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 March 2016
    Stella Pilsworth

    Discover Colombia

    A wonderful introduction to a complex country. The colour and architecture of the historic towns we visited was was fascinating and vibrant. The people were welcoming and friendly and Tayrona National Park and coastline was just beautiful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cartagena was the place I wanted to see and I wasn't disappointed. Hearing the horses hooves clopping around the old town at night as they took the carriages through the beautiful narrow streets was lovely.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Friendly and agreeable but he certainly needed more experience. He was out of his depth with a group of 15 or so seasoned travellers.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You do need to be reasonably fit to keep up with the group and participate in the long walks. Also the last day involves a hike out of Tayrona to get the coach and it is a long journey back home before you can shower unless you book an extra night in Bogota.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Derek Gott

    Discover Colombia

    Colombia was a pleasant surprise. The people are friendly and the accommodation and food are of a good standard. We visited a variety of interesting places ranging from the cool highlands to the heat of the Caribbean coast. We has a comfortable air conditioned bus and travelling, once we escaped the traffic jams in Bogota was easy.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was all new to me . I particularly enjoyed visiting Villa de Leyva, the coffee zone, Cartagena and Tayrona N.P.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gabriel is a pleasant friendly lad. He admitted he was still learning but we all liked him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It helps if you have an elementary knowledge of Spanish if you go off on your own.Be careful after dark as there are a lot of uneven pavements in the towns. Take care of you valuables.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Stephen Devlin

    Discover Colombia AAK

    My first group tour & my first time to South America. A well organised and interesting trip. Nice group of people from all over the UK and Europe from various backgrounds and age groups. Very informative site seeing tour with easy walks within national parks, coffee regions and city locations. Enough time on your own if needed to look around, yet always felt part of the group.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Salento in the coffee region. One of the most beautiful Village's and location I've travelled to. Small independent coffee grower tour that shows how a small family business survives in a very competitive global market. Very interesting, educational and enjoyable tour!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was fantastic Always on hand to answer questions or assist you when needed. Very informative and articulate

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book the trip as soon as you can................. Don't book a hammock at the end of your trip in the Tayrona national park, people were bitten quite badly by insects. Upgrade to a Cabana instead.
  • Reviewed October 2013
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER COLOMBIA

    This trip is ideal for someone caught up in the western world with bad media coverage. Colombia is anything but dangerous and scary. This place stole my heart and this Exodus tour captured just a small portion of Colombia's natural beauty.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being grounded in Bogota for 2 additional nights due to farming protests and roadblocks restricted us from travelling to Villa De Leyva, which enabled me to see, firsthand, the people's resistance against its own government.  Waking up surrounded by mountains in Manizales at the Palestina Ecohotel left me breathless. Arriving in the Caribbean, in beautiful Cartagena and being welcomed by a wet, yet very warm tropical storm. The rain at no point could get in the way of this perfect city.  Tayrona NP and the hammock experience ! Apart from the hammock not being the most comfortable bedding I’ve ever slept in, this experience is unforgettable - as you fall asleep to the sound of wildlife and nature. Topped off the following day by a swim at a pristine, secluded beach. Absolute paradise !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan really was perfect for this trip. He is so passionate about his country and is incredibly experienced. His local knowledge in all cities was the best I’d ever had on any tour. He knew the best restaurants (very well priced), hideouts and most importantly he knew where to find the best coffee. He became one of the group members early on yet remained aware of each group member's whereabouts at all times. There's no doubting our experience was made better with Juan leading the way !!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Remember, Colombia is only just opening up to tourists ! Be flexible for itinerary changes, lack of water pressure and on the odd occasion, no hot water (Mostly in the Caribbean areas)  Take a wet proof jacket and a lot of sunscreen. The climate is very different from North to South.  **IMPORTANT ADVICE** DO NOT go horse riding in the Cocora Valley !! This is the alternative to a 5 hour hike and not worth the risk even if you are an experienced rider. It is very wet, slippery, muddy, rocky and STEEP terrain. It's certainly not the best ground to fall on, let alone from a further 2 meters up !! (Pack hiking shoes)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Although this tour doesn’t include places like Cali, Medellin, San Andres, Providencia, San Agustin, Popayan, the Amazon, Ciudad Perdida etc etc etc. it STILL offers so much !! Take some extra time and see more if you need to, or simply go back the following year.  As they say over there, "The only risk is wanting to Stay !"
  • Reviewed September 2013
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER COLOMBIA

