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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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4726 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Snow leopards found

    If you have ever dreamed of seeing the elusive snow leopard then this is the trip for you. Don't think about it just book it. Ladakh is an incredible region and you couldn't ask for a better guide than Valerie. Been there, done that and probably knows the location of every rock on the mountain. As for the area - if you saw nothing but the scenery you would get your moneysworth, however the team scour the countryside for wildlife - with lammegeiers and golden eagles regularly sighted overhead. As for the snow leopards themselves we had 12 sightings - an extraordinarily good year, some were very distant and only visible with the fantastic Swarovski scopes. However we were also lucky enough to get a mother and cubs sighting and a mating pair at distances under 600m - this isn't a petting zoo - which is clear enough for binoculars and long lens cameras. Photographers with a dslr need to thing 500m or bigger with tripods and teleconverters. It will not be Africa Serengetti encounters, but that makes them even more magical. Failing this kit the guides are adept at taking mobile shots through the spotting scopes - good enough for keepsakes and memories of an incredible trip. It is cold though and involves trekking on rocky trails - so heed the trip notes, get good warm boots and kit and enjoy your complimentary hot water bottle ( after a lovely filling meal) Icing on the cake is the Street Kids tour of Delhi and the inspieational stories of the work done by the charity. Can't thank Valerie and team enough and gladly go and do it all over again - if she can take the stress of getting my mountain of camera kit through customs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a mother and two cubs on the same day we saw a pair of snow leopards above camp. Everyone raced up the hill to the spotting scopes, forgetting the altitude. We were still chatting excitedly over our luck at evening meal, having watched them for 3 hours.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie is rightfully a legend - she knows everyone and even read us local tales from a book. She lives and breathes the region and that in turn feeds into the group and how good the trip turned out to be. She is also widely respected by the local people and staff, case in point one evening a ranger had his own client with an eye problem - first port of call was Valerie to see what she thought.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't scrimp on a warm sleeping bag, proper boots for the terrain and warm layers. This is not extreme terrain but you will enjoy life a lot more if you are comfortable. Take a small bag to leave in Delhi and another drybag of something to change into when you get bag to Leh. Likelihood is you will be wearing same clothes for daysin camp so just be warm.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Probably one of the best experiences I have done. I had thought I'd be lucky to see snow leopards once. To have 12 sightings, a lynx and then high tea in The Imperial just made the trip beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks to Valerie, the crew and my camera porter / assitant photographer Chosgun. Without whom the 600mm lens would have travelled up trails a lot slower.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Khopra Ridge / Annapurna

    Originally booked on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek, as the first trek of the new season this got changed due to danger of avalanches on the original route, so we were rescheduled to walk the Khopra Ridge. This proved an excellent alternative. Considering the time of year the weather was kind to us, all except the early morning trek up Poon Hill, not much to see in a snow storm, but that only added to the adventure. The walking was tough, the terrain unrelenting, the snow drifts in parts deep, but the views stunning. Reading the trip notes was invaluable to adjust our "western expectations" to local conditions. The accommodation although basic was just what was needed and very welcome at the end of a long days walk. It was a constant amazement considering where we were trekking, as to how well feed we were, the food was wholesome, well cooked and in large proportions. A real battle to burn it off the next day. As a small group, 5 clients and 5 staff we managed to crack on, to get the walks done easily within the expected times, this may not be so with a larger group. Being a smaller group we also had more room in the tea houses. The fact we all got on well and had a good group leader and support staff made this a very enjoyable trip. Really glad to have done this, and walked in the Himalayas at last. Would recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sat in tea house on Khopra Ridge, eating our evening meal, fire burning away, looking out above the cloud base as the sun set illuminating Annapurna South & Barah Shikhar, snow all around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ramhari Phuyal, consummate professional, with an obvious love of his country and job. Ably supported by the rest of the team, nothing was too much trouble to sort, always cheerful. Early morning wake-ups with tea and a laugh. Our luggage was always there waiting for us on arrival at our new destination, whatever the trail conditions. I think we were lucky to have done this trip with them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes. Make sure you are fit. I found the money guidance was very conservative and had some left at end of stay, get it changed before you hit the airport if needs be. At the time of year (Feb - Mar) its cold on the tops, some places provide a duvet, we had a competition as to who could have the most layers of clothing on and still get into their 4 season sleeping bags. For 3 nights on the tops we couldn't have a shower, but Wifi was available if weak, except in one location where non was available. Pokhara is lovely, Kathmandu I found not so, noisy, polluted, do as the locals do when crossing the roads, but take care.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Can recommend Exodus, their itineraries are good, well organised and like the options to fly from local airports when available.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    A Fantastic Trek

