Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed July 2018
    Dea Bicknell

    Breathtaking (Pun intended!)

    This trip cycling on the Manali-Leh highway was the greatest thing I have ever done. The trip had it all: challenging climbs with plenty of hair pin bends, exciting descents with more hair pins and no barriers. Smooth roads, rough roads and sometimes no roads where the glacier water decided to cross. Speaking of crossing your ride may be interrupted by Cows (it is India after all), sheep, yaks and even donkeys, horse and mauls. The road is only open for four months of the year and by the looks of it very few people cycle it, so although the climbs are challenging (eg. long and gradual but not steep!) passers by on Royal Enfields or Mini Buses will offer encouragement and interest in the trip, we even found out how England were doing in the world cup. The best part however is that you will be cycling from point to point and through remote areas where these is no phone signal, wifi or even electricity meaning that there no excuse not to enjoy and experience the amazing and breathtaking scenery that surrounds you. ​

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The night we stayed in Patseo at around 02:00hrs looking up at the stars in the night sky and seeing the whole galaxy, shooting stars and just space in general. The most amazing sight I have even seen. ​

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leaders were great and always on hand to help and answer any questions. I was the only person in our group that wanted to cycle to the top of Khardung La and this was organised for me without any fuss even though it was for just one person. ​

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You will be camping for 8 nights in a row so maybe keep your electronics to a minimum or bring a large capacity power bank. There are also multiple water crossings and on the first two days of our trip it rained non-stop so make sure you have some dry socks! ​

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There will be some discomfort but it is an adventure and that is what life is all about and the memories and experiences will far outweigh them so I would say just go for it ​
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Gabriella Butler

    Manali to Leh July-Aug 2017

    The trip is really an unforgettable one. The cycling itself is difficult but the people on our trip were very supportive of each other; even the locals shouted encouragement to keep us going! The clashes of different cultures, from the chaos in Delhi to the serenity in Leh, show you the vastness of the country and so you are able to experience India more than you would by simply visiting the main tourist attractions. The landscape was very diverse featuring Alpine-like forestry, red rocked valleys, and misty snow-capped mountains.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment was reaching the top of the Khardang-La, the highest motor able road pass in the world, standing at 5603m. The sense of achievement from reaching the top, especially with new friends that have completed it with you, is a euphoric feeling. All the people in our group were different; we had people from Australia, Belgium, Holland, and the UK, but it was very inspiring to push out of our comfort zones throughout the trip, and achieve conquering the final mountain together. The people you meet on this trip, whether from India or elsewhere, will be people you won't ever forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our trip leaders, Valerie and Raj, were very knowledgable of the area and so you gain an understanding from the landscape and culture more than you would by simply admiring the beauty of India. They were very encouraging when anyone felt under the weather or was struggling with the cycling and ensured that everybody was enjoying themselves. Both were very inspirational.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just to add, I was the youngest on the trip at 18 years old. This was not a problem at all. The range of ages and abilities across the group were all catered for and, although you need some basic fitness, there is no need to worry. To sum up, the trip was amazing. The camping is basic but perfect and makes you come back feeling very humble for what you have. Also the stars at night make the lack of showers worth it! If you're thinking about going on the trip, go. You will not regret it.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    simon charlesworth

    Ultimate Bike Trip

    It really is like no other place you will cycle. Each day takes that bit longer as you marvel at the scenery.You worry that you will not be able to remember the unique landscapes. Everything as usual is slick and well planned. BUT, the altitude can catch you out, listen to the guides, with the emphasis on take it easy, dont push too hard!! Did we listen? No!. We road too hard and felt the effects. But some TLC from the guide and we were back to form next day!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cresting the Baralaccha Pass and seeing the blue skies and amazing high altitude ranges stretching beyond. Descending the TanglangLa, and the remoteness of the trip, far away from civilisation. Check the photos!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two great guides Valerie,sweeping from behind and 'Riczun' leading up front. Both amazingly knowledgeable and supremely competent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to love cycling, be very fit to enjoy the trip, and do as you are told-don't race up the mountains, it is not the Uk or even the Alps!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Having cycled with Exodus in Vietnam and Morocco this feels like the natural next step. As you can see from the previous reviews everyone is unanimous in their thrill of completing the trip.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Christopher Ross

    Manali to Lei, July 8-24, 2016

    This was a fantastic trip - so glad I signed up! Logistics were great. Food was excellent, and the camping was lots of fun. We had a great group that got along so well. Very motivated to do another Exodus trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Viewing the Karakorum ridge from the top of the Khardung La, including K2 and Gasherbrum I - unforgettable!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jangbu Sherpa was an excellent leader. He briefed us thoroughly on each day's journey, and introduced us to the culture and food. I especially enjoyed our visits to the monasteries.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The sun is strong at altitude, so for those sensitive to burns, light layers for the arms can help.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'd suggest adding lights to the equipment list. On occasion, in our case on the Rhotang La, it can be foggy and misty. A blinking rear light would be good for added safety!
  • Reviewed August 2016
    John Heathcote

