Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed August 2019
    Neil Thomas

    Llamas and Alpacas: Machu Picchu Dreaming

    It took me a while to love Peru. It didn't help that our flight from Gatwick was delayed nearly 24 hours, resulting in us missing the first part of the adventure, and then enduring two very long travel days. However, once we arrived in Cusco and dealt with the initial impact of the altitude, the magic started to work. Ignore the sprawling, traffic-filled suburbs: the historic centre of Cusco is a magnificent place to spend a couple of days. We enjoyed visiting the market, the Bohemian quarter of San Blas, people watching in the Plaza de Armas and even waiting to cheer a bride into her wedding. Our days in Cusco bracketed our visit to Machu Picchu, which is every bit as magnificent as the guidebooks lead you to believe. Our allocated afternoon time slot allowed us to walk to the Sun Gate before visiting the main site - a rewarding experience affording magnificent views. The downside of MP - the shuttle buses to and from Aguas Callientes. You will have to face lengthy queues in each direction. On our second morning in Aguas Callientes we resisted the urge to visit MP again and instead were taken on a walk along the railway line to Los Jardines de Mandor, a beautiful botanic garden in the cloud forest leading to a waterfall. I would urge all Exodus clients to make this three-hour excursion - it was a highlight for us. After Cusco, there was another sprinkling of magic on Amantani Island, an oasis of beauty on Lake Titicaca. Our visit coincided with an island fiesta, so we enjoyed the riot of flags, dancing and colour displayed by the locals. Our journey across Titicaca also involved a visit to one of the floating island communities. That too was wonderful in a weird way. Next was the trip through the altiplano to the charming town of Chivay, stopping to watch an erupting volcano and a couple of whirlwinds en route. I can also now tell my llamas from my alpacas, as well as vicunas - there are plenty of all three species to be seen en route. Chivay offered a trip to the thermal springs and a rare hour of leisurely self-indulgence. The next day it was an early start to see the Andean condors rising on the thermals in Colca Canyon - another memorable experience. Then it was Arequipa, our visit coinciding with another festival of music and dance, and finally Miraflores, and a belated meeting with Paddington Bear, before our flight home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Machu Picchu, Cusco, Amantani Island, Colca Canyon, the train trip from Ollentaytambo to Machu Picchu. There were more, but you get the drift.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We have been on numerous Exodus trips, all with good leaders, but Giuliano Gallesi was on a higher level than all of them - not just because of the altitude. He dealt efficiently with our day-late arrival and then led the tour with authority and compassion throughout. He was quick to recognise the signs when group members were struggling with the altitude and twice called the doctor as a result. He has a very good command of English, a likeable personality, was happy to answer all our questions and, above all, was available to the group 24/7. A true professional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware of the long distances involved in the itinerary. For most of the route, the bus had a toilet on board, but that is of little consolation if, like me, you are not happy travelling near the back of a coach. We bought Peruvian Soles in advance of the trip and these were easier to use than US dollars. Dollars are accepted, but you are subject to the vagaries of local exchange rates. Food was generally of a very high standard. Our tour leader took us to or recommended consistently good restaurants. Make sure you have a supply of toilet paper handy. Many public banos did not have any available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Essential Peru is a rewarding but tiring trip. And you cannot ignore the altitude. On first arrival in Cusco we wanted to go straight to bed to sleep. The advice to take a short walk for some fresh air and then to have something to eat helped us to acclimatise.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Amanda Hayes

    Spectacular scenery and costumes

    A very well planned and varied itinerary that takes you up to the high altitude gradually. A lot of travelling but the spectacular scenery takes your mind off the long journeys. Good attention to health and safety throughout. The Inti Raymi festival events are a modern interpretation of the traditional Inca rituals but nonetheless wonderful to witness. The costumes and the infectious energy of the local people enjoying the festival in Cusco the day before was a great experience. It was a wonderful 'trip of a lifetime' experience and I am pleased to recommend it to other travellers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Many moments were deeply memorable: the first sight of Machu Picchu is as breathtaking as the pictures. Our guides were delighted that the sun shone but a bit of misty cloud would have been my ideal atmospheric visual experience. The site is pristine thanks to llamas that graze and keep the grass neat and it was not over-crowded with visitors. Out homestay was a delight in so many ways: local food and traditions and a really warm and honest welcome to the family home. The Inti Raymi festivities as already mentioned. The sites that presented the Inca agricultural innovations - some of these were optional as part of the Sacred Valley tour: salt pans and agricultural laboratory terracing and I strongly recommend this additional trip. On the last morning we went to the Larco Museum. It is not included in the trip, but I think that all of the group got taxis there. It is an excellent museum with fascinating objects, well displayed and described in Spanish and English. It also has a good restaurant.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was very well organised and took great care with health and safety. Unlike some other Exodus trips that I have been on there were a lot of additional guides. It may be a Government tourism policy to employ local people but their skills and knowledge was variable from excellent at the Santa Catolina convent, to charming but poor at Machu Picchu. The number of additional people who were part of the planned programme (not the optional ones) also added to the cost of tips etc. which was well above the Exodus suggested kitty so maybe Exodus should review their estimate.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Trip Notes are for all the Exodus Peru trips so read with care and do your own research about what to take e.g. we did not have porters but I gave the children's clothes I had brought with me to the family on Amantani island, which was fine. There are a number of extra, optional activities to suit different interests. We were pleased with the choices we made but some people who did other things reported that they were disappointed because the description of what they were going to see did not match the reality. I recommend reading up in advance or with a non-listed option ensure that you get details so as to minimise the chance of disappointment. The tipping kitty only went to the male porters and not to the female chambermaids.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Steve Deutsch