    The trip was varied and Colombia is a great country, but you need to be flexible and understanding to potential changes.We had a few issues due to strikes (by the farmers and lorry drivers) and a few flight delays, but the trip leader did everything he could to ensure our safety and that we were kept aware of the frequently changing situations which were out of the control of anyone. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The intensity of the electrical storms in the Coffee Region and Tayrona National Park.   Colombia and it's people are lovely and there is wide variations between the different regions, it really is magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan took a lot of time to ensure we are all OK and looked after.  He did an amazing job at helping us at restuarants to ensure we all ordered what we wanted and had separate bills.Juan talked a lot about Colombia, it's people and cultures and was very knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared to be flexible.
  • Reviewed September 2013
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER COLOMBIA

    Well organised and varied trip which encompasses the highlights of Colombia.  Colombia is not at all dangerous - I think you are less likely to have your bag stolen than in Rome or Barcelona - and the people are great.  Highly recommended as a destination.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole trip was enjoyable (though I'm not sure I would use the word inspirational - it's a big word).  Cartagena was beautiful and atmospheric, Tayrona national park had stunning beaches. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan was a fantastic leader.  Extremely friendly, engaging and interesting.  He was always prepared to go the extra mile and has the perfect personality to be a tour leader.  We loved him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Colombia isn't at all dangerous, so no need to worry about that at all.  The people are great and very happy to see tourists.  I would recommend this trip.I spent more money than I expected, primarily because I drank wine, which is not really drunk out there and is expensive.  You are better sticking to beer if you are economising (or water!). Not all the hotels had hot water (I'd been told they had) which is why I haven't put the holiday down as five stars.  We had hot water only half the time, which didn't matter to everyone, as it wasn't cold, but I am keen on hot water.I did the riding in the coffee region along with a fellow travelling companion (instead of the walk).  We had told them we were inexperienced riders.  The riding is unsuitable for inexperienced riders.  No helmets provided, but also on very rocky terrain, across rivers and up steep climbs.  My companion got thrown off twice (amazingly she got back on after the first time).  It was very dangerous and I would only recommend this ride to very experienced riders with riding hats. On the walking day in the coffee region we set off at 11 and didn't get back until around 5, so I would recommend eating something before setting off.  Otherwise you will be very hungry.Take insect repellant - quite a lot of bitey things around.In Tayrona national park, five of us rented a cabin to share there and then (we decided we couldn't face the hammocks).. It was fabulous and excellent value between the five of us.  And it had hot water!Not too many early starts, which was great.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have been to Peru and Argentina and want to see another South American country, I would really recommend this trip.
  • Reviewed June 2013
    Anna Clark

    Anna Clark

    I just want to state that we have traveled on nine previous occasions with Exodus and have always given ratings of four or more stars. This rating is not a reflection on Colombia, which we loved, but on the value for money this trip offers. Compared to previous trips this seemed to be very expensive basically for a trip that offered hotels and transport.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved wandering around the streets of Cartagena. Please be aware that if your free day in Cartagena falls on a Monday a number of the museums and churches are closed. Absorbing the atmosphere in Villa de Leyva.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Whilst Juan was a lovely bloke he did not live up to our expectations of an Exodus guide. The information on Colombia was obtained from guidebooks. We saw very little of him. There was often no option for a group meal, which was fine, although if you enjoy the group experience this is possibly not the trip for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The optional excursions were a lot more expensive than the prices listed in the itinerary. This may have been because our group was small.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We are extremely sorry that Anna’s trip did not live up to her previously very positive experiences of travelling with us. We understand that this departure did not run as smoothly as we expected, and in conjunction to the below review, we have now responded to Anna and Rosalind’s concerns directly. An Exodus staff member will be travelling on the next departure of this trip and we trust this will ensure that the trip continues to run to the high standards we expect.
    Exodus Customer Services

  • Reviewed June 2013
    Rosalind D'Albert

    It's Colombia, not Columbia!

