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 2015
    Ed Bassett

    Wonderful country and people

    Cycling in Cuba sounds like a great trip but it was a bit of a leap in the dark in many ways for me and my wife. However the trip was a great success on every level! The bikes were really good, much better than the ones we trained on at home. Las, the tour guide was also ideal, informative, funny and resourceful - and he needed to be sometimes as in Cuba things don't always run to plan but he managed to make this part of the fun. Gear, (never really sure about his name), was great as our super-fit support cyclist who kept an eye on us when we were cycling and was always there for anyone struggling for any reason. Edwardo the driver was always where he needed to be and the converted coach carrying the bikes and us to our next start point was very comfortable. The great thing was never having to worry as the travel, support, hotels and meals were all well organised so all we had to do was enjoy the scenery and the wonderful Cuban people. They ultimately made the trip so good as they are polite, friendly, entertaining and most of all fun! Having a good time seems to be ingrained in the culture so a few Salsa lessons before the holiday are recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A group of us being given a Salsa lesson in the HQ courtyard! It was really, really fun not least because the Cuban staff found our attempts hilarious enough to film, ( although I hope I'm not on YouTube) and you could see why when 2 staff gave us a demonstration of how it is really done.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. He was good fun without being ingratiating and obviously very knowledgeable about the local area and wildlife. when things didn't go quite according to plan he simply improvised, re-organised and calmly resolved any issues. We learnt a lot about the revolution and it's effect on the Cuban way of life and I finished the holiday feeling a great deal of respect for the Cuban people.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Learn to Salsa and get some cycling practice. The cycling isn't too difficult but over 25 miles a day can be a challenge if you're inexperienced.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We spent the last evening in the Hotel Miramar which is on the outskirts of Havana, but many felt it would have been much nicer if we could have stayed in the Hotel Nacionale which was a more traditional hotel in old Havana.
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Cameron Zaremba

    Highlights of Cuban Highlights Ride

    This was our first guided cycle tour experience and it definitely will not be the last. Beautiful scenery, fantastic weather, regular exercise, interesting locales, sharing the adventure with a bunch of like-minded strangers (not for long) - all the ingredients for a truly memorable vacation.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was my first trip to Cuba. I had expected to see "poverty" but soon realized this is not an impoverished nation in the traditional sense of this word. Definitely, the living standards are low compared to First World. However, the people are well educated, mostly well-fed and housed, and make do with much less "stuff" than we are accustomed to having. Cuba is a fascinating country that is best experienced first-hand because it truly is unique.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Yazel was knowledgeable, patient, extremely well organized and a passionate host to the group. He took great care to make sure everybody was well prepared at each stage of the tour itinerary. Our driver (Eduardo) and bike mechanic ("TT") did not speak much English but were very friendly and always willing to listen to our own sorry attempts at communicating in Spanish. Yazel provided a steady supply of information, with historical and local flavour, prior to and during each day's riding or bus transfer.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Unless you are used to riding in high heat (averaged 32-34C by mid-day) and humidity, I would say the riding is of mild to moderate intensity most of the time, not leisurely. The optional "challenge" hill on the last biking day is fun but it is a true challenge - slow and steady wins the day! Take more cash than you think you will need, and expect to pay for everything in cash. Our Canadian bank cards (debit and credit) did NOT work, even in Havana. Awkward! Fortunately, our new biking amigos bankrolled us.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip exceeded our expectations in every way. We thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anybody who is curious about the country.
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Philippa Browning

    Great way to experience Cuban city, coast and mountains

    I really enjoyed this trip. It was varied and exciting, and we had an excellent guide. Cycling was an excellent way to see the "real" Cuba, getting out of the cities into the countryside. We also saw lots of interesting historical sites, and had plenty of opportunities to swim, relax and drink mojitos.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the Escambre mountains, listening to the birds singing and seeing the small farms which seemed unchanged for centuries. Overtaking horses and carts on quiet country roads. visiting the historic city of Trinidad. Snorkelling on coral reefs in the Carribean. Seeing the Buenavista Social Club perfom live. Drinking mojitos and pina coladas in shady terraces and by the sea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader Yazel was excellent in all respects. Everything ran smoothly and we were always given clear information. The choice of restaurants for meals was excellent, we had some lovely meals. He gave lots of interesting information about history and society in Cuba.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Cycling - given the heat and the number of hills - was a bit tougher than I expected from the "Leisurely moderate" grading! (Though bus back up is always available if you need it). If you are not already a regular cyclist, do some training. Bring plenty of cash and don't rely on using cash machines or credit cards. Spend a day or two extra in Havana at the end of the trip - it is a fascinating city.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Sara Allen

