Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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638 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020

    Fantastic experience

    Week long tour of western Cuba stopping off at loads of interesting and enjoyable locations: just some were Cienfuegos, Trinidad, pottery studio and 'have a go', Vinales Valley and tobacco/coffee plantation with fascinating demonstrations and of course not forgetting the wonderful Havana. Lovely places to stay and very very good food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Can't narrow it down to 1! but including visiting the traditional house of a couple who lived via their coffee and plant production, overwhelming hospitality of the places we stayed in, Cuban friendliness and seeing how they manage their lives so well despite some hardships.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabulous. The most informative, entertaining and helpful person we could have wished for in that role. The coach driver who took us everywhere was wonderful too, and made sure we never ran out of fuel!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to live out of a suitcase, it's not nearly as difficult as we thought!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We would wholeheartedly recommend this tour. It gave us a great holiday, wonderful experiences and plenty of great memories!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Jean Smith

    A ‘must do’ for the ‘bucket list’!

    An excellent trip with Edward our leader, Felix our driver and Primo the very best boatman in Tortuguero. Our 2 days in Tortuguero were a highlight with the boat trips and we were very lucky with the weather. You definitely need plenty of thin cotton clothes - nothing dries in the humidity and layers for the cooler areas. We felt well prepared having read the trip notes and the recent reviews. Plenty of bug spray, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat. Excellent food especially the fruit and fish and accommodation better than we had expected. The spa at the last hotel was an unexpected bonus - well worth having a massage and jacuzzi after a busy holiday! We enjoyed the happy hours to sample local cocktails (some more than others!). Our group of 16 was an eclectic mix who got on extremely well, always ready for a laugh and a challenge and got on really well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    5.30 am boat trip down the water channels at Tortuguero looking for wildlife - superb!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edward was very professional, personable and smart both in appearance and knowledge. He was flexible, wanting to meet the whole group’s individual needs and good fun. He was always willing to organise extra things for us to give us the best experience of his beloved country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes and recent reviews and make sure you have a good camera, binoculars, umbrella, waterproof or poncho and a good hat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
  • Pleasure & Pain.....

