Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Angela Jackson

    Pleasant cycling trip

    This is a pleasant cycling trip but as some reviewers have previously highlighted despite the grade 2 we were often arriving at the hotel about 5.00pm or later and so we didn't have much time for relaxation off the bikes. This was not too much of a problem until the arrival in Obidos which is worthy of some time to look around. There are some diversions from the original route following the devastating fires in 2017. Generally good hotels are used, The Literary Man in Obidos is very interesting and quirky.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not really inspirational - but overall this is a very pleasant relaxing trip. We had great company. We had a short guided tour of Porto prior to the wine tasting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ricardo worked really hard all week and was well supported by Ruben. He took some videos of us cycling which he tried to edit each evening for viewing whilst giving the next days briefing. Both were really nice guys who were enthusuatic about the outdoors and Portugal.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The kitty for lunches worked out great and I would recommend as everything was ready prepared on our arrival with a good choice of food, this included picnic lunches as well. Book extra nights in Porto and Lisbon as they are both worthy of more time.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The last group meal is really the one in Obidos with suggestions of places to go in Lisbon if you wanted to experience Fado. We did not get a guided tour in Lisbon but we were dropped off right in the centre, a guided tour is really not practical given the size of the city. I think it would be better to give everyone a city map with the hotel and nearest metro station marked on it - so you know the way back and with some recommendations of places to go depending on your interests. For the nights when group meals are not organised it would also be useful to be provided with a map and suggestions for restaurants. We can highly recommend the Wine Bar by Cristal in Figueiro de Foz which was very close to the hotel - don't be put off by the name as this was a great little tapas bar with fantastc food.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Linda Cunningham

    Perfect Adventure

    I can not recommend this adventure enough: Mongolia is a special country and Exodus provided the ideal adventure to highlight all aspects of Mongolia and Mongolian life. We aren’t really mountain bikers but the biking was superb - not particularly easy - but truly enjoyable in terms of terrain, scenery and fun riding. We aren’t really campers - but have to admit it was kinda enjoyable in the end 😎. Food on the trip was exceptional - we were v well fed: breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon snack, substantial dinner. Ghana and her assistant certainly kept us well fed. We even had a shower and a proper sit down toilet on camp 😎. The whole Mongolian support team were superb and NK - our guide - was a special guy. Knowledgable, funny, kind and considerate - he really made our adventure special.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Biking along with a herd of Mongolian horses zooooming alongside us was pretty special. Although the laugh we had playing football v Mongolian team was hilarious 😆

    What did you think of your group leader?

    NK was superb: can’t fault him in anyway. Knowledgeable, funny, cheerful, friendly and v capable. He made our adventure special.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get out on your mountain bike and get away on this adventure: you’ll love it. I’d highly recommend going on the Naadam departure.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a v special holiday. Mongolia was special, NK and his team were special. Naadam Festival was exciting and fun and I felt Exodus has pulled out all the stops to make the Festival experience great for us.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Carlo b

    Cycling the Italian and Swiss Lakes

    The scenery on this cycling tour was very picturesque with the riding often along cycle paths or roads beside a lake. There was the occasional hill but they were short. There was 1 day of rainy weather and the rest of the week was a mix of sunshine and clouds with thunderstorms at night on occasion. The food was excellent! The hotels were basic but clean and in good locations; the final hotel in Menaggio had a beautiful view of Lake Como and was staffed by friendly and helpful staff. The hybrid bikes were well-maintained. Sara and Francesco had refreshing snacks during rest stops on cycling days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along Lake Lugano and Lake Como was beautiful. The restaurant in Porto Valtravaglia was lots of fun and the food was superb. Visiting the Borromeo Islands. The risotto for lunch on the wine-tasting visit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Sara and Francesco were wonderful guides and always available for any bike fixes or adjustments. They were very knowledgable about the region and cycling route and lots of fun. They recommended really good restaurants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We had rain on the first 2 days of cycling, although the weather improved for the rest of the tour, so bring rain gear just in case.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You should be comfortable cycling with traffic because some cycling is along busy roads; follow Sara's and Francesco's cycling recommendations.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Angela Wallis

    Beautifully Organised and Fun Holiday

    Really good holiday and guides. Superbly organised by Exodus. Bikes were in good condition and the accommodation ranged from rustic to very comfortable. For us, the cycling could have been more challenging and at a quicker pace but the guides did really well to manage the different levels in the group. The main negative point was the hotel in Sighisoara which really let us and Exodus down, and also that we were both sick at different times.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Encouraging the less able cyclists and learning from others experiences.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, very supportive and knowledgeable, extremely kind and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t expect luxury accommodation or exciting cycling. Don’t expect a lift on the broom wagon either. Practice cycling up hills and in traffic before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks for a great holiday, our last one was 18 years ago and this was in a different league for organisation and professionalism.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    IZABELA RUPRIK

