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Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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2404 Reviews

  • Trip of a lifetime

    Our first trip with Exodus, and first adventure on the bikes. This trip with Roberto and Jeyson guiding and Luis driving exceeded all of our expectations. We are hooked on this type of trip now and cannot believe we haven't found you before. We packed in so many wonderfully different terrains, views and wildlife experiences, it will be hard to replicate. The bikes were great, the cycling was the perfect amount for reasonably fit older adults. The first cycling stop where the water container was opened and we had the vision of perfectly arranged fresh pineapple and papaya was when I knew we would love it. This was the perfect time of year no rain, occasionally a little too hot but no need to carry excessive cold weather baggage. The tour guides at the national parks were exceptional and our tour guide Roberto had done all the upfront work to make our travel and experience of these phenomenal sites as smooth and streamlined as possible. We are truly grateful for a magnificent experience in difficult times pura vida!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are a few inspirational moments. Firsly finding that we had a great mixed group to share our holiday with. Some couples, singletons, siblings and lifetime friends, many who had been on previous trips and had advice and experiences to share from those. In particular two wonderful 70 old ladies who often headed up the group on our way up the hills gave me hope for another 15 years of these type of holidays. Along with the wildlife which was exquisite and varied I found the vegetation to be awe inspiring. I loved the Wilson Botanical gardens and the rides through the mountains as we descended from that area. Seeing the various different plantations from pineapple to coffee and bananas was fascinating. And finally our beautiful afternoons by the the beach first the Pacific at Agua Dulce and then the Carribean for our impromptu swim, which Roberto realised was a necessary addition to the itinery.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Roberto is an excellent locally based leader , who is fluent in English, with the skills to manage and rearrange the itinery to suit the group requirements and the ensuing pandemic that we sadly were having to contend with. He was prepared to manage finances for various meals to enable us to get the best out of our time in the country, a truly experienced and skilled leader. He patiently repeated his instructions when asked, and pulled us into line when needed. His knowledge of the country and the wildlife was exceptional and he sets the standard very high for all our future trips. His helper Jeyson was also a delightful young man, who is a valuable addition to the team. With Luis and his exceptional driving they are a formidable group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As we were new to this style of trip, we hadn't thought through how it would work, it did perfectly but here are the things we learnt. Moving accommodation every night was an organisational challenge and being very prepared for this in your packing would help. 'Packing cubes is a recommendation I will take home from another guest'!! We set up early a group whatapp which enabled us to share photos and co-ordinate meeting in a timely manner this was essential. We had a fair degree of bus time and these journeys were made much more fun by having an inclusive group vibe, where everyone was helpful regarding possessions and spotting bathroom opportunities. Each person, couple is looking to get something slightly different out of the experience if everyone in the group is mindful of that it works brilliantly, as it did for us.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were somewhat anxious about various different aspects of this type of trip, even before the coronovirus effect. However within a very short space of time our fears were allayed. we weren't sure that our cycle level would be ok, but with the back up of the bus that becomes irrelevant, so long as you are comfortable covering the required distance at the pace that is recommended if you want to have bus break time that is no problem. We felt under a little pressure the first couple of nights, as we had missed our connection in Madrid ( do not book flights with only 2 hours connection window) due to French air traffic control!!!! It took us a while to settle in but having a positive attitude to dealing with hiccups helps and it was no big deal. A night in Madrid gave us a chance to practice Spanish in a plaza, and I had a couple of hours reading by a pool. We have loved our hotel based activity holidays for many years especially as the children grew and we had busy work lives. This more immmersive experience of travel though will suit us for many years to come.
  • A great holiday