    MIH August 2016

    An amazing trip, but not for the faint-hearted! I have experience of climbing 3000 m/day in Europe, but the effect of high altitude is not to be under-estimated. The trip is hard! The mountains are big, some of the valleys very deep, and there's the transition from the cedar forests of Manali to the desert of Ladakh. There's some velvet black-top and some truly appalling roads under construction - no engineered surface at all. Even a few streams to ford.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the Khardung La. Even though it's not actually as high as claimed (my GPS reckoned 5385 m), it's still a very long climb from Leh at 3500 m. The descent goes on for ever. The descent down the valley/gorge from the Baralacha La is pretty mind-blowing too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Valerie had a very good knowledge of the region and was also well able to manage the various ills that beset the group during the trip. Ringzin was good at keeping a pace that could be sustained all day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You don't get forests unless it rains! We had some seriously wet weather for the first few days of the trip and were starting to despair of ever getting dry. Don't rely on washing and drying your kit every day.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Samantha Innes

    Unbelievable

    This trip is not for the faint-hearted! You will be both physically and mentally challenged, in the best way possible. Do not underestimate how fit you have to be, not necessarily cycle fit but general aerobic fitness should be high. It is a trip of a lifetime and one you wont forget in hurry - it's one of the best trips I've ever done.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Khardung La. I highly recommend you do this (it's optional), even if you get to Leh and can't bear the thought of sitting on a bike again. You're only there once and you will regret not doing it. You can see K2 from the top on a clear day, it's by far the hardest but most rewarding things I've ever done.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jangbu Sherpa was an exceptional leader. I don't think he was out of breath for the whole trip! ALways smiling and very encouraging.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit. Have a comfy roll mat and a warm sleeping bag. Take clothes/suncream for all weather conditions. A camelbak is vital. Immodium. You don't need to pack a huge number of cycle tops (only 2 or 3) as you can wash them on the way/wear them dirty! Loose trousers are useful for women for visiting monasteries/in Delhi. A book as we often got to the campsite early and could relax. The air is not crisp and clean...the road is busy and therefore lots of fumes and dust. It's important you don't get the idea you will be cycling in quiet, clean mountain air!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do this trip!
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Yvonne Peters

    Manali- Leh

    A fantastic bike trip with absolutely unique scenery. All weather conditions were part of our trip: wind, sun, rain, hot and cold temperatures. The trip is well balanced to prepare you for the high altitudes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    To get to the top of the Taglang pass was the highlight, we had a kind of mistral wind facing us to get to the top, and part from the last part it was all off road biking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Regzin and Jangbu were excellent, friendly, interested, responsible and experienced

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    bring enough warm and wind proof clothes, have a good/warm sleeping bag, and make sure you have a matrass that isolates well. ( I brought a warm water bottle, it was very helpful) bring enough snacks. a good pair of glasses can be helpful. a head light is perfect to bring.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    drink during the bike trip lot's of water, even at night! the trip is unforgettable!
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Iain Hyslop

    Manali to Leh

    A great adventure it was hard in many ways but well worth the effort

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenary and environment were the stars all the way through

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leaders were very good a pair of professional mountain men

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you think your fit get fitter

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    My only criticism is that the party was not adequately equipped for some of the river crossings A rope and gear to provide a hand rail should be part of the standard equipment
  • Reviewed August 2014
    Ganesh Vaidyanathan

    Amazing ride through breathtaking landscapes

    A memorable ride with undoubtedly tough sections that will test your fitness and determination to the limit. The spectacular landscapes and sheer challenge of getting to the top of those passes kept me going.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Baralacha-La in freezing conditions, getting to the top of Lachulung-La and the final climb to the top of Khardung-La.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant. Both Valerie and Rigzen were fit, highly knowledgable and very thoughtful right through the trip. Baking a cake for the four of us who were on our special birthdays this year was a very nice gesture

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You don't have to be an avid cyclist to do this trip but you do need to be fit. You never know how the high altitudes will affect you but the fitter you are, the more likely your body is to cope. So, do train as hard as you can and climb as many hills as you can before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You will be without electricity for most of the trip. So, make sure you have sufficient battery packs/solar chargers/replacement batteries for your cameras, GPC devices and other gadgets. It is a trip of a lifetime, so you don't want to miss capturing those special moments for posterity.
  • Reviewed October 2013
    Anonymous

