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.

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  • Reviewed March 2019
    Nina Whidby

    Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

    The holiday had everything, the sunny beautiful weather with snow and without snow, walking and snowshoeing,with rich history of the Catalan Pyrenees (and Pallars Sobira) from ancient time to modern days, with its culture, celebrations and suffering, with its nature and, of course, with people. Walking and snowshoeing, as it was already said in previous reviews, were with beautiful and stunning views over the mountains, on different altitudes. Passing through different villages, so different in their style and architecture to British ones, we were introduced to its history by our guide Miguel, and this was a great addition to our holiday. I like these villages and towns which looked so organic with nature, they were like a continuation of the mountains – the same colour and so close to nature! Snowshoeing was very enjoyable, at higher altitude and more strenuous than walking.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I like all the walks as they all were different and all had their own charm. I liked the Bordes – Burg walk. In spite of the fact it did not have snow, it was very interesting from the point of view of the history of this area and picturesque views of Burg. Visiting a small 13th century church in Tirvia and seeing the still remaining traces of shrapnel on the walls of buildings, as a reminder of the atrocities committed by General Franco's troops, was an important learning point in this trip. I liked all the snowshoeing walks, and it is difficult to say which day was better, as all of them were excellent!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thanks to Miguel all our trips were very well organised. He is very dedicated to his job and knowledgeable of the area and its history. Even on our free day, he took us to the Prison Museum in Sort – another eye-opener revealing the not very well known history of the Pallars Sobira area. In addition, he organised a very interesting excursion to a local cheese maker with cheese tasting. Wine tasting with his knowledge of local wines was also very good. Every evening he managed to introduce something new to us, even some Catalan language. A lot of humour and fun! Great job!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My advice as already was mentioned in other reviews. Also, you should be fit as some snowshoeing is quite physically demanding and at times quite brisk.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The cuisine at the Hotel Victor was very good with a choice of fish, meat and vegetables. Portions were quite big, sometimes difficult to finish. Fish dishes were wonderful, very well prepared. For lovers of coffee – this part of the world has delicious coffee, very well prepared. My only dissatisfaction – as not a lover of pizza, I did not much enjoy our meal in the pizzeria. I would rather had more proper local tapas. Finally, my husband and I did not got lost going from Sort to Rialp!!
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Richard Anderson

    Excellent active and cultural holiday

    This is a great addition to exodus' portfolio, with cheese, wine and local food as well as superb walking and snowshoeing. A visit to a mountain hut in the Aiguestortes National Park, not currently in the trip notes but very much in Miguel's area of walking knowledge, was stunning. MIguel is a gentleman, a true Catalan and boasts a fine Scottish hat as well as some surprising Hebridean anecdotes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Doing the conga with the villagers in Rialp during Carnival.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As above

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Best to bring a rucksack either with plastic straps/clips down the sides, or one with enough space under the top to wedge snowshoes under. Just that it's a nuisance to have to tie the snowshoes on and then undo them again.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't get lost on the path between Sort and Rialp on the day off....
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Peter I'Anson

    Snowshoeing in Catalan

    The recent weather meant that snow was only present at the higher altitudes, but, there was only minimal disappointment as the Pyrenees is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. Miguel used his local knowledge to ensure we had good walks every day, even when we were not snowshoeing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the peaks of the Aiguestortes National Park.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel's enthusiasm for Catalan stood out both during the walks and the early evening events he arranged. He does that little extra to enable you to have a good time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to be flexible, the weather can be fickle.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Katy Smith

    Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

    Having read the trip reviews from the previous trip in February we did not expect to be doing much snowshoeing. We had an email from Exodus explaining that the unusually warm weather this year in February had brought spring early and to come prepared for more of a walking holiday. However Miguel changed the itinerary round and adapted some of the walks and we actually had plenty of snow! The first couple of days were as expected- beautiful spring walking in the mountains although we did walk in snow on the second day but without snowshoes. It actually snowed above 2000m mid week so we even had fresh snow one day. Miguel took us high in search of snow for the last 3 days and we were not disappointed- there really was plenty of snow and we had 3 great days of snowshoeing. The great days out in the mountains combined with plenty of beers, coffees, cheese and wine tasting and Miguel’s great knowledge of the Catalan history and area all made for a wonderful holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had its own inspirational moment so it’s hard to pick out one. But I think the day we started walking from the ski resort was my favourite day. There had been fresh snow fall overnight and it was very cold. When we came out of the forest we were above the clouds. All the trees were heavily frosted and it looked like fairy land! The snow was deep and crisp, the sun was strong, the sky deep blue and it was truly magical! Walking in the National Park was also truly memorable- the snow was really deep and the views of the mountain ranges all around us were magnificent!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel truly loves his job and it shows in the way he leads the trip! He is so enthusiastic and really went out if his way each day to ensure we had a great day and made the most of the weather and snow conditions. He is passionate about Catalan history and the area and we really enjoyed our evenings and the talks he gave. We also really appreciated the his knowledge of local wines!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go prepared for all walking conditions! Take plenty of layers! We wore everything from T shirts and summer walking trousers to full ski gear with gaiters, hats and gloves!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You can never predict weather and snow conditions when booking snowshoeing holidays - but rest assured that Miguel will do his utmost best to ensure you have a great holiday regardless. If there is snow ... he’ll find it!!
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Tim Shaw

    Snowshoeing in the sun

    The amazing weather meant that snow was fast disappearing, but our leader, Miguel, still found some excellent routes. There were some enjoyable snowshoeing challenges, and outstanding views of distant peaks. Miguel also shared his passion for Catalonia and its history,food and wine.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The reward of fabulous views after a hard traverse uphill to Creu de l’Eixol.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good. Flexible in choosing appropriate routes for the group members.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Richard Christian

    Not as expected

    Having previously been on trips snowshoeing in winter in Finland and trekking in the French Pyrenees during the summer months, I had an expectation of a snow filled adventure on this holiday. Unfortunately we were unlucky to have no snow! On another trip, blue sky and sunshine would have been great but it was not what we were expecting. To be fair, Miguel our guide did take the group snowshoeing on some ski resort pistes during the week and on the final day, after a bit of a drive, led us on a memorable trek through pine forests up to spectacular mountain views. The Hotel Victor was nice, clean , comfortable with very friendly staff. The breakfasts were very good and there was a good choice of three courses for dinner in the evening.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The best part of the trip was on the final day when we trekked through pine forests to a mountain refuge and the onwards up to a view point to see magnificent views on the distant peaks. The trip to the village of Sort to visit the jail where Allied Pilots etc escaped over the Pyrenees from France during WW2 was a moment for reflection.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel is a very enthusiastic, knowledgeable guide. He was very organised and we always felt that we were safe and in good hands. He is very passionate about the Catalan people and his evening talks about the history of the region, way of life and flora and fauna were very interesting. He has a great sense of humour and the evening routine of translating the menu for the next days dinner from Catalan to English was always a good laugh. There is no doubt that his humour made up for the lack of snow.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do check a reliable site for the weather forecast for your trip and take the appropriate gear. Miguel will asses the fitness of the group on the first day and he will adapt the following hikes accordingly. Be honest with him if you find the first day hard. Our group of 8 were all experienced hikers and our treks were in the challenging range.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus can't control the weather so do check and be prepared for unexpected conditions. The area is full of trails with beautiful views.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Peter Sumpter

    Snowshoeing versus global warming, perhaps?!

