Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed September 2019
    Cynthia Felice

    Solitary hiking in the Balkans

    This was a wonderful exploration of the mountains of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro with knowledgable guides who led us across hillsides and on established trails. The meadows were lovely and the peaks were stunning. It was hot in Tirana but comfortable in the mountains, with only one afternoon of rain on the trail. Even in mid-August there weren't many other people hiking or at the guesthouses/alpine huts. The proprietors were very hospitable, serving traditional meals with locally grown ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, bread and feta-like cheese. We had a great group of 16, five couples, all experienced hikers who were friendly, considerate and responsible. Given the group size, pace differences, and terrain, it was helpful to have two guides, one who led and the other who stayed at the back of the group. Two members of the group who wanted a rest day were able to catch a ride to the next accommodation with the luggage transport vehicle.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The hospitality extended by local owners of the guesthouses/alpine huts and the luncheon in Prilep.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    All of the guesthouses provided blankets so bring a sleeping sheet, not a sleeping bag. Some but not all guesthouses provided towels (another useful thing to pack). Fruit is limited and usually not included in packed lunches; bring dried fruit if this matters to you. Herbal tea was the common hot beverage, with Turkish coffee often available on request. There was always hot water if you want to bring your own tea or coffee crystals. Bring medicine for stomach flu and lots of hand sanitizer lotion. Half of our group got a stomach flu on the same day (including one guide) and the next day another person and the other guide got sick. We were unable to determine any specific cause; treating the drinking water didn’t make a difference. Fortunately people only missed a day of hiking.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    For future trips I suggest that Exodus consider either hiring a professional tour guide for a 2-4 hour tour of Prizren or dropping the side trip and adding another hiking day. The tour of the mosque and museum were interesting, but content was thin and the side trip involved a lot of driving.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Stephen Gilmore

    Gastrocycle

    A gastronomical experience on 2 wheels. Every day had a culinary surprise including grilled salmon, onion (not the crappy French) soup, onion pie, pink soup, mushroom soup, venison, pork knuckle and Zeplins!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Swimming in the Baltic Sea in all 3 countries and in Lake Galve by Trakai Castle. Visiting the Cold War Museum and nuclear missile bunker (which really should go on the itinerary).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andrius is the master of the flexible plan and suggested that we abandon the planned cycle in the rain and crafted an excellent ride in the sunshine. Importantly Andrius is old enough to have experienced soviet occupation and is able to regale many tales of that era. He delivered much more than was expected, with little surprises and optional extras. He clearly enjoys his job.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Alcohol limits are much lower than in the UK. Cycling under the influence of alcohol is never a good idea.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Colin Donovan

    Trip of a lifetime.

    All ten of our party summited after a long and sometimes difficult tiring trek. This was down to Johns fantastic leadership skills and constant encouragement and help. He has a first class team of assistant guides and brilliant porters who all had a real positive attitude and couldn’t do more for you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching Uhuru Peak after an 8 hour trek with my fellow walkers and guides. It felt like one big happy and emotional family who had achieved their combined goal together.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    John was inspirational. From collecting us at the airport to dropping us off 9 days later. John knows the mountain like the back of his hand and his knowledge and information he passes on every day is truly superb. I don’t think I would have got to the top without John or his excellent assistant guides.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you train hard. Lots of long walks and try to keep the weight off. Listen to the advice given by the guides always. Walk very slowly, drink lots and lots of water and try to be positive at all times. This is a difficult trek especially on summit night but if you listen to the guides you’ll complete it.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Rebecca Nind

    5 stars - a superb trip!

