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 February 2019
    Eamon Keating

    Fascinating country

    We really enjoyed the chance to see so much of this great country in 2 weeks. The itinerary was excellent with visits to three very different regions. A good mix of walking and lots of wildlife and scenery to enjoy. The hotels we stayed in were all of a high standard and our guide gave good recommendations on places to eat in all locations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Patagonia is like nowhere else in the world and we were so fortunate to have great weather and see the Torres de Paine at their best. The flamingos in Atacama were equally memorable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was a terrific leader – hugely knowledgeable and very eager to ensure we had the best possible visit. He judged the group very well and tweaked our schedule to cater to our preferences. He is guaranteed to keep you entertained with stories and facts on all the bus journeys - like where the brand name Fanta come from.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you enjoy a cup of tea at days end pack a small travel kettle. Don’t fret about packing everything – all of the large towns in Chile had well stocked shops and pharmacies that will supply anything you might unexpectedly need.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus should reduce the time spent in Valparaiso and include a visit to a winery on the journey back to Santiago. They should also remove the morning spent in Puerto Montt where there is little to see and at the fish market you will be pestered by restaurant touts. Instead allow guests a free morning in the far nicer town of Puerto Varas. With these changes I would award the extra star.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Ilya Reyngold

    January 7, 2019

    Excellent trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Traveling through the different landscapes and climate zones

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex Aguilera is a very good group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's the excellent opportunity to see different parts of Chile in a single trip but any future traveler should be ready to spend a lot of time commuting from one place to another. It’s absolutely worth it but should be noted.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    To start the tour one day earlier (one more day) and spend an extra day in the Lake region
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Lester Wheaton

    Exhilarating

    ‘Discover Chile’ was a fantastic holiday and certainly in my top three tours over the last 20+years. The main reason it was fantastic was that we had brilliant weather throughout and considering this holiday was to principally look at the natural landscapes within the country this was essential. Although it was a certainty that we would have clear weather in the desert which was confirmed, the bonus of views of the snow capped Mt Osorno and others in the Lake District, and also the fantastic Torres del Paine against cloudless backdrops was the icing on the cake.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many highlights on the tour but these are my top three: 3. Mt Osorno in the Lake District 2. Antiplano Lakes and Mountain Scenery in the Atacama 1. Torres del Paine Mountain Scenery in Patagonia I could never get sick of the view of Torres del Paine from outside my room in Patagonia.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was both competent and very pleasant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to spend a considerable time on planes (5 off internal flights) and the associated waiting time in airports, also early get ups (2 before 5am) and a late finish (11pm). Flight schedules can change at short notice but none of ours were seriously affected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall the hotels were average with the one in San Pedro (Don Raul) being very disappointing (my room (42) looked nothing like the images on Tripadvisor) but the hotel in Patagonia was exceptional in the views that it had. Chile is a long distance from the UK and the tour could have benefited from an extra two days, one more possibly in the Lake District and one to explore the Magellan Strait near Punta Arenas. Although our tour was not in the absolute high season nowhere we visited was ever considered to be crowded, I suppose the busiest area (excepting Santiago) was San Pedro. It was disappointing to be in the Atacama during the full moon, therefore our stargazing tour (provided via Exodus) was not available.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    Pauline Davies

    Amazing!

