Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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73 Reviews

  • Reviewed April 2016
    Pamela Gilder

    Cuban Highlights Ride

    A very well organised trip with a great leader who kept us motivated and entertained. Cuba is changing fast so great to see it firsthand. Cycling conditions were pretty good although it got hot afternoon when the combination of the heat and the hills meant the going got tough from time to time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The feeling on achievement after a good ride and seeing Cuba close up. Cycling means you can see details close up.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A great leader who kept us motivated and entertained.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of suncream ! Some basic cycling gear makes all the difference (good gloves, cycling tops and padded shorts or a gel saddle).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A couple of ideas for the future: get a good detailed map so the route can be shared with the group members each day so they can see the context for the ride: a couple of earlier starts would mean the group can finish before it gets too hot: and some evening cycling once it gets cooler would also have been a good variation.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Carol Koehli

    Cuban Highlights cycling

    Well constructed itinerary exploring many interesting facets of Cuba's latter day existence.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Pros First view cycling alongside the turquoise ocean...........Cycling into Trinidad........Old town Havana.......Fifties American cars Cons The Russian built hotel by the lake

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Laz made the tour. He was helpful, happy and informative. His communication of the recent history of Cuba was first rate giving a fascinating insight to how it shaped the island into what we saw on this tour. Thanks.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was a great trip these are just thing to bear in mind. Its difficult to generalise but due to the unseasonal heat (35C) and headwinds the cycling was not particularly leisurely! As Laz said the tour was a cycling tour not a 'gourmet' tour and he was right. Accommodation was perfectly good.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Havana airport immigration inadequacies nearly sparked a revolt as we waited to leave!
  • Reviewed February 2016
    David Pengilley

    Cuban Highlights Ride (MAC) 11-18 Feb 2016

    A most enjoyable 8 days with a perfect combination of cycling and cultural activities. The guide (Laz) was excellent, as a cycling leader, with knowledge of Cuba, and with melding and helping out the group. The cycles were in very good condition (nearly new) and ideal for the task and the mechanic/safety cyclist (Guillaume) was ever cheerful - and had the biggest thighs we've ever seen. The bus was very comfortable and the driver (Ivan) very safe. The weather, the music, the accommodation, and the cocktails were always excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Wandering around Trinidad and the excellent home stay (Hostal Slovenia ~ Margarita). Music everywhere.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Laz was a perfect tour guide; relaxed, patient, knowledgeable and with excellent English. We were never hassled to move on, never chased to keep up, yet there seemed to be time to do everything. He tolerated our inability to remember timing, restaurant and food options with a smile. Many on the tour were going on to other locations in Cuba or elsewhere and he sorted out all accommodation, directions and transport issues.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are thinking about it - go for it! We were concerned that we would not cope with the cycling - we are very irregular cyclists. The cycling was occasionally hard (temperature and hills) but we managed very well. The roads are very quiet, we were always on tarmac (if occasionally potholed) and it was possible to opt out and get on the bus at any time - though we hardly ever did. Seriously, you will cope

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The food was always good and plentiful in quantity and choice. Sandwich lunches on the move were always fine and water was always available from the bus. But is almost impossible to get 'snacks' - it is worth taking a few cereal bars and/or dried fruit to nibble on the road.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Penelope Daffarn

    Cuban Highlights Ride 11FEB2016

    A really interesting insight into this amazing country, viewed from two wheels! We've never experienced such a different culture and way of life, and doing it on a bike, gave us a genuine feeling of connection and involvement. Everyday was different and varied. The cycling was moderate for non-regular cyclists, but the excellent bikes with good gears made the routes easily doable

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to choose one moment. The scenery is lovely, but not spectacular. The inspiration was really for us the insight into Cuba and the way Cubans organise their lives

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Laz is a knowledgable and amazingly patient guy. He was always ready to answer any questions and change his plans to fit with our requests. We were a very diverse group, with different interests and abilities, and he managed to make sure we all had a good holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring everything you want or think you will need, there are NO shops! Well, of course there are some, but they are not as we know them and they don't sell the odds and ends that you would expect in a tourist destination. Bring snacks, there is nowhere to buy sweets or chocolate, etc. (our guide was always very grateful for a sweet offering!) Food is filling and healthy, but not very varied. Do not expect to have a gourmet experience in Cuba ! Bring sterling or Euros to change rather than rely on ATMs, they are few and far between, and some people had trouble making them work. Wifi is very limited, although there did seem to be good mobile phone reception.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't forget your swimming kit, snorkles and goggles: most of the hotels have good pools and there was plenty of opportunity for a swim in the sea.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Ian Mcgivern

