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Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Linda Howard

    Mongolias great.

    Mongolia has been recommended to me by various travelers over the years, also to include the Nadaam Festival....they were right. If you are looking for something different....this is it. The vastness and the ever changing terrain in the Gobi is fascinating.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing sand dunes in the Gobi desert in the rain! The desert was fascinating, different to others I have seen. The opening ceremony of the Nadaam festival was superb, it was so well done, it was worthy of an Olympic opening ceremony. The kids racing the horses..wow.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very good, he took his job seriously, occasional language misunderstandings.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just enjoy it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Apart from not getting our suitcases twice, maybe flights with a longer transit time between them, if possible, it was a mad panic for us to make it so was not surprising the luggage didn’t.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Lucinda Francis

    This trip had everything

    We loved Mongolia! This was our first holiday as part of a guided group trip, and it really worked for us. We found the itinerary to be just right, long days with lots to see and do, interspersed with just enough downtime to recharge our batteries. The accommodation in hotels and gers was of a high standard. We were very well fed with meals ranging from traditional Mongolian to modern European and Asian cuisine at the accommodations and local restaurants in UB. Box lunches were provided for the long days crossing the Gobi and for the Naadam Festival. All the Mongolian people we met made us feel very welcome to their country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is so hard to pick a single most inspirational moment. Every day was full of things to see and do, from vast desert landscapes, mountains, cliffs and valleys, to monasteries, temples, monuments and statues. Highlights for us were the visits to nomadic families, the amazing Nadaam Festival Horse Racing, the Morin Tolgoi Horse Memorial and the Chinngis Khaan Statue.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Odka really made the trip. Her English was very good enabling her to pass on her immense knowledge of and passion for Mongolia, and answer all our questions. She was very good at managing the group’s expectations, keeping everyone happy and taking a democratic approach to decisions. Nothing was too much trouble for her, and she went the extra mile to ensure that everyone in the group had a great holiday, including juggling the itinerary when rain was forecast. She was also brilliant company. Our four drivers were also amazing, working through the night to repair one of the cars. They were all number one drivers to us!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Very few ger camps have wifi, so maybe consider buying a local sim card if you need to keep in touch. Hot water availability was an issue at some ger camps, the trick is to avoid showering at busy times. Take a seat belt pad to protect your neck and ladies consider wearing a sports bra forthose long bumpy car rides across the Gobi!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Rose Langley

    Amazing Mongolia

    We saw only a small portion of such a huge country , within days we’d seen Steppe, desert ,mountains and cliffs , perfect sunrises and sunsets and the never ending stars in the sky.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The vast nothingness , looking for miles ahead and seeing nothing but scenery with the odd Ger. 2 whole days driving the Gobi and seeing only the odd goat farmer, no other tourists or cars. Visiting the camel and horse breeders and seeing the nomad way of life and of course the Genghis Khan statue .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Odka was great , she kept us informed of all the plans for the day ahead and has so much knowledge about the amazing history of Mongolia. Her English was very good and nothing was too much trouble for her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Ger camps were very comfortable but be prepared for no phone signal or WiFi for most of them perfect for switching off completely (bliss) There is a lot of travelling on a few days but stops were around every 1.5 to 2 hrs ,on our trip the cars were comfortable with air-conditioning and 4 people to a 6 seater so roomy enough too. I went for vegetarian meals as I’m not a big meat eater and it’s a very meat heavy country mostly mutton and chicken , my meals were lovely ,rice,pasta,vegetables and fruit so a perfect choice for me.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is perfect for a taste of Mongolia it has a good itinerary and with Naadam included it was a real insight into the Country and the Mongolian way of life, Bayarlalaa Mongolia
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Richard Hazlehurst

    Not for the faint-hearted

    A fabulous trip to a very interesting country. Thoroughly recommended, but please note the reservations about travelling discomforts, below.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably climbing the singing sand dunes. The views were astonishing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Odka was wonderful. She never stopped smiling and she was always looking after us and ensuring we were comfortable, well-informed, well-fed and well-watered.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The website explains that there is a lot of travelling involved with this trip. That is inevitable, given the size of the country and the distances between the various places to be visited. What is perhaps not made clear enough is the fact that the journeys in the desert are almost entirely off-road and the distances make in necessary to travel at quite high speeds. You can be hurtling along at 50, even nearly 60, m.p.h. for many hours on packed sand, gravel or stone with bumps, jumps, swerves and sudden braking. After 10 or 11 hours of this, we felt shaken, not stirred, and had aches and pains to remind us of it. If you go on this trip, you will see some remarkable places and have some wonderful experiences. But do be warned about the discomforts of the travelling. Everything else was good, great, often excellent.
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Christine Holyhead

