Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • 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
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Neil McIntyre

    As good as it gets

    This trip surpassed my previous Exodus bike trips by a country mile. The scenery was truly outstanding, the cycling manageable while challenging and it was organised and supported in the most exceptional way by the local team. I could not recommend it too highly.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    You never grew tired of the outstanding views of volcanoes, dotted amongst the most extraordinary lakes and dramatic scenery. Some of the off-road ascents were tough, especially with gravel interleaved with stones and in the heat, but the challenge was inspiring and the pace was comfortably pitched accommodate a diverse group. We did the trip in January 2018; the weather was exceptional (many days about 20-25 degrees, although it did get hot (over 35 degrees) on a few days. I don't believe a single person on our trip (15 of us in all) found it anything other than exceptional.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our day to day leaders had a maturity and confidence that worked wonderfully for our group. They were continually thinking about the support for the group, and when issues arose, as they inevitably do, they addressed them quickly and efficiently. The back-up team with van, coffee stops, hotel support etc was also first class.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Rest days can be that if you want but there are so many opportunities to try other activities. We tried kayaking one day and climbed an active volcano on the other. Both excellently delivered by local guides who provided all the kit, advice and support you need.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A few of our days included long stretches on tarmac road with a bit of traffic, more so than I expected, but this was not a big problem. The few transit legs in the van gave us the opportunity to experience the best parts of the route. And some of the hotels were truly outstanding, including Porto Blest and the eco-lodge north of Pucon.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Desmond Smyth

    A Memorable and Hugely Enjoyable Experience

    If you enjoy your scenery,and a good variation in your cycling ( mix of road and off-road ) then this trip is for you. It is quite challenging in parts,but is well within the abilities of a reasonably fit and competent cyclist ( I am 67 years old but reasonably fit,and I managed without much difficulty,although generally at back end of a very fit group of good cyclists ! ). We were exceptionally fortunate with the weather-dry,sunny,warm-unusual in an area noted for rainfall.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to pick only one-but the first of anything generally sticks in your mind,so I will go for the first day in Puerto Varas where the views of Volcano Osorno and distant Tronador are quite stunning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Yal was a really nice and likeable guy,and seemed quite efficient. His communication skills though were somewhat lacking,and most of the briefings were delivered by his very able assistant German,also a very likeable and helpful guy.The disappointment though was that there no commentary or information provided on the history,culture,economy etc of the areas visited.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took insect repellant but didn't need it ( mosquitoes non-existent here at this time of year ( November ) so this would be worth checking before you leave. Be prepared for rapidly changing weather-fortunately for us it was sunshine all the way,but we were always prepared for the possibility of rain. The final day ( Friday ) was spent at the eco lodge in Conguillo National Park-if you are not on group flight bear in mind this is a long way from Temuco ( a taxi costs in the region US $ 110 ). Tap water is apparently safe to drink throughout the trip-I drank it with no ill effects as did many others in the group.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our group size was 16,with a good international mix-everyone got on really well right from the start with plenty of humour throughout,so we were fortunate with that as well as the weather. It was a hugely enjoyable and memorable holiday,with scenery to take your breath away ( from snow-clad mountains and volcanoes to emerald reflecting lakes to majestic rivers ) . If you are thinking about it-I'd say go for it.
  • It would be hard to top this trip.

    This was my first Exodus bicycle trip and if the other are as good as this one it will not be my last. The scenery was spectacular. Each day was a different and new experience. This trip has it all; some moderately challenging gravel, relaxing riding on tarmac winding between rugged peaks, boat trips across beautiful lakes, good company, great food and drinks, excellent well-maintained equipment, and helpful staff.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many inspirational moment on this trip is impossible to single out one specifically. Cycling over the pass trough the Andes in the between Peulla and Puerto Frias was an achievement for me with my limited mountain biking experience. (I only fell off once!) Climbing the active Villarica volcano was a once in a life time experience, particularly as there was a small eruption while we looking into the crater.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This trip covered a lot of territory through some fairly tough country. The logistic for this trip were complex involving the coordination of boat and bus transfer in two very separate countries. Yet the whole show ran like clockwork. I was impressed. This was a very professionally run trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    IF you do not enjoy a salmon or fillet steak then this trip may change your point of view. The Argentinian steal is sublime as is the Chilean salmon. I recommend Tony's Casa de Carne in Bariloche. I had the best steak I ever tasted in my life at Tony's steak house. (And I am an Australian!) Also, I recommend the frappe at the Chocolate Museum in Bariloche as well. I suspect my waste line would have expanded dramatically if I had stayed in Bariloche longer than a couple of days!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You are exposed to the wild weather of the roaring forties from the Southern Ocean in this region of the world. Be prepared for one or two days of solid weather. (Wind and Rain).
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