    To state the obvious, snow is very much necessary on a trip such as this. So when the quantity is rather lacking and the quality is rather poor, the trip has the potential to disappoint. The departure date unfortunately coincided with a period of un-seasonably warm weather, such that the snow that had been present only a week or two before (see other reviews) had retreated well up the mountains. Although the group leader tried his best to find routes to make good use of our snowshoes, there was no way to produce the walks that I had anticipated. For me, the setting at the edge of the Pyrenees, the nice family run hotel, an enthusiastic and entertaining group leader, the cheese and wine tasting, and a very agreeable group of eight of us couldn’t compensate for that lack of snow. There was probably some great walking that could be done under the circumstances, but understandably the group leader was keen to find opportunities for us to use our snowshoes, even where that involved the edges of ski runs and rather thin and icy snow. From previous reviews, it’s clear that this trip usually delivers the expected experience. But my week in the Catalan Pyrenees was not usual – a week of full-on sunshine (great) that meant daytime temperatures in Dialp of up to 16C (not so great). And that was a pity. My rating of the trip is therefore primarily based on the snow conditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the snowy peaks throughout the week would be the highlight. If pushed, then I’d say reaching the summit of the Espot mountains on day 4 was the most inspirational, with the views that were presented all around.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel is friendly, keen for all in the group to have a good experience and works hard, and that included accompanying us for much of our free day. He looks to adapt the activities to the weather / snow conditions and to the abilities of the group. He was perhaps a little too keen to push us, recognising that we were a reasonably fit group. That pushing did have its rewards, but it would have been good to be more involved in the decision making. Miguel is very passionate about Catalonia and imparts information on a variety of topics in the evenings (a little too detailed for me, at times!).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Glorious quantities of snow are not guaranteed. Pack those layers – although in my case plenty of the winter clothing wasn’t required. You might wish to consider bringing more than the recommended 1 litre water bottle, given the time you'll be out and active - have both a flask and a bottle, perhaps. Take note of the activities detailed in the Trip Notes rather more than the general grading of a 3 (Moderate) activity level. There can be a significant amount of walking in snow and of elevation gain while doing so.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Nope.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Veronica Smeaton

    Snow-shoeing in Catalan Pyrenees

    As the snow did not arrive until the 3rd day we had 2 days' hiking and 4 days' snowshoeing in a beautiful, remote area. Our guide, Miguel, was able to alter his planned routes to suit the vicissitudes of the weather and always provided us with scenic and culturally interesting hikes. Early evening talks were an exploration by Miguel of Catalan history, economy and culture with two opportunities to taste cheeses, sausages and wines of the area. The hotel was welcoming and provided an excellent selection of food. Rooms were warm and comfortable though corridors and the restaurant were often chilly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to choose one but the climb up to the Pla de la Font mountain hut through the woods and the descent in which we each took a turn at leading the way was very memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel was remarkable in his versatility at selecting routes to suit the weather. He inspired us with his love of and pride in Catalonia and managed to convey a vivid picture of life in remote areas, both past and present. He has a good sense of humour and was always very sociable with the group. Nothing was too much trouble and he was very aware of his responsibility for our safety and keen for us to enjoy experiences.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of warm layers which you can remove easily and stow in a rucksack. A good level of fitness is required as some routes are both long and challenging.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was a most enjoyable and informative trip with a largely cohesive group of people who were very positive about their experiences.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    M and C Palmer

    Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees

    An enjoyable and interesting trip that gave us an insight into the local landscape and culture. Snow only truly arrived 2 days into the week and our leader Miguel adapted well, staying true to the themes of the itinerary and giving us good walks without snow and then in fresh snow of depths up to 3 feet. Note – some stamina is needed, especially in the deep snow! Local villages, remote valleys in a national park and peak summits were all sampled, together with insights into local history and culture such as the Freedom Trail escape route, and Catalan wine and cheese tastings. A very enjoyable week.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the unspoilt beauty and power of the Catalan Pyrenees.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A dedicated guide able to make decisions at short notice as the weather conditions necessitated a change of plan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the Trip Notes, they give a good guide as to the walking level required.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Caroline Simmonds

    From no snow to lots of snow!

    When we arrived in Rialp the area had seen no snow for more than a month, so the first couple of days were spent walking rather than snowshoeing. This was not necessarily a disadvantage because it enabled us to do longer walks to different villages and, at least on the first day, enjoy the sunshine! Then on Wednesday the snow arrived with a vengeance, so the snowshoes got thoroughly tested as well, often in deep virgin snow. I had no idea about the history or culture of the area and learned a lot from our leader, Miguel, during the week. The local wine and cheese sampling sessions he laid on for us were also much appreciated!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Enjoying the views and snowshoeing for miles without seeing any other people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel is a very friendly and knowledgeable guide. On one or two occasions he headed off a little too fast (the group left my husband and me behind in a cafe on the first day - luckily we managed to work out where they had gone and catch up!) but 14 is quite a large group to have only one leader. He willingly gave up his free day to lead us on a very enjoyable additional walk, even if we did need to up the pace towards the end in order to catch the bus back to Rialp! He was also very flexible as the weather conditions required.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect this to be an easy trip, with or without snow - but it is a good combination of activity and culture in a really fascinating area.
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