    Cuban Highlights Ride

    I'm not really much of a cyclist but I'd decided that seeing Cuba from the seat of my saddle was the only way to experience this fascinating destination. In the end, I fell in love with Cuba and fell in love with cycling too! The holiday was just the right mix of culture, history and beach and it was all done at our own pace. Each day we saw or did different things and I'd wake up each morning, looking forward to whatever the next day would bring! Also, I felt very safe on my bike. The traffic was very light and always gave us a wide berth.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting the Cuban people. They seem to have very little but they give you so much. Some of us brought small gifts (toys, toiletries, pens, books) which we gave to our hosts in the 'Casas Particulares'. Seeing their smiles was very uplifting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jose was excellent. He was very helpful (cycling off at one point to get more currency for the group). He was a proud Cuban with a good sense of humour and was always on hand to sort any issues which arose.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    About half way through the holiday, quite a few members of the group ran out of Cuban money or needed to top up their currency. Changing money wasn't quite as easy as in other parts of the world, so I would advise changing more than the £150 which we were advised to change on arrival at the airport. Oh...and some of my twenty pound notes were refused by the cashiers because they weren't 'perfect'. Make sure the cash you bring into Cuba has no small tears. They will be refused.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm not a cyclist but I completed the course! At times, the hills presented a real challenge but that just added to the sense of achievement at the end of the day. The food was quite ordinary really but nobody in our group was ill. However, my advice would be - just go!...before Cuba changes!
  • Reviewed November 2015
    David Walden-Jones

    Cuban Highs and Lows

    In the immortal words of Kate Humble: things don't go wrong, they just go different! There is nothing like a little adversity to cement friendship. In fact it is an essential ingredient of group cohesion. Our guide overcame every obstacle with skill and confidence. He made even the most challenging experiences pleasurable. The bus, the mechanic and the driver were the best support team one could have wished for. Cuba is unpredictable but they made our journey a delightful experience in spite of a few difficulties.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me, I was literally inspired by Trinidad where we had time off to ourselves. The Casa Particular where I stayed with two other members of our group was a cozy, homely retreat with a family atmosphere. I felt inspired to paint. While others went on excursions, I sat and filled my sketchbook with water colours, painting the little cobbled squares and tall towers with their round windows. Where else in the world can you see 18th century buildings in pristine condition without an advertisement, a traffic light or any other piece of 21st century clutter? Even the few wandering tourists were so sparsely distributed that they did not interfere with my concentration.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Yasell was an inspiring guide whose grasp of English and knowledge of Cuban history kept me fascinated all the time. He was very attentive and amusing. I admire his patience. It can't be easy to deal with 16 people of all different ages. As a result of his commitment and attention to detail, we all felt we were being very well looked after.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't gripe before you grasp the realities of life in this very different world. The hotel receptionists may ignore you. They will not have a room ready, the toilet will not have running water, the handles are going to fall off the doors and the taps will be broken. The light switches will not work. The showers will have lost their brackets. The barman won't speak to you. In short, no one (except our excellent guide, driver and mechanic) will appear to be accountable for anything! Nonetheless Cuban people, once you get away from the big hotels, are wonderful to spend time among. They are often very warm and not afraid to show their feelings. It feels safe and ultimately very hospitable in spite of the chaos.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An organized group activity is something that normally provokes in me a severe allergic reaction. However, on this occasion, I did not come out in a rash and I hope, for the sake of my fellow travelers, I made a good impression and entered into the spirit of bonhomie. Seeing Cuba by pedal power with a well organized group of like minded enthusiasts was one of the best experiences of my life. I will treasure the memory and the friendships I have made for a very long time.
  • Reviewed November 2015
    Joyce Collier

