he was great!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and check up on the weather to be expected. Northern Europe can still be cold and blustery in mid May. There is quite a bit of walking on this trip - 3 to 5 hours on most days. Early spring has lots of flowers and '50 shades of green' spread over the fields and forests.
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Brilliant Trip

    My first time with a group tour and with Exodus. I would very much recommend it. The tour is well organised - taking in some wonderful and varied places. You get a real feel for the region. All 3 countries have a rich history and for me learning more about the soviet era was fascinating given current events. Our tour leader, Andrius, was fantastic! He looked after us all so well. His take on the places we visited was very insightful. He also went over and above to find us local cuisine. There was so much to take in, from medieval old towns to nature reserves, cold war nuclear bunkers to live blues music. I even managed a swim in the Baltic (very short one)! I would recommend packing many layers for this time of year. Thank you Andrius and Exodus.
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Our trek to Everest Base Camp

    In retrospect, the trip was the experience of a life-time, but always enjoyable at the time and we believe there are things Exodus Travels could do to make this tough expedition easier for future trekkers. Obviously the walking was tough, although my wife and I are seasoned trekkers and knew what to expect. Regarding the route itself, we did wonder whether an overnight stay at Pangboche instead of Phakding would make the trek-day to Namche easier? Also, we question whether a 'B Plan' would be possible in case of bad weather at the high end of the trail ? We reached Gorak Shep by lunch-time on 1st May and would have gone on to Base Camp, but heavy snow prevented that and in order to 'summit' we had to start early the next day to reach Base Camp, return and then walk down to Pheriche, which made for a very long day. We appreciate that it seldom snows in May, but the local people are finding that that pattern is altering as the global climate is changing. There somehow needs to be a 'spare' day in case of bad weather. Accommodation' This was probably our main area of concern; we knew to expect that these would be 'spartan' but this does not excuse the extent of filth in several cases: at Labouche, mould was clearly evident on the bedding, and at Gorak Shep, the one 'western' toilet seat was not only cracked and broken, but underneath it was encrusted with human waste. As someone once said, you can see what the bathrooms are like, but not the kitchens! As for the bathrooms in general, we found at Namche there was no washbasin anywhere except in the corridors, which was the only place where you might brush your teeth, but you obviously could not have a proper (strip!) wash in a corridor in full view of the public! There were 2 showers in that tea-house but one was filthy, obviously not regularly cleaned. At Lukla, there was an under floor water-leak, so that whenever taps were turned on in our room, the carpet in the room and outside in the corridor became immediately soaked. Showers were not available there and in a few other tea-houses - we had to rely on paying extra for a hot bowl of water. At Tengboche, we passed by several newly--built-looking hotels before reaching our tea-house which was much the poorer. (We met other trekkers who had stayed in the newer accommodation and spoke favourably. We wondered there as at Namche why Exodus appeared not to have chosen the best option for accommodation. But there were some good, clean tea-houses; Chhumoa and Khyangjuma were clean and comfortable, as was the newly-built tea-house at Dingboche, which boasted electric blankets. Could this 'luxury' not be provided elsewhere, as would make overnight stays much more comfortable - we enjoyed our two nights there. Pheriche was also clean and relatively comfortable; we saw the toilets being cleaned out by staff in the morning... The most important omission we found was means of (international) communication in the tea-houses in case of emergency. When our daughter became ill and clearly could not continue the trek down from Pheriche, we found it impossible to contact our insurers back in the UK before organising a helicopter. In order to send just one email, we used the tea-house landlord's phone positioned in one particular part of a window to get just 'one bar' of phone reception; a satellite phone in each tea-house would help in situations such as ours. Possibly the most potentially serious issue we had was on the trail out of Namche, where we encountered a herd of yaks descending towards us across the entire trail. On one side was a vertical bank, and on the other a sheer drop. The yaks were moving fast and their driver who was at the back was as much use as a chocolate fire-guard. Our tour-leader said to move to the side by the bank, but then the yaks veered in our direction, threatening to crush us against the rocks. So we were advised to swap to the other side, and the yaks followed us. Whilst they narrowly missed our daughter and me, they knocked my wife over who was scrambling to avoid being swept over the edge. The yak driver did not respond to our shouts of concern, and more worryingly, our tour leader did not appear overly concerned and just said that it was 'crazy'. I think there needs to be some extra care and training given to tour leaders to avoid what could have been a fatal accident in our case.