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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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133 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Patagonian Highlights

    This trip covered Torres del Paine National Park, including a hike to the base of the Towers of Paine. Los Glaciares National Park, Fitzroy Massif hike and Cerro Torre. We then travelled down the Ushuaia - the world's most southern city and took an optional boat trip out to penguin island before travelling back to Buenos Aires.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Fitzroy & Torres Del Paine hike are difficult but the views when you get to the top are amazing!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was an excellent guide - one of the best I've had. He was very knowledgable about the history of Argentina in all the areas that we visited. He was always upbeat & calm - especially during the COVID-19 outbreak he ensured that we were well informed for our travel back home. The whole trip was very well organised with no disappointments!!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The hikes are long and difficult, Be prepared for all weather; take good gear and be prepared to use it! There are some long travel days which can't be avoided if you want to experience the best of Patagonia so bring a book or download some movies / music / podcasts in advance for the coach journeys.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Patagonian highlights

    This is a fab holiday to see the best of Patagonia in as condensed a time as possible. It's tiring with some long travel days but the highlights make it worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Three top days. 1 - The Mount Fitzroy Massif. It's s gentle walk apart from the ascent up the morraine (about 400m in 1 km which is tough). We had great weather and the views at the top make it worthwhile. The guides are supportive and encouraging. Expect to see condors and be refreshed by topping up your water bottle from glacial streams. 2 - The Perito Merino glacier. We were mesmerised by watching the glacier and saw a couple of carvings which sounded like gunshots. This is a relaxing day as you can go as far or little on the balconies to observe the glacier. Again we had fab weather which helps but isn't essential on this day. 3 - The Torres del Paine. We would say this is challenging in terms of the length of the walk and the climb at the end but oh boy is it worth it! If you are in doubt about your fitness level I wouldn't worry so long as you have staying power. Again the guides are patient and will go at your pace. We were really lucky with the weather again and the scenery at the top is amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Luciano was very enthusiastic and helped to make each day as rewarding as possible. He will make arrangements for those who don't want to walk and gives you alternative options. He was always there to help with any problems and advise on good restaurants. He's a meat man and loves his steak and will help you out with ordering if needed. He speaks a little quickly so you might have to ask him to repeat himself sometimes.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We went out a couple of days earlier than the rest of the group and had 2 days in Buenos Aires. We're glad we did this so that we could adjust to the time difference, get over the travelling and see something of BA before we flew down to El Calafate. Be prepared for WIND+++. Patagonia is like no other place I've ever been for experiencing wind. Although we had good weather you should expect rain, hail, snow and sunshine all in one day so make sure you have appropriate gear. There's not a lot of down time on the holiday but if you're prepared for that it's not a problem. We didn't get the option of walking on the glacier but had a lovely boat trip instead to see 2 waterfalls fed by glaciers. If you do this trip you don't need to do the optional afternoon boat trip on the day that you visit the Perito Moreno glacier. We found that most places in Argentina and Chile take credit cards and US dollars although you should be aware of the exchange rate to ensure you're getting a good deal. We changed our US dollars to Argentinian pesos at the airport on arrival for a reasonable exchange rate. You don't need many Chilean pesos and again you can get these when you cross the border into Chile. Chile tends to be more expensive than Argentina. It's usually better value to buy 1 bottle of wine between 2 of you in Argentina than 2 large glasses! If you're eating a steak ask for a tenderloin (our fillet). It can be divided between 2 of you if one steak is too big. The only reason we've given the holiday 4 starts instead of five is because we thought the food would be of a higher standard and one of the hostels had very dirty linen. However, this was changed immediately when we complained. If it was just based on scenery we would have given five stars. Although we saw lots of guanacos, horses, sheep and cows, it's not a holiday where you're going to spot a lot of wildlife.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do it! It's probably best to do some hill walking before you go so that the 2 big walking days aren't a struggle. We had a really nice bunch of people on the trip which obviously increased the enjoyment but you can keep yourselves to yourselves if you wish.
  • 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

    Stupendous!

