Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed May 2019
    Janel Hannis

    Epic trip in Epic Country!

    Having done about 10 trips with Exodus now, this one excelled.. It is challenging, rewarding, interesting, fun, exciting, all mixed in with a heady charm offense that India is.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed the climb up the Jalori Pass, (3200m); one minute in the snow-line, 56 downhill kms later, in the soaring heat - 38degrees I'm guessing! Extra-ordinary contrast in one day!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent leader. Difficult to manage a small group of 4, but did a good job nonetheless. Interesting information about the country and always jolly and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not really... If you pick this tour you are obviously quite fit, so just stay hill fit.. A range of suitable clothing and wet weather gear is useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just an awesome trip, I would eagerly do again!
  • Reviewed December 2018
    anne hillman

    You cycle all the way!

    One of the great joys of this trip was that you cycle for 10 days without having any transfers. There is, as has been mentioned, a fair amount climbing compared to other trips of similar grading. However few have really steep gradients so you can generally just get into your rhythm and up you go! The added bonus being some long fabulous downhill sections. It goes without saying that the environment is stunning, ever changing with glorious views of the surrounding mountains, rivers and valleys. We didn't see any other tourists (except in Amritsar and Shimla) and were welcomed with warmth and big beaming smiles where ever we went. Enjoy!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The visit to the Golden Temple at night along with the welcome of the local people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

  • Reviewed November 2018
    Peter Gomes

    Great riding in the foothills of the Himalaya

    This centrepiece of the trip is ten straight days riding the foothills of the Himalaya. The riding is mostly in areas that are undeveloped in terms of tourism and where the accommodation is basic, it's really basic. As is to be expected, the riding is undulating from a low of 600m to a high of 3,100m amidst the snow atop the Jalori Pass. I clocked it at over 40,000 feet of vertical ascent in total over the 10 days, which is far higher than the other grade 4 rides we've completed (Sri Lanka, Peru). The scenery is stunning with plenty of opportunity to stop and admire distant snow covered peaks rising over 5,000m. At one point, I could see twelve gradually rising hills stacked one behind the other into the distance. Magical. The trip opens with two visits (evening and morning) to the Golden Temple in Amritsar & closes with a day in each of Shimla and Delhi with the joy of the toy train ride down the mountain from Shimla to the plain at Kalka. Food is plentiful and very cheap, and we had no tummy issues at any point. As long as you are reasonably cycling fit and prepared for some rather basic accommodation, this is another trip to add to your list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In terms of cycling, probably the final section up to the Jalori Pass with snow on either side of the road as I climbed. Everyone rode at their own pace and we all made it to the top for chai and chocolate. I also enjoyed the climbs to Dharamsala/Mcleod Ganj and Narkanda both topped off by stunning views from our hill-stop overnight stays. Oh, and of course all the descents, where we all got to be eight year old again. I was impressed by the quality of the food at the many road-side eateries that we stopped at for chai and/or lunch. I was not alone, given the clamour for seconds and even thirds. Away from the bike, the trip got off to a terrific start with the visit to the Golden Temple which was inspiring both in terms of the temple complex but also the people whom we encountered. A truly humbling experience as one of our party put it. Also quietly impressive was the visit to the Norbulingka Institute which seeks to preserve Tibetan culture. Once off the bike, we enjoyed Shimla with the pedestrianized Mall staking a claim for the longest yet cleanest street in India, and the impressive Viceroy's Lodge was worth the walk from our hotel. The train from Shimla to Kalka was a fun must-do and once in Delhi : old Delhi's bazaars, India Gate, Rahtrapati Bhavan, the Red Fort and Humayun's Tomb were personal highlights. Ultimately, unless you're a hard-core cyclist, its about people and a lovely moment was when we stopped a local beauty spot for a picnic lunch and encountered a collection of children on a school trip to the same spot. The brief post lunch cricket match between the school boys and we tourists that ensued was a joy.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tapesh was a tribute to Exodus and India. A bundle of energy, he kept us in line without being overbearing but was fun throughout, contributing to a really cohesive group almost from Day 1.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. The basic hotels are really basic, especially the one in Bali Chowk. Bring warm clothing with a down jacket a must, certainly in November. Sleeping bag liners & thermal underwear, and a range of hats also strongly recommended. 2. Eat vegetarian. The food is always fresh, tasty and inexpensive. We quickly gave up on meat once we realised the most chickens in India seemed to have die of starvation. 3. Drink only bottled water. It's plentiful and you don't need to take chances. 4. In Delhi, the metro system (nearest station 5 min walk from our hotel) is excellent: new, frequent, inexpensive (50p per day) & far less crowded than our tube. Great way to get to & from the sights.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is India. You will often be accosted by young locals wanting "selfies". Enjoy the attention. The infrastructure is very variable and customer service whilst well-intentioned sometimes falls quite a way short of western standards. Chill, go with the flow and remember you're on holiday.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Angela Jackson