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We loved trekking in the mornings especially when there was sunshine and views of the scenery could clearly be seen and we had many such mornings like this, including having breakfast outside at Khyangjuma. The acclimatisation walk above Namche to the Everest View Hotel was also fantastic, and although the weather at Gorak Shep made for a precipitous trek to Base Camp, it was amazing to see the expedition tents there and to see the snow 'formations' across the Base Camp plateau. Equally inspirational were our sherpas who made the trip for us and couldn't do enough for us, especially Lhakpa I (the older Lhakpa) and Kami who were as attentive to our comforts as they could possibly be, finding the best place to dry towels for us, always there with hot drinks and bringing/ taking away crockery at meal-times, as well as much more. When our daughter could not continue the trek due to a flu-type virus, it was Lhakpa I who stayed with her at Dingboche and Pheriche. When with us on the trail he always set a steady pace, dealt with all the paperwork at checkpoints and was clearly the most experienced among the tour leaders/ guides. But it was Kami and Lhakpa II who were with us on the icy boulder-field walk to base camp and Kami who prevented me from slipping countless times. We tipped the three sherpas generously, but would liked to have given them more. We found the Nepali people friendly and helpful, and our three Sherpas were good ambassadors for the Nepali people. We were pleased with the efficiency of the evacuation by helicopter for our daughter, which enabled us to continue with the trek. (The helicopter pilot was a Canadian who we'd met staying in Lukla - he'd also helped sort out the plumbing problems in our accommodation for us, so we were fglad the helicopter pilot who flew our daughter to Lukla was someone we knew!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were less happy with Aniche, our principal group leader. He put in lots of time with us when we arrived early both in Kathmandu and Lukla, helping show us round Kathmandu and waiting for several hours beyond the expected flight arrival in Kathmandu. As the trek went on, however he appeared less confident in our abilities and his own, frequently asking us if we should abandon our trek and descend, when we had slight headaches. At Gorakshep, he announced that he did not feel well and decided to leave us with our Sherpas, organising a replacement (Khusman) although the latter did not reach us until we had completed the Base Camp walk. He took a helicopter back to Lukla, then on to Kathmandu, leaving us with Khusman who had had to alter his aranged leave and family time in order to join us at Base Camp on Monday 2nd May. On our arrival in Kathmandu, Anish was there waiting for us clearly expecting to resume his position, which Khusman respected. (We wondered whether the awarding of potential tips had anything to do with this.) At dinner on one of the last evenings Anish confided that he was unsure whether high-level guiding was right for him ( given the apparent symptoms he'd had, although he didn't look that ill to us.) He speculated whether lower-level backpacking or water sports activities might suit him better. We were glad we hadn't known this at the start of the trek, concluding all in all that he didn't seem very experienced or have much self-assurance. We were pleased that Khusman was able to step into the breach at short notice, and enjoyed trekking with him. When we returned to Kathamandu and Anish re-surfaced, Khusman tactfully faded into the background.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have winter trekking equipment with you in case it snows on the summit attempt, even if you're told it shouldn't be necessary. Also ensure you have quick-drying towels and waterproof gear; we were lucky that the tea-houses werent that busy when we needed to dry our kit. Don't rely on Wifi - it's very patchy; an Ncell local SIM card is more useful. Get a good battery pack - it's not always possible to charge your phones. Keep a careful watch out for the yaks - they nearly did for us!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think most points I've covered. Looking at our photos, the overall experience was great - we had plenty of 'moans & groans' but you forget these quite quickly; to reach Base Camp and return in one piece is unforgettable and you only need to do it the once!
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Sicilian Volcanoes 2022

