Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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44 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2015
    Janet Clark

    Iceland experience

    This was an awe inspiring trip with excellent company and a splendid guide. Personally, I achieved 2 firsts: glacier walk and lava tube caves.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Experiencing the continental divide between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America

    What did you think of your group leader?

    David was very understanding and excellent at getting us to places at the opportune time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a physical holiday

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus did a great job in keeping us posted and preparing us for the trip
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Sabina Latif

    Unpredictable fun in the land of incredible landscapes

    This trip was a fantastic and fun adventure from start to finish. I had no idea what to expect from the trip and was not used to cold weather climates but the unpredictable changes in the weather just added to the excitement. The itinerary was packed full of amazing sights including beautiful waterfalls, thermal geysirs, an iceberg lagoon, black sandy beaches, a swim in the blue lagoon and so much more. We also got looked after well each and every day, and where the planned schedule had to be adapted due to severe weather conditions, I still had an amazing time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were too many on this trip! But some of the best moments were relaxing in a hot tub with a waterfall as your backdrop, walking up to see a glacier, the iceberg lagoon and swimming in the blue lagoon with snowflakes falling on your face and sipping a drink from the swim up bar on the side of the lagoon.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I really liked the group leader, David Kelley. He was very thoughtful and wanted us to have a great time, and he felt personally responsible that we didn't see the northern lights even though that was down to the severe weather conditions we had. He also had a wicked sense of humour (British, sarcasm) which made me laugh all trip. And he cut up cake in the snow with a plastic knife and fed us. What was also fab was his immense passion for Iceland and what he was sharing with us which was apparent throughout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Key advice is to make sure you have the right clothing for the trip, the weather is really very unpredictable. So definitely take waterproof trousers and a balaclava, woollen mittens and a hat that covers up your ears and will stay on in a blizzard. Also a waterproof bag and waterproof case for your camera. It can be sunny one minute, then hail can smack you across the face the next, and then it's snowing! Embrace the unpredictability of the trip and don't be disappointed if things don't go according to the itinerary.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just totally recommend this trip!
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Julie Julie

    Iceland and Northern Lights

    Excellent trip with a lot packed in to such a short time. You get to see much more than if you had just booked a trip to stay in Reyjavik. One of the most beautiful Countries I've ever been to.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Northern Lights, seeing the seals playing in the lagoon and ice walking on the Glacier. Beautiful! (Couldn't narrow it down to just one!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. David is from England but has lived in Iceland for 10 years. He knew everything there was to know about Iceland and coupled it with a British sense of humour! He was keen to make the experience as great as possible for everyone whilst being safety conscious at the same time (you can't influence the weather!) True professional!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of layers as the weather is changeable. My head was lovely and snug, however one pair of gloves did not keep my hands warm when taking photos! Take a tripod for Northern Lights photos.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Charlotte Reeve

    Incredible first taste of Iceland

    After a 4 hour flight delay and miserable weather the first morning, our luck changed and we had glorious sunny weather for the rest of the trip which showed a wintry Iceland off in all its glory. Although the trip is short, a lot is packed in and we did and saw more than I'd anticipated. The scenery really was stunning and I would love to go back in summer to explore further. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this trip to others, although I think the weather can have a really big impact on how enjoyable it will be.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The northern lights appearing for us on our last evening in Reykjavik, and Day 3 of the tour when we visited the glacial lagoon and diamond beach then donned crampons for hiking the glacier.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gudni was fantastic and looked after our group very well. He was very calm and personable and provided lots of interesting information about the country as we drove around. It was the first trip where I've seen the guide also do the driving, but with the help of his Madonna-style headset microphone it worked perfectly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Clothing: We were extremely lucky with the weather, but I would definitely recommend lots of layers, and a scarf/buff/balaclava to protect your face is essential. I took both walking boots and snow boots but didn't wear the snow boots at all. They provide you with chains for your boots (which we found to be essential) and you need walking boots really to use them. You also need walking boots to fit the crampons for the glacier hike. I used a Peruvian-style hat with ear flaps for most of the trip, but you also need a beanie-style hat (no bobble) for the two occasions where you need to wear a helmet. Waterproof trousers and coat are essential as you may get wet in the cave and from waterfall spray, even if it’s not raining (a lens cleaning cloth for your camera is also useful as you’ll end up with lots of droplets on it near the waterfalls). I’d also highly recommend two pairs of gloves – the thin inner pair will protect your hands when taking photos. Other equipment: I took a flask but didn't use it. There was a kettle in the room at Hotel Laki, but not in Reykjavik. You can easily fill up a bottle with drinking water throughout the trip. It may sound strange, but sun cream may be useful, especially if you go later in the season; it had clouded over a bit by the time we did the glacier walk, but otherwise there would have been a fair bit of exposure and reflection from the sun. Northern Lights: We were extremely lucky and saw a great display on the last night. However, be prepared to be flexible and keep extra layers on the bus with you just in case. We headed straight from the day's activities for dinner with the intention of then checking in to the hotel and getting extra layers on etc before heading out into the countryside (away from light pollution) as the forecast was looking good. However, the lights had other ideas and appeared for an hour at 8.30 pm, just as we were finishing dinner. We all piled into the bus and headed 10 minutes to a peninsula near the harbour in Reykjavik. So whilst we didn't get to see them against dark skies, we did avoid a long drive and hours of standing outside in the cold, and were back at the hotel by 10 in time to head out to a bar. A friend who went on the trip in January had a 2 hour drive each way to find them on the last night and got back to the hotel at 3 am! When you are at Hotel Laki, if you hear people moving about in the middle of the night and doors going, don’t lie in bed wondering why people were being noisy like I did; it probably means somebody has spotted the lights, so throw your warm clothes on and get up to the viewing area on the roof! I only have a compact camera (Panasonic Lumix TZ30) but managed to get some reasonable photos after doing a bit of research online before I went. I used the manual mode with F3.3, ISO 800, a 15 second exposure, and self timer to avoid camera shake. The key was having a mini tripod with me (that allows you to angle the camera upwards) – even though it’s small enough to fit in my pocket and I looked a bit silly next to everybody with their proper gear, it worked perfectly.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotels were both clean, warm and comfortable and the food in Hotel Laki was great – a buffet of salads, pasta, meat, fish and vegetables with lots of choice. The only thing we didn't manage to fit in from the itinerary was the baths in Reykjavik, but that didn't really matter as we were going to the Blue Lagoon the next day.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Robert Norman