    A great trip that could have been SO much more! My husband & I mostly enjoyed the first half of this trip, chosen especially to see the Day of The Dead celebrations in Mexico. The accommodation was pretty good throughout with some lovely colonial hotels, some with lovely swimming pools. Unfortunately we often arrived far too late in the afternoon, to enjoy those facilities and the next day we were off again on the tour. Very disappointing. Travelling for the whole trip in a minibus (this was mentioned in the trip notes to be fair, but we have never had to endure this in any 7 of our previous Exodus trips, always having had much larger coaches) with no spare seats, unable to be fully comfortable or recline our seats, on some very long journeys (albeit with comfort breaks) spoilt the trip for us. Being in very close quarters with our group for several hours each day, some of whom we felt were selfish & insensitive to the needs of their fellow passengers, was at times, a strain & caused a lot of tension. In retrospect I think the tour could perhaps should be cheaper and split into two separate trips. So that those who wish to experience the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca can and perhaps add on another separate tour with the Yucatan & Mayan pyramids for those that want to experience the history. The first half with maybe more time in Mexico City to experience all that it has to offer. We are no strangers to 'full on' Exodus trips, having been to Peru last year,also China, Russia, Cuba & India twice. However this trip felt exhausting to us, mainly because of the travelling conditions in the minibus, nearly all the road journeys were longer than the 'estimates ' in the trip notes. It was also very unfortunate I was ill in Oaxaca & had to see a doctor for antibiotics and steroids. To be honest we felt that to appreciate the country, more time is need in some of the towns - Merida & Campeche especially.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Personally it was experiencing the Day of the Dead in the evening, with the families in the cemetery. The atmosphere was incredible. To see the decorated shrines and just be there with everyone, was a joy! I loved the skeleton figures everywhere and the rich colours of the marigolds on the altars. Oaxaca was a terrific place to see & feel the celebrations. We also had a great time at Frida Kahlo's house,in Mexico City even thought here were long queues, our guide had prebooked so we got in without too much waiting. I wasn't prepared for the scenery to be so varied either-vast plains,mountains, jungles, forests.... Seeing the Gulf of Mexico just as the sun set was magical! Unfortunately in Oaxaca, we were very disappointed when told by our guide that although printed in the itinerary, we were not going to have lunch with a local family, take part in the parade or go to the family's shrine in the evening. Many of the group wanted to dress up, have their faces painted and really immerse themselves in the experience. In fact that was why we had chosen Exodus, because it offered those things. But it was not to be. Perhaps the trip notes should reflect this in future, so as not to disappoint clients.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Arturo was all things to us all. From being a mine of information about his country's history, culture & religion, he was always willing to go the extra mile - from providing medication when we were ill ( a bad cold struck most of us down during the trip) to providing a fruit plate & bananas for my husband when he suffered an upset stomach and was unable to leave the hotel in Oaxaca for 2 days. Arturo took us to some very good restaurants so we could experience the variety that is Mexican cuisine - despite my dislike for chillies! He was always patient and mostly helpful. We especially had a good time with him in Oaxaca watching the dancing in the square from the restaurant balcony.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    .Be prepared for long journeys - with little in the way of 'enjoyable' food when travelling from place to place! Motorway services & cafes do not cater for gluten free diets - so take snacks with you - cereal bars, small packs of dried fruit & nuts etc. You can buy snacks but the food is very 'plastic'! . Take Mexican pesos with you - although US dollars can be exchanged, you are not always near an ATM or bank. . If you like crafts, Mexico is a wonderland. Make sure you have room in your case especially for souvenirs of the Day of the Dead. We experienced some VERY heavy rain one day but generally the weather is good in October/November - take a brolly/packable waterproof in your rucksack. . Take headphones, iPad/tablet, Kindle, book etc to pass the time on long road journeys.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Everything is as I mentioned in my overview. Mexico is a fascinating country but having had this experience with Exodus I wouldn't go back.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Emma Daly

    Would love to go again

    Trip was actually amazing - amazing tour guide (Jorge) and driver (Paolo) as well as a great tour group. None of the activities ever disappointed and even on the few long drives, there was great views. The trip was really well organised and I would love to go again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    White water rafting, rapping down waterfalls and zip lining over the rainforest would be my best bits.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was always very informative and interesting, clearly very passionate about his country and definitely made the trip as enjoyable as possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring plenty of clothes, including some longer shorts or trousers as for some activities (zip lining, rippling etc.), these are recommended.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Emma Daly

    Would love to go again

    Trip was actually amazing - amazing tour guide (Jorge) and driver (Paolo) as well as a great tour group. None of the activities ever disappointed and even on the few long drives, there was great views. The trip was really well organised and I would love to go again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    White water rafting, rapping down waterfalls and zip lining over the rainforest would be my best bits.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was always very informative and interesting, clearly very passionate about his country and definitely made the trip as enjoyable as possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring plenty of clothes, including some longer shorts or trousers as for some activities (zip lining, rippling etc.), these are recommended.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Julie O'Donnell

    Discover the whole country

    I booked the trip as I expected to be surrounded by wildlife, it wasn't the case.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The second day in the river boat. One of the trips out we saw possible 70% of all the wildlife we saw during the whole two weeks. I witnessed a few (about 10) sea turtle hatchlings make their way into the sea, this was the highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader (Ed) was brilliant, knowledgeable, funny and went out of his way to ensure we all had a great time. He did everything he could to find the wildlife we all were desperate to see.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be under the impression that you will be surrounded and see wildlife other than birds. Yes you will see mammals, reptiles, insects etc., but the majority of the time.... birds.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been so much better to have stayed in the river and rainforest areas longer. The last two days were a total waste of time in the grubby city and we were moved from place to place far to often, having to leave some beautiful places! This was no failing of the guide but the schedule.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Charmaine Cook