    This was not only my first trip with Exodus, but my first hiking trip and it far exceeded my expectations. The chalet was well located and buses and trains are easy to get to explore Chamonix and the surrounding area. Chamonix is a beautiful resort to spend time in, and the walks were very varied and the views were well worth the effort.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenery on the walks was breath-taking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Adelene, was outstanding - she moved the proposed walks around to different days to ensure that we were able to make the most of our days and whatever the weather had in store for us. She seemed very relaxed and easy-going, but still organised everything well and ensured that the days and using public transport ran like clockwork. She factored in adequate rests throughout each walk and made sure everyone had caught up and had a short break before setting off again. Every morning she gave us a thorough and honest briefing about that day's walk and what sort of gradient and terrain we could expect and what interesting sites to look out for.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Walking poles can be borrowed from the chalet - definitely make use of these for the walks. Make sure to stretch after every walk. Chamonix is full of outdoor clothing/sports stores, which is perfect if you have forgotten to bring anything or need a last minute pair of waterproof trousers.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our chalet hosts, Ben and Zohi, were excellent. They were warm, friendly and helpful. After every walk a different delicious cake was waiting for us back at the chalet baked by Zohi. Our three course evening meals were always delicious, varied and full of fresh ingredients cooked from scratch. They were both more than happy to help with suggestions for what to do on our day off and happy to book restaurants or activities for us.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Olive McEntagart

    Amazing!!!

    One of the best trips I've done. The climbing is absolutely amazing, you get to see the mountains from such a different viewpoint than you would if you were trekking. The Dolomites are stunning too, they have such a unique look to them. Each day you'll get to visit different parts of the mountains and the guides made an effort to tailor each day to suit the weather. In addition to climbing outstanding parts of the Via Ferrata, you also explore the many tunnels that were build during the First World War, these were really interesting. The guides were very knowledgeable about the history of the tunnels and told lots of great stories. You then have a nice day off in the middle, we cycled to Lienz in Austria along a lovely v v flat almost road traffic free (getting a mini bus back that also takes the bike) but you can take the train to other towns in the area or even do more climbing if you fancy. The guides were excellent and supported everyone, safety is always a top priority. I'm not 100% with heights and some of the group were the same but each day you feel more comfortable and do more. By the end of the week you'll be amazed at what you can do. Last thing to mention is that the hotel is great and the food is abundant and delicious : )

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was the day we did Tre Cime, the views are spectacular and the climbing was great. The trek at the start and finish is beautiful and the climbing is varied.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our main guide was Kurt, who was outstanding, probably one of the best of any trip I've done over the years. Extremely supportive, always up and down the mountains making sure everyone was safe and able to climb. Kurt was never in a rush, if people wanted to take photos or have a break that was no problem at all. Nothing was too much trouble - and had a good sense of humor too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a few items to cover all possible weather as it can get quite cold and you might get rain/sleet at the top. But as you're only climbing for 5 days there's no need to overpack. You don't need to bring gloves with you (as per the notes) these are provided as part of the kit when you arrive.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It's a great trip particularly if you love trekking and are looking for a new challenge.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    clare mcnulty

    Beautiful Balkans, an epic jouney

    A challenging and beautiful journey through Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro with breath-taking scenery. The cycling was challenging with lots of climbing, but the bikes that we were provided with were perfectly geared for and suited to the terrain. There were regular re-groups on the hills as everyone climbs at their own pace and is able to enjoy the holiday at a pace that suits them. Delicious healthy and reasonably priced meals were provided in the hotels and cabins that we stayed in. Our guide Joshua was knowledgeable and efficient and provided us with information each day about the route and some background history. He arranged for a local guide in each country we visited to give their personal perspective and an opportunity to ask questions about the complex history of the region.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The climb through Durmitor National Park in Montenegro with its wild and rugged scenery, exposed to the elements. The very welcome Turkish coffee brewed on a portable gas stove at the top, before the stunning descent through switch backs and short tunnels. At out destination in Rudinice, we were greeted with a dramatic sunset with a double rainbow across the mountains, a delicious roast lamb dinner and comfortable stay in a log cabin. Standing up high on the castle walls at Prizren, Kosovo, hearing the call to prayer from across the city from the many mosques below with the Pashtrik mountains in the distance. The opportunity for quiet reflection on the beautiful climb through no man's land between North Macedonia and Kosovo. The thunder and lightning on the last part of our descent into Berane which thanks to our guide we avoided the worst of.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Joshua and drivers Toni and Juli made a great team - very welcoming, funny and approachable. Joshua gave detailed descriptions of the route ahead such as rough roads, descents, metal grids, tunnels, city traffic and any inclement weather. He gave advice on how to negotiate these safely and as a result there were no serious mishaps. We regrouped regularly after climbs and descents. Coffee stops and meals were efficient with a group tab system. We were given some free evenings to explore the area we were staying in and make our own arrangements for dinner which was nice to have a bit of freedom to explore/take a break from the group. This safety conscious but relaxed and friendly approach worked well and it felt like a holiday!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take layers for cycling: the mountains were cool in Montenegro and we did encounter some rain. For the descent from Durmitor I was regretting not having my long finger gloves! Rehydration tablets I did have a slightly upset stomach on a couple of occasions, which was fixed with loperamide! Take Euros with you to pay for meals/settle the tab at the end of the holiday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend this trip, it was fantastic.
  • Reviewed September 2019

