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Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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18 Reviews

  • A memorable journey

    This was our first adventure with Exodus, but we are not new to cycle touring having used several other tour companies in the past. This was also our first time in South America and it was memorable for many reasons - the stunning scenery, the excellent guides and the surprising amount of rough surfaces we had to ride on.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Waking up in the mornings and looking out at exceptional views in so many locations. The scenery in this part of the world is part Alps, part Dolomites, part Rocky Mountains, part South Island New Zealand. Then add perfect volcanoes and you've got the Lake District of Chile and Argentina! Riding the valley between Peulla and the border pass was my most breathtaking memory, partly because we saw our first condor, and partly because it was such joy not to be in yesterday's pouring rain! Conguillio National Park is the icing on the cake - so stunning it's hard to describe, and so different from the rest of the experience. On day one, because of the rain, our guides arranged a tour of Teatro del Lago. This should be part of the tour, it was an outstanding experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Alejandro and he was exceptional. His side-kicks Yal and Diego were too. The three made such a great team. We've never been disappointed with tour leaders, and these three were top-notch, and so much fun to be around.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, plenty. There was so much good about this tour from the leaders to the scenery to the hotels to the food, but if you are a road cyclist then you might be in for a surprise. I know the trip notes say there's 26% of unpaved tracks but that doesn't even begin to describe how rough some of the cycling is. It's more like 30% anyway, and given the time it takes to navigate we reckon we may have spent 50% of our riding time on unpaved surfaces. You need to be prepared for this. There are only two days out of the nine riding days that are entirely spent on paved roads - and they are both heavenly rides, listed as day 7 and day 9 in the trip notes. There are also two days that are entirely unpaved from start to finish, that's day 4 and day 12. Strange there's no mention of this in the trip notes regarding individual days! These days were difficult, and yet they were also the must stunningly beautiful. The advice from our leader to lower your saddle when negotiating steep unpaved downhills with rocks and boulders was extremely helpful and made us feel safer. Quite a bit of walking was happening too. Everyone was in the same boat, but those with off-road experience obviously fared better. There's considerable elevation gain on this tour too. Funny that's not mentioned in the trip notes either. Cycling trip notes with daily distances but without daily elevation gains seems incomplete to us. We made enquiries and eventually got the daily elevations sent to us. Suggest you do the same. They are anywhere from 230 m to 984 m. It is hilly, every day!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't be put off by the trip notes for day 4 about the challenging 700 m climb. You can choose to ride up in the hotel pick-up truck that brings along the lunch. You can also choose to walk it, without your bike which will be taken in the truck. We were also give the choice of attempting to ride it and abandoning the bike if necessary and walking - the truck would rescue the bike. So there are options, and people in our group took all of them. The 3 km rocky descent on the other side of the border however has no options as the truck can't cross the border. The bikes we had were Giant, almost new, well maintained, front shocks, disc brakes, very suitable for the terrain. Another piece of advice is to bring a gel seat, and some kind of small handlebar bag for your camera, phone and sunscreen. It's not terrifically hot, but the sun is strong. Don't bother with power bars as the daily snacks are excellent; bananas, chocolate covered peanuts and raisins and more, coffee, tea, always at around 20 km. We also took our toe cages and they were happy to put them on our pedals for us, we were very glad to have them because did I mention that it's hilly?! We are now looking to buy the velcro-strap handlebar mirrors that some people had - these would have been very useful on the main roads; a flashing red rear light would be a good idea too, especially if you have some dark, rainy days; and you might! It was chilly at times, most people wore a Buff in the mornings and long-fingered gloves too. The van will take things as you remove them, no need to cycle with a day pack. Go with your eyes open to these conditions and you will love your Lake District tour.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Nigel Martin

    Cycling in Argentina and Chile Lake District

    Overall a good trip with generally good accommodation throughout. Exceptional level of support from the brothers Ti and Yal together with the driver Mathias. There is more 'down' time than on previous Exodus trips of all sorts which is something to note. The focus is very much on scenery rather than a different culture which you are likely to get in Asia, for example. Compared with some grade 4 trips that I have done recently, this tends to be on the lower end of the scale (in my view), but please be aware of the amount of cycling on gravel.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first few days cycling were pleasant enough but the first day that provided a satisfying ride was on the '7 Lakes route'. However, cycling into the final National Park, amongst the lava flows and alongside the stunning volcano was without doubt the best day. The final lodge was also in a lovely setting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As mentioned above, Ti was one of the best leaders that I have had. I am usually at the back of the group and spending time with both Ti and his brother Yal was always interesting and enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is unusual to have one day off let alone two as is the case here, on an Exodus holiday. If you want to do one of the typical trips (water rafting, kayaking, hot springs etc) then you are OK. If you want to walk, then it is more challenging to get the right level / accuracy of information. This is a notable surprise for the Refugio Frey walk which is mentioned in the trip notes. If you do not use WhatsApp, then it is more difficult to get the information on the route, options for days off etc. You will need to spend more time with the leader to obtain this information.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Peter Gomes