    More than lives up to the title "Highlights" - 10 days concentrated on the best of Patagonia (with a half day in Buenos Aires before and after). Stunning views, great treks, towering glaciers, turquoise icebergs, and penguins too. What's not to like?

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many! Both the two treks - hard work (about 13/14 miles but very do-able if taken at a steady "patagoinian plod"), steep / rough trails in places but very rewarding especially finally getting to the top for the fantastic picture postcard views. The literally endless skies driving across the plains The towering ice wall of the Perito Moreno glacier - listening to the cracks and and trying to spot the ice calving off. The pengiuns - walking so comically on land but shooting like torpedoes through the crystal clear water And the warm medialunas at almost every hotel at breakfast (yum)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was brilliant - more than lived up to great ratings from previous trips

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Argentina - despite what the trip notes say, don't change lots of money at the airport on arrival - the exchange rate is very poor (58 to the US$ in Jan compared with up to 75 to the US$ if paying in hard currency). All the additional trips could be paid for in US dollars cash. There are change places in BA which offer better rates than the airport You'll need cash for meals but larger / touristy restaurants often took US$. Go on the optional trips - the full day iceberg trip from El Calafete and the half day penguin trip from Ushuaia were well worth while. And cost less than the trip notes if you don't eat meat... vegetarians (especially strict ones) will have relatively thin pickings, but no worse than other meaty countries. You won't go hungry but bring a stash of oatcakes / nuts / similar (surprisingly not too plentiful even in larger supermarkets) if needed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were INCREDIBLY lucky with the weather - it was often windy but we only had one day of rain (when we arrived in Usuhaia). January may be their summer but it's the southern equivalent of northern England / southern Canada, with similarish temperatures. Make sure to take plenty of layers to cope with any eventuality.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Nigel Martin

    Cycling in Argentina and Chile Lake District

    Overall a good trip with generally good accommodation throughout. Exceptional level of support from the brothers Ti and Yal together with the driver Mathias. There is more 'down' time than on previous Exodus trips of all sorts which is something to note. The focus is very much on scenery rather than a different culture which you are likely to get in Asia, for example. Compared with some grade 4 trips that I have done recently, this tends to be on the lower end of the scale (in my view), but please be aware of the amount of cycling on gravel.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first few days cycling were pleasant enough but the first day that provided a satisfying ride was on the '7 Lakes route'. However, cycling into the final National Park, amongst the lava flows and alongside the stunning volcano was without doubt the best day. The final lodge was also in a lovely setting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As mentioned above, Ti was one of the best leaders that I have had. I am usually at the back of the group and spending time with both Ti and his brother Yal was always interesting and enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is unusual to have one day off let alone two as is the case here, on an Exodus holiday. If you want to do one of the typical trips (water rafting, kayaking, hot springs etc) then you are OK. If you want to walk, then it is more challenging to get the right level / accuracy of information. This is a notable surprise for the Refugio Frey walk which is mentioned in the trip notes. If you do not use WhatsApp, then it is more difficult to get the information on the route, options for days off etc. You will need to spend more time with the leader to obtain this information.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Kerry Clough