    I overused the word amazing on this trip which far exceeded my expectations because of the spectacular nature of the country. It really is an excellent way to see so many totally different parts of the country in a short space of time. The variation in climate from the Atacama Desert down through the Lake District and to Patagonia was huge and, hence, the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Go for it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So hard to pick but I think it has to be Patagonia. I highly recommend exiting via the optional zodiac trip! In reality, the inspiration to visit Chile on this trip comes from the diversity that you experience. I have a myriad of colourful images and experiences in my head that will last with me for a very long time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was friendly with everyone and imparted a wealth of knowledge about his beloved Chile. He knew people all around the country which helped and he helped individuals in the group with any issues such as money, health, eating etc.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack with layers. You need sun protection everywhere....I used long sleeved shirts and light trousers, sunhat and trainers in the desert. But, also, it was minus 10 at the start of the geyser day so you start with fleece hat, warm jacket, etc. Patagonia was actually warmer than I expected and you don't need full on English winter walking gear but still go with the layers. I managed it all in about 16kg but it's worth planning what you take. Waterproof trousers add an extra layer of warmth and wind proofing but can be removed later in the day. We took anti mossie spray but didn't need it much...so, have some but it's not a great problem at this time of year. Take paracetamol.....helps to ward off altitude sickness in the desert....but, mainly, follow the advice of the guide to breathe deeply and go slow! Only 1 of our party was affected and it didn't last long.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    GO! If in doubt....and you are looking for a trip that shows you Chile in a short space of time, this is the one! Also, I was so pleased with the variety and numbers of local wildlife and flora that we saw which I hadn't picked up from the trip notes. Brilliant!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Ryan Clark

    Indescribable!

    I say indescribable because I struggle to find words to capture just how amazing and stunning Chile is. The beauty of this trip is that you are given the opportunity to visit a diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna. The range of climate between regions varies spectacularly from being hot in the north to wrapping up in the south. I can't recommend this trip highly enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to pick just one, so from each region I would pick Valparaiso, to the geysers in the Atcama Desert, the waterfalls of Lake District, the 'towers' and seeing icebergs in Torres del Paine to visiting the statues on Easter Island.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio (nacho) was a very good tour leader. Always thinking of the group's best interests and how to get the best out of each day by adapting the itinerary to the weather conditions etc. He was very engaging, witty and definitely felt like he was part of our group. It was interesting to hear his stories from personal experience of living and working in Chile.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For this trip, pack for all seasons and all weather. I didn't need to pack all the footwear I did as I mainly wore my walking shoes and occasionally on Easter island my sliders. For those that suffer from altitude sickness, be prepared when visiting Atacama Dessert and Osorne Volcano. I personally didn't suffer but a fellow traveller did and was quite poorly.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend adding the Easter Island extension. Whilst it's relatively expensive, it's well worth it and rounds the holiday off nicely.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Gareth Grimshaw

    Excellent trip!

    Chile is such a beautiful country. It has a very varied landscape from deserts to lakes to glaciers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the flamingo lakes. I felt I was on another planet and could have stayed there all day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jaime Maynard was superb. I think everyone loved him. He was knowledgable, friendly, laid back and had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely pack for all weathers. We experienced temperatures from near freezing right up to 30 degrees.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take your binoculars. I forgot and regretted it.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Susie Marchant

    Not Relaxing but Packs a Lot in!

    A very busy schedule which can leave you exhausted at times but is essential due to the length and geographical constraints of this stunningly beautiful and varied country. The Atacama was amazing with its unspoiled panoramas of deep blue lagoons set against snow-capped volcanos with vicunas grazing undisturbed, and the elegant movements of the flamingos as they seem to do a dance as they fish at the Chaxa lagoons, unperturbed by onlookers. There is so much wildlife to observe and nowhere ever seems crowded. The varieties of tree species and fauna are fascinating too The National Parks are really well maintained and unspoilt. The weather in Patagonia can be quite wet and windy so be prepared but when the clouds part to reveal the granite towers of Torres de Paine it will take your breath away