    Beautiful islands and luckily we had some good volcanic activity, especially on Etna which made up for not being able to climb to the top of any of the volcanoes Vulcano, Stromboli or Etna, however I do feel the itinerary could be improved.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Using the cable car to get closer to the eruption on Etna, hearing the booms of the explosions, seeing the ash cloud being blasted into the air and feeling the ash raining down on me as the cloud drifted overhead.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alessandro was great, a geologist, so his knowledge was superb, and he know some great restaurants for our evening meals too. He also arranged some private boat transfers between the islands where possible rather than use the hydrofoils which really made the transfers special. Much more enjoyable lying on the roof in the sun than sitting inside the stuffy hydrofoil with face masks on. Exodus should consider this as becoming a permanent feature of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Know what you want to get out of this holiday and go for it, but be prepared for nature to dictate what you may or may not get to do.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    First off, the hotels used throughout were great, particularly the Hotel Miramare on Stromboli with rooms that looked out over the sea, didn’t want to leave. The Gattopardo House hotel in Catania was also good and very central on a quiet side street, which leads me on to address the itinerary issue (as I see it) and ask the question ‘why were we in Catania in the first place?’. It was as if the itinerary designer just gave up on the last day, we were literally ‘killing time’ the whole day until 7pm when we were taken to the airport. This trip is called ‘Sicilian Volcanoes’, if I wanted a tour to see the towns or history of Sicily then I would have done a different trip. Obviously I knew the itinerary when I booked, but having now experienced it I can suggest a better use of the last day. The day before we had spent the morning on Etna and left at 2:30pm for Catania, not a lot of time on Etna, so why did we leave? Surely a better approach would be to spend the whole day there and a second night, we could then spend almost the whole of the last day also on Etna, transferring directly from there to the airport in the late afternoon. As it was the only thing the group thought to do on the last day was use the red hop-on-off bus to visit a couple of small towns on the coast, we literally spent two hours at each place killing time in cafes – a completely wasted opportunity to explore Etna and experience the eruptions. Regarding the time we did have on Etna, because it was erupting there were no guided trips to the very top, fair enough, so the plan was for Alessandro to take us on a guided walk from the hotel, but we realised this was taking us away from the activity, so five of us decided to abandon the walk and take the cable car up towards the erupting craters nearer the top. We spent a wonderful time watching and listening to the dramatic eruptions and getting rained on by the ash. If only we’d been there the whole day and the next day we could have done it twice and spent so much more time admiring the activity. We were also left a little disappointed by the guided walk on Stromboli, unable to get to the top we trekked across the lower slopes ending up very low down to watch the eruptions. The frustrating thing here was that we could have been higher, we know because three of us went back the following day after breakfast during our free day, we spent some wonderful hours watching the eruptions, hearing the explosions, and watching the rocks tumble down the slopes to the sea. I’m mentioning all this because there must be something wrong with the trip itinerary if the two best days (in terms of volcano experiences) were where we decided to do things ourselves, hopefully Exodus will read my review and consider my suggestions to help make this trip more volcano-centric. I'd love to do this trip again at some point, but only if more time is dedicated to actual volcano watching.
  • Great trip with some breathtaking scenery