    This trip was pretty much exactly what it said on the label. A varied ride through contrasting states. Well organised and well run. No problems and a lot of fun. A good balance of riding and relaxation.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Nothing particularly stands out. There were many interesting things to see but for me there was no one inspirational moment. This is not a negative comment - it was all good with no real highs and no lows.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Shekar - Excellent. He was organised and always very considerate. He led well and although some minor incidents must have raised his stress levels he coped well. He loved to talk and would use two words when one would do but he was interested in improving his English (which was very good) so as to communicate more efficiently. Sometimes he made up the odd facts, particularly dates, but this was just an amusing characteristic and one would not treat his historical knowledge too seriously.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In our group everyone had done at least one cycling trip with Exodus before. There are some quite long days so I am not sure I would recommend the ride for first timers unless you were already keen cyclists. India is a mad place to cycle but quite safe once you get to grips with the techniques of getting through the crowds as one exits or enters a town or city. It is hot - low 30's C - but this is fine.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Hotels are varied from decent tourist establishments in towns to home-stays in rural areas. The latter are perfectly comfortable and interesting places. Many do not serve alcohol which is a bit of a bore because many, like myself, appreciate a cold beer after a hard hot ride. This is partially overcome by the guide organizing a supply which we could sneak in to our rooms (known as health drinks). This is Ok but arranging to meet in someone's bedroom for an end of day drink is not the same as having a social time in a bar. Some places you cannot be seen to drink in public so that includes no alcohol with meals.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Exceptional!

    This is my first Exodus Trip and 4th international cycling tour. This was one fantastic trip. Our Tour Leader, Long, was an absolute joy. The cycling is hard. I did have to sag a couple times, there was a 5 mi stretch that never got less than 13% (and got as staggeringly high as 26%!) and it was hot. But my god was it stunning - the vistas were absolutely incredible. The accommodations were good (with the exception of one which I believe has since been removed.) Having the extra night staying on a boat in Ha Long Bay was phenomenal as well. Really, if you like a challenging cycling trip, do this - don't wait.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Strangely seeing an old woman on a bicycle carrying a HUGE (5x or more her own body volume) load of who knows what up a mountain road - she smiled at us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long is a great guy! I believe he is the owner of the local company that Exodus books this tour for. He is unerringly positive, engaging and funny. He clearly also looks for staff that are similar. We got to learn that undulating hills means largely uphill :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do be sure that you're ready for this level trip - I thought I was and for the most part was, but some climbs were daunting - but I wouldn't take them off the route if I could.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Lifetime Adventure

    This was our first Exodus Holiday, it did not disappoint. Very well organised trip from all the information prior to our trip to all the hard working ground staff in Costa Rica. Nothing was too much trouble. The scenery ,mountains, beaches, flora, fauna, wildlife all amazing. My wishes to see sloths, Tucans and green eyed frogs all came true and so much more. The cycling was varied , very hot some days but the bus was always there to provide refreshing fresh pineapple or watermelon along with energy drinks and water. Some hills , some flatter rides and an 8mile beach cycle. We had such fun and good laughs with all our group who gelled well together. This was facilitated by our guides and support team . Our guide Guillermo was a wildlife expert and was knowledgeable about all areas of his country, this was delivered in a very witty and humorous style. Loved it all

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    cycling through banana plantations seeing wildlife in their own habitats

    What did you think of your group leader?

    well organized, hard working, extremely knowledgable about his country from history, geography and wildlife. His sense of humour was ace.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Its a full on trip, but well worth the effort

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book now !
  • A memorable journey

