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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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152 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Cuba

    Have just come back from a Taste of Cuba trip. What an amazing time we had, Rayselis the guide was so passionate about her country and so knowledgeable. We visited local community run projects, got to eat in local restaurants and generally have a good time with the Cuban people. I would recommend this trip if you want to see Cuba rather than just sit on a beech. Cigar rolling, rum drinking, salsa dancing , pottery throwing, amazing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Cuba in the raw, old Havana is amazing, seeing local Cubans going about there everyday lives, happily singing and dancing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rayselis is an amazing, passionate guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind, and enjoy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was not bland, there was plenty of variety, vegetarian meals were available, the Cuban Hosts were lovely, the Casa' s and Hotels were lovely and so clean.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Cuba

    Have just come back from a Taste of Cuba trip. What an amazing time we had, Rayselis the guide was so passionate about her country and so knowledgeable. We visited local community run projects, got to eat in local restaurants and generally have a good time with the Cuban people. I would recommend this trip if you want to see Cuba rather than just sit on a beech. Cigar rolling, rum drinking, salsa dancing , pottery throwing, amazing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Cuba in the raw, old Havana is amazing, seeing local Cubans going about there everyday lives, happily singing and dancing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rayselis is an amazing, passionate guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind, and enjoy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was not bland, there was plenty of variety, vegetarian meals were available, the Cuban Hosts were lovely, the Casa' s and Hotels were lovely and so clean.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Fantastic experience

    Week long tour of western Cuba stopping off at loads of interesting and enjoyable locations: just some were Cienfuegos, Trinidad, pottery studio and 'have a go', Vinales Valley and tobacco/coffee plantation with fascinating demonstrations and of course not forgetting the wonderful Havana. Lovely places to stay and very very good food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Can't narrow it down to 1! but including visiting the traditional house of a couple who lived via their coffee and plant production, overwhelming hospitality of the places we stayed in, Cuban friendliness and seeing how they manage their lives so well despite some hardships.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabulous. The most informative, entertaining and helpful person we could have wished for in that role. The coach driver who took us everywhere was wonderful too, and made sure we never ran out of fuel!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to live out of a suitcase, it's not nearly as difficult as we thought!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We would wholeheartedly recommend this tour. It gave us a great holiday, wonderful experiences and plenty of great memories!
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Trevor Hamilton

    Disappointed in Experience

    Did not live up to my expectations unfortunately compared to a previous trip I went on.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Extra trip to Vinales

