Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed April 2019
    John Duxbury

    Only suitable for experienced photographers with top quality equipment

    I went on this trip when it was led by Paul Goldstein. The accommodation was superb, I like the setting and Paul is unquestionably an outstanding wildlife photographer, but I was disappointed by several aspects of this trip. The area really isn't "teeming with wildlife", so we struggled to find a lot to photograph ending up spending about 7 hours (2 half days) photographing sea waves. Whilst some of the group enjoyed that, I didn't. Because of the weather we weren't able to photograph whales, which is understandable enough, but I was disappointed to discover that it would have been at an additional cost anyway, something that is not mentioned in the Trip Notes. I was expecting the leader to circulate round the group to advise on how we might improve our photographs, but he concentrated on taking his own photographs which he then shared with us in the evening. That is a perfectly valid way of operating, but I was expecting more individual help so I think it is important that you do not book this trip if you are expecting to be tutored. Finally, I would say that this trip is really only for experienced photographers with top quality lenses - Paul told me that both of my lenses were not really good enough. (I did hire a lens, but that adds to the cost.)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Fantastic setting. Great food. Loved ice fishing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding wildlife photographer who leads by taking his own photographs and then showing you what he has taken.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you have top quality lenses able to cope with the low light levels. Ideally you need a wide angle lens with a large aperture (f.18 or faster) and good quality telephoto lens.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is not a lot of wildlife to photograph, so be prepared to spend a lot of time photographing waves.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Liz and Alastair Bradshaw

    Fantastic!

    Such a brilliant trip! We went hoping, but not expecting, to see the Northern Lights; we did and they were amazing. But the trip is so much more than seeing them. The scenery is stunning and the itinerary allows you to really get a taste of the area. The activities were varied- ice fishing, visiting the space centre, whale watching, open campfires, lots of stops to photo the views and local wildlife whilst in the minibus, a dip in the hot tub, a trip to a local gift shop that makes and sells their own goods, as well as time to do your own thing. Nigel, his wife Ingvild and team at Andøy Friluftssenter are the most welcoming of hosts. The accommodation is excellent and the food was amazing, most of which was sourced or produced locally. Nothing was too much trouble. Their knowledge of the area and enthusiasm for what they do was first class. Having our last evening meal together in the ‘lavvo’ was a perfect way to end a glorious few days in a very beautiful part of the world. Can’t recommend highly enough- thank you!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was fab! (Part from his choice of football team...!!!) As above- an exceptional host. Made you feel very welcome. Great knowledge and nothing was too much trouble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not really!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus communication was great, thank you for good organisation.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    JENNIFER SCHWARZ

    Lofoten in winter

    Do you want to stay in a comfortable cabin with glorious views from the back terrace? Do you want to see amazing sunrises and sunsets in beautiful locations? Then this trip is for you. We had to do some serious hunting of the light in unexpectedly dramatic weather conditions for the time of year but this just added to the experience. Photographer Stig and support Stevan found us gaps in the weather and glorious locations especially secret ones unknown to all but the locals. Both photographers gave generously of their time and expertise to ensure that we all came away with some amazing images. Thank you both for a memorable time. Add to that Mother Nature was kind to us and gave us a fabulous display one night.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching a truly remarkable Norther Lights display seemingly bursting above us and all around us, spiralling round the mountain and reflecting in the water at our feet then sending shimmering curtains of light across the view eliciting oohs and ahs from everyone. And the best bit---it was just our group in the location---we had it to ourselves.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As well as being a great photographer himself, Stig is a very patient and willing teacher and ready to share his expertise with everyone. He knows the area well so can take people to the best locations. He gave generously of his time, up early and to bed late to ensure everyone had the best experience. This is the second time I have been with Stig and would very happily go with him again as well as strongly recommend him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Travel with an open mind, accept the things you cannot change (like the weather!) and embrace all that the location has to offer including local industry (mainly fishing) as well as scenery which changes all the time. Watching the light drawing veils across the mountains from our cosy cabin was just such a pleasure.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would I go again/ recommend it---of course!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Jackie Freshfield

    Lights, Camera, Action!

