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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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596 Reviews

  • Reviewed January 2020
    Emlyn Jones

    Essential Peru

    We were on the same trip as Neil Thomas and agree with everything that Neil has written in his detailed review. One part of the trip that Neil didn't mention was the Nazca Lines. From ground level these look like very uninteresting scratches in the sand, if you can see them at all. From the air they are amazing. But to see them from the air you have to fly in a very small plane, which is not for everybody. If you are happy to fly in a 7 seater plane that banks steeply from side to side to show people sitting on both sides of the plane the "lines" below you then go for it, it is well worth it. If you don't fancy the flight, there is a tower that you can climb to get a good view of .a couple of the lines, and a new much taller tower was being built.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first sight of Machu Picchu. It really does exist!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Giuliano Gallesi was an excellent leader. He is very knowledgeable, but also knew when to stop talking and just let us soak up the view. He took extremely good care of everybody on the trip and was available from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Peru is a big country, so to see the Nazca Lines, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and see condors flying close up in just two weeks involves a lot of travelling. That combined with the altitude at Cusco and Lake Titicaca makes it an exhausting trip. It is well worth the exhaustion and I wouldn't want to have missed any of it.
  • Reviewed November 2019

    A fantastic guide

    I found hiking the trail a real challenge but our guide Holger Collantes, and his assistant Mel, were just amazing. Their support and encouragement got me through. They really were the best! Holger was also an absolute mine of information about Peru - there were no questions he couldn't answer. The Inca remains and, of course, Machu Picchu itself were magical. The people, the food ... all incredible.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the trail.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing. He always went above and beyond what was necessary to make sure we were all happy and well cared for.
  • Reviewed November 2019

    Moonstone Trek and more

    Wonderful trip — cleverly varied itinerary with a mix of challenging trekking, history & local life.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Trek up to the pass at Accoccassa (4625m). and the view of Mt Veronica.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. Don’t be put off by the altitude — it is extreme (see Accoccassa (4625m), followed by an evening in a camp also above 4000m, but we (a very mixed group) managed it. 2. If you can, get an extra day in Cusco to acclimatise. Well worth it, both to get used to the altitude and also to have more time to look around — depending on flights, you might not get long in Cusco on the way home. One day _less_ in Cusco on the way in could well leave you struggling with the altitude. We were stuck in Bogota after our flight was cancelled due to local electrical storms (well looked after by Avianca, once they made up their mind to cancel the flight); a day at 2640m does not prepare you for 3000-4000m. 3. The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art – MAP Cusco (https://mapcusco.pe/en/) is well worth a visit (and is open on Sundays). 4. Ollantaytambo is a wonderful place to visit and walk around (not only because it is the first “civilisation” after the 4 days trekking...although the first shower was very welcome). Obviously, there’s no guarantee of Top Gear filming in the main square (don’t know when the episode airs, but the cars were very loud!), or the local schools rehearsing for a festival, but the town and temples are fascinating. 5. The international departure lounge at Cusco airport has just one (very) small cafe. Stay in the domestic lounge (up the escalator to the left of the entrance to International) for food, bar & shops, if you can.
  • Reviewed November 2019

    Fascinating trek

    A strenuous but rewarding trek, topped off with some fantastic sightseeing, and of course Machu Picchu! Great diversity of microclimates during the trek, as well as weather changes. The trip definitely deserves its challenging rating, but the guides and support staff helped all to enjoy this trek. The local people are welcoming. This is one of the best treks I have had the opportunity to be a part of.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say. Exploring Choquequirao in the mist and almost to ourselves after an intense day of climbing. Climbing Yanama Pass after a snowfall amongst the glaciers. Arriving in the tropical forests of Lucabamba knowing that our climbing was over. Seeing Andean condors one day and parakeets the next. Trying chicha and cuy. And Machu Picchu, glorious despite the number of people there, which I was dreading after eight days of being almost isolated from anyone else but our group, but still found completely breathtaking! Lastly, the group of walkers I was fortunate enough to accompany on this trip. A diverse and wonderful group of people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edwind was simply amazing! His ability to keep the group motivated and together through some tough climbing is noteworthy. Steep ascents and different levels of conditioning can really spread people out over long hikes, but he managed to keep everyone intact. Really responsive to different members interests and remembering them over the course of a two week trip. Joshua was also fantastic and very enthusiastic. They were both loaded with information regarding the culture and natural surroundings.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walking is strenuous, no doubt, but the rewards are well worth it. As noted in previous reviews, the ascents and descents are steep and long with almost no flat terrain. Insect issues previously mentioned are intermittent but definitely need good repellant. I usually wear shorts and I definitely paid for it! The weather was everywhere, from snow to tropical sun, so pack accordingly. The camping sites and hotels were fantastic and the food was amazing, especially considering the conditions in which it was prepared. All in all, if you are physically prepared, I believe its one of the best trips you will ever experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Special note to our chefs Beltram and Victor and assistant Isrrael. Their food was phenomenal, especially considering it was cooked from equipment and ingredients from the backs of mules. Also to Tibo and his group of muleteers. It is awe inspiring to watch these men work.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Lajos Hanzel

