Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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22 Reviews

  • Reviewed July 2022

    The Silk Road

    Great trip. All countries very different. Certainly non stop.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Stunning architechture + eagle hunter + Uygur meal

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both were excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for very hot weather, and a tiring trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been nice to have a bit more free time. The bazaars were all the same, so maybe only one. Long first day in Tashkent after night flight and only 5 hours sleep. Maybe a more gentle start.
  • Reviewed June 2022

    A wonderful trip

    We had wanted to do this trip for several years, but Covid intevened. The wait was worth it! Exodus have devised a varied, fast-moving trip that combines the magnificent sights of Uzbekistan and the wonderful scenery of Kyrgyzstan, all explained by knowledgeable and personable guides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No need to identify any particular moment; the whole 2 weeks was packed with amazing sights.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    There were two guides, Nazim and Valentina. Each was immensely knowledgeable, able to share their enthusiasm and personal stories in near-perfect English. Their connection with the drivers, local agents, hoteliers and restaurateurs was faultless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Join the trip!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We are already looking at the Exodus brochures for another trip!
  • Reviewed June 2022

    Excellent Trip

    Amazing trip and beautiful countries, Uzbekistan was just stunning and I felt so small between the big statues and buildings. We were lucky to be in Bukhara during the Silk and Jewelry festival and seeing everyone dancing and all the beautiful costumes they were wearing was a highlight, I definitely fell in love with the place, the architecture and for sure the friendly people. The Eagle Hunting demonstration was another highlight of the trip and not to be missed in Kyrgyzstan. Although it rained most part of Kyrgyzstan we did get to see some of the mountains and although could not do the walk in the gorge at the yurt camp it was still amazing to be surrounded by such beautiful landscapes, scenery and nature.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Registan Square in Samarkand blew my mind away, it was just so big and beautiful and made me feel so small. The eagle hunting demonstration was for me very emotional as they truly look after the eagles and set them free back into the wild after a few years, which is amazing. Also the friendly people in Uzbekistan was incredible, don't think I have ever seen such friendly people anywhere else and I travel a lot.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders: Dilshod in Uzbekistan - The man had so many stories to tell and had so much knowledge about his county. He helped wherever he could and made us all feel so welcome. Emrek was our guide for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and he got us out of a broken bus situation very quickly and he was great. Also had a smile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a few long drives but they are all worth it as the views are beautiful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book the trip and enjoy it as much as I did. These countries are still very much undiscovered and that is what made it so special. Not many tourist and surrounded by locals at all times.
  • Reviewed October 2019

    A varied tour of beautiful buildings and scenery.

    A very busy, varied tour. Most of the hotels were of a good standard with one or two not so good. The Hotel Asia Mountains 1 has been mentioned in a review already - take ear plugs so that you drown out the trains.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful mosques and madrassas in Uzbekistan and the stunning scenery in Kyrgyzstan, the golden eagle demonstration, Issyk Kul lake and the boat ride. The two 'family' meals were absolutely outstanding with delicious food and LOTS of it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leaders were excellent in different ways. Takhir Sadullaev in Uzbekistan has many years experience as a tour guide and was very informative with a sense of humour. He was most conscientious about 'guarding' our belongings on the sleeper train when we went to the restaurant car. Aziz Umetaliev who joined us in Kazakhstan and guided us in Kyrgyzstan was also knowledgeable (with one or two gaps in his knowledge) but made up for it with his very likeable personality. Aziz and Uri (not the right spelling) our driver decorated the bus with balloons for the first travellers birthday and left them up for my birthday a few days later. Uri was a very careful, helpful and friendly driver even though he had very limited English.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be patient in restaurants as the service can be slow and erratic with (for example) rice to accompany a meal coming out a long time before the main dish and wine being served when some people had already eaten their meal. Meals tend to come in dribs and drabs again with some people having finished as others were just being served. As this was the last trip this year places had run down their stocks and often we couldn't get the wine or drinks that we wanted. Take a torch for the yurt and something warm to wear as it was cold in the morning. I found the trip notes a bit confusing about which currency to take, you only need to take US dollars. Both guides advised how much to change as we arrived in a new country which was very helpful.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    John Chapman

    A couple of tips

    Previous reviews have covered most things and are worth reading.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are buying drinks for the yurt take the opportunity to buy them for the homestay meal at the same time, alternatively turn right on leaving the Green Yard hotel and in 300yds there is a small shop. I would also advise buying drinks at the supermarket to take to the lakeside resort.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Peter Stocker

    Marvellous Islamic architecture.

