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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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54 Reviews

  • Reviewed May 2020

    Exceeded Every Expectation

    From the moment our amazing adventure started we did not want it to end. Now 5 months later we still don't want it to end. Sadly it did back in January (so many tears when it was time to go home) but the memories we have are secure and will last a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are so many highlights with not a moment wasted. Here's a few... The night walk over vertigo inducing hanging bridges in the tree canopy and coming face to face with a mother sloth cradling her baby hanging off said bridge. We never thought we'd get that close! The James Bond style speedboat race over rivers so wide you couldn't see both sides. The zip lining above a rain forest. I mean, what's more to say! The white water rafting. Awesome! Sloths. Toucans. Frogs. A snake. Etc. Etc. And, everything else too!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alejandro was the perfect guide engaging with adults and children alike with the enthusiasm necessary to keep interest high (especially on the long journeys between destinations). The supplementary knowledge of a native Costa Rican added the local insights we wanted to lear about and we're sure we wouldn't have experienced many aspects of Costa Rican life (e.g. local dining) without Alejandro there to support us. Nothing was too much trouble.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the advice provided by Exodus. It's all pretty useful and relevant. Heed the warnings of rain. For the first half of our trip in December/January it rained a lot (perhaps more than expected). We found that swimming clothes and ponchos was a better option in many situations (not the jungle) than going for full waterproofs. Less to dry out because drying stuff out takes days in the humid environment. The rain is always warm.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you can do this trip (once all of this horrible pandemic stuff is out of the way) just do it. Spend the money if you can. This was by far the most expensive holiday we've every taken and it was almost certainly also the best value for money. Thank you Exodus!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Jennifer Wright

    Absolutely fabulous

    The trip exceeded all expectations. It was full of fun, colour and culture. We saw so much of the country in two weeks. We had amazing experiences- cycling through pretty villages, snorkelling in turquoise sea, kayaking through spectacular scenery, cooking and eating delicious food and relaxing on a tropical island. My son had the holiday of a lifetime and had great adventures with new friends. Also we had the most wonderful tour guide who was sweet, sensitive, capable, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her country. I can not recommend this trip highly enough. Oh and amazing value for money too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Kayaking in Ha Long bay, then being taken to a secret beautiful beach to swim. We were all so delighted, and stayed for ages in the beautiful water chatting and getting to know one another.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely excellent. As I said above - Ashley was sweet, caring, capable, funny, knowledgeable helpful and enthusiastic. We all loved her. I particularly appreciated the fact that I could eat a whole variety of delicious food despite my severe nut allergy. Ashley explained it to chefs everywhere we went. In other countries I have accepted that I need to just eat plain, boring food. But everywhere we went, the cooks made special nut-free delicious food after Ashley had explained.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You have to go - it’s a beautiful country and an extremely well organised trip. Also, I worried about mosquitoes, but we hardly saw any.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I will definitely choose another Exodus trip. I would like to thank the company - what a fantastic holiday we will never forget. Thank you.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Helen Cordery

    Great adventure - our expectations were blown!

    A fantastic, safe but action-packed way to explore a totally new country. The wildlife was amazing (the crocodile eating a howler monkey was a 'highlight'), as was the white water rafting. A wonderful way for a family to connect to each other and to nature.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many, it's impossible to choose! But I think the Costa Rican wildlife in all its glory was the highlight. Seeing a baby humpbacked whale swim alongside our boat will stay with me forever, as will the crocodile eating a monkey - but in a different way. Our driver spotting a group of scarlet macaws as we drove along the highway, and then spending several minutes watching them with our mouths open was another highlight. On another level, the white water rafting was exhilarating and such fun. But the whole country and its people was inspirational too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gio was amazing - his wealth of knowledge about Costa Rica, its history, geography and nature was amazing, as was his engagement with the group (kids and adults). His lovely last speech as Roberto was driving us to the airport brought tears to my eyes! He was always very mindful of our safety, which was so important when you factor in the excitable kids (and adults) who could potentially forget themselves and make unsafe decisions. I am also extremely grateful to him for just ignoring my travel-related migraine (and vomiting) within minutes of meeting him at the airport!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you, like us, want a real adventure, but are nervous about how to do this when you're not that confident travelling, this is a definite trip to consider. This was our first trip abroad as a family, but has set the bar very high for future trips!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Roberto, our driver, was also fantastic. It was just a shame we couldn't converse with him as he didn't speak English.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Catherine and Andy White

    A trip of a lifetime!