    ABSOLUTELY STUNNING

    I booked the jungle extension which we started from then continued onto the cycling part. Our group was small (only 4 people) but well integrated. I would highly recommend the extension but you may want to put it at the end as starting from it means an extremely long travel with 3 back to back flights. The wildlife and the views we saw were breathtaking. Many boat rides, including a canoe-like one which I dreaded (dislike of small boats) but what we saw more than made up for the stress. Be ready for not as much strenuous as stressful at times cycling due to quite technically challenging very steep descents on gravel/stones which require good mountain bike handling skills. Culturally it is a fantastic trip. I loved the flora & fauna of Costa Rica and have great memories from Colombia but Peru is simply an explosion of colour and the food is ridiculously good. The hiking part was challenging but the views breathtaking. The number of Inka ruin sites we visited BEFORE Machu Picchu was also a positive surprise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The best part of the jungle extension was the 4:30am start on a boat when we travelled to see the macaws and a beautiful sunrise on the way. Also the boat ride on the lake watching the birds, caymans and catching a piranha which then fell into our boat :) I also shed a tear when we stopped the boat in the middle of the night on the river to take in the most starry sky I have ever seen in my life (cue crying) On the main cycling part I was extremely taken with the Maras ruins, salt pans and of course the Machu Picchu itself. When we laid our eyes on the Uros (floating islands) we were all gobsmacked, too. But you cannot underestimate the assault of colours that is the way the strong Peruvian ladies wear! Realising this is not just a tourist thing in Cuzco but what they actually wear on a daily basis, came as a shock. And when the host lady at the home stay brought out all kinds of clothes and hats and we all dressed up in the full attire, hats and all, for a lovely group photo, was a fantastic experience as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    First we had Joel in the jungle who is a real Peruvian Wildlife Jedi and can spot a baby cayman in total darkness across the full width of the river. I swear I thought he had placed them there himself ahead of our night trip... Also his tarantula tracking skills are second to none. And when Jeff tripped and lost his sunglasses about 40min away from our base, unbeknown to us Joel traced back our route to retrieve them and arrived at dinner proudly holding them up (drenched in sweat and flustered). Great guy! We then have Carlos on the cycling trip. He is a mountain biker and struggled understanding my fear of steep descents but he took good care of us on and off the bike. When it was one of the girls' birthday he booked a lovely restaurant with a folk show and organised a cake, too. The driver Elvis should be renames as Evil Kenevil after driving that minibus on the most scary road I have ever witnessed! And Leonardo, the Chef, was the sweetest guy with some serious cooking skills.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I must say THANK YOU to Peter Gomes, whose review I read properly on the day of departure and which made me repack! TEMPERATURE: we went in July which is their winter/dry season. from around 10am to about 4pm it's about 30 degrees Celsius. Nights are very cold and at the Alpaca ranch it was -3 in the morning with ice on the streams. Take many layers, winter gloves and thermals for the descents from 4,300m, warm hats and something to cover your face. We only got rained on once (out of the cloud forest) but badly so waterproofs are a must. The bikes are mountain bikes and have no mudguards and you will go through some streams that run across the road so you will get wet even without rain. In the jungle it's hot and humid but you want to sleep in PJs covering your limbs to prevent insect bites. Some hotels are really nice and warm and have extra heaters but the ranch and home stay despite being lovely get freezing at night so we were wearing hats and ponchos in bed. ALTITUDE: I would recommend getting the Diamox. I had gone to the GP but she refused to give it to me and as a result I suffered badly. First day in Cusco I felt like I was not going to be able to take part. I struggled breathing and was seeing spots. But hecto-litres of coca tea helped somewhat (note: it makes you pee like mad). However, any incline (which thankfully there are not too many of) was a herculean effort. The guys who were on Diamox were absolutely fine. FOOD: amazeballs. In hotels, restaurants and the stuff prepared by the chef. We actually all agreed that there was way too much food for the cycling efforts expected of us. The snack bags were very much appreciated but the massive lunches meant we missed a few dinners. SHOES: the hike the day before Machu Picchu is a serious one and good sturdy shoes and walking sticks (which you can hire through the guide) are a must. I don't do much hiking and after that I struggled to walk up and down the steps for a couple of days... Only bring your pedals and MTB cleats if you are a confident MTB rider otherwise I cycled all the time in the hiking boots. LAUNDRY: there are 2 nights in Cusco in the middle where you can use the hotel service. Other than that you can do handwash but take into consideration that if your room have no additional heaters, the chances of your washing actually drying plummets. And at alpaca farm and home stay it is impossible as no heating is available. You will get lucky if you get a hot shower :) but it's so worth it! FINAL SURPRISE: which I did not appreciate was that when the minibus arrived to our hotel in Puno to take us to Juliaca airport, it contained a guide we did not expect. He talked throughout the ride and we had one stop over right outside the town to see the panorama. We should have been told though. We just wanted to get to the airport on time worrying about the luggage being over the limit (yeah, loads of shopping opportunities :) )

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think Exodus should equip the riders with reflective strips/waistcoats or at least the bikes with some form of reflective items for the descent in the rain forest. It was a great ride but 60km with really bad visibility at times where we were plunged into dense fog completely invisible to the oncoming cars or at times each other. All other bikes we passed had this issue sorted out. It was only for that one day but even the bike pedals had no reflective parts and it must be sorted out.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Shane Shudra

    Beautiful Cycle Trip Through Jordan!