    The visits to Samarkand and Bukhara were the principal things I wanted to see apart from Khiva which I did on my own before the main trip. Exodus booked the flights for me and I booked the hotel in Khiva myself.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I would have to say Khiva although it was not part of the standard trip. I also particularly enjoyed Samarkand, Bukhara and the overnight stay in the yurt camp amidst beautiful Alpine scenery.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders, the one for Uzbekistan was very experienced and everything was very efficient. The guide for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was less experienced but coped well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Unless Exodus decide to include it, spend a couple of nights in Khiva first, it's very compact and traffic free and there is a lot to see. You don't need a guide just a guide book.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think it would be far better to omit Kazakhstan altogether as there is very little to see that is worth travelling so far to see. The time saved could better be spent going to Khiva. So I would say go to Uzbekistan for the architectural interest and Kyrgyzstan for the scenery.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Rouna Ali

    Rouna's Silk Road

    This is a truly spectacular once in a lifetime trip which I will never forget. I would never have been able to travel to such and so many places in the time available if it weren't for Exodus. The contrast between the three 'Stans' Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is infinitely fascinating. The hot deserts, magnificent Muslim architecture, Madrashahs, Mausoleums, Markets and magnanimous hearts of the people of Uzbekistan to the epic mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and awesome pride and grace of the people of Kyrgyzstan (especially the Eagle Hunters which is only one of many highlights on this trip).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1. Registan Square in Samarkand in my view is more beautiful and epic than the Taj Mahal. 2. During the Eagle hunting demonstration in Kyrgyzstan I almost cried as the eagle flew above and swooped down in front of me to catch the coyote skin!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both group leaders (one for Uzbekistan) and (one for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) did their very best for us and Ali bent over backwards to help me in Bukhara when I had a bout of 'Bukhara belly' :0

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might laugh but I regret not taking small bottles of salt and pepper and chilli sauce with me because the food will cause you problems. Take plenty of Immodium and Dioralyte. In Uzbekistan especially they try to put on the menu what Westerners will like and I did not like it at all. Sometimes the food ingredients were really old, not cooked properly or under hygienic conditions and tasted extremely bland. It can take forever to sort out the bill if you eat in a large group. Before you travel I would look at the trip notes and where the hotels are then do your own pre-trip research using google maps and trip advisor to see where all the good restaurants are near to these hotels.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    John Atherton

    Silk Road cities and sublime scenery

    Cities tend not to be high on my list of places to visit but I was surprised by the many parks and green spaces offsetting the large buildings and wide roads in all the cities visited. Of course the amazing architecture of the mosques, madrassas, minarets, mausoleums, museums and markets were impressive and interesting – with a wealth of information from both our tour leaders and local guides, all of whom spoke excellent English. The train journeys and the brief ride on the Metro in Tashkent made pleasant changes to the coach travel. Good to see family groups enjoying the warm evenings in pedestrianised streets and squares, parks, local cafes and bars, etc. No litter, no noisy groups of youths, just a nice atmosphere. Though the planned overnight train ride to Kazakhstan didn’t happen owing to international cancellation at little notice, the replacement coach was large and comfortable. In the morning traffic to Almaty many more upmarket cars were on the roads, after very few in Uzbekistan. The short drive out of Almaty with the walk up to the waterfall was a welcome change from the city streets. Then the long drive into the Kyrgyzstan countryside was literally a breath of fresh air; with the vast lake, snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, flower-strewn meadows and leisurely walks. Not forgetting the impressive golden eagle demonstration. I would have preferred more than one night at the Yurt shores of Lake Camp. A couple of days later, an afternoon swim at the “seaside” on the Issyk Kul Lake was refreshing. Inevitable long road journeys were offset by ever changing views, excellent driving, mainly good roads and frequent stops.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Kyrgyzstan countryside and the happy atmosphere in the city pedestrian areas throughout.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Dillshod and Ermek were excellent, knowledgeable and considerate. Different personalities, Dillshod the more experienced.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Drink the local draught beer - it's good and inexpensive. Lots of religious buildings so long trousers/skirt and covered shoulders often expected. Most public conveniences incur a small cost for women and for men, be aware of your currency note value!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All hotels were clean and comfortable (with good quality loo paper)!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Sabina Latif