    Patagonia Delight

    Full-on trip taking in Buenos Aires and both the Chilean and Argentinian regions of Patagonia. We had an outstanding tour leader, Pepe, whose enthusiasm, organisation skills, high energy and can-do attitude made for a tiring but memorable trip. Walking in the Chilean Torres del Paine was particularly memorable as was visiting the penguins near Ushuaia in their natural habitat on the Isla Martillo (well worth the additional cost to do this excursion). The weather was very kind to us throughout and we were granted glorious views of both the Chilean and Argentinian peaks on our full-day walks. Even in the early summer at the start of December Ushuaia was cool and windy - you’ve been warned! Don’t hesitate to go now as Patagonia is becoming increasingly popular and despite its vastness a lot of land is privately owned and not easily accessible to walkers. The walks you can do such as Fitzroy and Torres del Paine can therefore appear surprisingly busy considering how remote they are.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting the penguins in their natural habitat during the optional excursion to Isla Martillo near Ushuaia. Only 20 people are allowed on their island at any one time, together with a local guide/warden, so you feel really privileged to be there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding. Pepe was first class in the way he led the group and went out of his way to try and ensure everyone had the holiday they wanted. Pepe never waiverd in doing his best to ensure everyone had a great time and knew what was happening everyday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, the final 1 hour of the long walks to see the Torres del Paine and Fitzroy peaks is in my opinion a level 4, rather than the moderate level 3 rating. Both are short but sharp inclines over uneven terrain so you need to be agile in picking your way along the rocky paths. Both are well worth it if, like us, you get lucky and are afforded blue sky’s and no rain!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now!
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Christopher Stockton

    Patagonia

    Enjoyable trip. Guide was excellent. Hotels were variable. Food was variable

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day boat trip in the Glacier national Park

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. He worked hard and everything ran like clockwork

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't pay in dollars. Make sure you change to local currency.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    JOYCE COLLIER

    Fascinating trip to South America

    Overnight flight to Buenos Aires business class with KLM. All six of us were up for cycle trip around city centre that day - we stayed in Own Recoleta and met the group[16] the next day for a walking trip! Great group all equipped and ready for walking. Early morning flight to El Calafate and the Torres had a 15 kg weight restriction so left luggage at Own Recoleta. Hotel at El Calafate was very comfortable with lovely staff. First day was a gentle walk around the Perrito Moreno Glacier- we had bright sunshine and did the boat trip so we got close to the edge. We left another bag at El Calafate Hotel an early start by bus to the Torres to do the W Trek. Stay in Refugios commenced- three over the week and six of us shared rooms with bunk beds. Showers were variable - some cold- some very busy. At start we were each given a gift of note book pen and Travel towel!Great walking quite an effort at times but we completed it all. We had two guides for Torres plus Pepe our own tour guide which gave flexibility if some of the group needed to do less. Return by catamaran and bus back to El Calafate. There was time here to get washing done - very cheap at hotel - there was a day off - we walked around bird reserve and El Calafate. Travelled by bus to El Chalten. Unfortunately it was raining on first day so trip to Mount Fitzroy was changed to a less challenging walk. Again group had two guides plus Pepe. Hotel in El Chalten had seen better days - water leaked into lounge.Weather improved the next day so successful walking up to another look out and glacier. Flight back to Buenos Aires meant we had another afternoon and evening there. Staying again in Own Recoleta which we appreciated more the second time around. We arranged to do the Iguazu Falls at end. A great hotel with a lovely pool and would fully recommend doing the boat trip at the falls - good to have the refreshing shower! Temperature went up to 30degrees.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Torres del Paine and Mount Fitzroy [ although the latter was only visible on way home]. I managed to do all the walking keeping up with the group!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pepe was an excellent group leader who went out of his way to ensure we all knew what was going to happen and that we were prepared for the walk. He had a very cheerful positive out look and communicated clearly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack your ruck sack lightly. I [ female!]had leggings and a top for evenings - leggings could be used for bed as well. Travel towel not needed as they gave us a perfectly adequate one. Flip flops needed for refugio showers. We had ponchos that came into their own in the rain covering yourself and the ruck sack. Packet of sweets/ choc raisins keep everyone going. I would definitely use the laundry service at El Calafate hotel. I had a large bag for travel from uk in which I put my Exodus bag and had my ruck sack as hand luggage. I carried a small collapsible ruck sack inside my osprey ruck sack which was useful in bus and Buenos Aires. The weather in Patagonia was very variable so be ready for all possibilities during the day- rain wind sun snow.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think that Exodus could improve their hotel choice in Buenos Aires - however the Own Recoleta was happy to store our luggage for no charge over the 10 days we were away- but they definitely should think again about El Chalten, it was very basic hotel. All our guides spoke excellent English except the guide for Perrito Moreno Glacier who was completely incomprehensible and inaudible. Our meals entailed a lot of meat get ready for a beef overload! [ eating out is cheap in comparison to uk]
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Andy Longden

    Another tick on the bucketlist! Outstanding hiking holiday in a very beautiful part of the world.