    A world apart

    The nothingness of the desert was full of life. We just needed to be shown it. Talking with three ladies in their own gir was such a good explanation of a lifestyle we couldn’t fathom before this. The gir camp sites were well run and 12/14 days we had excellent meals tho I would take some bottle of my choice of sauce next time. The driving distances were very long on 2 days. In 11 hours you can’t have a bad back or any hint of travel sickness. I am on my 19 th exodus trip and at 70 found these really hard work even tho it was unimaginably interesting. My respect for the huge Mongolian empire grew and all I wanted to see was a dinosaur...we saw bones and eggs! The guide was of vital importance at the Naadam festival He showed how centuries of skills were being displayed to a slowly modernising country. A real time-warp holiday!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Naadam festival , seeing a well in the Gobi desert supplying water from nowhere for 300 goats. The hugeness of the country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As a young man he is learning very fast to become a caring and knowledgable guide

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a rain mac and factor 50! Warm pyjamas and fleece you can sleep with and nudity. Don’t always expect electricity ty or any internet/ phone contact. Revel in nothingness.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don’t do this as your first wilder exodus trip.
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Debra Dance

    Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts and Nomads - Nadaam Festival

    An amazing trip to an amazing country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The tour programme was well-planned and interesting and I enjoyed the variety and contrast of the experiences from the busy Nadaam to the sparsely-populated wide open spaces of the steppe and desert; the sense of having travelled long distances during the day, followed by a reminder of how small we are under the billions of stars in the clear night sky; and the opportunity to enjoy the sophisticated accomplishments of the singers, musicians and contortionists, as well as the raw beauty of the sand dunes.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Namjaa was an excellent tour leader, who was knowledgeable, calm, friendly, good-humoured and responsive to the group's requests. For example, at our request he organised for us to visit a nomadic family that was less used to receiving tour groups, as well as a cashmere factory shop.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    * Be prepared for some very long drives (11 hours) across bumpy tracks. * You will not go hungry on this trip. On the contrary, the food was plentiful (often four courses at lunch and the same again for the evening meal) and the lunchtime and evening meals started with a delicious salad. * Mongolia is the world's second largest producer of cashmere, so take some extra money and treat yourself (and/or someone else) to a gorgeous, easy to carry gift.
  • Unique Mongolia

    Fascinating and unique country. The Nadaam Festival was amazing, especially the opening ceremony. Lots of long road journeys.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Nadaam opening ceremony, seeing the Mongolian competitors and the crowd response during the rest of the games; seeing the wild takhi horses' seeing dinosaur bones in various musuems.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He got us from place to place efficiently, and was always really pleasant. But he rarely gave us much information about plans for the day or the next few days, or about what we were seeing, or so we were often a bit confused about what was happening, and didn't get the most out of our time or our visits to particular places and sometimes missed things. At the Naadam festival he didn't tell us where we were heading, or where and when we should meet if we got separated in the huge crowds, and on one occasion he simply went off with part of the group without telling the rest of us - so we got really lost more than once, which was a bit unnerving and wasted precious time. On the road, he didn't ensure that the vehicles kept together - so when ours broke down we were with a driver who didn't speak English, totally alone in the Gobi. He also swapped activities around which made sense from a driving point of view, but meant that our hike around the Flaming Cliffs took place in a torrential downpour which made walking pretty treacherous - and as he simply left us there we weren't clear on where we were supposed to hike (by the time we worked it out it was too late to do it). The following day, when it wasn't raining, we went to the local town museum (which was good - but a better rainy day activity) and the market (which wasn't - tiny and nothing of interest). The 2 hikes (cliffs and canyon) need to be prioritised around the weather, as they are potential highlights, and could have been done on the same day if necessary, and the town omitted entirely (it's not in the itinerary anyway)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do plenty of research about what you want to see in Ulaanbaatar as there quite a bit of time there and our guide didn't give us any information about what to see or where it might be located. Take a copy of the itinerary because the guide might not keep you posted on what is happening. Consider not taking the group flights - Air China seems to have delays routinely (we were delayed by about 6 hours on the way out and at no time did anyway give us a definitive answer about why we were delayed or when the flight might take off), and no guarantee you'll get your connection in Beijing - and if you miss it there is no-one to help as staff are thin on the ground, mostly don't speak English and frequently don't care and are rude and unhelpful. If you are delayed don't leave the allocated gate for more than a few minutes (unless you think it might have changed) as the flight might suddenly be called without warning and they won't wait or make an announcement. Lots of driving inc 2 full days driving (11 hours) so take lots of books or load up your mp3 player (etc). In July take a rainjacket and a brolly for rain - often too hot for the jacket, but sometimes it rained so persistently that it cooled down and a brolly wouldn't hack it. Hardly any bugs so insect repellent not necessary. In most ger camps you can wash clothes and they will be dry the next morning. There are only a few times where you need closed and grippy shoes - but then you do really need them. Food is generally quite good but often bland so consider taking some sort of hot sauce or spice. Take plenty of tissues and antibacterial gel for toilet stops. Take spare batteries for anything important as electricity can be limited in the gers so you can't rely on being able to recharge stuff overnight. Take a torch make sure it is easy to find in your packing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bayangol Hotel in Ulaanbaatar was well located and comfortable - but Exodus needs to ensure that in summer rooms are in Block B, which has air con rooms, and not block A which doesn't. The first ger camp we stayed in had only 6 showers for 40 gers so there were major queues - which is not what you need when you are hot and dusty and jetlagged . Not sure if there is an alternative but worth considering. All the rest were fine.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Elspeth for her insightful review, we rely on customer feedback to ensure the quality of our trips and make improvements where necessary. We are currently looking into what happened on this departure.