    Great cycling, fantastic scenery.

    The Golden Temple was a wonderful place to visit and a real highlight, make sure you have your best selfie smile as we got asked to be in lots of photos! The cycling is great through fantastic scenery and more remote , quiet locations and the high hills with long distance views of the mountains. With the opportunity to see some forts and temples along the way.The hotels were better than expected albeit basic -The Judges Court Hotel at Pragpur was lovely. The people were just wonderful giving us lots of encouragement along the way. Shimla is also a great place to visit and The Viceroy's Lodge is worth the walk.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Golden Temple. Stopping at a local school and watching the outdoor assembly, then saying good morning to about 100 children as they marched passed us back to the classroom, then posing with the teachers for a photo! Cycling all the way!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manu worked very hard throughout the trip and he has a great sense of humour and together with the backup crew made a great team. It was a real bonus to have Valerie Parkinson on the trip and to have her insights into the environment and culture as well as her knowledge of the region, the religions and history.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We are only leisure cyclists and had been doing a 35mile ride once per week, with some hills, so don't be put off by the hills on this trip. Days were warm / hot, we wore an extra layer on the high pass days. Nights are cold and a duvet jacket is essential - even indoors. We did not need sleeping bags but thermal underwear came in useful on a couple of nights.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Simon Cuming

    Cycling India's Hill Stations

    An excellent trip visiting key sights in North West India including Amritsar and Shimla and cycling through the villages, towns and high passes of the region. A rewarding trip for those who don't mind being challenged by a good stiff climb and long descents!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The long grind up Jalori Pass - tough and challenging but all the more rewarding for it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sanjay was an excellent, attentive, and knowledgeable guide, I can't imagine him dealing with any situation with anything other than good humour!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although graded moderate/challenging, none of the group could spot the moderate cycling day! so one for the experienced/determined cyclists only - but all the more rewarding for the effort required!
  • Reviewed December 2016
    David Cook

    MIS - November 2016

    A really good way to experience a relatively unpopulated rural region of India but also pulling in the iconic Amritsar and Shimla.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Cycling up hill all day to Narkanda! Sighting the distant snow covered peaks of the Himalayas Visiting Shimla and seeing the sunset. Train journey from Shimla to Kalka

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sanjay was calm and re-assuring at all times, a very good group leader - managing our expectations of the cycling and the accommodation all of the way. In addition, on this trip, he had also to deal with the Indian currency availability problems - this he dealt with, so that it had no impact on our trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes carefully - in particular comments on the grading of the trip and the types of accommodation (it is "basic" in the more remote locations and this exacerbated by the cool night temperatures at this time of the year - November)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A well run trip.
  • Beautiful scenery