    Northern Lights (and much, much more)

    A very enjoyable trip and a perfect introduction to Iceland.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many highlights but, as you might expect, finally getting to see the Northern Lights (after two largely unsuccessful previous trips – one to Norway, and one to Sweden - to see them) was a big deal for me. And this was despite an abysmal forecast (“Aurora Activity=0”!) Our tour leader, David, somehow managed to magic them up from somewhere. Other than that, Gullfoss (waterfall) is particularly spectacular and photogenic and the crystal clear lumps of glacier ice on beach are beautiful and fascinating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    David was very good. He worked very hard for us and, thanks to him, we took in a very full itinerary without ever feeling rushed or short-changed. I have no doubt we benefitted a great deal from his knowledge and experience of the country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t underestimate how cold it is/can be. Make sure you’ve got plenty of suitable clothing. If you’re (primarily) going on this trip in the hope of seeing and photographing the Northern Lights then make sure you know what you are doing and are very familiar with your camera’s controls (including how to operate it in the (near) dark). In order to take photographs of the Lights, you do, of course, need a camera that can take long exposures (typically 15-20 seconds) and a sturdy tripod. I would emphasise “sturdy” as it can be very windy and, especially, with long exposures, you need things to remain as still and stable as possible. And don’t forget to remove any and all filters from your camera lens before trying to photograph the Lights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I made my own way to Iceland a few days before the start of the Exodus group holiday and, due to duff information on the Trip Notes, I wasted a few hours hanging around at the hotel waiting for the group to arrive when I could have been out exploring Reykjavik. This was, ultimately, attributable to (yet another) problem with the "new" Exodus website. Now, many, many months after its launch, there are still a lot of problems with the “new” website and these problems undermine my confidence in any and all information on there. The old website did look a bit dated and basic but it was reliable and fully functional!
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Susan Traer

    Iceland Northern Lights

    Excellent introduction to Iceland.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the ice crystals at Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon - beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kristjan was an excellent leader - he drove and entertained us throughout the trip and we learnt a lot about Iceland, its people and culture. He went out of his way on the last night looking for suitable locations for the Lights as we had a lot a cloud on previous nights. He was just as excited as us to finally see them!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If travelling by Iceland Air, food is NOT included - take some sandwiches with you to eat on the plane!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was so taken with Iceland, that I want to go back and see the country in the summer!
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Janet Duff

    Winter is coming - and Iceland is the place to experience it!

