Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Mary Amann

    Great climbs, wonderful scenery, good food and company.

    The challenges were so worth while. The guide and driver/mechanic Dimitri and Juli were lovely guys. Juli made you smile every time he passed us slogging up the hills :) We saw different kinds of villages and towns, some busy some remote, all with their own charm. Having everything organised for you frees your mind to just enjoy the wonderful scenery and sweeping descents (some a little scary).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling up a remote valley, seeing traditional farming and hearing the calls for prayer. Cycling through beautiful no-mans land between borders. The first view of The Bay of Kotor.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lovely guy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of layers for hot or cold weather. We had a lot of rain and it got cold. Definitely take light overshoes, they take no room.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I didn't get much hill practice in, living in Essex but your climbing ability does improve every day. I loved how different this holiday was, it was very different to the Indochina I did.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Jill Sumner

    4 counties in 15 days!

    The Balkans cycle trip has magnificent, spacious mountains and lakes. It's an adventure, not knowing exactly what the weather or the mountains will challenge you with. A discovery each day, staying in high alpine mountains or by the spectacular Lake Ohrid. Likewise, the sea at Kotor and absorbing the cultures and religions of each country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people on the trip all gelled through the rough and smooth times, making it the best trip ever, for me. The dramatic skies and snow on the hills after rain. Also, cycling up the never ending hills, then free wheeling for miles.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dhimitraq is a very good leader quietly in control and sorting out any problems. Julio is an excellent driver, entertainer and watchful carer, looking out for everyone.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good waterproof jacket and warm clothes. Waterproof shoes wouldn't go a miss either.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I went on this trip to see an unknown and unspoilt part of the world and was not disappointed, I will go back!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Dave & Ann Gouldney

    Stunning

    This has to be without doubt the most fantastic trip we have ever done, with breath-taking scenery around every corner. Josh, Dhimitri and Juli were full of local knowledge, well organised and complimented each other as a team. If you have never cycled a steep hill without some motivational Queen or Ram Jam then you have never met Juli! Accommodation and food varied, as you might expect, but was well above what we have experienced on other trips and generally superb. The roads were quiet for the most part, but some busy sections with manic drivers have to be negotiated, but no worse than in the UK.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mountains of Montenegro and the Tara canyon were particular hi-lights, but when you just thought you had reached peak scenery and taken every possible photo, around the corner was even better.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Josh was great and is really passionate about The Balkans and their history. We would have learnt a lot if not so tired after the days cycling. We had thorough briefings about the rides ahead and he would often take personal responsibility for minor things that went wrong that were really out of his control. Dhimitri is full of knowledge and is quietly efficient, even to the point of serving us breakfast at one slow hotel. Juli is loudly efficient, caring and tremendous fun!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The climbs tend to come in big hits, which can mean 2-3 hours of constant climbing. We managed them all though and thank you for all those who waited patiently for us at the top! Be warned though, despite the mammoth climbs, miles and the burning of 27,000 calories, somehow we still managed to put on weight ! All those lovely cheesy dishes, beer and coke I think.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our only concern now is how do we top that ?
  • Reviewed July 2019
    David Innes

    Brilliant Balkans!

    Exodus has done well to allow us to cycle the best bits of 4 different countries in 2 weeks. Some epic climbs but all manageable and the grading at 'moderate/ challenging' is about right. You always got to enjoy the downhills as well. The accommodation was fine except for one guesthouse which I believe has now been removed from the itinerary. Remember, this is a new trip and Exodus are still ' fine tuning' it. Food was excellent and the group as a whole gelled well together. If you want to cycle 4 countries that are uncommon to cycle in, I would not hesitate in recommending this trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling the unbelievably beautiful P14 road in Montenegro which must be one of the best in Europe. It had only opened the week before due to massive dumps of snow and we went in late May!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Demetri lead the group with quiet authority and arranged a kitty for food which was a good way of doing things, but must have been a nightmare to organise! A wee bit more info on the various places visited would have been appreciated. Our driver and bike mechanic was ebullient and a bit hyperactive but was a good driver. He could have benefited from more equipment though ( ie a footpump that could be used with schrader valves- several of the bikes had these and we were fortunate none of them had a puncture). Bike maintenance during the trip could have been better

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a few waterproofs as the weather can be unpredictable. If you are thinking about it, just book it!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Lorna Mitchell

    Do it

    This is an opportunity where you get to see and absorb four countries in one trip, lots of uphill’s, but there is always a downhill on the other side. If you like cycling, good food, beautiful scenery and an adventure, I would recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It has got to be the climb out of Zabljak through the Durmitor region. The most scenic route on a bike ever!! Tara Canyon second - you can just "Lose Yourself" there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dhimitri was our group leader. I must say he did an amazing job briefing us the night before and nothing was too much trouble for him throughout the trip. He organised the most amazing food for us, keeping a running total of the bill, which wasn't easy when there are multiple currencies involved. It made our lives easy. He is a genius, very kind and trusting. Juli was his wingman and kept us entertained, watered, snacks, tunes en route and the bikes running smoothly throughout the trip. Excellent safe driver and can reverse a trailer to a tee!! The two of them made a great team and worked hard to make our trip enjoyable, what an asset they both are to Cycle Albania.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try the black chocolate ice cream in Kotor and have a walk around. Take some warm clothes for the downhills in the mountains. No need for the uphills.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just book it and go
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Stephen Allan