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the Atacama had so many aspects to it - from the full moon rising at sunset next to the snowy peak of the Lincancabur volcano set ablaze with colours of the setting sun, to the extraordinary sight of the steamy Tatio geysers in the freezing cold of sunrise, followed by a dip in the thermal springs to complete the experience The silent beauty of the salt lagoons - stunning!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gaynor was outstanding - really organised but very calm. Her knowledge and passion for her country seemed limitless so I think we all came away with a greater appreciation of life in Chile. Gaynor was warm and compassionate, always with a smile - and had a laugh I shall never forget! Her timing was good so we managed to fit in a couple of extra walks. She really enhanced the enjoyment of the trip and was always willing to answer our many questions. A lovely person.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Would recommend taking a direct flight to Santiago Buy Pesos for your trip in the UK - don't bother with USD they are a nuisance to change and the rate is not good. Zodiac trip can be paid in local currency or on credit card Take waterproof walking shoes and poles if you like them for inclines like the Osorno Volcano walk. trainers are not adequate. Patagonia can be very wet and slippery under foot I took a travel kettle as I like to make hot drinks in the room - no hotel offers kettle in room.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do go to Chile - it is not over run by tourists. Even the busy attractions were sparsely attended It is so beautiful Try and speak a little Spanish The food was a little disappointing - I did get bored of having to make a cheese sandwich at breakfast to take for lunch on the road. Maybe I didn't experience the best restaurants but food was a bit overcooked and dry and lacking flavour, for my taste. Some lovely soups though
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Linda Parkin

    An amazing trip

    A lovely trip which includes a very varied itinerary. You get to see different areas of Chile, from the desert , city life, lakes and mountains all with amazing scenery. Seeing the sun rise through the steaming geysers in the Atacama desert and the frozen glaciers in Patagonia were my highlights. There is a lot of travelling with internal flights but how else would you get to see all the different areas. Gaynor our guide was excellent, well organised, calm and caring , every day was a new adventure and she was always happy and smiling. A really lovely trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the sun rise through the steaming geysers in the Atacama Desert and the frozen glaciers in Patagonia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gaynor our guide was excellent, well organised, calm and caring, she was always happy and smiling
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Colin Owen

    Magnificent landscapes

    Chile is a country of the natural landscape. So it isn't a particularly cultural experience as, for instance, is Peru. On Discover Chile we went in only one house (Pablo Neruda's in Valparaiso), no museums and there's no Spanish colonial architecture to speak of. But the landscapes are wonderful and sometimes unique. The world's driest desert at one end and icebergs at the other. The internal flights are necessary to see this hugely long country; they felt appropriate and acceptable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day 5 - the stop at Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos then the steady and compelling bus climb to altitude culminating in the magnificent and majestic Miscanto and Minoques volcanoes with their respective lakes. The guide gave us 30 minutes at the Reserva, nowhere near enough. We told him we wanted more and stayed 1 to 1.5 hours which is about right. The Atacama is much more interesting than you might imagine. Don't think of it a just a desert - it's deservedly a major attraction in Chile with lots of interest and even topped Torres del Paine for me.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A charming man but one who seemed to struggle initially with the size of this group (16) and, in trying to please, was at times indecisive and lacked direction. After several days there were definite rumblings of discontent within the group. He assimilated this and became better so that by the end of the trip he was as he should have been at the beginning. His knowledge of Patagonia was good but less so of the other regions and this is definitely an area which could have been improved. A good solution, which would have enriched the tour, would have been to use a different local guide in the each of the regions leaving the group leader freer to manage, rather than guide, the tour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I agree with the comments of Peter Rooke, reviewing a different Discover Chile group from mine, on clothing and food. I would, though, advocate lightish walking boots, say three season UK or at least approach shoes. If you choose conventional shoes instead make sure they are stout, as my mother would have said, up to rain, sand, dust and sometimes rocky uneven ground. I found no need of insect repellant at all and nor, so far as I am aware, did any my group. For the colder elements you will need a shell jacket so you can layer up and down underneath with a fleece and maybe a base layer under your shirt. Take gloves and a warm hat. Wind/waterprrof overtrousers are a good addition. You do not need full-on UK winter kit for a February trip; even pre-dawn at altitude it isn't that cold. Don't be concerned about the amount of trekking; it's high quality but pretty minimal and there isn't a great deal of climbing. If trekking is what you like, this trip will disappoint from that point of view and you would do well to reconsider. Chile is not a cheap country; think European out of pocket expenses. Budget up to £50 per couple per day and take a bit extra for contingencies. (Hotel del Paine $10 for a bottle of local beer; in the same hotel a fixed price buffet dinner, no other option, at $38pp; Santiago and San pedro pizza for two, one glass of admittedly gorgeous house wine and a Sprite or Cola £40; two airport small vending machine capuccinos £6). Everywhere takes plastic but it's useful to have some dollars cash. As regards pesos I changed $100 at the outset, paid for meals etc with a cash card, and that pocket cash lasted the two of us pretty well the whole trip. Think carefully about your packing on the internal flights and take whatever you most hold dear into the cabin. If you're travelling as a couple, switch clothing between your two cases. My group did five internal flights on LATAM. The entire group's bags, every checked case, went missing on one flight and three of those bags (mine included) didn't turn up till 24 hours later. On the next flight four of us lost bags again, myself included, for 24 hours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have separately suggested to Exodus that it considers adding in a wine tour - 1.5 to 2hrs - into the Valparaiso day. You drive right through the heartland of Chile's renowned wine-producing area and this could easily have been fitted into an otherwise pretty low-key day.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Peter Rooke