    Brilliant trip around an Amazing country

    A trip that transports you from different areas in beautiful Costa Rica. Six different ecosystems visited but the travel between destinations was only half a day and spending 2 nights at each place meant we had plenty of time to explore. My trip was bird watching lead guide. So every morning had an optional early start to go out and look for birds. Some of the people on the trip were not that sure at the beginning but by the end of the trip, they were keen about what we saw and more knowledgable. Frankly I was in phographers heaven!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hummingbirds galore - the speedy devils were a challenge to photograph but I managed some cracking shots that I was pleased with. I was not expecting to see any turtles at Tortuguero so watching the hatching turtles scurry down to the sea was special. Maybe the premise of a new beginning was why it was magical - we all were blown away by that. Personally I just loved the quiet time I had in Santa Elena Cloud Reserve standing in the rain, being harassed by a hummingbird and looking at the beauty of nature surrounding me.It was the sheer variety of plants, flowers and birds on our trip that allowed me to just enjoy nature and relax.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andres was a master of bird identification- he just listened, watched and studied to show us an impressive array of birds on this trip - 230 or so. He was thoughtful and made sure he knew why we were doing this trip - ensuring that why we were here was covered. His patience was unlimited and he had information with quick wit and a smile all the time. Our driver, Alexandros was a laugh, an amazing driver who kept us safe, brilliant evasive control when needed and was always keeping the bus immaculately clean.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go. Costa Rica is beaches, rainforest, towns, cloudforest, canals and very friendly people. I took colones and US dollars as purchased at home but US dollars was regularly accepted and change given as colones. Take a good lens and plenty of memory space - I took over 8000 photos. As a vegetarian, usually easily catered for in our hotels or when we ate out. Tropical fruit, good quality food everywhere - not gourmet but tasty. If you are wanting partying, late nights and cities - this trip is not for you. If you want open area dining with the local animals watching you eat, marvelling at the beautiful nature and early nights/ possibly early mornings - then this is more your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is a country that is a leader in the way of eco tourism. They also as a nation are very environmentally aware so it makes you realise that supporting the country is supporting the environment too.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Louisa Green

    Life-changing!

    I had not been on holiday for over a decade before I embarked on this trip, so suffice to say I had high expectations! Costa Rica had been on my list ever since a colleague visited the country two years ago, and it was well worth the wait. We were fortunate enough to only have eight travellers, which meant that our guide, Jonathan, had ample time to answer all of our questions. If you are looking for a holiday which will give you eight hours of sleep a night then this trip is not for you. We were up for breakfast before 8am every day and despite there being several optional extra activities listed on the trip notes, we didn't have time to do any of them as we were constantly on the go! I felt as though I was away for six months or more, and I enjoyed moving to a new area of the country every few days. Each hotel we stayed at had a different style suited to the area of the country we were in - rainforest lodge, spa resort, mountain hotel, ranch, beach hotel. The food was wonderful - all breakfasts are included and on the days when our lunch and/or dinner weren't included, we never felt hungry.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I thoroughly enjoyed our turtle nesting tour in Samara and after three hours of walking up and down the same stretch of beach, we finally witnessed a female Lora turtle making her way up the beach, dig her nest, lay her eggs, cover them up again and return to the ocean.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jonathan, our tour guide, was absolutely brilliant. He even managed to squeeze in a few extra activities which weren't on our itinerary such as a visit to a fruit market with a tasting session, a stop in Nicoya town en route to Samara, a trip to the man who produces "the best coffee in Costa Rica" and also a slight detour to another of his friends who has their own pottery business. He knew the calls, English and Latin names of every bird we saw, gave a debrief at the end of each day, made sure we knew the plans for tomorrow, took us to local restaurants for the not-included meals and consistently went above and beyond for us. He made an incredible trip into an unforgettable one.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip is currently (Dec 2019) tagged as a culture trip, but in reality it is definitely a wildlife adventure. Some days we saw in excess of 30 different types of birds and reptiles, and were very lucky to find sloths, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, spider monkeys, spiders, frogs, snakes, toucans, macaws, crocodiles, turtles, caimen, lizards and iguanas every single day. The trip notes state that the average lunch is around $15 and $35 for a dinner - in practise we found that we paid nowhere near this much. Hotel meals are expensive, but local restaurants often charge half the price for a more authentically Costa Rican meal.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I could give this trip 10 stars, I would, and I will be booking all my future adventure holidays with Exodus :)
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Andrew Patchett