    A great place for a challenging trek. The scenery was amazing and all the people of Nepal, that i met, were friendly and hospitable. The Himalayas really are great cathedrals of nature and were a pleasure to see as the group travelled through the Annapurna Circuit. Our tour leader, Tenzi Sherpa, and lead guide Kaji Sherpa were fantastic and professional at all times during the tour, providing support, words of encouragement and lots of cups of tea. They enhanced the trek with professional service at all times.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The crossing of Thorong La pass was amazing and an unforgettable experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A fantastic tour leader who was hard working and inspiring as we trekked around the Annapurna Circuit

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for amazing views of the mountains and friendly locals. Feb/March was cold in the evening and especially at night. A 4 season sleeping bag and liner is essential to a warm nights sleep. Although the menus in the tea houses is simple, the food was wholesome and great portions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trek exceeded my expectations because of the professionalism of the local team that supported us during the trek, the amazing scenery and the great camaraderie of the trekking group.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Amazing Morocco

    A great trip with a combination of the madness of Marrakech and the quiet of the High Atlas. This was my first visit to North Africa and I loved the clear blue sky, the winter sunshine and the fresh air in the mountains. It was a real contrast with the vibrant city of Marrakech- both the old part of the city and the Ville Nouveau. The trip was nicely paced with a combination of group activities and time to explore the city. The walking in the mountains was really enjoyable- with two easier days and then a challenging long day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the long trek on the last day in the mountains. It was a challenging walk, but in stunning scenery and with the reward of a hot lunch at 2,750m. Hearing the call to prayer echoing through the valley before getting out of bed. Having a laugh with the village women in the mosque ( may have been slightly nervous laughter on our part, but they were certainly having fun!!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mohammed was very knowledgable, respectful and good humoured. He looked after us really well, responding to our various requests for eggs, bananas etc and keeping us safe on the walks. All the local staff were polite and helpful too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We needed all types of clothes in February- the weather was lovely and warm in Marrakech, and when the sun was out in the mountains. However, it was cold at night and in the wind in the mountains. Walking poles were really useful over the rough ground. Bring snacks for the walks- no shop in the village and limited snacks available to buy in the riad. Bottled water is available but try not to use it as disposing of rubbish is a big issue in the mountain village.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes are very accurate in relation to the walks, so the long day is a long day with an 850m height gain over stony ground, and it needs to be done at a decent pace to be completed in daylight. It's not for everyone. The members of our group who decided not to go explored the valley, but perhaps better guidance for those who don't go would be better.
  • The Alternative Garden Route !

    This was the alternative Garden Route for those that do not just want to drive it but still experience all that it has to offer along the way (and more). The trip is full of varied walks ranging from a few hours to the two day Alexandria Trail, all of which have their own characteristics and interest. There was a full day safari plus other wildlife opportunities along the way. We saw dolphins, penguins, whales, seals in the sea and elephants, hyenas and water buffalo (to name a few) on land plus a myriad of beautiful birds and plants. For the more cultured there was time for some wine tasting (extra) and an opportunity to sea kayak (extra). After many days in the countryside and on the coast we made it to the buzz of Cape Town. Table Mountain and Robben Island (extra) were must do's. A different vibe here for sure and lots going on. Overall a fantastically varied trip and one that we will certainly never forget. Thanks to our local guide (Simon) and the team at Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Alexandria Trail - A "get away from it all" 2 day walk with overnight hut and the best stargazing ever seen Wildlife & Plants - So much to see De Hoop - Beautiful Nature Reserve and evening braai (BBQ) with a glorious sunset Robben Island - Listening to the guide who was actually incarcerated in the Prison there was moving and interesting Table Mountain - Climbing to the top and seeing those iconic views over Cape Town was amazing Accommodation - Vast range including one with a lovely colonial feel at Swellendam with great swimming pool !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Simon (Group Leader) and his wife Cathy (Driver and many other jobs !) were amazing hosts who made us feel welcome from the moment we landed to the time we left. They were professional, well organised, knowledgeable & went out of their way to make sure everyone had a great trip. Thanks. Much appreciated.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Alexandria Trail (the 2 day trek) - Although the weather was dry we used a 25 Litre rucsac for our clothes, wash stuff and food that we were asked to transport and hung our hired sleeping bag (which was quite large) on the outside (waterproof bag would be necessary if wet). Alternatively, the sleeping bag could be put in your rucsac but this would probably require a slightly larger rucsac unless you had your own sleeping bag that packs down very small. The hut itself was cosy and not at all as bad as you might think. Fantastic evening meal by candlelight and the stars to keep you company and if you are lucky maybe some dolphins out in the nearby sea. A lovely experience away from it all. Washing - Although not guaranteed, the Group managed to get some washing dropped off and collected same day at a very reasonable price in Plettenberg Bay. Useful after the previous few days walking. There was also a chance to do so in Cape Town but no-one took that up. Water Bottles - Take 2 large (750ml to 1 litre) bottles to regularly top up from the tank in the minibus
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Fresh air, sunshine, mountains - a heavenly February escape!