    A fantastic journey around Southern Peru

    An amazing trip full of insight and excitement. 3 weeks seeing the Coast, the Desert, the mountains and the jungle. Lots of early starts but worth it to cram in as much as possible. So many highlights including the Ballestas Islands, the Nazca lines, Arequipa, Colca Canyon and its condors, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, local festivals, the Moonstone Trek, Machu Picchu, the jungle...

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Following the Moonstone Trek, high in the mountains, for 4 days and 3 nights, camping in the wilderness and waking up to snow one morning, meeting virtually no-one, supported by a great team. Visiting Machu Picchu which really is as amazing as the pictures suggest. Going to the Amazon jungle, which was fantastic, such a change from the rest of the trip, with lots of wildlife to see.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bruce was fantastic. Friendly, committed, cheerful, and informative he kept us to time and schedule and was great company too, even giving up part of his day off to take us to another site.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just be aware that although the trip is rated leisurely / moderate there are lots of early starts and lots of travel on the coach, with limited downtime, particularly until Cusco. But its a great trip and there's so much to see.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go, its such an interesting country.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Linda Stephenson

    Amazing Peru!!

    From start to finish this trip ticked all the boxes. Yes it's full on, Peru is a huge country and this holiday maximises your time to visit all the most interesting places and areas. The scenery whilst travelling around is amazing. Didn't even open the book I'd taken to read on the coach!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many - the reed islands on Lake Titicaca, standing at the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu at dawn - watching the transformation from atmospheric cloud and mist to bright sunshine, seeing the Andes in all their glory and experiencing the Amazon rainforest and it's amazing flora and fauna.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Daniel was fabulous. His friendly personality, pride in his country, knowledge of Peru's history and cultures, enthusiasm and organisational skills and excellent English made us feel very well looked after. Felt like we were travelling with a friend who was also a guide and leader!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it! You can sleep when you get home!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We would definitely recommend the Amazon rainforest extension. Completely new experience and different to any other adventure we've been on.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Gary Cox

    A fantastic iconic adventure.

    Did i enjoy this trip,you bet.From the start to the end this trip was a revelation,everyday was an highlight.Back home after 3 days,and iam still buzzing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Peru is so much more than Machu Picchu,which of course is fantastic.For me,the homestay on Lake Titicaca,the local market next to San Pedro market in Cusco were truly memorable.I could go on,and on,everyday was inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This was probably my adventure of a lifetime,and Daniel,our group leader,made this happen.His organisation skills,his patience,his passion for Peru were exceptional.Through his leadership we experienced a magical Peruvian adventure, many, many thanks Daniel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of spending money(you will need it)and enjoy Peru.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't just read these reviews,go,go,go to Peru!!!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Justina Mclaughlin

