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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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100 Reviews

  • Reviewed February 2020
    Audrey Morgan

    Gorillas and Masai Mara

    Saw the most incredible wildlife, expert and professional team in Gilbert, Albert, Stoney and James and a wonderful road trip across E. Africa.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention but the Gorillas next to us was special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was professional, fun, accommodating and a joy to travel with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it. The best trip yet!
  • Reviewed January 2020

    Best Experience of all of my travels so far!

    Best experience of travel I have ever had. Gorillas just WOW. Chimps were amazing and we saw our first one in 5 minutes. Queen Elisabeth park gave us not 1 but 2 sets of tree climbing lions!! And we spotted a Leopard. Lots of other fabulous game that was not so expected from Uganda. Friendly people everywhere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Wow, seeing the gorilla family in the wild was the best experience I have ever had, just breath taking! It was very hard work getting to them (and we were lucky it took just over 1 hour) so hit the gym before you go, make sure you take those gardening gloves and hire a porter. Don't bother taking walking poles (take up room in your luggage) and they will give you a big stick on site that does just as well (and you don't have to worry about loosing since you have to leave your poles when getting near the gorillas).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide David was fabulous, kept us entertained throughout and nothing was too much trouble. Love him!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Gorilla mist Camp is a bit cold and damp (you are in a rainforest at high elevation after all) so I wish I took another warmer jumper for the evenings (but they do put lovely hot water bottles in your bed). One point I would make - I didn't book the extra Gorilla permits due to money restrictions - the way it is worded on the site is to book them as you are not guaranteed to see the gorillas on one treck, however when you go for your treck they explain that if your group does not spot the gorillas then you can go back on the same permit the next day. (this did not happen to us so no idea if they do keep this promise given the restricted permit numbers).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you want to see Gorillas go and do it! This experience was better than I ever imagined it could be
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Graham Wright

    The trip that just keeps on giving.

    Whereas nothing can be guaranteed this trip was one that just kept on giving. It surpassed all expectations and we were extremely fortunate to see and experience all that we did. Wildlife in abundance exhibiting some distinctive behaviour . The big 5 was seen in the first two days and with the animals being used to seeing traffic in the game reserves and National Parks they were almost within 'touching' distance from the truck. I have lost count of the many species of animals and birds seen throughout the journey. Equally spectacular was the scenery in the three very different countries visited. All the game lodges used enhanced the experience with buffalo even grazing outside (security procedures in place), Wild Waters set on an island in the middle of the Nile offered luxury not expected but was well received and was in the right place at the right time for our day of optional activities. The chance to meet and take part in local communities along with the extremely knowledgeable leader and driver all added to the 'adventure' of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many. A stand off with a rhino just yards from the truck. A similar approach from a bull elephant. A family of 4 cheetahs walking past the truck, lions asleep, hyenas at home in the mud by the track, a leopard resting within a tree posing for the photoshoot, visit to a Masai village and the work being done by Helen in trying to confront and re-educate a patriarchal society, a surreal experience of a hot air balloon safari followed by a cooked breakfast around tables on the Mara served with an abundance of Prosecco and herds of Zebras in the background. White water rafting down the Nile- an experience not to miss (even at my age). The spectacular Murchison falls, being charged by a hippo whilst cruising on the Nile. Don't forget the chimpanzees, the walk was easy and they made an appearance for us. I suppose the most inspirational moment was for our entire group to be in the middle of a family of 8 mountain gorillas with the babies playing at our feet, mother breast feeding just a few feet away and the giant alpha male less than 10 feet away demonstrating all the behaviour seen on documentaries. A truly special time and we were so privileged to be accepted into their environment. Last but not least, a sobering visit to the Genocide museum in Kigali, one should not avoid hearing about the history because one is on holiday, it helps to understand and see how far they have come.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was an extremely lively, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate person who was always keen to impart his knowledge about the countries, culture and wildlife visited. He was readily available to deal with any questions or issues that arose. He was keen to support and use local resources whenever and wherever available. At the same time he was able to protect himself from unnecessary demands of his time. It was noted that he was constantly trying to meet the needs of the group when changes were inevitable. His partnership with Stoney, our driver, was a perfect combination as they both sought to make the adventure as perfect as possible. Perhaps because he tried to keep everybody happy, he needs to realise that in all group situations, not everyone can be as reasonable or respectful or polite as they should be. That is the nature of people and groups- it is not a reflection of him and his abilities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware of early starts, long drives along some 'bumpy' roads. Expect the Gorilla trek to be more challenging. Read the trip notes carefully and you will not be surprised. It is a group experience, be prepared to be respectful to the other members of the group. The more you share with the group, the more you will get out of the adventure. Acknowledge that some areas you will be going to are a very different cultural experience to what we are used to
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Paul Daly

