Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

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  • Reviewed May 2017
    Jennifer Pitkin

    Cuba La Grande Isla*

    This was my third Exodus trip and was as well planned and as immensely enjoyable as the others. It was a great taste of the whole island, encompassing its history, architecture, culture and natural beauty.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    These were many and varied: trekking up to Fidel's hideout in the mountains, riding in vintage cars in Havana, swimming in turquoise seas, dancing to the Salsa beat

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddy was excellent, you couldn't ask for a better guide. He was extremely informative, a great communicator, funny and charming. He made Cuba's recent history come alive with his anecdotes about his own family. His knowledge of flora and fauna was very impressive and his commitment to Cuba and conservation shone through everything. He was also extremely well organised, everything ran smoothly and you could rely on his arrangements.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A great trip, I enjoyed every minute. There is a lot of travelling and the first couple of days were mainly driving. I enjoy this and was happy to look at the scenery and hear about Cuba from our guide. But if you don't like coach travel this may be difficult.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Looking forward to my next Exodus adventure...!
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Nicholas Childs

    Fascinating insight into Cuba

    A great way to see the whole of Cuba. The tour guide talked about Cuban life, history, culture, whilst giving us cocktails on the very long days in the coach that made the day's fly by. Excellent hotels, food a lot better than the Trip Notes (I'm vegetarian) and a thoroughly enjoyable holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sierra Maestra, where Castro hid in the mountain with his followers. Amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex Baraja - legend. Knowledgeable, witty, organised and had a DVD of music, videos and documentaries to keep us occupied on the whole of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I spent £600 on this trip as spending money. Spend a few days longer in Havana before/after. Take advantage of the water on the coach and drink a bottle per day per person minimum. Try everything at least once (twice just to be sure you don't like it). Buy a money belt. Ensure you have enough cash and small notes at each major city.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Trip Notes need some revising. No longer CUC25 to leave the Airport. Etc.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Leslie Adkins

    La Isla Grande (AUB)

    A two-week, whistlestop tour of the island from top to bottom and back. Interesting, exciting, and enjoyable... but with a lot of time spent on the bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyday in Cuba, I encountered expert musicians, talented dancers, and endless rum cocktails: the passion for an easygoing, fulfilled life that is exuded by seemingly all Cubans, is truly inspirational. Getting drunk with the locals in the best music bar in Havana was a highlight, but there were many more: swimming under a waterfall, trekking to Fidel's mountain hideaway, snorkelling in the Bay of Pigs, riding around town in a pink convertible Chevrolet classic; as well as regular 'escapes' from the group in search of alternative eating and drinking venues. A diversity of landscape, abundant cultural opportunities, hospital locals and a rich history: this trip keeps you busy.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ichael was a true gentleman. He was knowledgeable, professional, and passionate about his country. Always responsive to the needs of the group, his willingness to accommodate requests and answer questions was remarkable!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be warned that there is a lot of driving on this trip. And be prepared to spend more money than you expect; apart from cocktails and souvenirs, Cuba is no cheaper for tourists than Western Europe.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was pretty apparent that Exodus plan this trip meticulously and expect tour leaders to follow it to the letter. I was annoyed about this on a few occasions because our tour leader had the knowledge and experience to make small deviations and suggest alternatives that would have suited our group, but it is evident that deviation from the script is not tolerated. Example: We stopped for one hour at an ubiquitous roadside cafe/bar after having just driven through an interesting and historic town without stopping. Why on Earth couldn't we have spent the hour in town???
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Nicola Jones