    Fantastic trip - wonderful walking and scenery - almond trees in blossom, spectacular geology, great company and camaraderie among the group, a very knowledgeable and attentive guide (Jose) who clearly loves his home region and wants to share it with others as well as being a competent and experienced mountain guide, a comfortable family-run hotel with a personal touch in a tranquil location, copious amounts of very good food... We were lucky in having perfect weather in February and it was a tonic to get away from stormy Britain.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The two ridge walks were my favourites, with the 360-degree panoramas across the mountain ranges.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jose is an excellent leader, very personable and kept us laughing and on our toes. He tended to every member of the group and was very aware of people's different needs. I found all he had to tell us about the local politics, history, culture etc. very interesting. He is very well organised and conscientious - I don't underestimate how much hard work his job is but he performs it all with charm. Finally, he clearly places safety and wellbeing front and centre.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have only done 'moderate' rated holidays before, don't be put off by the 'moderate to challenging' rating of this holiday. Yes, it is challenging at times, but if you are of reasonable fitness and hill-walking experience (read the trip notes on this!) then go for it - it's just a question of pushing yourself a little harder and it pays off in terms of the views and sense of accomplishment. Being a pessimist I couldn't quite believe that it would truly be warm in February and at the last minute ditched several t-shirts and my sunhat from my packing - if you go at this time of year, pack for all temperatures! We had 19 degree sunshine but it does get chilly in the evenings (I appreciated the evening fire in the restaurant). Most people on the free day chose to relax close to the hotel. I went to Altea and Villajoyosa on the coast and had an enjoyable day - transport between the two by tram/train is easy and we even swam in the sea. It was a good way to break up the week and see another side to the region.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Only that I would thoroughly recommend this trip. I didn't think that the Picos de Europa week could be beaten within Spain but I enjoyed this one equally - the peacefulness and remoteness of the location is really surprising given its easy proximity to Alicante and the rest of the coast. I would be interested in similar trips elsewhere in Spain - Cabo de Gata looks good, Exodus!
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Thoroughly enjoyable trip

    I enjoyed this trip wholly. The walking was good - not particularly difficult (though rocky underfoot) but up and down enough to be interesting, and with one or two more challenging moments - good scenery - terrific open views at times - and as people have said, a complete lack of other tourists or walkers. Some of the campsites were remote and beautiful and as Jennifer has said, the night skies were an absolute treat. We were blessed by good weather throughout the trip - warm sun, fresh air, cool but not freezing nights; overall it was less cold than I had expected. The company was excellent, the team looking after us was excellent - the logistics managed with seamless efficiency. The food was very good, the tents and mats were good. Morocco is a beautiful country; I will keep returning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Some of the views on the most scenic days of the trip - splendid. And yes, the night skies.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A warm heart in a slightly gruff carapace, Youssef was a highly efficient team leader, who knew his route well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We were all required to make a donation at the start of the trip for the purchase of bottled water for provision of water to the whole group throughout the trip. The guide told us that this is now standard practice. For that reason, advance purchase of any special water purifying equipment or pills as suggested in the trip notes is a waste of time/money. Don't forget your torch/headtorch - vital bit of kit. There is no opportunity to buy anything at all after the day of arrival (no villages or shops whatsoever en route). The (optional) hammam at the end of the trip was a thoroughly authentic local experience - recommended!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My thanks to my fellow travellers, who genuinely enhanced the experience!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Lara Thompson