    An African Adventure

    Long travel days, early mornings, tough tracking terrain, beautiful scenery, very changable weather, history lessons, amazing animal sightings, upset tummies, Masai and Batwa villages, hot and cold showers, trucks in ditches, border crossings, picnic lunches, and sooooooo much more

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many memorable moments from the Rwandan Genocide Memorial which was heartbreaking, the silent power of the Gorilla family we tracked, seeing a leopard ( 3 actually ), black and white rhino, jumping and spear throwing with the Masai, speaking with Helen who rescues young girls from FGM.....

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was an excellent all rounder with vast local, national and historical knowledge. All information was given clearly and our nightly meetings to tell of the plans for the following day often ended in stories about previous trips, historical figures and African culture. The other members of the team were super too. The driver, Stony, was unreal and Albert and James, the chefs, made sure nobody went hungry. If you are lucky enough to have this team looking after your group, you'll have a fantastic trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Please, please, please, don't underestimate the level of difficulty involved in the Gorilla trek. The trip notes do not adequately reflect the gradient of the slopes, the neccessity of a porter, or the toughness of the terrain. Having said that, its an amazing day and a once in a lifetime experience. I'd absolutely recommend doing the reverse trip. Get the gorilla trek done in the first few days and then you can enjoy the wonders of Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara in comfort.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go!! Don't overthink it and just go. It is a great trip with so many different things to see and do. One thing to avoid however is the optional trip to the source of the White Nile. A huge disappointment for the money that was paid. Be prepared for medical problems like reactions to malaria pills, upset tummies, sunburn, and frankly, a roll of toilet paper in your bag could very well be your best friend.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Stuart Robinson

    A very good holiday

    A very good but exhausting holiday with long truck journeys, heavy rain, early wet mornings but with magnificent sightings of all of East Africa's animals. The crew were exceptional with each member doing their job diligently and were a great help to us travellers. The following day's program were clearly explained each evening with questions asked and answered. Although I had no regrets about going on this holiday, I was just grateful that I did the reverse journey as I'm not sure that I would appreciate a six hour trek to see the gorillas at the end of the holiday - at 67, I'm not sure that I would have made it. Overall, I'm glad that I went.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The sightings of the gorillas - I could literary touch one - and we were privileged to see three leopards in Uganda and Kenya.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was an excellent group leader, giving clear instructions to the group each evening and providing a talk on many relevant subjects displaying a deep knowledge of local current affairs, African culture and history. He always had time to answer any queries and resolve any problems that occurred.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The gorilla trek could be a problem for travellers who have fitness problems. The first trek took six hours up and down hills in hot weather. I booked a second gorilla trek which only took two to three hours as the animals were located near one of the gorilla centres - however, this was just as arduous due to the steep terrain, the thick vegetation and the slippery, muddy conditions. But, for me, it was worth it.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Simon Knight

    Amazing wildlife viewings

    Amazing overall itinerary. Saw the big 5 in the Masai Mara in the first two days including iconic wildebeest migration crossing the Mara River. Followed by chimp trekking and gorilla trekking in Uganda which were amazing. The gorilla trekking in particular was superbly organised. Some long travel days but absolutely necessary to get between National Parks. Good safari truck and amazing food all cooked from local produce.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Silverback gorilla so close

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was excellent. The other three members of the crew, Stoney, Albert and James, were also excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a light weight inflatable mattress if you need that little extra padding, we took an adjustable walking pole each for the gorilla trekking and found them very useful although even more so was the porter who guided you over the worst bits of the mud and held you up when you started slipping. Go with an open mind about early morning starts and long journey times as they are all necessary and the holiday was unforgettable.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Taryn Cooper

