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 March 2017
    Ross Harding

    Well worth the effort

    The trip is really well organised, and the tour leader is clearly an expert in running this kind of thing. The views experienced during the snow walks are breathtaking, and are definitely worth the sometimes long ascents. Oddly when booking the trip I worried that there may not be enough walking - but I assure you there is! The hotels are all really good - even the 'standard' and 'basic' ones were significantly better than I imagined.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the end of the final long walk into Kosovo, was quite a thought provoking experience. It's all well and good reading or remembering the news about Kosovo's recent history, but actually being there really brings it home. I think it is important to visit places like this, and they are very welcoming of visitors. On a less sombre note - being in Snow that was in places 2m deep, was for me a first in a lifetime experience!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Without doubt the best group leader I have experienced. Always willing to help, and always working to find ways of making us enjoy the trip even more.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Clothes/Shoes: No need to go nuts on buying super warm clothes (I bought some crazy merino wool base layer trousers, which I never used), the exercise will get you very warm indeed. Most of us spent the first morning stripping off layers as we walked. Obviously have some spare clothes with you each day though in case there is a long stop ( you will definitely get cold once not moving). Don't forget Waterproofs! Even in only gentle falling snow, 5-6 hrs of it will soak anyone not dressed properly. Similarly good walking shoes and gaiters are of course key, as you don't want wet feet! Bag: I'd say make sure you have a decent approx 30L day pack with good straps or clips on (for holding snow shoes). Definitely want a waterproof cover, but bring good interior drybags as well - since the snow shoes may make it hard to get the cover on. We only had one really wet (snow) day, but if I hadn't had all my stuff in dry bags it would have been soaked. Food/Drink: I carried a supply of cereal bars and was very grateful for them, so would recommend doing something similar if you prefer snacking on the go. The hotels supply packed lunches which are good, but designed for the big stop and eat once method. One litre of water got me through most days, but I would probably have felt better if I had a bit more (I was mentally rationing on some of the hot days). If you have a thermos, the hotels will happily stock it up with tea/coffee if you ask.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There was some debate in our group about whether the 'Moderate/Challenging' rating is accurate. So to be clear - there are some long, and indeed occasionally steep, ascents and descents. I certainly was surprised at first by how strenuous the walking & snow shoeing was , but this did not detract from how wonderful it was to experience the heights that we reached. Experienced walkers of any age will have no issue - but this is not a gentle ramble.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Elizabeth Broumley

    The not so accursed mountains - Snowshoeing in Albania

    An excellent trip to a very beautiful and unspoilt part of Europe; stunning landscape, delicious food and very friendly people. The holiday is a good blend of mountain activity and sightseeing enhanced by a very knowledgeable guide with seeming unlimited patience. For people who enjoy the less usual and love being in the mountains this holiday is ideal.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Here's three: After a challenging trek uphill through snow covered forests, coming into a high alpine meadow covered in pristine snow was just breathtaking, an appropriate place to stop for lunch! Visiting the monastery of Decani, the mosque in Gjakovë and Albanian League museum in Prizren all left me with an enhanced view of the history of this part of the Balkans, a history which is far more than a simple tourist attraction, it shapes the current politics of the area in a a way which demands tact and discretion. Can't finish without praise for our local trekking guide's home distilled plum raki, it is the Lagavulin of rakis.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was excellent; a mountain leader with a very full knowledge of his country's history, culture, ecology, economics and politics. On specialist issues he was willing to defer to local experts and patiently translate their answers for us if necessary. I'm partially deaf, which presents problems for a guide, Dorian dealt with these issues graciously making sure I never felt left out of the group. He worked well with all the group members to ensure that as a group we all worked well together.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget the gaiters! Make sure you have any special treats you might want with you - there was no time for shopping (another plus side to the holiday).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you don't want the razzmatazz of winter sports centres, but enjoy a winter challenge then this holiday won't disappoint. The standard of accommodation and facilities was better than the Exodus descriptions had led me to expect. For the snowshoeing we experienced ideal weather which, unfortunately, cannot be guaranteed but in these conditions everything worked very well.
  • Reviewed March 2017
    Susan Dalton