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was reasonably informative but we felt he did not do as much for the group as we expected.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take your own snacks as the quality and quantity provided by the tour leader was much poorer than those provided my my leader in India.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is with a lot of disappointment that I compose this email to you but as a returning customer of your company I am left feeling rather deflated after my trip with you to Cuba. I travelled last year to Kerala with you and had a fantastic time so I decided to book Cuba this year and persuaded some of my family to attend as a birthday treat for my brother who celebrated his 60th birthday whilst there. Firstly his birthday coincided with the second day of our trip ending at a beach resort. Only problem was you could hardly access the beach due to the debris on it and a collapsed beach hut. We made the best of it anyway but then the following night we were due to spend 2 nights in paladares. Allocation of these was a total shambles. Our guide knew we were travelling as a group but insisted that there were no paladares with 2 doubles and a single in one so we reluctantly split up. However, the one which my sister was allocated was totally unsuitable and she was relocated into one which had 2 doubles and a single! Slightly annoyed to say the least plus with the paladares in general, there is a huge variation in the offers in each location but we are all paying the same money so should expect the same I would have thought! The next day we all planned to go on the catamaran trip. When we arrived at the dock, the catamaran was broken and we were offered a boat which had no seats and standing room only for us all. This was supposed to be our transport for 3 hours-a total joke so we refused and got our money back but then meant we had to spend a day at the beach when we had all hoped to see the reef, snorkel etc. A wasted day! We then had a good cycle on the next day but ended up a hotel from the 1970's in the middle of nowhere. This meant that the following day we spent most of it transferring to Havana and having no time in Havana. If we had altered our cycle ride slightly to closer to the motorway we could have had an extra half day in Havana. To cap it all, on our last night we were relocated to our original hotel and told by you that we would be transferred to and from central Havana at night. When we asked about this the local rep was totally unaware of this and agreed reluctantly to do this despite him saying that his local company had not agreed this. During our cycling days, snacks were supposed to be provided but these were few and far between in contrast to my time in India when they were frequent and of good quality. Next fiasco. I had booked an extension with yourselves to Vinales and Cayo Leviso. I arrived in Vinales as planned and I had paid for an evening meal out of town starting restaurant with transfers. Turns out, the local company knew nothing of the transfers and wanted me to pay for a taxi to and from the restaurant-more than the cost of the meal. When I complained, they then suggested their own restaurant in town so I opted for this as second best and not what I had paid for! The next morning, I was due to be taken in a 13 km hike through the local area with a pack lunch. A hike was indeed provided but this was only for 5 km and finished at 11.30 am with pack lunch being a cheese and ham sandwich and a few bits if fruit. Not exactly my full day excursion I was laid to expect and certainly not a guide for the day as you stated. My transfer to Cayo Leviso went as planned but was informed on arrival that I would have to pay for lunch that day as I was not due to check in until 3 but lunch on Monday was included when I was not there to get it! The location is lovely but the cabins are basic and poorly maintained and food is canteen like with the same choice for lunch and dinner! Not exactly the picture of luxury you portrayed in your pre amble and I certainly don't think the extension cost of £699 for a half delivered promise is good value for money. All-in all, a total shambles from our point of view! I was looking at booking with you for your Vietnam trip and maybe Morocco but on the evidence of this one, I will be looking at other companies which offer similar trips to see if they deliver as promised.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Trevor for his feedback, although we are sorry that he was disappointed with certain aspects of his trip. We regret that there was debris on the beach at Playa Yaguanabo; unfortunately the area was, at the time, affected by Hurricane Irma.

    All of the casas used by our groups are regularly inspected by our local team, and only casas which have been approved are allocated to our clients, so we are sorry that Trevor found there to be such variation in the standard of accommodation. Whilst we understand that Trevor was also underwhelmed with the location of the hotel on day 6; we cannot recall receiving feedback of this nature previously.

    We regret the issues Trevor experienced with the optional catamaran excursion from Trinidad; following the feedback we have received, we no longer offer this excursion.

    Snack food isn’t always readily available in Cuba, so we mention in our trip notes that clients may wish to bring their own energy snacks.

    We are sorry that Trevor experienced issues on his extension and that was disappointed with the resort at Cayo Leviso. Exodus has been recommending beach stays here for some time as we feel it offers a better experience than the highly built-up beach resort areas in Cuba. Our customer services and Tailormade teams have written to Trevor in more detail regarding all of the issues he has mentioned.