    Hasta La Victoria Siempre

    Cuba has been on my "must visit" list for ages. It did not disappoint. I knew the best way to experience this intriguing country was by escorted group tour. I arranged my own flights and joined the ,sold out tour, group in Havana. I have travelled a lot in my time, so along with the trip notes & guide books, I knew not to have great expectations - other than to see, learn and enjoy a new experience. One of the first things our guide said to us was "expect the unexpected, have an open mind" and quite frankly that is how one should travel anyway. I therefore have no complaints. Cuba is beautiful, lots of history and yet stuck in a time-warp. the people friendly and welcoming. We had a good mix of accommodation, 2 hotel changes - our arrival hotel (for which we didn't know about until landing & as I was not on group flight, this info was not v well conveyed at the office in airport, so I insisted on going to original hotel, which thankfully was around the corner from right one, but late at night was not fun walking round) All rooms were clean, had a/c, v comfy beds. One hotel some had scolding showers, us others cold, but there was water so i could shower & wash my hair so no complaints from me. It was lovely to stay with locals for 3 nights in casa particulares. We returned to one hotel after the one in Sierra Maestra double booked, so we had another long travel day the next day consequently. Melia Santiago de Cuba (Spanish chain) was the plushest hotel, Food is usually bland - surprising given the amount of onion & garlic at markets, but I was never hungry, lots of fresh fruit, amazing seafood, Baracoa had the best flavours, and Casa Paladares the best food. In a nation where ration books still exist, one shouldn't complain about the food served! Service is slow, - no problem of an evening, but frustrating at breakfast time. The first 3 days of travelling are tough, especially following a 10hr flight. yes there are breaks etc, but it is still tough & folks got the lurgy. Our guide played some great films about Cuban history. We stopped off at some lovely places for lunch, twice at v picturesque quiet beach locations. I booked an extra night in Havana so that I could have more time to explore this beautiful city. I would recommend doing this. I just wish I had been there longer, so am looking forward to returning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved every aspect of this trip. There is lot to see, learn and take in. We did not do the Vinales trip - I'd already decided not to do this, simply due to the long travelling time (really did not want to spend any more time on a bus at the end of a trip), By not doing this trip, we all then had a great day in Havana, sight seeing in 1950s cars, coco-taxis, the Rum factory, lunch, a visit to a Cigar factory (that alas we didn't see as an American group did a back-hander and "stole" the tour guide much to everyone's annoyance) so we went to the Chocolate museum instead, plus an evening at Buena Vista Social Club. we all felt that this was an excellent way to end our group trip. Using the local horse & carts, and bici-taxis; therefore we got to see more of town-life and the looks on the locals was priceless, they simply had not seen this before. It was wonderful, plus putting money directly into the local economy. Go to Casa de la Trovas, watch, dance, enjoy, have a salsa lesson.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Group Leader was Laz. He is a great tour leader, Speaks excellent English, v approachable, got on well with all in the group, has a fab sense of humour (which went down well with us Brits (& Aussies too) extremely knowledgeable, willing to talk about his country. Full of suggestions / recommendations, eg instead of a walking tour, to use the horse & cart or bici-taxis, Always our decision, never pressured into doing anything. He was on back-to-back tours, so hopefully he'll get a deserved break v soon! Junior, our driver, was excellent too. Although spoke little English, he was attentive, polite and friendly. Drove very carefully and kept a clean bus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Have an open mind and you wont be disappointed. Take cash (sterling or euros) - I used my debit card once at ATM in Havana, but learnt I was charged £6 in total for doing so (my fault for being lazy & not going to a cadeca!). The exchange rate will be the same wherever you are as it is state-operated. Cuba is not cheap (but I wouldn't say that expensive). local drinks are always the cheapest. I was expecting long queues at customs / immigration on arrival. I had photocopies of all my docs, and did not need to show these to anyone to get passport stamped. I wasn't asked any questions at all. The airport cadeca is outside & there were long queues. I know that the rest of the group were limited to changing only £200. However this amount lasted a while. To add to the list of items to take with you - a toilet roll. Hotels will provide toilet paper, but public loos wont have. Due to the sewage systems all items are placed into the bins, Often there are no doors, or very short doors covering the essentials! Dont' be alarmed!!! Ladies I would suggest taking nappy bags for your sanitary items.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Have a fantastic trip!!
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Ian Littler