    Incredible wildlife experience

    Be prepared for a number of long overland journeys (you will become very familiar with the truck), but the Exodus team made it as smooth and enjoyable as possible and the wildlife experiences we had made it all so so worth it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was fully expecting to be blown away by the Gorillas (and they did not disappoint !) but as someone who has done safari before, I was not expecting the spectacular sightings that we had at the Masai Mara! We had a mind blowing first few days! So many big cats in such close proximity - including the ever elusive leopard ! 😍 We also saw wildebeest crossing and a kill which was bittersweet. Seeing the chimps in their natural habitat carrying on their business was also awe inspiring . When they start calling to each other and drumming the trees, it’s really quite intimidating but in the best possible way.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert was our Group leader and I thought he was fantastic! As well as being incredibly witty and good humoured throughout the trip, Gilbert was always explaining local culture, history, knowledge of the wildlife etc. I always felt very well informed and in safe hands! A very knowledgeable guy! Incredibly patient with a big group of big personalities! He and the broader team had a great bond and worked so well together!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The only consideration I would raise with potential travellers is around the camping. For me, I’m not a regular camper and so was a little out of my comfort zone at times. In saying that, whilst not all camps had hot water all the time, all of the campsites were lovely and indeed, I think my favourite nights were in the wild / unfenced camps. Truly an experience! I don’t at all regret the camping option as it was great fun but I did very much take advantage of the upgrade options, which were a nice break for a city girl at times (but i still felt part of the group and experience). I also thought upgrade prices were generally reasonable. Tents were clean and the team were very efficient with taking them up and down, but for a single traveller, I’d consider single supplement next time just due to personal space. In saying that, a number of single travellers and couples alike stayed in dual occupancy tents for the whole trip and loved it, so just personal choice. It’s nice to have the option of both though .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Beyond the above, I would like to commend the whole Exodus ground team (Gilbert, “Stoney”, Albert and James). They work so hard and so well together and were a pleasure to be around. Food is incredible and you will not go hungry! 😉 I always had seconds (and sometimes thirds!). There are some very long drives but there’s no other way of covering the distance otherwise. Well worth it overall though and I think the itinerary was well balanced. Can see how it’s been refined over time!
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Sanjukta Dey

    Why Gorilla and Masai Mara Reverse Camping is Better.

    This is a trip that's worth every single buck. I'll list the pros and cons though. Pros: Gorilla tracking is physically demanding. So is waking up very early every morning, travelling long distances and camping. Wildlife in Masai Mara is fantastic, no other national parks measure up to it in terms of sightings during this trip. When at the beginning of the trip energy level is high, better to do the gorilla tracking etc. Then in the end of the trip be rewarded by extraordinary wildlife viewing in Masai Mara. The crew was really great (except one) but Albert (chef) requires special mention because he was funny, kind and fed us amazing food. Stoney (driver) was very helpful and was always helpful with information. Cons: In some camping sites there is no Wi-Fi or internet, if we were informed before could tell our family not to worry if they didn't hear from us on certain dates. The truck was too old and dusty, some of the windows were difficult to open and close. We even had a breakdown close to Lake Bunyoni and that was only the beginning of the trip! Although Gilbert arranged alternative for reaching the campsite soon. On the days of long drive, why we stopped for lunch (sandwiches) which required preps and thus wasted time is beyond my understanding. There were days when we were given packed lunches (when went on game drives). Why couldn't the same be done which would have saved time and effort of the crew? Especially as bread in Uganda was horrible. The water pump was the most inconvenient thing ever! After a certain level it required one hand to hold the bottle, one to hold the neck of the pump and another to actually pump water! I've only two and one of crew member who was basically Man Friday, got annoyed because I was asking for help. He also tried to sell me wildlife photos (I'm a photojournalist and was travelling with pro cameras) but I didn't encourage him.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Of course the highlight was watching the gorillas up close. However that wasn't all for me. Watching all wildlife in their habitat is a joyful experience. Visiting new countries, learning about their culture, cruising near Murchison Falls and Lake Victoria, hot air balloon in Masai Mara. All unforgettable experiences!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gilbert our group leader was very knowledgeable and proud of his culture, which was wonderful. He tried to solve any issue intelligently and swiftly. If it was possible, he tried his level best to get it done.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Those who an to buy additional gorilla permit must know that both happens in two different areas of the Virunga Massif. One in Bwindi and another in Mhinga (sorry about the spelling). The second one has more slope and physically exhausting. Bwindi has heavier growth and thus clear sighting maybe a problem. Unless very sure about being able to handle the climbs and physical exhaustion on two consecutive days, pause before buying the second permit. If someone plans to buy tea, try some in Uganda (my parents are loving it) but Kenyan coffee is better. Locals sell souvenirs in some places (but not outside Masai Mara), they are much cheaper than the souvenir shop they stop in. They sell some of the same stuff at double the price. DO NOT forget insect repellent, they will feast on you no matter what! I forgot my anti malaria pills, so Gilbert took me to a pharmacy in Uganda, where bought weekly tablet pack.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If I had to do this trip again, would still choose the reverse camping. Although now that Exodus Travels don't do gorilla tracking in Rwanda, it didn't make much sense to me. Perhaps they will replan the itinerary in future?
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Anna Anderson