    Caveat: I have given this trip a 3-star rating but that's because it is very much weather dependent (Northern Lights and Landscape Photography) and we had appalling, freak weather conditions, and I came home disappointed that we didn't have more opportunities for lights/photography. However, we had one superb day of sunshine and an amazing Northern Lights show with excellent photographic opportunities, and if I was reviewing this trip just on that one day, it would be 5 stars as the light show was INCREDIBLE! The Lofoten Islands are remote and beautiful but it's a long way to go for a short duration (6 days in total with 2 full days of travel bookending 4 days in the Lofoten Islands). We had mixed fortunes on the weather front – we traded a beautiful first day of stunning blue skies and an AMAZING Northern Lights show for 3 days of utterly filthy weather, which was a shame, particularly as there is really nothing you can do when you have 48 hours of rain/hail/gales/sleet etc. Stig did his best to find alternative things for us to photograph in 'interesting' conditions but it was a rather tough gig for him. However, the light show we DID see was just incredible and I feel priviledged and lucky to have witnessed it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Northern LIghts show on our first full day in the Lofoten Islands was simply incredible, better than I thought possible. We were wowed by swathes of irridescent green and purple lights shimmering across an inky sky full of twinkling stars and a blood red moon. Even better, we captured it in camera thanks to excellent tuition and tips from Stig and Steven. Unforgettable!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Stig Brondbo is an excellent leader; very helpful, patient, enthusiastic and fun. His passion for the natural world and for photography shines through and his patience with us rather more amateur photographers was very welcome. It must have been very stressful to have 8 people on the trip desperate to see the Northern LIghts and to be faced with a terrible weather forecast; but Stig did his best to find 'filler' stuff for us to do. However, I think we wasted the only 'good' day we had with faffing about with food shopping when we could have been enjoying the amazing landscapes instead, and perhaps Stig could have directed the timings on that day that a little better. However, the lights came out that night and we were just about ready for them, and he and his colleague Steven were hugely helpful to us on the photographic front. I have photos to treasure.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Weather-dependent trips are fraught with the danger of disappointment, so keep a positive attitude even when it is chucking it down, and if possible bring stuff to do in down time, and hope for good cabin mates (I give them 5*!). If photographing the Northern Lights bring the widest possible lens (I hired a Sigma ART 14mm which was superb) and a heavy-ish tripod. If staying self-catering then bring a few staples (eg pasta, pesto, salt, pepper, porridge) as it's not cheap in Norway! We stayed at Sakrisoy Rorbuer which was the perfect location, as well as warm, comfy and well-equipped, plus gorgeous views from the balcony (one of our party sat on the balcony photographing the Northern Lights for 2 hours!) . Bring hand-warmers for inside your second pair of gloves; they last for ages and I found them essential items. Pray for good weather!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Lofoten Islands are remote. Two plane journeys and a 3-hour ferry away. It's a long way to go for a short trip which is so weather dependent, and the return journey – after 3 foul-weather days – was not great, taking 17 hours as flights were delayed and we missed a connection, and should have been on the earlier flight from Bodo as we hung around there for 5 hours in total. If you are considering a Northern Lights trip then read the journey times carefully!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Cathriona Lawlor

    Hunting the Light

    We travelled to the Lofotens for a photography holiday to capture the northern lights and the beauty of the islands. I really enjoyed this trip; the Lofotens are beautifully scenic. We weren't hugely lucky with the weather, but the company was great and this more than made up for the storm and the wind.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was definitely seeing the Northern Lights on the first night of the trip, it was amazing; we were treated to a fabulous show. Also, a chance trip out to the balcony resulted in a fly-by of local eagles, which was a surprise treat. I was also really lucky with my cabin-mates; we were very well matched, which meant that no matter what the weather or delays, we could still share a laugh, joke and good conversation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Stig and Steven went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we got the most out of this trip. Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate and we were caught in one of the strongest storms to hit the area in years. This made the leaders' job even harder as they tried to maximise our opportunities to get out and about during breaks in the weather. It was my birthday on the trip and I received a beautiful, hand-made cake from Stig, which was promptly devoured! This was a lovely surprise and I definitely think it should be encouraged for all birthday travellers...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    LOTS of layers. Hand/foot/pocket warmers and one cabin mate had USB-rechargable hand warmers, of which I was very jealous. A sturdy tripod in case you're treated to the same winds we were... As the trip was self-catering, some thought beforehand could be spent thinking of the food situation/cooking etc. Nothing is cheap in Norway.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were delayed on the Bodo - Oslo part of the trip and as a result, I missed my additionally-booked return flight to Dublin. Due to the fact that Exodus does not book flights from Ireland, this meant that the cost and problem of re-booking this flight was solely up to me. Whilst I appreciate that the delay was not Exodus's fault, the exacting timings for this trip meant that I felt that I had to go with Exodus flights and book add-on flights myself. Delays happen very often during travel and this situation was very frustrating for me at the end of what was already a very long day of travel. This will unfortunately have to be factored into any future trip with Exodus, as I did not feel supported or particularly valued as a customer coming from Ireland. They just weren't interested in those not travelling from the UK.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    HELEN GLYNN

    baltics

    Great holiday and guide

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    traditional dinners in local restaurants

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Helen U

    A whistle stop tour of the Baltics

    This is a great taster of the Baltic cities of Tallinn, Riga and Lithuania, as well as a brief introduction to Stockholm. The trip is marketed as one for Christmas markets but it is so much more than that; it provides a fascinating insight into their histories and cultures.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's hard to capture one but Rundale Palace was magnificent and really interesting; the huge decorated Christmas trees in each city were works of art. Plus the mulled wine was always good! The local tour guides in each city were excellent and worth standing in the cold for several hours.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lukas was a great tour leader, very knowledgeable and always on hand to help. Being from Lithuania his knowledge of his country's history is mind-blowing, and his English is faultless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are three walking tours on the trip so it really helps to go prepared for the cold weather. Layers are always useful and be prepared for rain and snow. There are plenty of cafes to go into in each place to warm up! In addition, the amount of free time you have in each place is limited, so it is probably useful to have an idea in advance of anything you particularly want to see. The hotels are all centrally located so finding your way around is very easy. There is obviously a lot of travel during this tour (take a book!) but it never felt too much as the journeys were always broken up by visits to various places, all of which were definitely worth seeing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip for anyone wanting to learn a bit more about the Baltic states - I will definitely be visiting them again!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Anne Bonham