    MANALI TO LEH RIDE

    Some real challenging cycling in an unbelievably beautiful part of the world, that can best be experienced on a bike. The scenery changes daily, and it would be difficult to find a more amazing landscape to cycle through anywhere else in the world. You get a real sense of achievement making it over the top of the passes, and seeing other group members win their own battles. You really need to do this!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The butterfly and the pigeon!The beauty of the canyon coming down from Lachalung LaThe road workers and their families living and working above 4000m during the few months in the year where the roads were open.The great efforts made by group members whose health was not so good at times.The loneliness in places.Everybody in the group getting to the top of all the passes. WELL DONE.The tremendous road signs along much of the trip, with interesting sayings e.g. "Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly", "Be gentle on my curves", "After whisky, driving risky".Being given a Mexican wave welcome by a number of tourists when my wife and I reached the top of the Khardung La.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jangbu was an amazing guy, having summited Everest twice, and was a very capable cyclist. Him and his team (three cooks, one mechanic and two drivers), did a great job looking after us.He did a good job of going over the next days itinerary.He was very hands on when it came to dismantling tents or maintaining the bikesFull of energy and a happy character to have around. He could have been better at sharing some of the information through the whole group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    GeneralThe sun can be very hot. Be careful not to leave any exposed flesh without sun cream.Be careful about the weight allowance for flying back down from Leh.  It is quite restrictive.Camping Practice the squatting position before you go on holiday (maybe its a guy thing?)Bring a decent carry mat, the thicker the better (one of our group had two).Bring a head torch.Washing Maybe take a small washing line as you will have an opportunity to wash some gear during the camping part.  PhotographyBuy an extra battery for your camera and charge it before you go.Dont try and take rechargeable batteries out of the country in your hand luggage. They will be confiscated :(Take a helmet cam. Try it out before you go. Well worth it!Health Quite a few of the group had stomach problems for one or more days. Make sure you take antibiotics with you just in case (Cipro was used by many).Diamox was also used by a number of the group for the duration of the trip as a precaution.A camel pack is very useful, and encourages you to drink the quantities of liquid that you need at altitude (especially if you are taking Diamox)GeneralThe sun can be very hot. Be careful not to leave any exposed flesh without sun cream.Be careful about the weight allowance for flying back down from Leh.  It is quite restrictive.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Cycling It is hard work. Make sure you get plenty of miles in the legs before you go take this trip on, and quite a bit of uphill would be very useful. Remember, what goes up must come down, so there are some fantastic downhill sections to enjoy (if the wind is not blowing in your face)However, the challenges are really the altitude (lack of oxygen) combined with stomach problems that a number of people suffered from.They do look after the bikes very well during the trip, with daily maintenance carried out, and the Trek bikes we had were good quality.None of the cycle is really steep. Most of the climbs are long and gradual, with lots of switchbacks, so not as tough as it could be.There were some fantastic road surfaces, with beautiful smooth tar in many places. There were also some road surfaces which required special attention, and really justified the mountain bike (tyres)Many dogs around many of the places we visited, but none of them were bothered at all about cyclists.  A couple even jogged along next to the bike for a few kms.It is not a race. Take your time on some of the stages. Take some pictures. You may not be back to such an amazing place again. Remember to look behind you!The 24 mile climb up from Leh to the top of Khardung La is not for the faint hearted! There was solid snow and ice across the road at the top!We were a day ahead of the snow over the last pass before Leh. The next morning looking back it was covered! So you could be unlucky.Do the first day extension down to the monastery south of Manali (it was the longer of the two options but a great start to the trip).It may rain, and if it does at the top of a pass, you could get VERY cold cycling down.Be prepared to be held up by flocks of goats and sheep on the road :)All paces were catered for, although for the group of nine, there was only one staff member cycling.The support bus did a good job of hanging on at the back, and you could leave some gear on it when required.CampingMost of the camping locations were in beautiful settings.The tents had seen better days, and a night of rain resulted in some with pools of water inside.Be prepared for some not so flat tent locations, both gradient and lumps!  FoodIf you like Indian food, you will love big parts of this trip.Try and buy a nan bread straight off the oven wall from the street in Leh where all the bakers and cheese shops are.During the camping I was pleased with the quality of the food, although that was not shared by all the group. There was plenty of it.I ate a huge amount and still lost 5kgs on the trip.  High altitude can do strange things to you!!!A number of people brought snacks from home. Washing There is the opportunity in a couple of places to have a wash in a river.Bowls of water provided early morning to wash away the cobwebs. Culture Probably worth while finding out a bit about Buddhism before going out, as you will visit a few monasteries. TravelThe train trip to Chandigarh was way better than expected. Air con, seats and meals supplied!Be prepared for a hair raising truck ride to Manali. Narrow roads, tight bends, many lorries and a few accidents along the way.The minibus (main mode of transport before the cycling started) was a bit cramped. New Delhi Go to the old part of the town for a better flavour of the local life.Travel in a Tuk Tuk. It is great fun. GeneralDespite being told otherwise before the trip, it was possible to recharge battery via cigarette lighter in support bus.Be respectful of those who may not want their picture taken.Not so much wildlife, but there is some there if you look for it!It was all plastic bottled water that we drank whilst cycling.  That is what they gave us, despite what the trip notes said about responsible tourism.The bit I really didn't get was after spending 11 days above 3000m, going up the steps of the hotel in Leh we still got out of breath! FINAL NOTE: Having done the High Passes of Everest trekking last November, we found this cycling tougher.If you have not quite decided see http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahndi/sets/72157635544522431/ 
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