    Cycle Lake District of Chile & Argentina : Great trip through stunning scenery

    Another terrific Exodus cycle trip comprising a mix of on & off road riding, flat & hilly sections in scenery that is simply beautiful. Enthusiastically led by Tai, ably assisted by his younger brother Yal, & side-kick Mattieu (the quiet one), our group of 16 bonded on the first evening, were buddies by lunch on the second day and firm friends thereafter. Excellent sea food and of course, steaks to be had and at bargain prices in Argentina due to the devaluation of their peso. Chile was more UK priced. Turquoise lakes & snow capped volcanoes were the centrepiece, topped off with the two day stay at the Eco lodge in the Conguillo National Park. We simply did not want to leave.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    As ever there were so many. Day 1: the view from the plane window as we flew alongside the Andes in the final run into Santiago. Day 2 : The sight of not one but three snow capped volcanoes from the lake shore by our first night's hotel set the tone for the superb scenery to come : a mix of Norwegian fjord, Scottish loch & English Lake with added volcano. Day 4: the first ferry ride and the discovery of an excellent hotel in the wilderness close to the frontier post - we were expecting a youth hostel given the remote location. Day 5: the off road climb to the frontier, and the supportive way in which all those at the top cheered on those further back as they arrived. Plus the rapid downhill that followed. Day 6 : The coastal ride round to Bariloche, passing Tai & Yal's house en route. Day 7 : the largest & tastiest steaks ever at Don Alberto's in Bariloche - not to be missed, plus lunch atop the view point at Cerro Campanario. Day 8: Racing along the downhill section of Route 40 (Argentina's Route 66) into San Martin. Day 10: the impromptu detour to spend the afternoon at the Termas (hot springs) en route to Pucon. Days 11 & 12 riding into and through the landscapes of the Conguillo National Park (volcano on my left, emerald lake on my right, monkey puzzle forest ahead of me - where do I look ?).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    With perfect English, Tai & Yal (despite their youth - mid twenties) were experienced, enthusiastic and capable leaders. Tai, in particular, managed well the different personalities on the trip which comprised five couples, three pals and three singles aged from late thirties to early seventies. He made sure everyone was comfortable riding their way depending on fitness, terrain & general inclination. His restaurant & even individual dish recommendations were consistently excellent. He was confident in his role and thus able to flex the itinerary as circumstances (weather or indeed our whims) dictated. As a strong cyclist he readily earned the respect of those who tried to take him on. Fortunately, his skills as a qualified paramedic did not need to be tested.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The November weather was mixed - Take layers so as to be able to cater for hot, cold & in between - plus rain. On some days there was much adding and removing of kit, with Yal or Mati magically on hand at the right moment to deliver to or collect it from you. This is also true off the bike with cool winds from Patagonia belying bright sunshine at times. The road sections are straightforward with drivers polite, separate cycle tracks on larger roads and wide verges to ride on minor ones. Off road sections are not particularly technical (I'm no mountain biker) and, taken at whatever pace you feel comfortable, readily ridden on the new Specialized hard-tail mountain bikes supplied. Food-wise the emphasis is meat and fish with pasta/pizza available but vegetarian food is a bit limited. Good range of beer and wine to be had and we rekindled our love of Pisco Sour developed on last year's Peru trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My slowest ride was the final eight miles back to the eco-lodge on the final afternoon. It took well over an hour. Why ? Because I simply didn't want it to end. I was not alone - it was practically a competition to see who could ride the slowest. I guess that's a pretty decent endorsement of the trip overall. If you seek a well led trip with excellent company, good food (& drink), fabulous scenery, and varied (and thus interesting) cycling then sign up.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Brian Guest

    One bike - two countries.