    A fantastic trek and Machu Picchu

    Memorable hike in the Andes without any other turist on the trek, fantastic valleys and mountains plus 1 day Inka trail reaching Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. This was an all-in-one trek.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    After an Exhausting steep hike to 4600m ridge suddenly getting the first glimps of Mt. Veronika...wow!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thanks to our leader, Fabrizio, I know much more about Peruvian life, culture and the Inka history.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Add an extra day in Cusco for acclimatisation just in case your flight is delayed or cancelled.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Alex Campbell

    Just amazing!!!

    This trip was fantastic from start to finish. Really well organised by Exodus. We loved every minute of this trip, the Inca sites you visit along the way and the amazing scenery just make this amazing, it really does make it about the whole 4 days of hiking rather than just the last one when you arrive at Macchu Picchu. We were lucky to be hiking with a fantastic group of people and our guide and porters were incredible. The chefs and porters deserve a special mention, the food was incredible, and arriving at camp every day to find everything set up and a drink waiting for us made it feel much more like glamping!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say, on the last day of hiking the guide for us up early to climb a little higher and we watched the sun come up over a glacier, the porters arrived with hot tea and it just felt a little unreal and magical. Of course arriving after 4 days of hiking to see Macchu Picchu below you is incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bruce was AMAZING, nothing was too much trouble and he knew so much not just about Incas but about all the flowers and everything we saw along the way, it really made the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go prepared for an adventure, and ladies take loo roll in your back pack everywhere, it's often in short supply!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you to everyone involved in making our trip so memorable we planned this a year ago and it totally lived up to our expectations!!!!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Gillian Z

    Truly amazing holiday!

    Wow - what an amazing holiday. Truly a holiday of a lifetime! Incredible to see the scale and beauty of Machu Picchu. We walked to the Sun Gate and hiked down instead of taking the bus which was not quite the 1 day trek but was a great way down. It only took 45 minutes or so too. Our group in Peru & Ecuador was small with only 5 of us plus one guide. Age range was between 49 and 78. You do need to be reasonably fit for this as there is some walking and climbing involved. We were then joined with some others in the Galapagos. We all gelled really well and we had a great time. The Cachalote was brilliant. It was a 16 berths boat. The cabins had a double bed and a toilet and shower room. Not huge but sufficient for our needs. There is a large dining/sitting area where we were served amazing food. Breakfast was good - both warm and cold things including yoghurt, fruit, cereals, eggs etc. Lunchtime and dinner was 2 or 3 course meal - again good variety and very tasty. Lovely crew too who will go out of their way to please. The Galapagos Islands were truly amazing. What a honour to see animals in abundance! Snorkelling with the different types of fish, sea turtles, seals, penguins and marine iguanas. Saw a white tipped shark too! On land was also very interesting. Vast amounts of Galapagos birds including pelicans, cormorants and blue-footed boobies. Overall, a superb holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Can't say there is just one - both Machu Picchu and the Galapagos wildlife are awesome.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Smithy in Peru and Juan in the Galapagos were brilliant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We went in September when the water was a bit cold - we wore wetsuits but If you suffer from cold fingers/toes, take some wetsuit-type gloves or socks (if there are such things).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Hotel in Cuzco could have been slightly more luxurious.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Vince McClave

    Fantastic three weeks exploring Peru

    The trip starts with exploring the capital city Lima, then follows the coast seeing flocks of the sea birds and sea lions on the way before turning inland into the Andes, the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and a brief visit to 'the jungle'. You see magnificent landscapes along the way from the desert-like coastal plains to the fabulous snow-capped Andean mountain tops with an active volcano on the horizon. You visit manu Inca and pre-Inca settlements during the course of the three weeks. After the effort and camping along the Inca Trail there's just enough time to visit the jungle for more wild-life viewing. This excursion has the lot!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In terms of physical effort, going over Dead Woman's Pass on the Inca Trail. However, seeing the condors gliding in and around the canyons and cliffs and viewing the Lines of Nazca from above were also pretty inspirational moments. The Inca sites were all phenomenal in terms of size and construction.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group Leader Luis Gonzales was brilliant. Knowledgeable, attentive, always careful as to our health, particularly when we were at altitude and very keen to show us everything Peru offers, Luis was always professional and had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for all weathers. We had heat and humidity in the jungle and rain, wind, sleet, mist, cold as well as sun and heat in the Andes. Invest in a good poncho - the plastic ones for sale locally are not up to the job.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Sophie Penney