    A long haul but well worth the effort

    This is a very long trip, even longer than the information indicates, but not to be missed. The pre-trip information was poor - the hotel information for the first night was wrong both for us and other travellers. Whilst on-trip hotels may be changed (as the party is together) this should not happen for those joining the trip in Havana - this needs looking at. Altho long, there is not a day that was not filled with inspirational moments - this is not a tour like any other. The leader, the driver and the coach were all first class as was the itinerary; the same could not be said for the hotels. Altho there were some unexpected bonuses such as the Melia in Santiago, the hotels in smaller cities ranged from grotty to liveable with - but I guess that was part of the experience. It should not put you off the tour. Provided (and paid-for) meals were both typically Cuban and varied from adequate to excellent - this again is part of the experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Santiago de Cuba - all the venues we visited but especially the Cemetery and sunset at the El Moro castle.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Yasel Peterssen and he was exceptional. If we enjoyed the Holiday 99% (and we did) his contribution was the pivotal factor.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Open minds and be prepared for both long days and a couple of not very satisfactory hotels in places.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Dorothy Boland

    Cuba:La Isla Grande

    Most fascinating holiday-informative and interesting. A real insight into how Cuba functions and its place in the world. A taste of life in different parts of the island.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    How the Cuban people cope with so few resources and how they 'make do and mend'!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant. Excellent English, very knowledgeable about Cuban history, wildlife, willing to go the extra mile for us as a group, friendly, witty, professional. Couldn't have been better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come prepared to queue, don't expect European standards of service, or selection of foodstuffs and other goods, be open minded and prepared for inconveniences.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really enjoyable experience, with only one or two low points-the main one being the accommodation in Sierra Maestre- very poor even by Cuban standards. Otherwise, all fine if you are prepared to 'go with the flow'!
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Mary Hodgson

    Cuba: La Isla Grande

    It was an interesting and varied trip, pretty much as described, apart from 'standard hotel' on the trip notes became 'casa' on two nights' and of the three 'casas' used, two were more like backpacker hostels than private B & Bs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many - swimming in a river beneath a waterfall, walking to the Castro / Guevara mountain HQ, music everywhere, the river trip and beach at Barracoa, the rooftop rum cocktails in Santiago and Cienfuegos, the museum at the Bay of Pigs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddy is knowledgeable, informative, entertaining, caring and tireless. He also dealt swiftly and efficiently with a medical emergency. He is evidently widely known and loved throughout Cuba.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whatever you usually take for hangovers, take it with you. There's a shortage of over-the-counter medicaments in Cuba. No need to take diarrhoea tablets - eating guava has the same effect.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Given the background noise of Havana streets, and the near impossibility of trying to explain plans for the following two days to a group of people in the street, all staying in different places, plus an orientation walk in a very short time, it would be helpful if the trip notes included a street map of the part of Havana used for accommodation, showing the main landmarks.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Douglas Smith

    Lovely island and well organised tour

    I travelled with my wife and we both reach 70 this year. Hitherto we have travelled independently through many countries around the world. We have discussed the merits of a small group tour as we get older. We decided on this trip quite late and rather than rush my preparation we decided to trial the Exodus offering. The Exodus itinerary was well laid out but even with this mental preparation we found the amount of coach travel in the first days of the trip quite daunting. Travelling independently we would probably have taken 3 weeks on this itinerary. There was no location that we would have wanted to miss and the tour leader was excellent in outlining the history, politics, economics and geography of each place visited, Often accompanied by a rum punch! The hotels were a mixed bag - we would have been happier with more homestays at the Casa Particulares and thoroughly enjoyed the 2 we visited. Food was middling but far the best was to be found in the small "pop up" restaurants to which our tour leader introduced us. Other members of the party were a mixed bunch and easy to get on with. Even so, where possible we tended to eat independently although the majority were happy to eat as a group. For us, the inevitable downside of group travel was the limitations imposed by timings that required 18 people to gather, travel and do things at broadly the same time. We've learned that we're not quite ready for this type of holiday. But when we are I suspect that it will be Exodus to whom we return.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I'm not sure that we were "inspired" at any stage. We did particularly enjoy discovering the political history of Cuba from a Cuban perspective. In this our tour leader was particularly effective.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Think hard about the balance between the difficulty of arranging independent travel and the inevitable constraints of collective arrangements in a small group.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Mary Mcdonald