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    A very enjoyable snow-shoeing trip to the totally unspoilt Valpone valley surrounded by soaring rocky peaks, combined with interesting walks, travelling and sight-seeing through northern Albania and southern Kosovo.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mountains and woods are really beautiful, particularly just after a snowfall, as the valley air is so still and the trees are covered in sparkling snow. Visiting the beautiful church at the Monastery of Decani with it's lovely paintings and carvings. Seeing the traditional agriculture and enjoying the local hospitality, music and dance.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was very interesting and knowledgeable about all aspects of Albania and the Balkans, past and present and took us to see the most significant historical sites in the area. I was inspired to read more about Balkan history to better understand the significance of all we had seen. He was tireless in answering questions, translating other peoples questions and answers and generally ensuring we all enjoyed our trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect to diet as the food is plentiful and very nice and fresh. All the accommodation is excellent, clean and comfortable and much better than we expected. The hotel in the Valpone valley is in a stunning situation so make sure you see the sunset.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albania was a wonderful surprise with friendly people, a fascinating history and a beautiful landscape.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Irene Neilson

    Good mixture of culture and activity in a historically fascinating country

    Albania is a really interesting country and its people and very welcoming and friendly. This trip combines the activity of a winter sport -snowshoeing- with an opportunity to see some key sights within the country and its neighbour, Kosovo. The combination works well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Three things:- (a) when the sun came out on the second day and we saw all the beautiful snow capped peaks that surrounded us as we snowshoed through pristine, deep, powder snow (b) the fantastic painted interior of the 14th century Unesco World Heritage Visoki Dečani Monastry, superbly preserved (c) seeing fresh bear tracks in the snow as we trekked on day seven over the border into Kosovo.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was an enthusiastic and informative guide, very keen that we all enjoyed the trip. He opened up more about the history of Albania and the complex politics of the region as the trip progressed making for some really interesting and informative discussions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather was a bit unkind to us. On the first day snowshoeing we got really drenched. It was very difficult to dry clothing in the hotel as the latter was experiencing some boiler issues and radiators in the rooms were not that warm initially. There is no dedicated drying area. So at least one full change of gear is needed. If you like SealSkinz I'd bring a pair as boots can get wet crossing the river if there is a thaw. Gaiters are really essential - we took to wearing over trousers all the time as well. An umbrella is useful as the rain is vertical!! You don't need to change much money as there is little to spend it on and food/drink is inexpensive. Kosovo is euros. Albania lek. Food is plentiful but vegetarian options are basically limited to salads with eggs or cheese. Snowshoeing is straightforward to learn.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We spent two days in Tirana prior to the trip beginning. Just the right amount of time to see all the main sites and travel out to Bunk'Art (bus to Linze 40 lek) which is the huge bunker that Hoxha built for his parliament on the outskirts of Tirana near the Dajti Cable Car. Bunk'Art is now a historical museum (and Art/Music venue) with interesting photos with captions in English of the history of Albania from the invasion by fascist Italy, through the 2nd World War and the partisan forces, to the rise of communism under Hoxha. There is an app available that allows you to load an audio guide onto your phone when at the ticket office. We found there was enough info without this. The main tourist office is behind Skandenberg Square, beside the Albanian University. We ate at a local cafe just up from Hotel Krupa called Kapricozi. Food was simple but freshly cooked with draught beer.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Catherine Smith

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Fascinating country, challenging and exciting snowshoeing, lovely friendly hospitality, off the beaten track and something completely different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking up on the second day of snowshoeing to crystal clear skies and being surrounded by rugged snow clad mountains. It snowed heavily all day on the first day which made for exciting snowshoeing but no views. Valbone is stunningly beautiful, remote and a winter wonderland.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was a very concientious and caring leader. His local and historical knowledge was excellent, making the trip fascinating culturally as well as physically challenging.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The level 4 awarded for this trip should be noted. Valbone is remote and the snowshoeing was challenging in places, from steep forests to high alpine meadows. Previous experience of walking in snow and mountainous terrain would be recommended. The accommodation was comfortabke and homely, the food all home produced and the local hospitality a real treat. We were invited into locals homes several times for a coffee as we were passing!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you like bring off the beaten track, like to be physically challenged, are interested in other cultures and fancy something a little different then this is the trip for you!
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Jane Byrne

