Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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73 Reviews

  • Reviewed December 2014
    Sophie Winkler

    Cuban Highlights Ride

    Beautiful scenery, plentiful food and lots of history.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was fantastic cycling through Cuba rather than sitting on a bus. There was so much time to enjoy the peace and quiet of the quiet roads, fully appreciate the scenery and make lots of stops at road side stalls for refreshments. Trinidad was a beautiful town with lots of great photo opportunities. The history of Cuba was fascinating and, having never visited this part of the world before, it was great to experience the music and feel the salsa beat! Staying in the Casa in Trinidad was a great experience and one that I would highly recommend.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Yuri, had a quirky sense of humour and managed our large group of 18 people very well. He was full of information about Cuba and suggested some really nice restaurants to go to on the days when food was not included.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took quite a lot of snacks, but found that I did not need them. Food was plentiful and the portions large, so I ended up giving most of my food to our guide. Definitely take loads of biros and soap to give to local people, hotel chambermaids etc. as they really appreciate it. Our guide wanted any medicines that we had too, especially paracetamol, and also sun cream, so it would be worth taking spare with you to give to your guide. The cycling was reasonably leisurely, although the hills, when they came, were killers! I cycled in trail shoes and others in my group just in sandals, and both were fine. I would definitely recommend taking a gel saddle and padded cycling shorts-I am so glad that I had both! People are not joking when they say Havana immigration is lengthy-it took me two and a half hours to get through! Make sure you have plenty of water (as it was very hot in the arrivals hall), snacks, a book and a whole lot of patience!!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Cuba is definitely a great destination to do on 2 wheels-we needed the exercise too after all the big meals! It is fascinating to see all the old cars everywhere, as well as the colonial buildings, and it is worth visiting Cuba now before it changes too much. A great trip with fantastic scenery and a good mix of activities.
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    CUBA HIGHLIGHTS

    An excellent experience for the occasional cyclist who wants to see and experience the unique sights and sounds of this fascinating country. Extremely well-led by first-rate guides who convey the sense of history whilst, also, making sure that you enjoy the holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting the amazing old town of Trinidad. It has an eventful history that encompasses the slave trade and tabacco plantation era. Nowadays the 'owners' original estate mansion is preserved as it was centuries ago, whilst the 'workers' tiny terraced houses provide a remarkable contrast to the palacial style of the mansion.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was a font of knowledge who guided the group with such a natural and friendly style. It's impossible to find any shortfall.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I wish that I had read a little more of Cuba's history prior to the trip. There was so much to take-in that I'm sure that I missed many interesting features.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip is provides exactly what 'it says on the can'!! Its an opportunity to see and hear [many street musicians!!] the best highlights of that Caribbean island
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Cuban Highlights October 2014

    My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Cycling through Cuba was an excellent way to see the countryside and enjoy the weather.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    One of my favourite days was the optional day of cycling from Trinidad. We cycled to a sugar mill in the morning and the views from the top of the tower were fantastic. We then returned to Trinidad and our guide took us to a family run restaurant (which we never would have found on our own) where we had a delicious lobster lunch. Following lunch we cycled to the beach where we were had a well earned swim and a mojito (or two). I also really enjoyed the final day of cycling when we had some excellent downhill sections, cycled through beautiful countryside and saw working farms, including cowboys. The day finished with a 9km hill climb (don't worry, it is optional), which although I found it very challenging, I felt the sense of achievement at the end made it all worthwhile.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was excellent. He was incredibly knowledgeable and taught us a lot about Cuba's history and economy. He was friendly, approachable and good fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't forget to take padded shorts. We also found a bumbag useful for wearing on the bike to carry a camera, loo roll and money etc.
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS

    It was closer to a moderate ride than leisurely and thoroughly enjoyable. Could not have wished for a better group.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just having the most amazing Exodus guide who spoke fluent English and his knowledge of Cuba was superb so his narrative along the journey made the whole trip inspirational

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely the best. He was so enthusiastic, knowledgeable, had a great sense of humour and was there for us 24/7 - truly able to knock on his door at any hour for help.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Have a reasonable level of fitness, be prepared for the heat, be relaxed about the whole trip, get to know your fellow travellers and enjoy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Will be sure to use Exodus again - just hope next group leader is as great.
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous

    Cuban Highlights - Cycling

    I had an excellent time on this trip. The cycling through rural areas was great and the knowledge, help and organisation by our guide, Yazel, exceptional.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing how local Cubans live with their "daily struggle".

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic. Yazel was approachable, funny and well liked by our group. He did his best to ensure that we had an excellent time. His dancing was great as well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I think the trip notes say it all.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend this trip to anyone (and I already have)!
  • Reviewed August 2014
    Mark Thomas

    A good quick cycle through Cuba, avoid the crabs !