    Fantastic country - other-worldly landscapes - this trip offers a thrilling mix of the ancient sagas which tell their own tale of the landscape, the stories of modern life under constant threat of volcanic eruption, geography and geomorphology, wildlife and food. And if you get Kristján as your tour leader, you will be among the luckiest Exodus travellers out there - I've done 9 or so Exodus trips and am confident he is one of the best, most knowledgeable, resourceful, responsive, hard-working and entertaining leaders out there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon - utterly breathtaking. Think of Superman's ice palace, add colour and seals! I had no idea such places exist - so beautiful, one or two of us had a little tear. We were lucky enough to see the aurora borealis on the last night, thanks to the persistence and hard work of our leader Kristján. It was an amazing experience - so much is said of it - but it has a great deal to compete with against the dramatic landscape that is Iceland.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kristján is one of the most knowledgeable, resourceful, responsive, hard-working and entertaining tour leaders out there. He was tireless in ensuring that we all had the greatest time. His enthusiasm for his country and his delight in sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with travellers is quite infectious! We "tested" him with questions on geomorphology, politics, history, the sagas, women's rights, religion, wildlife, you-name-it, and Kristján rose to the challenge every time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    These days we all look at the weather forecast on the internet - but remember Iceland is very breezy, so the windchill factor is considerable. Take loads of layers (including for legs and feet), a hat with ear flaps (e.g. trapper-style), and an outer windproof and waterproof layer. If you're planning any photography, consider two pairs of gloves (a thin pair you can work in plus an outer pair for additional warmth). To photograph the aurora I'd recommend a tripod, long exposure, wide aperture, cable release / self-timer. Batteries perform poorly in the cold so take spares and keep them in an inner pocket.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The glimpses of modern life in Iceland were as fascinating as the tales from the sagas, and as dramatic as the landscape and the skies. Visiting the little visitor centre established by the family who farm below Eyjafjallajökull and meeting the family members allowed us to understand a little of what it is to live in Iceland under threat of eruption and earthquake. The film the family had made is one of the best "museum" shorts I have seen - don't miss it.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Jane Robertson

    Whistle stop tour of Southern Iceland

    Great first experience of a group holiday. Couldn't have asked for a more friendly bunch of people to spend 5 days with. Well organised and we couldn't possibly have fitted anything else in. There wasn't even time to look in the visitor shop sometimes - but I coped!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Jokulsarlon Lagoon at dusk was wonderful. No Northern Lights :( Will just have to go back!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Organised, very good local knowledge, good sense of humour. He had to re-organise some visits because of the horrible weather we had for a day which left us marooned in our hotel for nearly 24 hours - all part of the adventure! Sometimes I wished we had been given a bit more information on what was happening the next day and what we needed to have with us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was really glad that I arrived a day early (not planned, but as I flew from Edinburgh I had to go Tuesday rather than Wednesday). I was able to spend a day in Reykjavik which wasn't part of the tour - but I think it should be! Take warm trousers and waterproofs! The weather can change in an instant from very cold and sunny to up to 120mph gusts and rain! The first hotel website (Klettur) suggests that the rooms don't all free WiFi but they do.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip to see a lot of sights in a short space of time, together with a great guide with good local knowledge. It would have been good to know that 2 others were arriving on the Tuesday - we could have looked around Reykjavik together rather than all doing our own thing. Next time I will ask. It wasn't easy finding somewhere to eat the first night on my own as the hotel was surrounded by building sites. It would have been good if the hotel had had a restaurant.
  • Reviewed October 2014
    Anonymous

    Northern Lights - almost

    I have no hesitation in deeming this to be an excellent tour. I wanted to see weird and wonderful landscapes. I also wanted to get a glimpse of what it was like for the population to live in such an unusual place. Both curiosities were satisfied.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to pick one moment as each setting is almost jolting. Perhaps the spot where the tectonic plates meet (where the settlers had their annual political talk-fest circa 1000 AD...yes they did!) particularly gripped me. Significant land and political movements in the one spot! Our group experienced it close to end of day so there were less crowds and tour leader gave us a taste of its significance.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Well Kristjan is simply remarkable. He makes tour guiding into an art. You get the information and a taste of the life (in this unusual place) via stories, working knowledge, wit and finely-tuned planning. He also had good antenna for group and individual dynamics.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't assume you will see the Northern Lights with the naked eye. I didn't; however, my fellow travellers vowed and declared they did! Best take a camera cause that's where they most show up; hang around, and don't be too disappointed if you don't see them. There is so much else that is intriguing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go there. But respect this small country that punches way above its weight. They are still recovering from the global financial crisis so our cost of being there has to take that into account.
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Susan Antonelli

    Warming winter moments

    When asked what my favourite part of the trip was this was my response soon after I returned ...."Mine...the spontaneous stop off to chill by the glacial pool in falling light - to capture the sunset en route to the hostel ...we saw the Northern lights - so chuffed - Vik, Whow! - homemade tomato soup on the spot where they were grown - all the food. Oh and I missed the pictures of Gulfoss in the books, so imagine my face when I walked to the edge of the path!! Snow, muted crashing rollers on a lava beach, ice, sun -such feast for the senses...then lastly the feel of the lava between the toes in the blue lagoon. Still pinching myself.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Gulfoss, because of the above, closely followed by the beach at Vik, with crashing rollers

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Clear, concise, there with answers to questions and prepared to go the extra yard to make this short trip to Iceland most memorable. His performance on the line was truely memorable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Layers, lots. It doesn't matter what you look like but you'll only enjoy it if you are warm.