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Albania in Winter is so beautiful, the Valbone valley is totally unspoilt and the scenery is breathtaking. I have walked here in the Summer but the experience of being high up among the snow fields was truly memorable. As a novice at winter sports I found the snowshoeing a degree harder than walking the same area but absolutely worth the effort. Due to a warm Winter there was no snow at the lower levels but here we walked through woods carpeted with primroses and violets, beautiful in there own right

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top and coming out into the open fields of snow, despite my clumsiness at snowshoeing - an inspiring sight, and then the realisation that the baby trees peeping through the snow were actually the tops of full grown fir trees. The blazing sunset turning the snowy peaks crimson. Mastering a folk dance with the help of a troupe of dancers who were partying in our hotel.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely excellent - Dorien treats everyone as a friend and within a few hours the group is one big happy family. His knowledge of Albania's past, illustrated with personal experience,. is vast and his passion to develop tourism of a responsible nature in Albania is immense. In addition he takes care to help the local people develop their expertise as guides and so increase the opportunities for people in remote rural locations. But above all he ensures that everyone has a really great experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A torch or headtorch is necessary as there can be power cuts in the mountains. My best advice is just to visit Albania while it is still "different".

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albanian hospitality is an integral part of the people. You will be offered coffee, raki and maybe a snack everywhere you go and the most polite thing to do is to accept. In hotels or restaurants if, like me, you were brought up to clear your plate you may be overwhelmed by the amount of food offered, but it is not rude to leave food so go ahead, accept it and try it.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Caroline Simmonds

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Despite the lack of snow (so it was more "hiking in Albania") this was a very good trip - the scenery in the Valbone Valley is spectacular and it was so nice to have sunshine after the wet gloomy weather in the UK!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the realisation that despite all their historical problems, the Albanians are a genuinely friendly and welcoming people

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien went the extra mile to ensure we had a good trip

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember to take a head torch, as the electricity supply can be a bit erratic (we had power cuts almost every evening!) Also, you really don't need very much Albanian Lek spending money - drinks etc are ridiculously cheap, and you are in Kosovo for some of the time, where they accept euros.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip is in quite a remote and undeveloped area, so be prepared for that.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    David Burrows

    Fascinating mix of scenic, political and cultural

    A fascinating trip combining beautiful mountain scenery but also a unique insight into the cultural and political world of the Balkans.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Eating lunch in the snow-bound village homes of Albanians - copious amounts of food, a very warm welcome and non stop background satellite TV. Entry into the beautifully ornate Orthodox Christian Serb monastery within Muslim Kosovo; still guarded by NATO.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian gave superb insights into the Albanian / Serb enmity and the simmering aftermath of the 1999 Kosovan war.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This certainly isn't purely snowshoeing. Only go if you're also interested in culture and politics.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Sally Fowler

    Snowshoeing in Albania

    Snowshoeing in Albania was excellent. Blue skies led to some stunning images of snow of the Valbone valley and surrounding mountains. Snowshoeing was good with local information about each area was very informative.Lots of happy people ready to help ensure our holiday was fantastic.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snowshoeing into Kukaj side valley suddenly brought you into a picture perfect valley followed by a visit to the home of one of the locals with plenty of Racki (Local moonshine!). Snowshoeing up to Albania / Kosovo border was also another fantastic day having lunch in a snowed in hamlet (3 winter inhabitants) across the boarder to be met by 3 smiling happy boarder police "Welcome to Kosovo".

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien was fantastic he went out of his way to ensure we were having a good time ensuring everyone had all the information they required. He was also amazing about his local knowledge telling us local stories about people and events that had happened in each area. He was also good at getting the local guides to explain their memories / stories.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Albania this is a wonderful new area where everyone wants to welcome you and make you holiday a wonderful experience. Cost is cheap with Coke / Beer costing less than £1.
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