    We originally looked at booking the longer Costa Rica Family Adventure as we thought the Family Escape (at 7 nights) may be too much of a whirlwind. However, we liked the fact that there were less distances to travel (as the Family Escape does not include a visit to the Caribbean coast), and that there were more activities included, plus, on enquiry, we found out that on the dates we wished to travel the families booked onto this trip had children of similar ages to our own (16 and 12). We are so pleased we went for this option! From being met at the airport by our wonderful guide, Eduardo, and driver, Cesar, to being waved off as we boarded our transfer on the last day, we enjoyed every minute of our holiday! Costa Rica is an incredible country and this trip gives you a sense of its diverstiy - from the volcanic landscape around Arenal, to the Cloud Forest at Monteverde, and the tropical beaches of Carillo. The mix of activities is great - from the high adrenaline rafting and zip wire course at Monteverde, to fascinating nature walks and wildlife spotting. The itinery is quite pacy - there are activities most days, however, you get at least 2 nights at each hotel (apart from in San Jose) so you do get chance to unpack a little and enjoy some downtime. The hotels all offer something different: Los Lagos at La Fortuna is set in lush tropical gardens with its own resident crocodile and butterfly and insect houses. Plus, it has its own hot springs complete with water slides which our children loved. The Country Lodge at Monteverde is a little more basic, but charming, whilst the Nammbu Beachfront Bungalows are super stylish with spacious rooms and a stunning pool area.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many.... from waking up to the sound of howler monkeys outside your room, being surrounded by hummingbirds and having them land on your outstretched hand at Selvatura Park, conquering your fear of heights on the hanging bridges and zip wires above the forest canopy at Monteverde, seeing a sloth being rescued from overheard cables by the local fire service, hearing the sounds of the cloud forest at night as fireflies flit around around you, seeing a humpback whale for the first time, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean at Carillo Beach.... the list goes on!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    From the moment we arrived at San Jose Airport, our group leader, Eduardo, made us feel incredibly welcome in his country. Knowedgeable and passionate about the history, culture and nature of Costa Rica, Eduardo soon shared his love of his country with us all. Within minutes of meeting us, Eduardo had memorised all our names and, refering to us "family", he ensured we got the best possible experience we could - asking us to write down our wishlist of things we wanted to do and see whilst we were in his beautiful country. Eduardo was an exceptional group leader: great with the children in the group, imparting his extensive knowledge with enthusiasm, sharing his photos with us on the WhatsApp group he created for us, treating us to chocolate and ice-cream on a daily basis and instilling in all of us a sense of the "Pura Vida"! We must not forget our driver, Cesar, either. He made sure we were safe on the roads and waited patiently for us after every excursion, always greeting us with courtesy and a smile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We decided to book a 3 night beach extension - staying on at Nammbu hotel at the end of the trip - which Exodus organised, along with a private transfer back to San Jose airport. We were definitely ready for some rest and relaxation after a packed schedule, so this was really worth doing, plus it gave us a chance to do some additional activies - such as scuba diving (at Samara) and turtle watching at the nearby Camaronal Wildlife Refuge.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is the first holiday we have booked with Exodus, and having never been on a small group holiday before, we were a little apprehensive.... how would the group dynamics work? We need not have worried! We were very lucky to be travelling with 3 lovely families alongside Vicky from Exodus (a bonus to have the Product Manager of this particular trip accompanying us!) Everyone got on really well, the children made firm friends, and the balance between time together as a group and time on our own worked fine. Overall, this was a truly wonderful family holiday in a beautiful country and we have many happy memories along with far too many photos!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Gilliie Williams