    I can highly recommend this trip. I arrived a day early on the Saturday and relaxed in Trogir which I would definitely endorse. It’s a lovely town and fun to explore and photograph. Plus it provides a more relaxing start to the tour. Every place we stayed on the itinerary was picturesque and each day was interesting and enjoyable. A good mix of history and scenery. The walks were also at a leisurely pace. Great places to eat, good company and comfortable accommodation. There’s a good mix of group activity and some personal time if you prefer some space from the group. We had a small group of 9 who were all like minded travellers and good fun. If you aren’t sure Croatia is for you please give it a go. This is a terrific week away and a beautiful country. I will definitely go back.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tough to choose just one but the day on Mljet island hiking to the Peak and the beautiful views was special particularly as I got to swim in the small lake at the end of the walk its stunning and very refreshing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vanja was great she had a knack for organising us and yet allowing us all space to do our own thing. She picked great restaurants and I actually looked forward to activities with the group. She’s one of the best tour leaders I’ve experienced with Exodus in a while and good fun to boot. We loved that she set up a WhatsApp group so we could send messages and pictures we had taken to each other. Vanja took several group photos and very generously gave us a copy at the end. She’s a credit to Exodus and Croatia !!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a pair of sandals or reef shoes for swimming in the sea or lakes as the water is crystal clear and so inviting but the ground is stony. Also have a good budget for eating out. The food in Croatia is delicious but it comes at a fair cost. The Exodus budget of £50 a day was about right I personally spent more!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would have liked more time in Split. Dalmatian’s Palace takes time to explore and we only had 3 hours including lunch before we had to leave on the ferry.
  • Wonderful view of former Soviet states

    Our trip leader (Andrius) was perhaps the best part of the trip. He grew up under Soviet rule and went to university just as Lithuania gained independence. His insights and experiences plus knowledge of history and culture were a wonderful gift. He was always looking out for the group while attending to any special needs. Local guides were generally very good. This was our first trip with Exodus. The trip was well paced with considerable walking. We had good hotels and restaurants. Weather was often cold and windy with some rain as one would expect for mid May in northern Europe. Spring was just arriving in Estonia and a month farther along by the time we got to Lithuania. Lots of flowers and 50 shades of green from the trees to the fields.
  • Fabulous holiday

    From the day I booked, Exodus were totally professional. I was greeted at the airport by the very friendly and helpful guide Tony and so a wonderful week started. I was lucky enough to have a wonder group of 16 people of a similar ability, so each day ran smoothly. On one day, the planned route had to be changed due to a land fall, but an alternative route was found. Exodus ensure their walkers' safety at all times and Tony made sure that everyone felt included. Vesuvius was breath-taking and the views were out of this world. On our free day, all of us went across to Capri and enjoyed the island at our own pace. The hotel was friendly, clean and e were lucky enough to get a dip in the pool. The pizza and tiramisu demonstrations were great, as by then we had got to know each other so it all the more enjoyable to watch our friend making the food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day was wonderful, but Vesuvius and Pompeii were stunning, the Path of The Gods was also lovley.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was a great guide, he chatted, helped and guided us - 3 of us are booking again

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the guidance notes, buy good boots, train before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Have already booked the Sardinia trio for October 2022
  • Reviewed May 2022

    Wonderful week of walking

    A fabulous week of walking with lots to offer: fantastic views, opportunities to swim in the sea, a chance to ride on the Soller Tram and the old Palma train, numerous restaurants to try with delicious food, comfortable accommodation and an excellent tour leader. We were also lucky to have perfect sunny May weather.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The final day climbing the beautifully maintained "Salt Path" along the cliffs to the top of Puig d'en Galileu, and the views from the top.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eduardo was excellent: friendly, sociable and full of interesting information about Mallorca. He has been leading this trip for many years and has had the chance to perfect it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The paths are stony, so sturdy footwear is a must. The beaches - other than the sandy beach at Soller - are also stony, so unless you have very tough feet, bring some sandals or swim shoes if you like to swim in the sea. If you are going into Palma on your free day, take the first tram from Porto Soller at 8.30am; it connects perfectly in Soller for the 9am train to Palma (beautiful old wooden carriages!).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Day 2 is the toughest by far, at the top of the moderate level, especially on a hot day - be prepared for a long downhill walk along dirt track at the end. The views from Es Cornadors make the exertion worth it though!