    The snow-clad volcanoes and emerald lakes of the Andes mountains. Gravel tracks, black lava fields and ancient forests of monkey puzzle trees.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Crossing the Andes by bike: not once but twice!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tai and his younger brother Yal worked tirelessly to support the group. They gave a clear briefing on each day's itinerary and generated Stava maps to show the route. On the road they shepherded us through the traffic and managed to control both those keenest to reach our destination and those more content to just enjoy the scenery and walk the hills. They coped very well with the inevitable problems which occurred: our punctures; occasional falls; late transfers; variable accommodation; wet weather; etc, etc. They were always ready to chat with the group and explain about the local people, their history and culture .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes are not always updated and itineraries may well change. Our mountain bikes were very good but with limited space for carrying spare kit or a camera. Although the support vehicle was close at hand, you might consider a ruck-sac or handlebar bag useful. Research beforehand. More options are available for your free days than may be advertised. We really enjoyed excursions to Mount Tronador from Bariloche and later to Huerquehue National Park from Pucon. Take a good camera with a wide angle lens as the landscapes are stunning. And it also pays to get up early for the dawn light. Breakfasts are sometimes meagre but expect your waistline to expand: portions for lunch and dinner are huge! ATM's in Argentina restrict you to 4,000 ARS and cost a lot to use. Santander Rio have branches in all the towns we visited. If you have an account, it gives you a much better rate. Spend a few days in Buenos Aires if you have the chance. It's pretty safe and easy to get around. There's some lovely Art Nouveau architecture, a lively café-culture, craft markets at the weekend, fine Opera and bookshops, tango dinner dances and lots of urban art. We would recommend a 5-hour cycle trip: Hidden Graffiti And Urban Art Tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If the weather is fine, as it fortunately was for us, cycling in Argentina and Chile is a joy. Traffic is generally respectful and the distances covered are easily manageable in the time. Where the trip notes describe parts of the route as gravel, be prepared for some pretty rough going. In places it was safer to walk. But the best is saved for last: the Parque Nacional Conguillío - with black lava field and forests of monkey-puzzle trees under the brooding Llaima Volcano.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Barbara Dean

    A Volcanic Undertaking

    Once again Exodus delivered. Our guides were fantastic, the bikes were well maintained, and the accommodation was for the most part great. The food was also better than some previous trips and only somewhat challenging for a gluten free/vegetarian. Power bars go a long way! Finally, the scenery was picturesque and breathtaking. Lots of lakes and Volanoes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day 4 of the tour. We completed a 20km cycle on some serious gravel and then my husband and I opted to walk the 7.5km climb over 700 metre ascent versus cycling it. We passed a few people who ended up frustratingly walking their bikes but getting to the top felt like quite an achievement especially with blisters on both feet.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tai was a very impressive young man who did a fantastic job. His brother Yal was a great support and eventually their dad, Marcello joined us making the group complete. Their obvious bond as a family just made our experience that much better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A gel saddle wouldn’t go amiss as the gravel was sometimes more like boulders.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip notes need to be updated. For anyone interested in seeing southern Chile and western Argentina, I would highly recommend this tour.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Will Potten

    Stunning

    A simply beautiful trip. We were lucky with incredible weather throughout, giving us deep blue skies reflected in the lakes. The cycling was superb, giving a good mix of roads and gravelly off-road tracks. Some mountain biking experience would be useful for these sections, particularly the long climb across the border into Argentina. The scenery was stunning - volcanoes, lakes, forests, and the food throughout was incredible. I’ve never eaten so much top quality steak in so few days. Despite the cycling, you might not expect to lose weight on this trip. Special thanks to our guides, Alex, Tai (hope I spelled that right) and Leah who regularly had her bike cannibalised when one of us broke down.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to choose. The final days cycling through the lagoons and monkey puzzles. The incredible views on the seven lakes road, and the climb into Argentina with a beautiful lakeside hotel at the end of the day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex was brilliant. Endlessly cheerful and enthusiastic and attentive to all our needs. A real asset to exodus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I loved the off road sections but I’m not sure that everyone did. Although most of the trip is on paved roads of good quality, to enjoy the cycling to the fullest extent, be prepared for some bumpy, gravelly and loose surfaces, especially when climbing.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Richard Greenwood

    Awesome Landscapes

    This was our fourth Exodus Cycling Trip over the last few years and my favourite so far. The landscapes that we cycled through were simply stunning with snow capped volcanos, lush green valleys, blue and emerald lakes, monkey puzzle woodland and black volcanic ash and lava. The cycling routes were occasionally challenging but never too long. The accommodation was generally good (with two exceptions) and we were expertly led by Tia, his brother Yell and Matteus. It helped that the weather was pretty much perfect throughout our trip with cool mornings making way for clear hot afternoons. We also benefitted from a great group of cyclists, most of whom were of a similar (oldish) age and fitness level!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many, but I particularly enjoyed the Punto Panoramico ride with views of the Argentinian Lake District and the hike up (and rapid descent) of Villarrica Volcano. We also had a very special send-off from our hosts with drinks at sundown overlooking the Llama Volcano .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tia was amazingly competent and patient as our group leader. The trip involves some incredibly tricky logistics with crossings from Chile into Argentina (and back again), numerous ferry rides, transfers by minibus, luggage checks at customs points and the constant shepherding of 16 cyclists. Despite these challenges the whole trip ran smoothly. His skills as a paramedic were also tested on a few occasions. Together with his brother and Matteus they formed a formidable team