    Minarets, mosques, mausoleums to mountains

    This was a fantastic trip with a real mix of architecture, landscapes and cultures. Lovely tour guides and drivers to help and support. I was astonished by the sheer scale and intricacies of the buildings in Uzbekistan which contrasted with the beautiful snow capped mountains in Kyrgyzstan. My personal highlights were the overnight train and yurt camp experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the sheer scale and stamina of the mosques, mausoleums and madrassahs in Uzbekistan including Registan Square.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had 2 group leaders, one for Uzbekistan (Dilshod) and another for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (Ermeg). Both were great but in different ways. Dilshod was warm and kind and made us laugh, he was very knowledgeable. He did however give us too much information and it would be better if he slowed down and gave bite size chunks. Ermeg was so open and honest with us and shared his knowledge with us at a really good pace with the right amount of info.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is very hot in certain towns in June and July!... there are two hotels with pools so pack your swimming costume... you will need a torch for the yurt camp... take Tupperware or food bags as we have a lot of picnic lunches and most of the hotel breakfasts were really good buffets!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Helen Faulls

    The Silk Road

    How special it was to be in the heart of Asia; a world we hear so little of but which is so steeped in history and the cross roads for so many different nationalities. The home of such legendary figure as Timur and Ginghis Khan. The trip explores the wealth of mosques, madrassas, mausoleums, minarets in Uzbekistan and after a brief visit to Kazakhstan (during a curfew due to demonstrations after elections) we journeyed to Kyrgyzstan. Although a poor country it is endowed with the most stunning mountain ranges and the world’s second biggest alpine lake. The elegance of Uzbeki women and the imposing use of space around all the official buildings in the major towns, as well as the spring flowers in the meadows, the bedding roses at Issy Kol and the vastness of the landscape are abiding memories. The brief stroll In the mountains was another rushed lost opportunity. I question the night in the yurt. It was just uncomfortable camping and again no interaction with the hosts. I did laugh at a few hip replacements, pacemakers, westerners’ long legs sprawled across the floor trying to eat. A full day’s walking in the mountains would have been more rewarding. Also scrambling in to a rather apologetic waterfall was also a waste of time. The itinerary was far too tight. Long days were spent in the coach and on a train. We would leave early and not arrive in the next hotel until early evening. Most of the hotels were in the suburbs and combined with the lack of time we had no opportunity to interact with a local people. The area has a wealth of talent in embroidery, weaving, silk work, felt work, and other handicrafts which we had no opportunity to explore in a leisurely manner. This was a huge disappointment both for our own shopping and also the lack of opportunity to support the women who do most of this work. My head is still out there and my reading about the area will continue. I will be back.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just being in Samarkand and Bukhara.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two guides. One for Uzbekistan, one for the rest of the trip. Very different but both brilliant, knowledgeable, kind and thoughtful. Ermek from Kyrgyzstan is a very exceptional young man. I would also like to give a mention to Maxime our driver for the second half of the trip He was kind, thoughtful, mucked in as part of the team and certainly knew how to drive with the utmost consideration for both his passengers and the bus on some appalling roads. In spite of no English.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes! We arrived at 3 am and left at 3 am. This is no way to begin and end hard travel. Book your own flights and allow at least an extra day at the start to acclimatise. Take a fold up nylon shopping bag to avoid endless plastic when buying lunches etc. I was horrified to see plastic bags dumped by Morrison’s had turned up in a Bishkek store.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus needs to work more closely with its subcontractors to develop a better itinerary. Less driving, more time to explore and interact with locals. More picnics, lunches too long and heavy. More time to explore crafts. People do not need to take plastic bottles from the hotels all the time! Water is provided