    Stunning scenery

    Having completed a number of Exodus cycling trips this is up there with one of the most stunning for scenery. There are a number of long tough climbs which we completed in very hot weather but you are rewarded with fantastic views and great descents.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the Tara Canyon, over Durmitor pass and the descent to the Bay of Kotor were fantastic experiences.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    In general the group leader was good but communication should have been better and some friction between the guides was obvious. A lot of basic bike issues were experienced by the group during the trip and the guides appeared to be lacking the tools, parts and skills to properly rectify which needs to be addressed for future trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather appears to vary widely throughout the tour season. Having completed the tour late June the weather was very hot and dry with most days reaching 30+ degrees. While we were melting during the day a lot of the accommodation is in the mountains and can be chilly in the evenings. Also for a stress free trip I wouldn't recommend taking your own bike. Security was a little lax and the transport wasn't geared up for transporting bike bags.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In general the accommodation was good but having paid a single supplement it did feel at times that you are allocated the worst of the rooms (i.e. no working air-con, no balcony). Previous reviews refer to cycling on busy roads but personally I found the majority of the cycling was on quiet roads although there were some busier roads.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Bernard & Heidi Kelly

    4 x magnificent countries

    Awesome canyons, mountains rivers and lake views whilst cycling through 4 Balkan Countries. A great variety of scenery and some challenging hills and satisfying downhills make this an excellent choice for those who enjoy great views and cycling.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Tara Canyon is just spectacular and the Durmitor Mountains where the view keeps changing around every bend were possibly the most beautiful varied countryside we have had the pleasure to cycle in. The first views of the Bay of Kotor take your breath away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Josh is fairly new and enthusiastic to guiding. The trip is still in its infancy and he is trying to fine tune it. He is building his knowledge of the 4 countries and has a passion for the Balkans but we did occasionally encounter language barriers as none of the team spoke Macedonian but this was soon rectified by him Juli, or Dhimitraq. Juli our driver is a real fun character, full of life, who has friends everywhere and is always making new ones. He makes sure everyone is hydrated on the rides and checks on everyone at regular intervals. Dhimitraq is the quiet one but has lots of knowledge and passion for the countries visited and cycling. He balances the team dynamics. We loved the walks he took us on around the lake and up to the castle.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The hills are in big chunks which we were not used to..... some were 10 - 15 km long with 600-800m of elevation gain with little or no respite. They are quite challenging but saying that all of our group managed them. The reward is beautiful scenery and some awesome long descents. There were a couple of poorer condition roads which were ok on the climbs but made the downhills slower and more challenging and for me less rewarding. We had fantastic weather 40 deg most days but the weather can be variable as our guides said a few weeks earlier it had been deep snow and ice. Worth taking a bright front light and a back light for the few tunnels that you have to cycle through.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have an adventurous spirit and love to cycle through awesome scenery (and love cheese!) then get yourself booked on this trip.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Robin Williams

    Excellent trip

    Beautiful weather and scenery in a part of Europe that gets easily overlooked. Lots of uphill cycling but you do get the long downhills as compensation. The guides Dhimitri and Juli were great - always helpful and Juli (also the driver) scuttling back and forth to ensure everyone was OK and had enough water. Would recommend this trip and the local provider Cycle Albania.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    If you mean 'What were my highlights?' then: Old Town of Ohrid Tara Canyon and the zipwire ride across the gorge. Painted Mosque at Tetovo Durmitor National Park Kotor

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader Dhimitri was good and always briefed the night before on the next days cycling and during the ride for meet up points. Juli was excellent (he used to be a guide) and was on top of his game as well. When my wife had an accident they both stepped up a gear and Juli called a contact who could translate at the hospital for us. Nothing was too much trouble for these guides. On a negative note - (1) They were focussed on the cycling and had to be badgered to say anything about the area/countries we were in. Many requests had to be made before any history/politics were forthcoming. (2) This is a fault that we have found before on Exodus trips - the guides are so focussed on meeting the main group flying in that they don't leave any meet-up info at hotel receptions for those overlanding or arriving at a different time.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When you reach Ohrid (N. Macedonia) go for a walk around Old Town and around Kotor (Montenegro).
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Julie Reynolds

    Cycling in the Balkans

    This is a nice trip with some nice scenery to see but there is quite a lot of cycling on busy main roads. We had pretty bad weather which we were not really banking on which I think spoilt the trip to some extent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Surviving the cycling in the rain!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dhimitraq was quiet and efficient. He organised the trip well. He arranged some amazing lunches and dinners for us and kindly took the stress out of paying for them all in various currencies by paying for us and running an IOU. We had some good laughs as we got to know him better, largely at Juli’s antics! Juli our driver was a character never to be forgotten! Never still and always full of life, “Zebedee” had us in stitches the whole way. The transfers were always an experience and I still can’t believe that we did actually get to listen to the whole of Bohemen Rhapsody! Both went out of their way to take us on extra little tours or arrange guides for us and worked extremely hard.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you take a full selection of clothes to cover cold weather and wet weather.. Be prepared for cycling on busy main roads with a good amount of traffic including lorries.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think it would be helpful for exodus to provide more and more accurate information with regards to the weather. I dont think the description in the notes was sufficient and possibly misleading which can lead to people being unprepared and getting very cold and wet. Having paid a single supplement I couldn’t help feeling that a lot of the time I was placed in inferior rooms to those who hadn’t.
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