    Cuban Highlights Cycling Adventure

    When I took the Exodus flyer from my windscreen 8 years ago at my local trail centre, I knew I'd be going on a cycling holiday one day... and that day has just been. Cuba did not disappoint - it is a perfect destination for a holiday like this. Lots of cycling and lots of culture... oh and lots of Mojitos!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum and learning about life in Cuba before and after the Revolution.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Yazel was brilliant - he made everything happen behind the scenes, organised our accommodation and evening meals - he kept us informed and looked after the groups' needs as and when things happened.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Living out of a suitcase pretty much moving day to day meant there wasn't too much opportunity to do laundry or dry wet articles of clothing - if you travel with this in mind you shouldn't go far wrong.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We had Aussie and Canadian travellers in our group and they did experience problems in withdrawing cash even though their banks are not US - I would recommend bringing the relevant cash to change if possible.
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Joanne Locker

    Amazing Cuba!!

    A fantastic trip - does exactly what it promises...gives you all the best Cuban highlights and the best way to see them is by bike! The cycling was harder work than I was expecting, but that suited me (and most of the group I think) just fine, so was a mixture of sight seeing, mojitos and exercise - so a great balance overall. Cuba is a wonderful country and I'm so pleased to have been and seen it this way. We stayed in some nice hotels and the guest house (Casa) experience in Trinidad added a bit of extra variety. The food is nothing special, but the rum and coctails more than make up for that!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along the coast roads, around the mountians and through towns and villages - rewarded by either a dip in the Caribbean sea or a hotel pool.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jose was a great group leader. Very knowledgable so acted as a fab tour guide, not just a cycle group leader. Learnt alot from his information and experiences as we travelled around.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A must do trip. If you have the time and energy I'd consider the 2 week trip as once you get there, you'll want to stay longer and see more!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't go cuisine, but do go for the cocktails!! Lovely country, lovely people and a really lovely holiday.
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Alan Alan

    Highly Recommended Highlights Tour

    Great cycling tour in a unique and welcoming country. Cuba seems to have a first world health system (thankfully not tested on this trip!), second world bureaucracy and third world agriculture. Best of all, though, is the warmth and old-fashioned civility of the people. Not to mention the climate!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to list them all. Getting to the top of the big hill on our last day of cycling felt great. We had wonderful meals at Alberto's in Trinidad and at the Restaurant Moneda Cubana in Havana. Although the quality of the casas particulares in Trinidad was very variable, Lopez and Jumele looked after us royally.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jose was a great Cuban character with an endearing habit of laughing at his own jokes - so surprisingly and raucously that the rest of us generally fell about laughing at him. He was very informative and shepherded us gently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take some diocalm or something of the sort: quite a few of the group had dodgy tummies by the end of the tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This would have been a 5* review but for the extension trip to Cayo Levisa which we found a bit disappointing. It's a long way from Cuba, the food was very basic, and there is significant building work going on to add a new restaurant and several new bungalows. I'm sure it will be terrific when finished and re-planted but, for now, it felt a little like living in a building site.
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Linda Harfield