    A great introduction to Chile

    A great way to experience four completely different parts of Chile. There's lots of travelling on this trip but at a reasonable pace. All our flights went like clockwork; no hitches or delays. Most of the hotels used have changed for the 2018 season and we had no complaints – all were fine. One of the reasons we chose this Exodus trip is because many of the excursions and activities included in this trip are charged as extras by other travel companies. It's worth shopping around and comparing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tough question - among many great moments some that stand out are our first sight of the Andes as we flew into Santiago; the salt lakes of the Atacama; the Osorno volcano and the Lake District; Patagonia - the whole of Patagonia - particularly the Torres del Paine National Park. We did the Easter Island extension and that was amazing too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was friendly and efficient - making sure transport arrangements worked smoothly. He had a fund of information and stories about Chile which helped pass the time on some of the longer drives.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The optional Zodiac boat trip is worthwhile, you see a glacier close up and it's an enjoyable day. We were a little apprehensive beforehand but they provide long, warm waterproof jackets. We needed them primarily as a windproof layer as we didn't get wet at all. Also, you're only on small boats for a fairly short time before transferring to a larger boat. It felt safe and well organised. Take a sunhat and plenty of sunscreen. It's easy to underestimate the high UV factor in Patagonia due to the cool breeze. Pack/wear layers: it's cold at the El Tatio geysers before sunrise but then gets hot quickly. When packing think of it as the equivalent of travelling from the Sahara to summer in northern Norway. Take a water/wind proof jacket, fleece, gloves, warm hat and a sunhat. In Patagonia we went from wearing a woolly hat to a sunhat in a couple of hours. Heavy walking boots would be overkill for this trip. Good walking shoes are fine; there isn't a lot of walking and it's on good paths. Carry insect repellent with you: most of Chile was fine, although we encountered some mosquitoes in Patagonia (on the Zodiac trip), and there can be horse flies at Petrohue Lake (the name means place of the flies). Easter Island has mosquitoes too. Be aware of the altitude in the Atacama. San Pedro is fine, but both the Miscanti and Miniques lakes and the El Tatio geysers are higher (although you're only there for a fairly short time). We were a little disappointed with Chilean food; they're rather fond of cheese and ham. It's worth hunting out places to eat. Estaka in San Pedro was pricey but good (go through to the quieter area at the back); there's a decent pizzeria near the hotel in Santiago and the Liguria restaurant in the next street is good too. There's a good pizzeria on the square in Puerto Natales. Do the Easter Island extension! It's well worth it. You can get an Easter Island stamp in your passport if you ask at the post office in Hanga Roa. Our room at the O'Tai hotel was basic (with A/C), the hotel has lovely gardens and a pool, a very tranquil place and very, very well located (very helpful staff too.). If you're visiting Easter Island look out for James Grant-Peterkin's book, 'A Companion to Easter Island' it's very informative and portable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip spends a short time in Santiago, consider going out a day or two before the trip stars to explore the city and see more of it. Similarly, the Easter Island extension is short, we wished we'd added another day or two to our Easter Island trip just to have more time to relax and enjoy it.
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