    A birding bonanza

    This was the most wonderful adventure and our experience was just as all previous reviewers, simply amazing. Lots of great scenery, beaches, forests, countryside and birds. Lots and lots of the most amazing birds. Costa Rica is green for a reason so be prepared it can rain a lot at any time but it is always warm/hot!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the turtles hatch on Tortuguero beach and seeing the amazing Resplendent Quetzal in Savegre Cloud Forest at such close proximity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andreas our group leader was one of the best we have travelled with and we have had a few! His patience, knowledge and enthusiasm was just simply amazing and never seemed to be phased by the groups constant questions. Our trip had a birding bias and Andreas’s ability to locate, see and identify them was just simply amazing. We would not seen a fraction of them without his expert knowledge and guidance. Thank you!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Costa Rica is not a cheap country so be prepared for normal UK prices or above however the food and drink are really good with lots of fresh local fare. Just the best. The coffee it goes without saying is fantastic. ( We liked the iced coffees the best. Mmmmm!) ATMs are safely available so no need to carry lots of cash and dollars are always used with change given in local currency. You can also pay on credit card everywhere and great internet access even in the remotest of stays. How do they do it! Everyone says it,however it is worth mentioning, you do need a lot more travelling clothes than you would normally take. When washed they do not dry quickly because of the humidity. A fold out umbrella is an essential item. We found sealed bags for cameras etc useful and check your ‘bins’ are sealed, they may steam up inside otherwise! It is all about the beautiful green countryside, so clean and litter free. This is a very different Central America more akin to the North and generally you will have no language barriers at all. Try to get a direct flight! Going via Miami is a complete nightmare with immigration, lines, and just general inefficiency with little or no signage. In our experience you need at least 3 hours between flights if you do and that will be tight. It was a real challenge and took the edge of what was an amazing adventure. A great pity. However ....... Go and enjoy!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Miriam Carpenter

    Fabulous holiday

    How many times can I say the word amazing? We had high expectations of this holiday & we weren’t disappointed. It’s a busy holiday, moving on every 2 days, but there was time to relax in the afternoons & it meant that you feel you’ve seen so much of this varied country. The drives are about 4 hours, broken up with stops in interesting places, & the views are always amazing. We saw so much wild life, and the atmosphere in the rain forests was a great experience We had a couple of good fish meals at restaurants but Costa Rica isn’t really a ‘foodie ‘ destination. Prices are similar to England.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Boat trip on the Laguna at Tortuguero was magical. The atmosphere of the rainforest at Aquinas lodge was special, especially on the night walk At every location, there was so much wild life. Particularly loved seeing the colourful birds, especially the flocks of toucans and the resplendent quetzal, and the iguanas, and of course the sloths and howler monkeys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos well deserves his tour leader of the year award. He is a naturalist to his very core, and his passion is infectious. he is incredibly knowledgeable, not just about the wildlife, he told us so much about the history, the politics & the economics of his country. On top of that he’s warm & friendly, he’s witty & he is very humble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light, there’s some hoofing your case around but pack wisely as you’ll go from a hot & humid rainforest where you want to shower hourly, to the cool mountains where you need a jumper & jacket. All within a 4 hour drive. Beg steal or borrow a good pair of light weight binoculars. Set up a WhatsApp group to share photos with your group