    This was our first adventure with Exodus, but we are not new to cycle touring having used several other tour companies in the past. This was also our first time in South America and it was memorable for many reasons - the stunning scenery, the excellent guides and the surprising amount of rough surfaces we had to ride on.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking up in the mornings and looking out at exceptional views in so many locations. The scenery in this part of the world is part Alps, part Dolomites, part Rocky Mountains, part South Island New Zealand. Then add perfect volcanoes and you've got the Lake District of Chile and Argentina! Riding the valley between Peulla and the border pass was my most breathtaking memory, partly because we saw our first condor, and partly because it was such joy not to be in yesterday's pouring rain! Conguillio National Park is the icing on the cake - so stunning it's hard to describe, and so different from the rest of the experience. On day one, because of the rain, our guides arranged a tour of Teatro del Lago. This should be part of the tour, it was an outstanding experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Alejandro and he was exceptional. His side-kicks Yal and Diego were too. The three made such a great team. We've never been disappointed with tour leaders, and these three were top-notch, and so much fun to be around.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, plenty. There was so much good about this tour from the leaders to the scenery to the hotels to the food, but if you are a road cyclist then you might be in for a surprise. I know the trip notes say there's 26% of unpaved tracks but that doesn't even begin to describe how rough some of the cycling is. It's more like 30% anyway, and given the time it takes to navigate we reckon we may have spent 50% of our riding time on unpaved surfaces. You need to be prepared for this. There are only two days out of the nine riding days that are entirely spent on paved roads - and they are both heavenly rides, listed as day 7 and day 9 in the trip notes. There are also two days that are entirely unpaved from start to finish, that's day 4 and day 12. Strange there's no mention of this in the trip notes regarding individual days! These days were difficult, and yet they were also the must stunningly beautiful. The advice from our leader to lower your saddle when negotiating steep unpaved downhills with rocks and boulders was extremely helpful and made us feel safer. Quite a bit of walking was happening too. Everyone was in the same boat, but those with off-road experience obviously fared better. There's considerable elevation gain on this tour too. Funny that's not mentioned in the trip notes either. Cycling trip notes with daily distances but without daily elevation gains seems incomplete to us. We made enquiries and eventually got the daily elevations sent to us. Suggest you do the same. They are anywhere from 230 m to 984 m. It is hilly, every day!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't be put off by the trip notes for day 4 about the challenging 700 m climb. You can choose to ride up in the hotel pick-up truck that brings along the lunch. You can also choose to walk it, without your bike which will be taken in the truck. We were also give the choice of attempting to ride it and abandoning the bike if necessary and walking - the truck would rescue the bike. So there are options, and people in our group took all of them. The 3 km rocky descent on the other side of the border however has no options as the truck can't cross the border. The bikes we had were Giant, almost new, well maintained, front shocks, disc brakes, very suitable for the terrain. Another piece of advice is to bring a gel seat, and some kind of small handlebar bag for your camera, phone and sunscreen. It's not terrifically hot, but the sun is strong. Don't bother with power bars as the daily snacks are excellent; bananas, chocolate covered peanuts and raisins and more, coffee, tea, always at around 20 km. We also took our toe cages and they were happy to put them on our pedals for us, we were very glad to have them because did I mention that it's hilly?! We are now looking to buy the velcro-strap handlebar mirrors that some people had - these would have been very useful on the main roads; a flashing red rear light would be a good idea too, especially if you have some dark, rainy days; and you might! It was chilly at times, most people wore a Buff in the mornings and long-fingered gloves too. The van will take things as you remove them, no need to cycle with a day pack. Go with your eyes open to these conditions and you will love your Lake District tour.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    A Brilliant Trip

    We have been on a couple of cycling trips before and this one was probably the best. Tri our guide was outstanding and all our fellow cyclists were a great bunch of people. We got a real flavour of life in Vietnam. Lots of interesting food.The meals were good and plentiful. Thought we would lose weight but didn't! Good Hotels. Many highlights but a couple or so to point out,Whale Island and Hoi An, the 30km exhilarating downhill ride and cycling in city centre traffic...... great fun but leaves your heart racing. It is quite full on which leaves you wanting to spend more time in some of the places visited. The usual pattern is arrive at 5 - 6 pm, leave at 7.15 next morning. However we did find time to swim in the hotel pools. Overnight train was great fun ....all part of the adventure. To cover the length of the country there are some longish times in the bus but the bus was comfortable but great chance to talk with your fellow travellers. This also gives you time to see more of the country and people watch. Staggered us how much could be piled on a scooter! The bikes were ideal for the road conditions as well as being clean and very well maintained. At the frequent refreshment/rest stops there was lots of juice, water, fruit, nuts and biscuits. The driver and bike mechanic were very friendly and very competent. Great organization, things happened when Tri said they would.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The local people were very friendly and were very welcoming. They seemed to have put the past behind them and were striving to build a modern country with no rancour about the past. We had four Americans and a Frenchman on our trip and they experienced no animosity. I accept this is the view of a short stay holiday maker looking at things through rose tinted spectacles but the people smiled a lot and the little children shouted greetings and wanted to high five you.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tri our group leader was outstanding. He was highly organised and efficient. He instilled confidence and was always cool, calm and collected. Tri ensured we were always well briefed. He and his team ensured our safety was paramount at all times. Tri had a lovely sense of humour and made things enjoyable. He was a great ambassador for his country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes carefully.Get your self into reasonable shape but if you have any doubts about your fitness hire an electric bike........you will have a much better experience. Go with the flow. Learn some basic Vietnamese, it goes a long way if you can say good morning/evening and thank you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great trip made by having a superb group leader and a bunch of fellow travellers who all gelled together.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Best Group Ever