    A magical trip

    A comprehensive cultural tour that also incorporated the different landcapes of Peru. The Inti Raymi Festival was spectacular and whilst the trip notes don't specify, we were seated in premium seats with great views at Sacsayhuaman. Its worth the extra cost to experience Inti Raymi!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Its difficult to choose just one as each day revealed some new place or aspect of Peruvian culture. Machu Pichu really is stunning and as magical as it looks in the photos. I personally found travelling through the Andes very inspirational. I hate long journeys by road (I suffer from motion sickness) and I was dreading the road journey but the scenery of the Andes really is breathtaking. So glad we traveled overland instead of flying straight to Cusco. Its inspired me to consider further overland journeys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Giuliano was an excellent tour leader. He ensured all our transfers, arrivals, hotel check ins and local guided tours were well co-ordinated. He was knowledgeable on local places and history, he was also very responsive to requests from members of the group to do additional activities, vary the itinerary. As a tour leader who has previous experience of gourmet food tours he also gave us some great recommendations for eateries.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The pace of the trip is full on and everybody suffered a little with altitude. Some were very tired, others developed sinus problems, others had upset stomachs or felt nauseous. Only one encountered breathing problems and was immediately put on oxygen and handled expertly by our tour leader. I personally opted to take Diamox for altitude and had no problems breathing at altitude but I did still experience slow digestion and on occasion had an upset stomach. Fortunately I had a big bag of medical remedies from home and my advice would be to bring these with you. I recommend bringing hydration salts and over the counter remedies for an upset tummy/indigestion. I bought a ticket to hike Montana Machu Pichu 3 months in advance, for the morning of the 2nd day in Machu Pichu, . Since there are only 400 available a day, mountain hiking tickets sell out months in advance, if this is something you want to do email Exodus and they will advise you the date you need to purchase the ticket and details of timing. Be aware you have to be very fit and get up early (5am) and be back at the hotel by 2pm. Practical suggestions of things you should bring for the trip - A stash of tissues, antibacterial wipes (essential), small overnight bag/daypack and a good supply of cash. Opportunities to use credit cards are limited to the more expensive shops and restaurants. Also whilst ATMS are available, they are not always on the doorstep as you often stay in remoter locations.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The age demographic of the group took me by surprise. I was the only person there under 50, everyone else was at least over 60 and there were 17 of us. Whilst my travel companions were all good fun and young at heart I did, at times, feel like an outsider. Useful info to have: Luggage allowance on the internal flight to Lima is 23kg and you are permitted an 8kg bag in the cabin. Tipping Kitty was $83, it would have been good to know if Exodus had advised us of this in advance. It is worth having the tipping kitty as there are a lot of places where carrying our own bags could become a chore. Fortunately the bell boys and drivers did this for us and were tipped from the kitty. Shopping for artisan items is better when travelling in the Andes. If you see it and like it, grab it as you go, I found less unique items available and those that were ended up more expensive in Lima.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    george tarbuck

    Adventure of a lifetime

    The trip is excellent, coach journeys over the Andes, moonscapes and volcanoes with snow on the peaks. Machu Picchu is stunning. The condors were happy to come out and play. The hotels were good. The homestay on the island was charming and the people genuinely hospitable without being pushy. The food served to us on the homestay was the best meal I ate in Peru, simple and tasty.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the condors.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Guiliano was the best tour leader. Always on hand to help, sorted every situation flawlessly and with a sense of calm, even when assisting one of the group with oxygen when they were unwell at altitude. What stood out was the forward planning and anticipation that Guiliano showed. We could get on with enjoying the holiday whilst knowing that everything was under control.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take American Dollars.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go on this trip.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Georgina Shanks

    Good

    A fascinating country, exceeded expectations.S

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Condors in the Colca cannon.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An experienced leader, who had lost his love of the job. Daniel was very wrapped up in his family’s, yes two of them. He kept information to himself, and only informed the tour at the last minute. He treated us like children, and obviously liked the men, he was very hostile to the women at times. He dumped the group as quickly and as often as he could. Very little information was given on long journeys, so I feel we did not learn as much about Peru as we could have. The specialist guides were much better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are a lot of extras to pay for, not listed in the trip notes. museums, cathedrals etc. ,
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Zayna Davis

    peru adventure

    Overall a fantastic trip would use exodus again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All of it i loved every single part all amazing and breathtaking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Wilmer was the best tour guide i have ever had! I have done many many tours and wilmer was by far the best. Her was funny and helpful and his knowledge of peru was so brilliant. I learnt more than i ever imagined.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The inca trail is tough but once you have climbed the final OMG steps you realise just how worth it the hike and climb was!!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Christine Harrison

    Essential Peru

    This was an excellent tour. Lima, Cuzco and Arequipa were very interesting and lively cities to explore, each containing many palaces, cathedrals, convents, crypts and so much more. The Inka Museum and Sacsayhuaman site in Cuzco should not be missed nor the Planetarium and ancient burial grounds at Nazca. The flora and fauna were also amazing and plentiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most amazing sights were the Ballestas Islands, the Nazca Lines and, of course, Machu Picchu. The second visit to Machu Picchu gave me the chance to explore it all over again at my leisure.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I found the easiest way to cope with extremes of altitude (ie warmth and coldness) was to dress in layers. Also to have plenty of snacks handy for the long, long drives.