    Excellent trip

    Trip was excellent. Leader was highly professional and all arrangements was also superb.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Chalet Chocolat

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Highly professional
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Paul Treasure

    Great guide, great company, great trip

    A fantastic trip. Everything I hoped for and more with a great bunch of fellow travellers and a patient, tolerant and lovely guide (Egle)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Crossing the many cols in snow and sun, rain and wind. Cold beers at the end and the enjoyable banter!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Egle was excellent. Patient and good humoured at all times

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light but take at least three pairs of socks! Yes you can wash them but we found they didn't dry overnight. Synthetic t shirts are a must. Don't forget fresh clothes for Chamonix. Do take gloves and hats. We had snow! For the same reason good boots essential.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Budget approximately 150 Euro in cash per person unless you like drinking water only.... More if you're fond of beer and wine! No need for Swiss francs
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Gordon Towner

    AMAZING

    Wow what a way to see botswana on Brians fun bus,from start to finish our every need was met by Brian and his crew,having never camped before we were worried about bush toilets and open fire cooking and wild animals wondering about in the camp,but all of these things are part of what makes this adventure special the bush toilet was fine and discreet the open fire cooking was unbelievable best lasagne fish and chips and beef fillet potatoes and green beens i have ever tasted thanks to Abis the cook ,there are long dusty journeys but is a good time to get to know the other travellers in your group and nature seems to provide all the way to your next destination,the camp beds were comfortable and the kettle always boiling,sitting around the camp fire at night listening to all the sounds and looking up at the night sky really is awe inspiring,the game drives were amazing and Brians knowledge of every animal bird tree plant insect and animal poo was incredible there was nothing we asked that he didnt give a full explanation about, And we saw every animal except cheetahs and Rhinos ,

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    To many,wild camping mokoro rides herds of Elephants on walking safari,bull Elephant not wanting to let us pass in mokoro,wild dogs with pups ,leopard, hyenna family playing with pups ,lions vic falls white water rafting inthe Zambizi,night sky at salt pan Abis cooking and Brians infectious laugh always happy

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brian makes this adventure special,always happy helpfull and cant believe his knowledge and love of his country,Top class guide

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it,you wont regret it ,amazing experience
  • Reviewed September 2019
    David Lowe

    A brilliant holiday

    We have walked many times on Exodus holidays and this rated at the top of our list of many great holidays. We chose a challenging week and were very pleased that we had. Braccacorti as a base was a delight - views across the valley to distant mountains, really comfortable and delicious food (and plenty of it!). The walking was as it had been described in the brochure - challenging but so rewarding and so varied.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hardly a moment but the two day walk with an overnight in the refugio will be a lasting memory of a great trip. This was a first venture into an overnight stop in a refuge. We didn't know what to expect but "really warm", "good food", "comfortable with plenty of space", "hot showers", "set in the heart of the mountains" all contributed to a wonderful experience. Walking the ridge with some wonderful views into Tuscany and Emiliano with the sun on our backs and good company - wonderful!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara was simply great! Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for her in explaining what we were going to be doing, checking we were OK, making sure all arrangements were in place...this we have come to expect from Exodus leaders. Sara added much more - sharing her own experiences as a world wide traveler and leader, telling us about the region in which we were walking, listening to our experiences, introducing us to local people, the family who run Braccacorti, restaurants and watering holes ( the local taxi drivers and guides). Her enthusiasm and passion just shone through!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are ready for wet weather because when it rains that is something special! We had one downpour and then blue skies and sunshine for the week. For those on the challenging week and the stop in the refuge we would suggest taking a light weight towel so you can make the most of the showers. You don't need additional footwear as that is there for you in the refuge. For the light sleepers some earplugs might be helpful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Now looking forward to planning where we go next....starting with the Exodus brochure