    Very beautiful and interesting trip

    The views on the trek were really wonderful, Cusco is a beautiful city. There is lots to see on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the top on the 2nd day of the hike was a big sense of achievement.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tina is very kind and friendly. She did a very good job of looking after us and checking that we were managing with the altitude.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    One little thing, the kit list is missing toilet paper. Of course you can get it there but I would have preferred to know in advance that you need some for the trek! And yes it really is that cold at night you definitely need to bring properly warm clothes. Walking poles are marked as optional but we wouldn’t have made it without them! The amount of stuff you are allowed for the trek is quite small, smaller than it sounds anyway, so plan carefully.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Neil Thomas

    Llamas and Alpacas: Machu Picchu Dreaming

    It took me a while to love Peru. It didn't help that our flight from Gatwick was delayed nearly 24 hours, resulting in us missing the first part of the adventure, and then enduring two very long travel days. However, once we arrived in Cusco and dealt with the initial impact of the altitude, the magic started to work. Ignore the sprawling, traffic-filled suburbs: the historic centre of Cusco is a magnificent place to spend a couple of days. We enjoyed visiting the market, the Bohemian quarter of San Blas, people watching in the Plaza de Armas and even waiting to cheer a bride into her wedding. Our days in Cusco bracketed our visit to Machu Picchu, which is every bit as magnificent as the guidebooks lead you to believe. Our allocated afternoon time slot allowed us to walk to the Sun Gate before visiting the main site - a rewarding experience affording magnificent views. The downside of MP - the shuttle buses to and from Aguas Callientes. You will have to face lengthy queues in each direction. On our second morning in Aguas Callientes we resisted the urge to visit MP again and instead were taken on a walk along the railway line to Los Jardines de Mandor, a beautiful botanic garden in the cloud forest leading to a waterfall. I would urge all Exodus clients to make this three-hour excursion - it was a highlight for us. After Cusco, there was another sprinkling of magic on Amantani Island, an oasis of beauty on Lake Titicaca. Our visit coincided with an island fiesta, so we enjoyed the riot of flags, dancing and colour displayed by the locals. Our journey across Titicaca also involved a visit to one of the floating island communities. That too was wonderful in a weird way. Next was the trip through the altiplano to the charming town of Chivay, stopping to watch an erupting volcano and a couple of whirlwinds en route. I can also now tell my llamas from my alpacas, as well as vicunas - there are plenty of all three species to be seen en route. Chivay offered a trip to the thermal springs and a rare hour of leisurely self-indulgence. The next day it was an early start to see the Andean condors rising on the thermals in Colca Canyon - another memorable experience. Then it was Arequipa, our visit coinciding with another festival of music and dance, and finally Miraflores, and a belated meeting with Paddington Bear, before our flight home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Machu Picchu, Cusco, Amantani Island, Colca Canyon, the train trip from Ollentaytambo to Machu Picchu. There were more, but you get the drift.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We have been on numerous Exodus trips, all with good leaders, but Giuliano Gallesi was on a higher level than all of them - not just because of the altitude. He dealt efficiently with our day-late arrival and then led the tour with authority and compassion throughout. He was quick to recognise the signs when group members were struggling with the altitude and twice called the doctor as a result. He has a very good command of English, a likeable personality, was happy to answer all our questions and, above all, was available to the group 24/7. A true professional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware of the long distances involved in the itinerary. For most of the route, the bus had a toilet on board, but that is of little consolation if, like me, you are not happy travelling near the back of a coach. We bought Peruvian Soles in advance of the trip and these were easier to use than US dollars. Dollars are accepted, but you are subject to the vagaries of local exchange rates. Food was generally of a very high standard. Our tour leader took us to or recommended consistently good restaurants. Make sure you have a supply of toilet paper handy. Many public banos did not have any available.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Essential Peru is a rewarding but tiring trip. And you cannot ignore the altitude. On first arrival in Cusco we wanted to go straight to bed to sleep. The advice to take a short walk for some fresh air and then to have something to eat helped us to acclimatise.