    Excellent Holidays

    Travelled with my 16 and 18 year old for last holiday before University- had a wonderful 2 weeks and made new friends. Everyone was friendly, relaxed ,happy and pleased to socialise. Kids ranged from 11 to 18years but gelled well together. Always some one to talk to. Full on trip but variable in activities. But opportunities to be alone if all too much. Loved it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Meekong Valley was beautiful , a chance to unwind, relax with the group. Very peaceful, great food, staff were friendly. Would have liked a couple of nights there. Vegetarian restaurant in Hoi Chin Ming City- fantastic

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Doan made our holiday very special. Looked after all of our group, a joy with the kids, very knowledgeable about the places. Pre-empted our requests and coped with our demands. Took us to wonderful places to eat. We wanted to take her home with us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Arrive a day earlier to get over the jet lag and do some of your own exploring of Hanoi. Take tea bags and cups on the train overnight and sheet sleeping bags. Take lots of sun cream as easy to get burnt when snorkelling or swimming in Whale Island. If you get burnt use aftersun NOT oil or cream. Watch out for the Urchins. Take rain macs as when it rains it pours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Karie Bala

    Life Changing Experience

    Just back and can't quite believe what we saw and experienced on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were lucky enough to see a wild pigmy elephant, crossing the river right in front of our boat. Lucky for us, we were alone on the river. Sunrise at the Wildlife Discovery Centre in Sepilok had us up close with a somewhat angry wild orang-utan, which was definitely an experience! At the Sun Bear Sanctuary we met Poppa Bear (Wong) who, if you've seen the ITV Borneo show with Judi Dench, you will know instantly. He, like every other Bornean, was extremely friendly, and happy to chat at length about about the gorgeous Sun Bears. Visiting Labuk Bay and the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary was a special place, my favourite being the Silver Leaf Monkeys and one baby. And snorkelling off of Manukan Island was top notch, and accommodation there was lush! Could have used a few more days. Be sure to order a kopi tarik at the take away cafe toward the pool. They open at 7.30 am.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel, our tour leader, was amazing. We were such a lucky group and could have not asked for a better leader to gel our Exodus Team! He was knowledgable, compassionate, and a pleasure to be around. I'm looking forward to another Manuel Exodus tour in the future, as he really bonded with every member of our tour and we were all sad to say our goodbyes.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Luggage - You have to carry your own nearly everywhere, so pack as light as possible, in a soft pack. Leech socks - I was very worried about finding these here before we left, but we found some in the Centre Pointe Mall on the ground level. They were also available to rent at the Bilit Adventure Lodge along with wellington boots! Sleep - Our entire group had problems sleeping on various parts of our tour. No way to combat it, but be ready. Bug spray - Take it with you an top up regularly, especially in the rainforest areas. Plasters - Take these too as you may have blisters. Roti cannai - Try this in the Centre Point basement Islamic Center restaurant. It doesn't look like much, but we were there every day were were in KK. You'll see red plastic chairs and know you're in the right place. 1x roti cannai costs 1.50RM, so like 30p, and it's the best we found on the whole tour. Noodles and rice dishes were great too. Laundry - Forget about it. Know by the end you're going to stink. So will all your travel companions. Use laundry services where they're available; we found the Sabah Tea Longhouse laundry to be a reprieve from the stink! The last hotels on the trip will happily take any clothes you don't want to take home with you and distribute to those in need. A good idea (stolen from travel mates) is to buy clothes at the charity shop and leave them with you. Best thing to wear would be lightweight long sleeved shirts! If you put any effort into this tour, you'll be handsomely rewarded - early morning treks provided us with a personal encounter with a pigmy elephant as well as an orang-utan. It was special!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't hesitate. I'm experiencing massive post-holiday blues as this holiday was particularly life changing for me. Amazing. Enjoy.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    David Dunlop

    Holiday to remember

    Lots of activities and visits throughout. Vietnam worth visiting and the trip enabled us to see the real Vietnam as well as the tourist Vietnam. Most of the children fully engaged with the spirit of the holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    One of the children singing ‘all star’ on the bus. It livened up one of the lengthy bus trips. Halong Bay was picturesque. The weather was excellent which resulted in good swimming and kayaking not to mention the photographs from the glorious sunset. Whale Island was beautiful though the weather was windy owing to a nearby typhoon which brought in a lots of debris to the island. Walks around the island are well signed and worth exploring.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ngoc personality and sense of humour drove the trip. He was flexible and understanding and handled all group members diplomatically. He also explained clearly Vietnam’s geopolitical and environmental challenges, the religious and cultural diversity, and the population pressures particularly on housing and incomes. He got the balance right and occasionally fooled parents / children on elements of the trip - in particular the homestay!!
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Richard Bowman