    An expensive holiday, and a long way to travel, so it needed to be good. It was! This trip manages to efficiently fit in the trekking highlights of Patagonia with some sightseeing. Add on time to explore Buenos Aires and the optional trip to Iguassu Falls and you have a really well balanced, satisfying holiday. We found the hiking to be easier than expected, but we did have great weather. We were surprised how busy the trails are - this is not a holiday for those seeking solitude. Accommodation was relatively basic, but functional and adequate throughout. The Refugios in Chile are of a high standard - much better than European mountain refuges. Food throughout was excellent if you eat meat, possibly less so if you don't.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For us the hiking in El Chalten ranks amongst the "best of the best" in the world. The day walk to the Fitzroy viewpoint was absolutely sensational, with the trek to Cerro Torre base camp only marginally less so. Completing the W trek was also very satisfying. Finally, the extension to Iguassu Falls was an amazing way to end the holiday - very well managed and a great experience. Don't miss the boat ride!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas is a "people person" with a big warm heart. He managed a large and varied group with great skill, and as a result everything worked well. The Chilean trek leader on the W trek set an erratic pace (very lengthy stops), spent a lot of time on his mobile phone and didn't allow people to walk at their own pace. We'd rate him as a leader as very average. In contrast the female leader in El Chalten, Aime, was exceptional - as good as any leader we've ever had. Only one negative for Tomas which I will repeat here since he didn't react positively to my complaint - it is highly dangerous for a guide to make lengthy commentaries whilst wandering around a bus travelling at 70 mph. He did this repeatedly and for long periods. He needs to know that it has cost him a nomination for "leader of the year" from us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pray for good weather! We were very lucky, as weather will likely make or break the trip given the cost and distances that need to be travelled to get to, and around, Patagonia. You need to be prepared for anything, at any time, as the local climate is notoriously changeable. This will also affect how the grading of the walking feels. Our weather was very mild, so the grade of hiking did not feel like a 5, but we could see how that could change. We'd recommend extending the trip to ensure you have time to recover from the lengthy flight and to see Buenos Aires - which is a lovely city - and also to visit Iguassu Falls on the optional Exodus extension. This was outstanding.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Big thanks to our group leader, Tomas, and to the rest of our group for being so sociable throughout.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Nigel Chapman

    Awesome trek with a great leader

    Having seen the Trango Towers on a K2 bae camp trek many years ago I always had an ambition to see the Torres del Paine and the didn't disappoint. Firzroy is also stunning.We were lucky with the weather which helped and all local guides were excellent.As said in other reviews Tomas our leader is a legend through his enthusiasm, knowledge and caring attitude. Would recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Leaving th Paine NP on the catamaran with cloudless skies across an azure blue lake with stunning mountain scenery all around- it doesn't get much better than that.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Where do I start.....Tomas was just brilliant.As someone who came land only to the group so joined later he made it easy to integrate.He was knowledgeable, kind, diplomatic and above all very very funny. He looked after everyone individually and his work rate was phenomenal. As others have said, a legend.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I'd reiterate a few of the previous comments: -there's a lot of bus travel (but necessary to see Fitzroy and Paine) -it's expensive to use ATMs in Argentina so take plenty of USD. -probably not as challenging as I was expecting (although all these ratings are subjective) -take a 30-40 litre pack as well as main bag for W trek in Paine NP. -don't forget earplugs (to aid sleep whilst in dorms on trek) and sink plug (most hosterias etc don't provide them) -enjoy.....