    Malcolm Parkinson – Product Manager

  • Reviewed April 2017
    Mairi Millar

    Dreaful Trip - Do not visit Cuba

    Cuba was dreadful. I did know what to expect, I know it’s all falling down, nothing works, it’s a huge rip off for the tourists, I did know all that. What I didn’t expect was to become really ill for more than half the “holiday”, spend a fortune on simply surviving because of the blatant fleecing of the tourists, having to fend off aggressive beggars, musicians, restaurant owners, taxi drivers, the list goes on. Cuba is one big rip off from the moment you step off the plane. Although this isn't the fault of Exodus, I felt I really had to post my experience of the appalling animal cruelty I witnessed. I am still so angry and heartbroken about what I have seen. Most of this is going on in the rural areas, but I saw a lot in Havana too. Starving stray cats and dogs wondering about is bad enough, we all expect this in developing countries but the most shocking thing of all is the treatment of their horses. At least cats and dogs can scavenge for food and beg from the tourists, but the horses are utterly dependant on the people who own them. In rural Cuba horses are still used for transport, both riding and pulling carts. Did you know that in Cuba, there are no laws concerning the treatment and welfare of animals? That’s right, NO LAWS, you can do what you like to any animals in Cuba, both domestic and wild and no one will touch you because you’re not breaking any law. Almost without exception, every single horse I saw was little more than a skeleton, barely able to stand because they were so weak, covered in sores from ill fitting tack, ribs, hips and backbones jutting like razors under a covering of skin. I saw them being beaten with ropes and chains because they were unable to pull overloaded carts up hills. I saw a young Cuban man forcing his emaciated horse to gallop up and down a tarmac road just so he could show off to his friends. I saw a horse clearly chronically lame in its near fore, being forced to trot pulling a cart which was too heavy even for a sound animal. I cycled past a cart with around a dozen young Cuban girls in it, each one clearly weighing 20 stones or more, all laughing and joking while the driver lashed his skeletal horse who was struggling, panting and in distress at trying to heave this colossal weight up a hill. I saw a man beating his horse with a knotted rope, I heard the animal groaning in pain (bear in mind horses are pretty much non vocal creatures and will only make a noise when in severe distress), a sound I had never heard before and I hope never to hear again, as the rope thudded in between its sunken fleshless ribs. I saw horses tethered in the blazing sun with no shade, food or water. These are just a couple of examples of what I saw, I could write pages and pages about each example. If this was happening in the UK every single one of those individuals would be arrested and sent to prison, their horses would be euthanized on the spot as they were beyond being rescued and nursed back to health. These people clearly have more than enough to eat given the number of grotesquely obese Cubans I saw waddling about. They’re not interested in sharing it with their horses though. What sort of society behaves like this? I did speak to several of these people and asked them why their horses were starving and why they were not given water. I was treated as if I was mad, one man earnestly explained to me that horses must not be fed or watered while they are “working” as it’s not good for them. Seriously? This man's horse hadn’t been fed or watered properly for months given the state it was in. I asked another one to explain to me the economic sense behind not feeding or giving even the most rudimentary care to your horse, surely, I said, a horse is a relatively expensive commodity, why would you starve it to death? The reply? “Horses are cheap here, I’ll just buy another one”. So it’s cheaper to buy a horse, starve and beat it to death, then buy another than it is to simply just take care of the one you have? How sick is that? There are a couple of horse charities in Cuba, I’m still doing research to try and decide who to donate to, so in the meantime, the only thing I can do is tell as many people as I can about what I saw and beg everyone, please do not go to Cuba, don’t give them your money, and tell people why you won’t go. The only way anything will change is if tourists don’t spend money there and tell them that we won’t support or tolerate this evil behaviour. These people really are wicked and cruel, it is NOT OK to abuse horses. You don’t have to be from a developed nation to understand that starving and abusing animals is wrong. The most sickening thing is that there IS food available in Cuba, these people are not abusing their animals because they have no choice or because they don’t know any better, they’re doing it because they can, and no one will stop them. Please, please don't go there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There wasn't one

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was good, very knowledgeable about the history of Cuba (given, of course, from the point of view of the Cuban dictatorship, but I suppose he's obliged to tow the "party line"). It was interesting to hear history from the point of view of the Cubans, although make sure you google and research most of it to hear what might be a slightly more balanced account.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Advice, just don't go to Cuba, take your money elsewhere.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus, please take Cuba off your list of holidays offered and tell the authorities why you are doing so.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Mairi for her review, although we were very sorry to learn of her concern for the way in which horses and animals are treated in Cuba. Whilst our local manager has explained that Cuban’s have a different relationship to animals than we do in the UK, we appreciate that this must have been very distressing to have witnessed. We have made our responsible tourism manager aware of Mairi’s concerns and she will be looking into the positive influence we can have on animal care in Cuba, such as working with The Diana Project charity, based in Trinidad.