    Colombia is a wonderful country and this trip gives an opportunity to taste a good variety of places, climates and altitudes. From Bogota to the serenity of the coffee zone, then over to the Caribbean and the jungle, we experienced more, and less, than we expected. More in that our guide did not seem to follow the trip notes, not sure if it was him or the notes that were wrong, and less in that there was a lot of free time with no activities, although we could have done them independently - easy if you speak Spanish. An expensive trip to have so much unorganised time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the sun set from Cartagena and travelling back from the Rosario Islands in a bouncy speedboat! The day in the coffee region visiting the farm was also a great one.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan Diego was charming although he left us to our own devices more than we had expected.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I opted for a cabana rather than the hammocks in Tayrona, very luxurious with fabulous bathroom, worth every penny! It was SO hot, lovely to sleep under a fan rather than with a mosquito net inches from my face. Also, be prepared for some discrepancy in the time the guide reckons a walk will take and the actual times. We found the Lonely Planet estimates were spot on. In Villa de Leyva there was not enough to do to merit a free afternoon, the visit to the dinosaur/fossil museum could easily have been included and still left enough time for exploration and shopping after the guided tour in the morning, so find out about taxis and go it alone. Much cheaper than the extortionate price the local guide was asking.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Rather than spend a free day in the steaming heat of Cartagena we took the trip to the Rosario Islands, organised by the local guide, which was lovely - nice to be out at sea - with a walk round the village, canoe trip, lunch, pool etc. BUT on this very expensive holiday it was not an option for everyone, to have to pay so much extra. Don't get me wrong, we had a fantastic time and loved the country, travelling with a great group, but just had a few niggles about value for money, and attentiveness of our guide, compared to other Exodus trips we've done.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We were sorry to learn that this trip did not quite live up to Rosalind's expectations. Rosalind has also contacted us directly to raise some concerns regarding her trip and we investigated these matters.

    Exodus Customer Services

  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER COLOMBIA

    Interesting trip that offers an insight into the geographic and cultural diversity of Colombia. Large distances mean internal flights and time spent at airports but the latter are efficient and its worth it to see the contrasting areas of the country. Colombians are very welcoming - delighted that people are willing to challenge the country's negative image by travelling there.  Only disappointment was being unable to trek in Los Nevados National Park (closed for 8m+) due to the activity of Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Cocora Valley was a pleasant hike but Ruiz would have been special.......a good reason, amongst several, to go back!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking to the well preserved ruins of Chairama (El Pueblito) in Tayrona National Park as an optional activity with our guide, Juan. There is a steepish paved path that leads from from Cabo San Juan del Guía (a couple of beach bays from where we stayed) that consists of boulders which were put together in a manner that allowed the sound of footsteps to carry. This alerted the indigenous peoples of Chairama to the approach of visitors. I had learned a little about these ancient people and their current descendants -the Kogi and Arhuaca- from the episode on Colombia of the BBC documentary-"Lost Kingdoms of South America". There was something truly magical about climbing to this isolated place with very few other tourists around. We were also very lucky to meet two Arhuaca near our base camp. They rarely come near tourists other than when they have mochilas to sell. A mochila is the traditional bag the Arhuaca use, amongst other things, to carry cocoa leaves and popora. It has an important historical and cultural significance to the Arhuaca and I had wanted to purchase one since watching the documentary. It was thus very special to meet the Arhuaca,  purchase the mochila, and walk to Chairama. Tayrona itself is very beautiful. The beaches are magnificent though potentially dangerous because of currents and shelving. I would have happily spent at least another day here despite the hammocks (which arent the most comfortable things to sleep in!).In a different way, the Gold Museum and the National Museum in Bogata were also inspiring - largely because of the rich cultural history of the pre-Colombian peoples that are represented in the artefacts in both places. The Gold Museum is world class, with audio guides in English available. It is worth exploring in your own time in addition to the organised group tour. Finally, Villa de Leyva - the beauty of the old hotel we stayed in, the weird phallic monoliths and astrological observatory of the Muiscas at El infiernito and the 120 million year old fossilised Kronosaurus were special. Again they evoked a past that little is known about.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Juan was a very engaging, helpful and pleasant person who was very interesting to talk to about Colombia but who was perhaps not as forthcoming as he could have been about the country to the group as a whole. On some of the longer drives it would have been good if he had talked more about the country in general and the place we were visiting in particular .....you get used to Exodus guides being good at doing this so miss it when it doesnt quite happen in the way you expect!! He was a good guy though and great at being willing to take us to Chairama in Tayrona. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Vegetarians are not well catered for in Colombia so if you can compromise at all -for example by eating fish- it would increase the enjoyment of the trip. The trout is fantastic in the mountains. Its easy to change cash -the airport rate is slighly lower than elsewhere but its very convenient. There are ATMs but our card and that of another traveller were blocked by our respective UK banks from withdrawing cash despite the fact we both had notified our banks that we would be travelling to Colombia and using our cards there. We had to phone the UK several times to sort the matter. I would personally now only rely on a card as a back up to cash. Pick up a map of Bogata from the tourist office, La Candelaria: Plaza de Bolívar. It very clearly shows all the stops on the Transmilenio. The start hotel is near the Transmilenio which makes it easy to get in and out of Bogata cheaply and -relative to cars-quickly. Hotel staff showed us how to use the Transmilenio which was very good of them. Worth getting used to especially if you have extra time in Bogata. The museums are great. Botero's work is fun and interesting. If you want to purchase a mochilo speak to the guide and probably wait till you get to Tayrona. There are synthetic imitations around. Its worth learning some Spanish, no matter how little. Not many local people speak English.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The owners of the hotel in the Coffee area threw an impromptu party for us to thank us for visiting Colombia. Really nice. I was sorry I didnt have a small souvenir from the UK to have given them.If you travel independently, the start hotel looks as if its in a grotty area but Zona Rosa is a great area for restaurants. Fine to walk around and lots of students. Good location for getting Transmilenio from Heroes Station into La Candelaria.I personally wouldnt recommend Isles de Rosario as there is nothing there other than beach. If you want to snorkel its important to know that you need to pay extra and stay on the boat to another place. This wasnt clear to our party.Really glad went on this trip. Good with a great crowd of people. If I could have walked in Los Nevados at high altitude in the paramo I guess I would have given it five star!!
  • Reviewed March 2013
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER COLOMBIA