    Cuban Highlights is a good leisurely trip through Cuba. The cycling itself is fun, fairly easy and the views are great, certainly the highlight being when the crabs are crossing the roads and you try to avoid them!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Making it up the highest climb with the sun beating down in 35c heat was an inspiration. Along with the locals who always have a band striking up nearby, always do salsa and smoke cigars.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was very informed, knew everyone was funny and kept everyone organised involved.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go, definitely go while the Castro's are in power as without doubt the country will change drastically after that point.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Cuba is like stepping back in time, vintage cars, Old Havana hasn't changed much and is full of charm, like the locals. Go !
  • Reviewed February 2014
    Anonymous

    CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS RIDE

    A trip full of excellent memories with the experience heightened by the enthusiastic guide and his colleague who drove the bus. A thought provoking view of a different type of society, with a recent and impressive history. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Che monument at Santa Clara: not the monument but the explantions and understand that occured while we were there. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    superb

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    go

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    go and then you'll go back
  • Reviewed February 2014
    Anonymous

    CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS RIDE

    I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end! Lovely group, a beautiful place to cycle to and a vibrant and friendly place, and a brilliantly organized itinerary. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Well, I loved the evening out in Trinidad when the group meal included dancing and joining in with the band on percussion! Such a laugh! An evening that makes me smile just to think about it! After that we  found a bar where we watched some gorgeous camp young men (great fun!) do synchronized salsa and they invited us to join in with them, and then danced salsa in the street as there was a festival on. The locals are great fun and have a real love of dancing and for life and love dancing with the tourists!I also loved the cycling, especially the fourth day, a fabulous way to see the country. Last but not least the day on the catamaran where we did some snorkelling and then had lunch on a Caribbean island was also to die for!!! Can't think of a better way to spend a holiday! 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lovely! Tony is a cool Cuban knew all about the island and could answer any question. (and could salsa, as could everyone from what we could see)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, when I arrived at Havana airport and was waiting for the rest of the group to get through immigration (a long process) I went to exchange some money. As I was a bit confused to begin with the girl on the exchange pretended that I had given her less money than I had. She went through an elaborate procedure of looking for the extra 50 euro note that she said I hadn't given her. Eventually, when I wouldn't back down, she 'found' the missing 50 euro, just in front of her underneath a shelf. So be careful!The locals don't ask for money but all would appreciate pens and soap, if you want to take some extra!! 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The cycling isn't too difficult, only the first day I was slightly under 'duress', (and I'm not fit) but I think it was because it was the day after a long flight and I wasn't used to the heat.I loved the 'home-stay'. One week isn't enough, better to stay a few extra days, it's a really friendly place, even on your own it would be fun. The first hotel didn't do a good breakfast and food, and generally the food is a bit plain for my liking but you get used to it! 
  • Reviewed January 2014
    Anonymous

    CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS RIDE

    Wow! My first trip with Exodus and it won't be my last. My first trip to Cuba and it won't be my last. My first Group holiday and it won't be my last. Taking this trip ranks alongside some of the very best decisions I've taken and I can't recommend this trip highly enough!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really can't single out one inspirational moment, so I've identified 10 reasons why this trip will live in my memory for a long, long time and why I would recommend this trip to anyone reading this review.1. Exodus made everything so easy. As a first time group holiday traveller, I was unsure what to expect but the support from Exodus staff, the quality of the Trip Notes and the joining instructions, the help with additional extras like airport hotel/parking made this so so easy. I will never use any other company for the many more trips I now plan to take.2. Cuba - wow, what a fascinating country to visit. Full of contradiction, full of authenticity, full of inspiration and warmth, full of beauty and of history and full of fun and laughter. The scenery was beautiful, the climate warm and pleasant for cycling. I can't recommend Cuba enough - go now before it gets spolit by westernisation in the future.3. Cycling - I've never experienced such pleasurable cycling. The roads are a joy to cycle in as there is so little traffic on much of the roads this trip uses. What traffic there is respects cyclists and is quite content to stay behind the riders and only overtake when it is very safe to do so. Even then, they give you a wide birth and you never feel at risk like you do in the UK much of the time. The weather was great, the scenery stunning, the amount of cycling generally ok if a little light (for me) on day 1 and day 4. The level is mostly 'easy' with occasional 'moderate' patches such as the final 8k uphill climb on day 5. The bus was never far away if anyone wanted to take a rest, so have no fear about joining this trip if you are concerned about your ability to keep up. This really is accessible to all who have a reasonable base fitness.4. Food - I read much about Cuba being a 'poor' culinary experience. Nonsense! Sure, if you're expecting nouvel cuisine or gastronomic delights and michelin standards then you will probably be disappointed. But the food was in the main very tasty, plentiful, nutricious and satisfying. Exactly what you want when cycling in my opinion. My only quibble would be the lack of option for vegetarians since most meals had simple chicken or beef to go with the rice, beans and potatoes.5. Fellow Travellers - what can I say about my fellow travellers? As this was my first group holiday, I was a little apprehensive that I would be joining lots of couples or big groups travelling together. I also feared my fitness would be short of the group's, or that I would be the 'old man' of the group. I needn't have feared. This trip seems to attract people of all ages, from 20s/30s right through to a gentleman in his 70s who was more than able to keep pace. There were couples, there were solo travellers, there were cyclists and there were non-cyclists. It really was a mixed group. What everyone had in common was that they were fun people to be with. I never for one moment felt alone, and the trip was undoubtedly made so amazing by the people I had the pleasure of being with.  6. The Trip Leader - Tony was a great trip leader. Excellent English, great knowledge of Cuba, warm and friendly, sensitive to the level of the group and their needs, supportive and helpful at all times, Tony did a lot to make this trip feel safe, well organised, fun and interesting. I particularly liked the way Tony listened to what the group wanted to do on the last night in Havana, and rather than insisting that the whole group did the same thing, he supported everyone's desire to make the most of the last night and do thier own thing in old havana. Given that many didn't have extra nights to explore, this was definitely very welcome by most of the group.7. The Music - I've never listened much to Cuban music, and I'm not much of a dancer. But I was overwhelmed by the stunning music in Cuba. From street music in and around squares and next restaurants to the huge array of restaurants, bars and clubs where music is the soul of the place. Highlights included having a performance by Son Malibran while the group had dinner in Trinidad, a group so engaging and fun that they had us joining them as honorary band members for a song. Then there was the Legendarios del Guajirito show in Havana which seems to be associated to the Buena Vista Social Club, sharing many of the same musicians. Stunning show, stunning music and just impossible not to get off your feet and dance. I can count on one hand the number of times I've danced in the last 10 years, and that night was the best of them without a doubt.8. The logistical support - Our bus was always close by and always there in case anyone needed a rest, some water, some fruit or to get sun screen or anything else off the bus. We had a great technical support man who was quickly able to deal with the very few issues we had; punctures, chains coming off, severed pedal. At times, he was also able to lend a hand 'pushing' flaggers up the 'undulations', very welcome by those who were close to getting on the bus on the hills but really didn't want to.9. Trinidad and the Casa Particular - Trinidad is such a fun and authentic place to spend a couple of nights. The personal owners of the Casa could not have been more welcoming, could not have done more to make our stay in their home fun and memorable. I would always choose a Casa for future Cuban trips. The atmosphere on the streets was one of fun - not the faintest undercurrent of tension or trouble, just masses of people happy to dance, laugh, chat, engage and welcome us into their town. Everywhere there were vintage cars, delightful little stalls and shops, music coming from yet another bar / club / restaurant. Fantastic place.10. The fire eating, glass treading, salsa teaching mad-man who provided the brooding, mysterious entertainment in the hotel at Yuguanabo. Turns out he's also the egg chef at breakfast the next day. Great fun!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was a great trip leader. Excellent English, great knowledge of Cuba, warm and friendly, sensitive to the level of the group and their needs, supportive and helpful at all times, Tony did a lot to make this trip feel safe, well organised, fun and interesting. I particularly liked the way Tony listened to what the group wanted to do on the last night in Havana, and rather than insisting that the whole group did the same thing, he supported everyone's desire to make the most of the last night and do thier own thing in old havana. Given that many didn't have extra nights to explore, this was definitely very welcome by most of the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Cuba now before it changes! Take some snacks for the flight out to Cuba if travelling direct from Gatwick to Havana. The Virgin food, while tasty, is meagre in portion size and given the flight is into prevailing winds, quite a long one and so I felt overly hungry by the time we finally got through immigration. Be patient when going through immigration, it's slow.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just the most amazing trip. I'm a convert to exodus, to group holidays, to Cuba and to activity holidays. I can't wait to do more of all of these!! 
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS RIDE

    What better way to justify another mojito than by burning off the calories cycling along the amazing Caribbean coast of Cuba! With great views, an amazing and informative guide and not too many hills to spoil the rest of the holiday!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting the locals and having the opportunity to stay in a Casa was the best part of the trip for me.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had Freddy, a local Cuban with 20 years experience as a guide in Cuba and the cycling proesse of the pros! With a wicked sense of humour and a relaxed antitude it was great to hear his views about the country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling isn't as bad as some had expected.  All of the the bikes are boy bikes however, so if you do a lot of cycling yourself you may want to consider bringing your own seat.I also took a handlebar with me so I could put my camera in it.  This was the only thing I needed close to hand as the bus was always not far behind.  Many people didn't even have a rucksack with them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great trip and I'd really recommend it to anybody!!