    Cycling and Salsa

    Cycling in Cuba is the only way to do it! Beautiful scenery on quiet roads. Combines a Caribbean adventure with sightseeing, history, salsa and beach.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I would call myself a 'social cyclist' but cycling in such a wonderful place and with such a fun group makes me want to cycle more now that I am back home. For me, a real sense of achievement.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I know everyone makes favourable comments about their guide, but Freddy was absolutely amazing. He really could not have done more for us. His first hand knowledge of his homeland was excellent. He has a brilliant sense of humour. He looked after us so well, even on the evenings we had 'on our own'. Our group was truly great and inseparable. All 17 plus Freddy dined together every night, and we all did the optional bike ride to the lovely Playa Ancon.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I read all the reviews. Great advice. I would add: wheelie case useful for all the moving, and don't pack full....you are literally living out of a suitcase. Also take quick drying stuff e.g. Travel towel. Sink plug useful. I got to use my mask and snorkel but could have managed without the fins, which take up space. A friend told me to take boiled sweets....thank you, they helped me up those hills. Spare water bottle, yes dropped and broke one. Changing money is easy, we did ours after exciting the airport before getting on the bus (we asked Freddy if we had time). But we underestimated how much. We had to change more later in the week. Although most food in, and drinks cheap, you will want to buy soft drinks, coffees, beer and cocktails! The trip notes say 20 to 30 CUCs per day per person for days when food not provided. I would budget 20 per day! And if you want to buy a lot souvenirs, more. Finally, wish we'd taken a Go Pro!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All hotels very clean with air conditioning. Casa charming. Food plentiful. Fantastic holiday. Wish I was still there!
  • Reviewed January 2015
    jayne shaw

    Fantastic trip!

    This was my first solo adventure! My first trip with Exodus, My first cycling holiday and the first trip to Cuba.....they will not be the last! I had a wonderful holiday and have only positive things to say about the week. I absolutely loved Cuba and cycling was a great way of seeing the country. It was such a vibrant place to be. The organisation of the holiday was great, not too structured and rigid , just the right amount of free time and you always had the choice of whether to join in or not. The group of people I was with were very friendly and fun and also supportive and encouraging. I felt that we saw alot in the week, from beaches, to beautiful forests to exciting towns and nightlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The last cycling day was really quite challenging for me , it was a great feeling to get to the top of the hills!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Freddie is brilliant and a perfect group leader. Very self assured, relaxed but in control. Very encouraging and reassuring. A cool guy!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Personally I would n't describe the cycling we did as particularly leisurely but I guess this depends on cycling fitness. We did some roller coaster hills which I think required a certain level of fitness. I certainly wish I had done more cycling prior to the trip. I got very saddle sore!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this holiday and would definitely book another exodus trip! Thankyou so much!
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Simon Clifford

    Amazing cycling in beautiful countryside - go before it's too late

    This was my first cycling holiday, and I couldn't fault it. The roads are almost void of cars, making riding peaceful and safe. Also the scenery is ever changing, one day we were cycling in open farmland, another along the coast and another in the lush valleys of the interior of the island.The cycle days aren't too long giving you a bit of the afternoon to either, relax, swim, or take in some local sights.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling though small towns and villages, where the local children would run out to give you a wave - cliché I know, but lovely when it happens.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were a full group, but our guide Jazel had a great command, while still being warm and friendly.  His knowledge of Cuba was next to none. He went way beyond what I expect from a leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Snacks, like nuts, crisps and sweets, are quite hard to come by, so take some with you.The casa's can be quite noisy, so make sure you take some ear plugs.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    While we were there, Presidents Castro and Obama made their historic speeches, announcing a renewal of relations between Cuba and The USA. This will no doubt change Cuba beyond recognition; go now, before it's too late.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Sara Cranage

    A wonderful trip

    I've wanted to cycle Cuba since I first visited in 1998 and saw cyclists arrive at my hotel. Yes, it's taken me a long while to finally get there and I was afraid I may be disappointed but this is a brilliant trip that will leave you wanting to do it all over again. We were lucky to have Freddy as our guide and he was an absolute professional. Every step of the tour was designed for us to get the most out of each day and evening.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were plenty. Diving in the cave of fishes, swimming in the Caribbean, dancing in Trinidad, sharing my 50th birthday with the group, reaching Hanabanilla and seeing the view, cycling through stunning countryside.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A consummate professional. We were lucky to have Freddy as our leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the travel notes and the reviews. The travel notes are very accurate and give you a good idea of what to pack. The traveller reviews are full of good ideas of what to take like a gel saddle, loo roll, torch, F50 sunscreen. Expect to find some of the accommodation a little basic but all was habitable. Relax and enjoy the experience as it passes in a flash. Say yes to every suggestion to go to a local bar, family home or club and you'll see the real Cuba.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We went for my 50th birthday - I loved every minute of the holiday.