    High altitude trek in majestic Indian Himalaya

    So glad to have experienced this remote, beautiful, haunting autumnal Himalaya adventure that took us through ancient villages, rhododendron oak and pine forests on to high mountain meadows with panoramic Himalayan views. V-shaped valleys, enormous glaciers, sepia clad landscapes, high meadows, snow capped mountains, vibrant starry skies and a wonderful trek into the Garwhal Himalaya within a stones throw of majestic Shivling, Meru and Bagarathi sister mountains. All mixed with a good dollop of culture at the amazing arti in Rishikesh, the old trading village en route to Gangotri and the religious ambiance so significant in this special corner of India. Vibrant indian towns of Mussoorie, Rishikesh and Dehradun mixed with the gentler remoter village of Barsu and tourist/pilgrim town of Gangotri.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The majestic sepia clad glacial landscape of Tapovan. Sunset lit peaks of snow covered mountain tops. Unbelievable walk along the lateral morain of the glacier in the shadow of Meru. Panoramic views from Surya Top across the meadows of Daraya Bugyal to the Indian Himalaya one way and the foothills folding and stretching out across the Indian plains to the west. Bagarathi River emerging from the mouth of the glacier, clean, pure and untouched.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    An exceptional, experienced, knowledgable and professional guide in Valerie Parkinson. She instilled confidence and security in leading the group. Calm, delightful and a pleasure to be with. She was accompanied by Jigmet, a kind and experienced exodus guide with a lovely sense of humour from high altitude Ladakh as well as competent local guide Mansingh and his helpers.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack for a range of temperature! Travel as light as possible but don’t skimp on the warm layers for the higher altitude sections of the trek. Make sure you are kitted out properly … and that your sleeping bag can deal with the very low temperatures at night once the sun has dipped below the horizon. Audio books helped pass the time on the long bus journeys and dark early nights. Very limited mobile phone reception and limited/intermittent wi-fi only at a couple of the hotels. Unavoidable but very basic hotel in Gangotri.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Journeying into the remoter regions of India from Rishikesh and the lower plains does take time but the journey through the fascinating winding roads of the region was relatively comfortable in small minibuses and jeeps. The route up to Chirwasa is well trodden pilgrim route and the campsite at Bhojwassa looks as if it could get quite crowded at times! Make the effort to do the optional Meru base camp walk. It’s worth it!
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Katie Szkornik

    A wonderful , relaxed week of walking on the Almalfi Coast

    I really loved this trip to the Amalfi Coast, and it was just what I was looking for in terms of a relaxing, but active, New Year break. A nice mix of walking and culture, with no early starts or late finishes and plenty of time for a relaxing coffee or two after walks had finished. The Hotel Due Torri where you stay for the whole week is a family run hotel with a nice atmosphere, delicious food, and a fabulous range of cocktails (the limoncello spritz was the 'drink of the holiday'!). Enjoyed the opportunity to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as a trip to the crater of Vesuvius. Thanks also to our tour leader Teresa for helping to make this a fabulous week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The visit to Pompeii. Fascinating guided tour and Pompeii really exceed my expectations.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Teresea was great. I especailly enjoyed all the local food treats she shared with us during our walks! It was also nice that she sat and ate dinner with the group every evening, and made an effort to really get to know everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is not always warm in southern Italy! I wore four layers the day we went to Pompeii and was just about warm enough. If you go over Christmas and/or New Year make sure you pack some warm clothes, and hats and gloves.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would be great if Exodus could offer a greater range of trips over New Year. I've met many poeople who want to spend Christams with family, but then like to get away shortly after for a week or so. Most companies only offer a limited range of trips at this time of year.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    JENNIFER WOODHAM

    A Winter Treat in the Mountains

    This mid-winter festive season trek in The Anti Atlas transported me into an unspoilt world of spectacular beauty with a extraordinary sense of isolation. We wandered these mountains without any sign of tourist life and only Berber life when reaching our lunchtime oasis and evening camps. We experienced beautiful sunny days, perfect for comfortable walking and in contrast very cold nights in this mountainous terrain that each day brought a different rock formation, landscape and views. A great group of people led by Youssef our guide and fed by Hasan the chef and his 2 helpers that managed to surprise us for 7 days with delights from his simple portable kitchen.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The sense of achievement at the end but probably the most memorable image is the clear and glistening star-filled night skies seen on essential night wanderings!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Youssef is a highly experienced guide who managed our group with diverse ability and age with great skill. As the oldest member of the group I would especially like to thank him for the attention he offered me during the times that I was struggling. Youssef was happy to talk about Moroccan history and culture and proved to be a great ambassador for his country. This was my first visit and I feel inspired to return.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A thermo-rest to aide sleeping on sometimes uneven terrain.