    I can really recommend this trip if you like mixing cultural experience with nature, beautiful scenery and cycling - of course. Its marked as challenging, but it was in general much easier to do than I had expected, only Jalori Pass was a bit though, but can be done at a slow pace. And there is no rush, you can do it in your own speed, slow or fast as you like, there is plenty of time to reach your destination.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All... The cycling through the beautiful landscapes, villages and monastery areas were the main thing, but also the Golden Temple in Amritsar was a wonderful place to visit, as well as the closing ceremony at the Waga border (optional tour). Although we covered a small part of India, still we saw such a huge variety in culture and nature in this trip and Shimla was a wonderful place to end the cycling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Harish was an excellent tour leader, always helpful with everything we needed, giving good advice on everything we asked about - shopping, travel in India, culture, history, politics etc. and always a good laugh. He also had good relations with the driver and cycle mechanic - they were a great team!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a little bag to carry in front of your bike for camera - you will have to stop so many times to take pictures. A gel saddle will also be a good idea.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Accomodation varies in quality throughout the trip - just as its described in the trip notes. Some places were really fantastic, especially the home stay in Andretta. The food was always good and when its not included, eating out in India is really cheap. Take this trip if you want to see a different part of India, a little off road and no so "touristic" - its absolutely fantastic.
  • Reviewed December 2012
    Anonymous

    MOUNTAINS, TEMPLES AND HILL STATIONS RIDE

    This is probably the best of the 7 exodus cycling trips I've done. It's hard, a full C but full of variety and interesting things to see. I really liked the fact that we could (if we wanted) cycle the whole route from start to finish, made the trip much more satisfying. Someone calculated that our cumulative total ascent over the 10 days came to just over 9000 metres, that's equal to cycling up Everest!! Some cycling trips I've done have felt more like a bus trip with a bit of cycling thrown in. You really don't get that feeling on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling up the hill to Dharamsala and cycling over the Jalori pass.We had a real sense of being off the tourist trail, indeed we didn't see another westerner after leaving Dharamsal until we got to Simla and even there I was surprised how few europeans we saw. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    pramud was great as was his assistant, Vijay.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    November is a very good month to go as the day time temperature was ideal, never too hot. However it got very chilly on some nights and the hotels don't have heating so take a down jacket, thermals and hat and gloves. You'll need long trousers for cycling over the jalori pass.Some of the hotels are definitely basic but there's nowhere else to stay, this trip is definitely off the beaten track.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I enjoy cycling in India more than in any other country I've visited. There's always something going on and people to talk to, especially now more and more young people speak such good english! Now that so many people have mobile phones with cameras we found we were being photographed just as much as we were taking photos.
  • Reviewed September 2012
    Anonymous

    MOUNTAINS, TEMPLES AND HILL STATIONS RIDE

    This is challenging holiday. Some of the cycling is fantastic and the scenery is great .It is very much off the beaten track and some of the accomodation is very basic. There is very little rest time for the first few days. There are a couple of hills which are long and steep but are worth it as the downhills are great.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Golden temple is amazing.The days ride to Simla was great.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was pretty good. Good to have someone who enjoyed talking about India  . He admitted the trip was new and therefore he didn't always remember exactly what the route was like in detail. Initially he seemed reluctant to take any of our suggestions on board e.g having shorter stops on the first few days so we could get to our accomodation a bit earlier to enable us to have more free time. However, he did later become a bit more flexible on this.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

     don't know why type has become huge!read the trip notes before trip. Some people hadn't and didn't realise it was hilly with basic accomodation

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Trip could be improved if train trip from Simla was shorter. Could be achieved possible by cycling from Simla- it's all down hill and then catch train. Then travel straight to Delhi and avoid night in hotel in non descript place. Would also give more time in Delhi. I needed a bit of retail therapy by then!! Also perhaps have more time in Maclead Ganj as no time to explore there. I think on this holiday it would be better to have all the food costs included in the holiday (as Exodus used to do many years ago!) as we always ate as a group and sorting out the bills seemed to take ages some times.At the end of the day most people ate roughly the same amount.
  • Reviewed December 2011
    Anonymous

    CYCLING THROUGH NORTH INDIA

    Cycling was fantastic and back up team very enthusiastic and helpful. Challenging cycling by title, challenging by nature.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    2000m climb and 35km climb

    What did you think of your group leader?

    very good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    helps if you are a vegetarian since most midday and overnight meal stops were geared for vegies

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Safety of electricity sockets in rooms and standards of wiring in bathrooms was nothing short of scandalous in some hotels.Basic hotels not comfortable - some were a disgrace and I had to do risk assessments prior to sleering in some of them!