    La Isla Grande

    Enjoyed holiday very much. Had wonderful tour leader who was very informative and fun. Fidel Castro died while we were on trip so music, dancing and alcohol stopped in respect of country in mourning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Personally I loved city of Santiago but the visit to Gran Parque Sierra Maestra walking through mountain range to Fidel's secret hideout was amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I thought he was fantastic as he filled in the history of all our trips and took great care of everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with the flow as food sometimes basic but lovely seafood most places.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All in all very good trip but we missed out on plans as country in mourning. However, had great group of people who made trip fun.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Ruth Battis

    Awesome Cuba 13-27th October 2016

    This was an excellent tour which gave us a tantilising taste of the history, culture & people of the real Cuba. It is a fascinating country and the locals are cheerful & hospitable despite the challenges they face daily. Unfortuately due to the hurricane we were unable to visit Baracoa, however our guide, Jorge, did a wonderful job of juggling housing & sightseeing to accommodate our needs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many wonderful moments, however the home stays in the Casa Particulares, where we got an insight into the daily life of the humble home owners, was a highlight for me..namely Marina in Trinidad and Lolita at Cienfuegos, who had just received her Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. As was the hike up to Castro's hideout in the Sierra Maestre and the few hours spent swimming at beautiful Caleta Buena on our way back to Havana. An impromptu salsa lesson by Jorge & Junior was hilarious. And I loved Cienfuegos & wish we'd had a extra night there rather than Trinidad.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jorge was fabulous. With an excellent command of English, he was extremely knowledgable and passionate about his country but happy to discuss the more contentious elements of Cuba. He handled the many changes to our itinerary (mainly due to the hurricane) and a couple of 'difficult' moments with one of our travel companions with expertise and aplomb. He interacted well with everyone in our group and had a great sense of humour. Our wonderful coach driver Junior was on hand to help with luggage and we always felt safe with him at the wheel, even after a deluge of rain left causeways flooded, he managed to negotiate the mountains and get us safely to our next destination. Between Jorge and Junior they gave us all a memorable & fun trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take as much money as you think you will need in Euros to exchange on arrival, don't rely on Atm's. Water pressure & hot water is often non existent, toilets are NOT like home (a coin is needed to use the loo and toilet paper only goes in the bin supplied). Australia has no mobile coverage in Cuba and Wifi is sketchy. I purchased a travelsim in Aus for calls only which worked in metropolitan areas. You can purchase a Wifi access card for about 2CUC per hour from ETECSA Telecommunications Centres, then go to designated squares (parks) to log on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't hesitate..Go now! Go with no expectations ...You will not be disappointed! I went as a solo traveller & felt safe at all times even while exploring on my own. Learn a little spanish before you go so you can interact with the locals. I was lucky to join lovely travelling companions .. we were definitely a 'family' (Jorges' word) early into the trip and made my trip so much more memorable. My only negative was the initial nights accommodation at the Hotel Memories Miramar. Bad memories only for this traveller! I arrived late in the night ...Mouldy rank partially lit hallway to my room on the 2nd floor ....the sheets were stained in blood.. little droplets that led me to believe that while the bed had not been changed since its last inhabitants, there was a distinct possibility of bed lice still occupying the room. And, apparently, the receptionist was to have given me my instructions for joining the tour group and so the next morning, with the reception area swarming with tourists, and not having a time or place to meet the rest of my group, I very nearly missed the bus. Only by pure luck did I run into the man who was to be our guide. Please Exodus ... rethink your accommodation options for this hotel ..not a nice introduction to such an amazing country.
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