    Amazing wildlife adventure

    What an incredible trip! Costa Rica is everything that we had hoped for and more. The wildlife and scenery was spectacular, and the tour gave us a great experience of all of the different areas of the country. Each day felt like it couldn't be topped only for the next to be even better. We had a magical Christmas in Tortuguero and New year in La Fortuna. Exodus had thought of everything to make the holiday special and our guide was simply awesome and really made the holiday. The hotels were in some great settings and grounds, were comfortable (more than adequate) but not luxurious. We would highly recommend for families that love nature, the outdoors and new experiences, and like to meet new people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's really difficult to highlight a best bit as the whole trip was incredible. The boat rides on Christmas day in Tortuguero and seeing all of the amazing wildlife is hard to beat, being so up close, felt like being in a wild life documentary. Rafting was incredible fun and the guide was very funny. The beaches and warm sea were just gorgeous, especially when you thought of home! We really enjoyed sharing the experience and getting to know the other families. Relaxing at the end in Dominical and seeing the stunning pacific sunset. Our guide was very passionate about his country and we learnt so much not just about nature, but about the geography, history and government of Costa Rica. It was fascinating and not something you would necessarily know if you traveled independently.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our trip guide, Jonny, was simply fantastic. He'd won the award the previous year for exodus' best guide and it was easy to see why. As a guide he was incredibly attentive to the groups mood and needs and was always planning ahead so that our trip went as smoothly as possible and that we got the most out of our time. He was also a great ambassador for Costa Rica, using the journeys to tell us about the country's history and the lands we were traveling through. Above all he was a incredibly passionate and knowledgeable naturalist, helping us to spot some amazing wild life and learn a little of this fantastic country's eco-systems.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I packed walking boots which were heavy, trainers are fine. You do need a waterproof as the weather can literally change in minutes! Be prepared to be up and out around 6/7am on trip days - this sounds early but the sunrise is 5.30am and everyone is up and about (also this is when you see the best nature and the UK time zone helps!). Your routine just adapts, early rise and early bedtime! Wifi was available in all hotels but signal patchy. A travel washing line is useful - we did do a laundry load in La Fortuna which was reasonable but hotels are not cheap. Food is generally not cheap. Budget as exodus advises and you'll be along the right lines.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip has inspired us all to travel more and we would definitely use Exodus again and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. Travelling over the Christmas/New Year period was a fantastic tonic!
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Annette Dawson

    Fabulous trip!

    The trip was well planned out and so very relaxing and enjoyable. The hotels and especially the food were awesome. Would absolutely take another trip like this.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The canoeing was so relaxing and fun. The scenery was beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The trip was self guided which was what we liked.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    lynne connell

    fabulous holiday!

    We had a fabulous holiday in Finland with our 10 year old daughter. The other travellers in the group were lovely and we all got along. The accommodation was clean and cosy and our daughter loved sleeping in the mezzanine level. The food was really good- wholesome and tasty and plenty of it. The staff at basecamp were so nice too and very helpful. The activities were good fun- especially the rafting- and it was good being out in the great outdoors with all the clean fresh air. We were also able to take out the kayaks and canoes out on the lake whenever we liked which was a bonus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed the peace and quiet and no TV etc. At night after dinner we would play cards and games with the children or go down to the lake to make a fire and have a chat. We also used the hot tub and sauna a lot- very relaxing. I slept really well too! It was great to see reindeer wandering around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Martii was fantastic- so knowledgeable and really great with the children. He was really good with all the safety elements which inspired confidence. A genuinely nice person!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you like outdoor activities and don't need bars, shops etc then this trip is for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The optional extra activities - apart from the climbing wall- were very expensive which put us off doing them.