  • Reviewed July 2017
    Lorraine Grant

    Mongolia, Nadaam, Gobi. Great experience

    Fantastic trip. Huge statues, more goats, sheep, horses and cows than you can imagine. A vastness that boggles the mind. The Gobi desert is to be experienced just to get an idea of the size of it. Living in ger camps is worthwhile too. You get to sample what nomadic life can be like. The local people were friendly and open to us visiting their ger homes, and we were offered goats cheese, fermented milk and simple vodka. It's rude to decline the offer! It's hard to pick one particular highlight but I think the Nadaam Festival comes out top.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Witnessing the Nadaam Festival was a highlight. The two hour opening ceremony was terrific with displays depicting Mongolia's history. While we didn't understand the language, the display was clear. The men, women and children wore very ornate and colourful national dress and were happy for their photos to be taken. The newly elected President officially opened the festival. A goodly number of children released white doves at the start and balloons were realised at the end.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was a very pleasant man but perhaps due to us being in four vehicles, it was hard for information to be given regarding the country or the people. This would normally be expected when the group travels in one vehicle. That said, he tried to accommodate the wishes of group members, which did at times prove challenging. Not his fault though! Our tour leader arranged for two facilities to open when they ought to be closed which was very appreciated. One was a monetary and the other a museum.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather was much warmer than I had expected given I'd been checking weather updates prior to travel. A few days while we were in the Gobi were around 40 degrees and very windy indeed. Driving in the Gobi is very rough indeed as no tarred roads and dirt tracks the only routes. The ground is very hard and rough and car passengers get a lot of jostling around. A word of warning if you have back issues! Accommodation in the capital was fine but some of the ger camps didn't have hot water for showers and/or was restricted to certain times of the day, as was electric. This isn't a problem though as you expect such restrictions in rural areas. Meals were excellent throughout. Usually three course set lunch and dinner, with small portions. Mutton dishes were offered most often. The vegetarians were catered for too. Bottled water was provided at each meal and the guide gave water to each guest to use in their own water bottles. When driving long distances in the Gobi, toilet stops are infrequent due to simply not being a toilet to go to! You have to make do with a boulder or bush.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you get the chance to visit local shops and markets take it. You see what locals buy and can pick up some items you might not see in the capital. A wonderful experience driving around the vast wilderness of Mongolia and the Gobi. If you can visit when the Nadaam Festival is on you'll be in for a real treat. It was very hot and extremely busy with thousands of people milling around but worth it. You are given tickets with your seat numbers for the stadium but they are small spaces on plastic seats. Not the most comfortable but adequate. We were lucky as under the canopy for shade but the tour guide gave us all umbrellas for shade if needed. To sum up, just go and enjoy Mongolia.