    Though the group, tour leader and support staff were phenomenal throughout the trip and there were many highlights, the rural cycling within Thailand and Cambodia proved to be largely uninteresting, smoggy and garbage was strewn throughout. Mostly we saw different tree plantations of smaller trees for rubber, furniture, etc. and a little bit of off season ground crop areas. On the plus side the accomodation was spotless, the food excellent and the people wonderful. We certainly enjoyed Siem Reap, Angkor Wat and the other temple complexes and Phnom Penh. Also the history of Cambodia during the Khymer Rouge regime, though dark, was extremely educational and offered an understanding of current day Cambodia that we would have not gotten without physically attending the Killing Fields and the S-21 prison. In sharp contrast to what we saw of Thailand and Cambodia, Vietnam was very green and lush and our stay at the Homestay on the island, travel on the Mekong and other cultural highlights was amazing. The very best of the trip was getting to know the wonderful group of people the tour attracted and the care our tour guide Chai gave us.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Attending the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh (Choeung Ek) and the S-21 Prison (Tuol Sleng) which is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and meeting two of the 14 survivors from the prison, Chum Mey and Bou Meng.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Chai was beyond superb. His organizational ability, his kindness and concern, his upbeat demeanour, his availability and his sharing of cultural knowledge made the trip.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Slow burner

    It must be said this is a bit dull to begin with - the first three cycling days are not particularly interesting - but it builds and in the end it is a great experience. Cambodia is a fascinating journey from the pomp of Angkor Wat to the rat infested piles of rubbish in Phnom Penh to the anguish of the Killing Fields; I'll never forget it. Vietnam was a complete contrast - colourful, enterprising,confident, resplendent with gold starred red flags everywhere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Quite a few: The giant recumbent golden Buddha in Wat Pho The frog sausage with green tamarind salsa from a street vendor near Siem Reap Cycling through the North Gate of Angkor Thum at dusk Being brought to tears by the guide in the Genocide museum Riding through the country lanes and bustle near Chau Doc with all the children shouting "hallo" to us

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chai is a great guy - a fine advocate for Buddhism

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling is a bit of a side show and this trip is really more about imagining yourself in the heartbeat of another as Sebastian Faulks, I think, said. I felt privileged to have made the journey. The best day's cycling is the second day in Angkor Wat so don't go shopping as some of our party did. It is very hot - take lots of factor 50 sun block. Aside from the frog sausage the best dish was Fish Amok served in a hollowed out coconut - don't miss it

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Not for cyclist purists but an adventure you won't forget
  • Reviewed February 2020

    A good trip but.....

    Good points. A very varied trip. Plenty of cycling but other things too. A taste of real life in Vietnam as well as tourist destinations. Lots of interesting food. Interesting culture Good Hotels Highlights are whale Island and Hoi An Bad points Too fast paced to spend quality time in some of the places visited - Arrive at dusk, leave at dawn. Trip notes are full of things that there would never be time to see or do. Overnight train is a low point! Too much cycling in dangerous city centre traffic. Lots of time in the bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The 30km descent on day 5. Also the general friendliness of the local people considering all that the country has been through over the years.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tiet was a real joker who tried hard to make sure everyone in the group got what they needed from the tour. Nothing was too much trouble and he took us to some great dining experiences.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be sure to take a small overnight bag for whale Island in particular, but also the hideous sleeper train.
  • Reviewed February 2020
    Nick Mycroft

    Cycling and curry

    A wonderful holiday with wonderful people! Our exceptional hosts Ruwan and team lead us on an amazing journey, exploring the countryside, the wildlife and introducing us to their culture and way of life. I was very much looking forward to my first trip to Sri Lanka and I loved it. Cycling through the countryside, paddy fields teaming with bird life, being greeted with big smiles and high fives from the locals was a real pleasure. I really enjoyed the hilly days, some are challenging then the lion beer, curry and rice at the end of the day are perfect.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling down hill after cycling uphill

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ruwan was very knowledgeable and very proud of Sri Lanka, I felt privileged to have him as my guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Give it plenty in 2020.....go for it