    Petra & Wadi Rum by bike was an amazing journey through Jordan's stunningly beautiful desert landscape, on very quiet roads. It was quite challenging in late May with the heat, but so rewarding!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me it was the second cycling day from Mt. Nebo down to the Dead Sea. It was a spectacular 30+km trip mostly downhill that really left me speechless! I purposely fell behind the group so I could enjoy the amazingly stark scenery with no one else around! Including virtually no vehicle traffic! Once we got to the Dead Sea, we spent time floating in the Dead Sea. It couldn't have been a better day!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was good. He was not the regular leader for the cycling trips, so I feel he didn't take into account what cycling or more active groups needed or wanted. Snacks and water not quite as readily available as usual on Exodus trips, looked at us funny when we wanted to walk instead of taking taxi's, things like that. That being said, he was a very knowledgeable man and very passionate about his country. I learned a lot!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go! Jordan was amazing! Such a wonderfully compact country with some truly breathtaking scenery!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Alia Medniuk

    A fantastic introduction to Croatia

    Croatia is beautiful, seriously hot in July when one is out exercising in the midday sun, and the scenery and fabulous coastal roads made for some epic bike rides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting the whole group to the end of the first day 12 km climb in 39 degrees was no mean feat, but we all did it and enjoyed a couple of well earned ice creams at the end of it. Whizzing down the hair pin roads with incredible coastal views was fantastic fun afterwards!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Dino, was spectacular, and couldn’t do enough for us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling was just hard enough to be a nice challenge to earn an extra ice cream, but not so arduous it didn’t feel like a holiday. If you’re a proper vegetarian, be warned for some very uninspired eating, and be aware that most of your calories will come from ice cream (not such a bad thing...).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my 8th, or 9th exodus trip (I’ve lost count..) and one of my favourites. A great group as ever makes all the difference. Ours was just that.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Mary Amann

    Great climbs, wonderful scenery, good food and company.

    The challenges were so worth while. The guide and driver/mechanic Dimitri and Juli were lovely guys. Juli made you smile every time he passed us slogging up the hills :) We saw different kinds of villages and towns, some busy some remote, all with their own charm. Having everything organised for you frees your mind to just enjoy the wonderful scenery and sweeping descents (some a little scary).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling up a remote valley, seeing traditional farming and hearing the calls for prayer. Cycling through beautiful no-mans land between borders. The first view of The Bay of Kotor.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lovely guy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of layers for hot or cold weather. We had a lot of rain and it got cold. Definitely take light overshoes, they take no room.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I didn't get much hill practice in, living in Essex but your climbing ability does improve every day. I loved how different this holiday was, it was very different to the Indochina I did.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Tim Hall

    Great first trip for riding the big mountains

    Excellent itinerary for a first trip into cycling big mountains. Great food and drink to be had en route - Thierry's ability to conjure up a suitable picnic every day, and find beautiful spots to stop to eat, was definitely a highlight. Stunning views from the cols.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cime de la Bonette - highest road in Europe. Seeing the banners for the Tour de France that would ride some of the same climbs just a couple of weeks after us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come prepared for all weathers! We had blistering hot days - but other alps trips at the same time of year have had snow falling and temperatures around 0C. If you're bringing your own bike, have a 32 cassette rather than a 28 - you'll use it a lot.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Jill Sumner

    4 counties in 15 days!

    The Balkans cycle trip has magnificent, spacious mountains and lakes. It's an adventure, not knowing exactly what the weather or the mountains will challenge you with. A discovery each day, staying in high alpine mountains or by the spectacular Lake Ohrid. Likewise, the sea at Kotor and absorbing the cultures and religions of each country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people on the trip all gelled through the rough and smooth times, making it the best trip ever, for me. The dramatic skies and snow on the hills after rain. Also, cycling up the never ending hills, then free wheeling for miles.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dhimitraq is a very good leader quietly in control and sorting out any problems. Julio is an excellent driver, entertainer and watchful carer, looking out for everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good waterproof jacket and warm clothes. Waterproof shoes wouldn't go a miss either.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I went on this trip to see an unknown and unspoilt part of the world and was not disappointed, I will go back!
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