    Malcolm Parkinson – Product Manager

  • Reviewed April 2017
    Serena Chance

    A fantastic whistle-stop tour

    A great week - lots of different aspects of Cuba, really enjoyable, very informative and a lot of fun. There is a lot of travel involved however it gave us all a good insight into some of the life in a different and fascinating country. Very hospitable hosts in the Casals Particulares.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The final Salsa class with our Cuban dance partners; realising how hard most Cubans have to work in order to make ends meet; appreciating just how widespread the ability to perform music to a high standard is amongst the Cubans;

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lenay was a fabulous guide. Kind, helpful, very informative, assertive when needed, always smiley cheerful and positive, realistic about what we should expect, and she made it a great week for us all. She was very concerned that we were happy with the accommodation wherever we were, and that we let her know if anything wasn't as it might be. I don't think we could have had a better guide. A big thank you to Lenay for a great week, and for all her hard work.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Expect some long journeys; don't expect European luxuries or standards of accommodation everywhere; take time to learn some Spanish as the hosts in the cases particulares are extremely kind, and friendly; take things as you find them and with a sense of humour; understand that we are very wealthy/privileged in comparison to most Cubans; enjoy it all!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to return.
  • Reviewed March 2017

    Taste of Cuba

    Hugely enjoyed this tour..... truly was an adventure. We were introduced to an extraordinary peoples and culture....our guide was exemplary. I luved every moment and and am extremely keen to return. 'The Taste of Cuba' filled every moment with fascination and surprise. Everywhere very comfortable and safe but with a sense of how challenging it is for the locals...

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to single out one... 'growing insight into the history of past 200years The positivity of the guide..... a 'child' of the post revolution The awesome colonial architecture the enterprise of the peoples...rural and urban snorkelling in the Caribbean The delightful hospitality of the hosts in the casa particulares very little that could be left out!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A star plus plus plus. She was so informative and prepared.... always positive and enthusiastic. The whole group thought her fabulous. For the whole week she was completely available and responsive to our needs and foibles.. a huge asset to Exodus and excellent Cuban ambassadress. In addition to the program, she researched material for further research into our family history during her free time... superb young woman!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    'bother' the team online via web chat......! it allays all doubts and instant access to advice or help.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    kindly forward info on your input/ support for local charities (for my information only) As a family, we left small gifts in the casa particulares..... hoping this was sensitive and right action...?
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Lindsey Kemp

    Cycling Cuba - Fantastic!

    What an amazing way to see Cuba! I loved every second & Freddy, our guide, was so knowledgeable & clearly passionate about Cuba, that it really added to the experience. The group was great fun too. All in all a brilliant holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the lake at the top after a gruelling 7km uphill on the final day 40km cycle - such an achievement

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic - highly knowledgeable & alwys ready to help

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved the cycling so much i'm already looking into my next trip
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Karen Gill

    Cuban Highlights Tour

    Fantastic trip with great cycling, cultural and historical aspects. The entire trip exceeded my expectations for the quality of bikes to accommodation and food. The cycling was relaxed and, although mostly on main roads, traffic was not heavy (unlike the headwinds!) and there was always full back up with the support bus. The food was simple but tasty and the casa's were comfortable and far more interesting than staying in a hotel. Cuba was fantastic and everything we needed was available, just be prepared for some unreliability such as lack of hot water, toilet paper etc

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The entire trip!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddy was excellent. Very knowledgeable about Cuba and it's history and patiently dealing with all our questions and ability to miss the (almost) unmissable cycling stops

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Extend your trip, one week just isn't enough

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The most sought after items by the group were toilet paper, bug spray, wet wipes, sanitiser and 25c for toilet stops.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Kathryn Moore

    More than just cocktails!

    A fantastic introduction to Cuba, its culture, history, music, dancing (and cocktails!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved it all!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ray is the best leader I've had on any group holiday. Informative, funny and encouraging during our attempts at dancing. I couldn't rate her highly enough. She made it a memorable trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect too much of the Casas and then you'll be pleasantly surprised. Take the optional Cadillac ride; it was great fun!