    Cycling Cuban Highlights

    Fantastic holiday, well organised trip around fascinating and beautiful country. Hotter and more humid than expected. Cycling also harder than expected only because of heat, humidity and head winds. Stops came every 10 to 15km and were much appreciated. Plentiful water was provided but note you do need to take your own snacks, fruit or energy bars/drinks. We were bitten more than we expected so do take repellant with you and possibly some antihistamines. Casa stay in Trinidad was very interesting and despite appearances was very comfortable with full facilities. All the Cubans were very friendly. Day trip on catamaran to beautiful deserted tropical island was outstanding but was a long motor out (2hrs). Boat trip around lake and dam was quite different though! - rather worryingly unstable, noisy and full of exhaust (and driver's cigarette) fumes! Somewhat spoilt the beauty of the lake and surrounds.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The helpfulness of the Exodus team when we accidently mislaid a bag. (James was very kind)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would like to spend more time in the country.
  • Reviewed November 2015
    John Ager

    Cuba Highlights were the Highlights!

    Just returned from the eight day trip cycling around Central Cuba. Still on a high!. Brilliant first holiday with Exodus. The combination of an excellent tour guide (Thank you Yasel and his crew), a great bunch of fellow travellers/cyclists, lush green undulating countryside, a variety of good accommodation including two nights "homestays" in Trinidad, the vibrant music, and a hot sunny climate to contrast with the dark, cold grey of London I left, resulted in a memorable holiday experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Most inspirational moment? - Freewheel cycling 5 KM downhill in blissful sunshine and fresh morning breeze in a stretch of the lush green Topes de Collantes National Park, from the beautiful Lake Hanabanilla. Pure elation! Sadly our last bike journey of the trip before returning to Havana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Yasel was a real star and key to the whole success of the trip. His knowledge of Cuban history, geography, culture, politics, and culinary delights made it a stimulating week of learning and fun. Always aware of striking the right balance of keeping us to schedule but also able to adapt and improvise if external conditions or requests from the group needed or could be accommodated. He and our driver and mechanic made it so easy for us to just enjoy the whole experience. Even down to laying on a shower of cold water (flagen of cold water poured on our heads) at the top of some of the more challenging hills.)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go! Be flexible to try new things, don't make comparisons to other holidays/hotels/meals you've experiences and enjoy the charm, beauty of Cuba and its people as it is today, maybe a unique time in its history. Also I found it good to do a bit of pre reading on the country's history before I went. Its also given me incentive to read more now that I'm back.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I guess a trip like this can very much depend/success rest, on the make up of the group you are with. This was the first Exodus trip I've done, so while I can't compare but this group were a great crowd, we had lots of laughs and it was a pleasure meeting and spending time with them.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Helen Eastwood

    Fantastic trip

    Cycling in Cuba

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    seeing the Cuban culture

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, knowledgable and professional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    sun is strong whilst cycling so while vests may seem the cooler option a cycling t-shirt will protect you from sunburnt shoulders/back. During the heat you may prefer to make use of bus to carry back pack whilst cycling so bring water bottle if you have camel back. A small bag that can attach to Bike frame (behind seat or on cross bar) would of been useful to carry camera/phone/sun cream etc when not using back pack although bus is accessible at each stop.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great trip with a great group of people.
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Kirsty Matthews

    CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS RIDE

    I really enjoyed this trip. I was really taken by the friendliness and beauty of Cuba, and the bravery and resilience of the people there. The itinerary was good, allowing us to see different aspects of Cuba, and the accommodation was comfortable and well-located. The cycling was not particularly easy, as it was seriously hot (between 35 and 40 degrees some days), and there was often a really annoying headwind, but, despite that, it was enjoyable as we passed through some great scenery. The group was great too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There wasn't one particular moment. The whole place is inspirational, although it's hard to see how the changes currently taking place are going to have a positive impact on all Cubans. It's hot. It's humid. There's music everywhere. The rum based drinks are fab. The men are a bit too forward. The sea is so blue and the sand so white. The renovations of the old colonial buildings are starting to make things look a bit Disney-like. It all makes for a really great, interesting trip, and I'd go again in a heart beat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Laz, and we had Guille as mechanic and Eduardo as driver. They were a great team, and I think we all really enjoyed being in their company.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try and keep loads of ten and 25 centavo coins to give to the toilet attendants. Take some long sleeve tops for cycling - even wearing high protection suncream some of us got burnt. You might need ear plugs as Cuban cockerels, pineapple sellers, etc. etc. start early! Immodium might be a good idea too, as there were a few dodgy tummies among the group!