    Simply wonderful

    Best light show I have ever seen with the Northern lights not dissappointing us, getting better each night of the 4 nights that we were there. Highly recommend this trip and though Northern lights are the main attraction, the rest of the trip has much to offer which felt like the bonus. -Orca and Sperm whales; beautiful and serene scenery;wonderful hosts and terrific fresh food; comfortable accomodation and ideally placed to see the lights from; catching a fish with a simple rod; walks in wonderful snow. The trip felt longer than the 5 days with wonderful sunrises, sunsets and the northern lights ensuring that every part of the day had something different to offer. And there were a lot of daylight hours! This is by far the best chance of seeing the elusive northern lights which was well worth waiting for. And though seeing them is never guaranteed, you would be very unlucky to see none over the 5 days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    flashing, shimmering and expanding rich green northern lights dancing in the night sky

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An expat with the accent to prove it settled in Norway with his norwegian famiy, and together focussing on providing an all round high stndard of care and service to their customers. Very good and wonderful traditional local cooking.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Mini bus got cold particularly around the feet so be prepared with good socks, shoes and clothes. Phone cameras will not capture the Northern lights but any basic camera with a selection of settings will get something , even if grainy. And you will want a photo to capture the experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip did not dissappoint. And being Norway was of a high standard.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Anne Bonham

    Simply wonderful

    Best light show I have ever seen with the Northern lights not dissappointing us, getting better each night of the 4 nights that we were there. Highly recommend this trip and though Northern lights are the main attraction, the rest of the trip has much to offer which felt like the bonus. -Orca and Sperm whales; beautiful and serene scenery;wonderful hosts and terrific fresh food; comfortable accomodation and ideally placed to see the lights from; catching a fish with a simple rod; walks in wonderful snow. The trip felt longer than the 5 days with wonderful sunrises, sunsets and the northern lights ensuring that every part of the day had something different to offer. And there were a lot of daylight hours! This is by far the best chance of seeing the elusive northern lights which was well worth waiting for. And though seeing them is never guaranteed, you would be very unlucky to see none over the 5 days.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    flashing, shimmering and expanding rich green northern lights dancing in the night sky

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An expat with the accent to prove it settled in Norway with his norwegian famiy, and together focussing on providing an all round high stndard of care and service to their customers. Very good and wonderful traditional local cooking.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Mini bus got cold particularly around the feet so be prepared with good socks, shoes and clothes. Phone cameras will not capture the Northern lights but any basic camera with a selection of settings will get something , even if grainy. And you will want a photo to capture the experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip did not dissappoint. And being Norway was of a high standard.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Kathy Macey

    This holiday was like 5 mini adventures in 1!

    All very different experiences enhanced by the winter scenes and family atmospheres - and of course, the company of a really fun group and competent leader. Stockholm - a cosmopolitan city with lots going on (Vasa Museum is a must) Tallin, Riga and Vilnius - so interesting and sombering to learn of their struggles in the past but now their happy and proud approach to life. Narrow alleyways lead out to the fortified walls around the quaint Old Town Squares and in contrast now high end shops in modern pedestrianised shopping malls. Vilnius had the largest market I've ever seen - you could buy almost anything there and the quality of foodstuffs excellent. The Christmas Markets were in full swing with the little huts selling lots of interesting local products and varying types of Grogg/Glogg and other mysterious alcoholic concoctions!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Several : The Vasa Museum in Stockholm - amazing how they salvaged this huge vessel The KGB Museum in Riga - learning of those sad times under Soviet occupation The opulence of The Rundale Palace in Vilnius, The Hill of Crosses & beautiful Trakai Castle Experiencing Roasted Beaver !!!! ....but the best: The magical scene coming out of the restaurant on our last night into the Old Town Square snow falling steadily caught in the Christmas Tree lights - another photo opportunity! - but more magical seeing the delight of one of our fellow travellers who had never seen snow like this before - priceless! Needless to say he was the victim of our snowball fight. Sorry Arun!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jolita - caring, considerate, clear and concise - passionate about her homeland. After checking into our hotels she would always stay around the reception area for half an hour or so to deal with any questions/issues we may have had. .....and she bought us chocolates!! Jolita is a true credit to Exodus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Time is precious and limited and if you should see anything you may wish to buy - get it when you see it. Clothing wise, yes it was said many times by Jolita - dress like a cabbage - i.e. layers! The walking tours of the towns obviously do spend time standing around talking/questioning/explaining - so wrap up warm and make sure you have adequate footwear for the cobbled streets. Whilst we enjoyed snow and freezing temperatures a shot of the local tipple will warm your body, mind and spirits - well it did ours! Happy travelling in The Baltics!
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