    Don’t leave it to chance

    Amazing experience seeing gorillas and chimps but make sure any extra gorilla permits are booked when you book as you will be disappointed otherwise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tracking through the impenetrable forest and spending an hour in the company of a gorilla family. We won’t forget it.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Hannah Fairbanks

    Mixed bag - parts excellent, the concept of a second gorilla permit seemingly misleading

    One of the biggest selling points of this holiday is the optional possibility of a second day trekking to see the gorillas. Fair enough the permits aren't guaranteed - completely understandable, but if you follow Exodus's guidance you are made to feel like a nuisance and from my experience you won't get one. The webpage tells you to request additional permits when booking, they also bill you for additional permits at this point, but when you ask about the permits the emails you receive can seem quite rude and basically tell you to go away and ask the guide when you arrive. When arriving on the trip and all 7 people said they wanted additional permits and it wasn't really a surprise that the guide couldn't conjure these up with less than a week's notice. This did result in the group participants being fairly cross, people had requested additional permits 8 months in advance, paid for them, been told they were the only ones interested in a second day - which was a lie, etc. it was just incredibly unprofessional for such an established holiday provider. It's the first time I've done a trip with Exodus and I'm still a little taken aback by the lack of organisation related to these permits, the billing of these permits months before any action is taken, and the blunt/verging on rude emails. The gorillas is a highlight of the trip and it's is sold as a real possibility whereas in fact due to their lack of organisation it was impossible for anyone on our trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The gorillas were just incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Really nice chap, knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. Unfortunately he hadn't organised a boat trip so we waited around at a hotel needlessly for 2+ hours and went on a later boat trip after about 90% of the animals had left. These things happen and he did go out of his way for us on the rest of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't base booking this holiday on the chance of obtaining a second gorilla permit.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As I said in my summary disappointed with Exodus, the experience was fantastic but I just feel like a bit of a mug that I believed second permits were possible and that Exodus actively tried to help with this whereas you just dumped it all on the guide.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Hannah for her feedback, although we are very sorry that she was disappointed not to have been able to secure a second day’s permit. We only request extra permits once the trip has been guaranteed as, otherwise, the permits will have to be paid for in full even if the trip doesn't run. Whilst this information is now stated in our trip notes, we are sorry if it was not clearly communicated at the time. Second permits had, unfortunately, already sold out by the time Hannah booked on the trip and, having exhausted all other possibilities, we suggested that there may have been be a slim possibility of the tour leader being able to get some last-minute returns for the group. We regret, however, that this was not the case and we appreciate Hannah’s disappointment. We are very sorry that Hannah feels that her pre-trip enquires were not dealt with in an appropriate manner, as this is not the type of feedback we are used to receiving about the standard of service from our customer operations’ team. We were pleased, however, that Hannah had a fantastic experience overall and that she found her tour leader to be knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. Tom Harari – Product Manager