    Colombia was a beautiful country and away from Cartagena was almost entirely free of other tourists. Villa de Leyva was a beautiful town and the Coffee Region was just beautiful. We mainly found the people welcoming, many just grateful that we were prepared to visit the country at all. Bogota was a Bustling city and around our hotel was busy with upmarket restaurants and chic bars - all of which was a bit of a (welcome) surprise. Public transport into the historic centre was quick and efficient, if inclined to be rather crowded. In the centre Bogota had a good selection of museums but not much else. Bogota, Villa de Leyva, Coffee Region and Cartagena were all so different that the trip could fairly be described as 'varied and interesting.' The only thing that let the trip down was timekeeping. So often we were exceptionally late arriving at places and everything took much, much longer than it was supposed to.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenery in the Coffee Region was fabulous and the visit to the coffee plantation was the undoubted highlight of the entire trip. The hotel in Villa de Leyva was amazing and a destination in itself and the town was very pleasant to walk around. There wasn't an inspirational moment, but the more I saw of and learned about Colombia the more inspired I became.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was full of enthusiasm and very easy to get along with, a really great guy, but his timings were so way off as to be ridculous sometimes and his instructions and directions (like how to get back to the hotel by Transmilenio bus) could be a little inaccurate.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Colombia! But if you are a vegetarian watch out. It is possible to get vegetarian food but you generally get thoroughly ripped off for it. A normal meal of meat, salad and chips can cost 50% more if they leave the meat off. In one restaurant I paid way more than everybody else did for a two course meal of soup and a meat course, and I just got a vegetarian lasagne that was served up in the foil dish it had come from the supermarket in.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The walk in Cocora Valley was really hard with slippery mud, big rocks to scramble over and some long, steep climbs. It took over twice the 3-hours predicted for it and we got lunch at about 6:00pm. If you are going on that walk take some food with you and plenty of water. However, the humming birds at the top made it worth it!The hammock experience didn't work for me. The hammocks were crammed into something the size of a bamboo aircraft hangar with a concrete floor and I just found them uncomfortable and not in any way the charming experience I was expecting.
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