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. About 25% of the cycling is off-road, mostly on gravel tracks with ruts and stoney sections. It can therefore be tricky at times. Some experience of biking off road is necessary (though there was the opportunity to opt out of these sections and travel in the support vehicle). 2. Even with the fine weather that we experienced the mornings were cool and the afternoons very hot so we needed extra layers and lashings of suncream. 3. There were several opportunities for swimming on the trip so have swimming gear close to hand. 4. The lunches provided on the trip were often two and three courses- with large quantities- and it was sometimes difficult to do them justice without struggling to cycle in the afternoons! 5. Although American dollars could be used in several locations you do need some Chilean and Argentinian pesos for small purchases. Credit Card machines were fairly widespread in shops and restaurants.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were a couple of glitches in the arrangements for the trip. The first hotel was changed at the last minute by the local host (and it proved to be disappointing) so hopefully the Hotel Patagonia in Puerto Varas will not be used again. There was also some confusion about which hotel had been booked on our last night in Santiago; a full list of the accommodation in each of our destinations would be useful in advance.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    STEPHEN Randell

    Best trip so far

    This was our second Exodus trip as a family of four, all adults of course. The trip had a bumpy start as we were delayed and missed connections so ended joining the trip 24 hrs later, have to say Exodus were incredibly helpful and easy to contact outside of hours. We loved the scenery, saw loads of condors and some truly amazing views. The weather was perfect and the transfers mostly short. We also enjoyed some spectacular scenic lake crossings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling along roads with lush pastureland one side and snow capped volcanoes on the other, sitting on a volcanic ash beach in Pucon and swimming in the lake on Christmas day

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Taiel and his family were super guides, very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful in every way

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We are vegetarian which was okay mostly especially in the towns, lunch stops a bit more challenging especially for our daughter who is vegan, we got by as we took lots of snack foods too. Be prepared for some rocky roads, lots of gravel at times but well worth it, especially near the lava fields.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Lovely varied accommodation which on the whole was very comfortable. Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone wanting cycling adventure in awesome locations with breath taking views. Some of the climbs were challenging but so worth the effort!
  • Reviewed December 2018
    marion gray

    Cycling the Lakes of Chile and Argentina

    Amazing scenery, excellent organisation and logistics. Superb guidance and information. A really interesting part of the world to visit and made me hungry for more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a condor,traversing fjord like lakes with snow capped volcanoes as a back drop. Cycling into the lava fields of Conguillo National Park and walking in the monkey puzzle fores.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Very good knowledge of the area, geography, social history, fauna etc. Good sense of humour and very encouraging when cycling was more challenging.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The rides are short but hilly and it is worth doing a bit of training!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    steven elliot

    Excellent apart from the flights

    Its a bit difficult to describe this without using the usual clichés; this must be one of the most beautiful places in the World - at least when the sun shines! Massive mountains, huge lakes, amazing snow capped volcanoes. Its odd no one in the UK has heard of it. For the most part it is sparsely populated and there is a wonderful feeling of emptiness. As with similar Exodus trips the itinerary was interesting, fast paced and expertly delivered. We had a great time with a super bunch of people. We came away with a sense of awe. The cycling was good along quiet roads. The ride over the Andes was challenging (700m ascent in 7km) and a bit technical - we managed it by stopping every mile and survived

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were several - the ferry across Todos los Santos - doing the Hokey cokey in the rain at the Chilean customs - cycling across the Andes in the drizzle - the journey from Puerto Blest to Bariloche - Conguillio NP - the steak at Alberto's in Bariloche - the red wine and craft beer everywhere (but not the fish which was cremated at every eatery we went to) - the impromptu disco in Choshuenco including the dancing on the tables

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tai and Jero are great guys - I think the ladies in particular admired them

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The elephant in the room (another cliché) is the weather. We had about a third each of sun, cloud and rain. We actually felt lucky as we were told that the trip on this date in 2017 saw nothing apart from rain. The temperature rarely rose above 15C - presumably warmer in Nov - Feb. We felt we hade a great time but the moral of our very hardy group fell noticeably after two soakings on days 8 and 9. Thereafter mood improved as the Sun returned. Chile looks like Lancashire when the heavens open. We were really disappointed with the flights we were given: Manchester- Heathrow- Santiago- Puerto Montt. The transfer in Madrid was short and we nearly missed it. In addition both going and returning we were unable to get boarding passes for all the flights. There is a direct flight from Heathrow to Santiago - INSIST ON BEING BOOKED ON IT

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think we were very fortunate with the weather. A few more rainy days and I'm not sure we would have felt so positive about our experience. Having said that it was one of the best holidays I've ever had