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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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27 Reviews

  • Reviewed December 2019
    Heather Ward

    Simply the best!

    This was our first Exodus cycling holiday and it won’t be our last! The scenery was varied and beautiful, the hotels were better that I was expecting and the cycling was challenging but manageable and a great way to see the countryside. We were able to ride at our own pace through out the trip, with one of the guides at the front and one bringing up the rear and breaks every hour or so for water and snacks. Food from the Exodus Mobile Kitchen was excellent - every meal was something different and we were often the lunchtime the envy of other tour groups! The buffet meals in the hotels were also good - a range of options to suit everyone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the safari in the Kruger - we saw an incredible volume and variety of wildlife, often quite close up - lions 3ft away, elephants crossing the road in front and behind our vehicle. The crowning glory was a leopard spotted by one of our group which just seemed to want to show off for us!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bradley, Skhu and Rea did a fantastic job of looking after us all. From fixing bikes (and the truck) to cooking (including baking a cake on the barbecue!) to sharing their knowledge and love of South Africa and its animals, all three were amazing.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is worth doing some training ahead of the trip, some days were quite tough - up to 2000m of climbing. But we could all ride at our own pace - there was never any pressure to keep up - so don’t let it put you off. There is always the option to get a lift from the truck!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is no bar or other access to beer or wine on the first night, so if you want a drink (and you might after a long transfer), you will need to buy something either at the airport or at one of the stops on the drive.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    sandra southwell

    Drakensberg & Kruger

    Correctly graded as challenging, the first few days were harder than I expected with the altitude and head winds. It was quite cool there too, so a warm and windproof layer is essential in the misty conditions, arm warmers were handy too. The Blyde Canyon ride is long, but you start early (earlier than the trip notes suggest, and without breakfast before setting off); the first and last thirds have an uphill bias but the middle part is a really nice undulating section - the wonderful views are a great distraction too. It’s an enjoyable trip, with some good biking including some fabulous descents safe enough for some good top speeds, and we certainly saw more wildlife than I was expecting - take some binoculars, you’ll be glad you did.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife. This time of year we were told that the animals can be harder to see in Kruger because they’re more scattered in view of the wider availability of water, but we saw plenty - and with the added bonus of lots of babies, including some lion cubs, playful young elephants and the cutest of little antelopes. We also saw some herds of zebra galloping joyously across the meadows earlier in the trip, which was wonderful to see. And late in the trip we passed some people praying by a river family close to the road; hearing their wonderful singing whilst cycling along was very uplifting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Adonia, Rea and Innocent made an excellent team, I hope for future travellers’ sake that they will work together again because they definitely helped make it a really good trip. They obviously got on well and joined in with the group far more than I’ve experienced with most other Exodus trips (I’ve been on at least fifteen). They were knowledgeable, fun and Ado in particular was very keen to ensure we were all aware of the safety aspects of the trip. They were also good cooks, the beef stir fry and barbecue were definite highlights.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Sleep on the first part of the transfer on day one, after the lunch stop there are great views and animal spotting opportunities. Make sure you get a three round-pin adapter, only one or two places had European two-pin sockets. I bought mine at Heathrow but dare say you could get one cheaper beforehand. All accommodations have charging points, although a battery charger pack might be useful on the safari days if you use your camera a lot. You won’t need a huge amount of cash as most meals are included and there aren’t that many opportunities to buy things; if you see something you like buy it as you may well not see it again. There were ATMs at a few of the places we stopped for the guys to stock up on food, however I’d recommend getting some currency before you leave the UK or exchanging some cash when you arrive at the airport. There weren’t that many opportunities to pay by card, particularly for the smaller purchases. Take a travel towel or sarong for the day-time swimming opportunities, you may like to have water shoes for some too. Worth having a change of clothes handy on part-transfer days to avoid sitting in your cycling gear for longer than necessary. A couple of places didn’t have any soap in the bathroom and some provided a kettle but no tea/coffee. Take a few snacks or buy some at the well-stocked supermarkets along the way; the provisions at the snack stops were generally limited to peanuts, wine gums and liquorice all sorts - sometimes with a banana, apple or orange too; I have been on many trips which provide a wider variety of options at the snack stops (exotic fruits, biscuits, chocolate bars, snack bars, crips, energy drinks and so on). The larger bikes had two bottle cages, but even if yours doesn’t two water bottles are handy if you like to drink lots, especially on the safari days (most of us bought a 5 litre bottle of water each for the days in Kruger and Hazyview, everywhere else you can drink the tap water). Lots of the roads were quite light in terms of traffic, but some days were busier and the vehicles can drive quite close as they’re not used to cyclists in this part of S Africa, there were often decent hard shoulders though. Roads were generally in good condition with a few areas having potholes, sadly broken glass from discarded bottles was pretty ubiquitous. Take cleat shoes and clip-in pedals if you’re used to using them. It’s definitely worth taking one of the optional extra game drives as the drivers are expert spotters and are in contact with each other, meaning they know where the best sightings are (ours cost R700 which was quite a bit more than the trip notes suggest, but was longer and very worthwhile). The knowledge-sharing led to us seeing a leopard as well as the other members of the big five gang. That said, our guides and driver were pretty impressive when it came to spotting animals and birds too, we saw a cheetah whilst driving through the park with them; they have a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the area, and a great deal of knowledge to impart.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would agree with other reviewers in that I don’t understand why this trip needs to have quite so much self-catering. I totally understand it’s easier for lunches and some of the picnic spots were excellent - day 3 in particular, plus days 10 and 11. In the Kruger we could easily have had lunch in one of the camp cafes/restaurants. However I too would have preferred to have more evening meals in restaurants. After a day’s cycling I don’t really want to have to balance my dinner plate on my lap, and it’s nice to have a choice. Furthermore, the team have to work incredibly hard sourcing and preparing the meals, then clearing up afterwards; they have very little downtime on this trip. We saw steak on offer in restaurants from anywhere between £7 to £10 and I’m sure that most Exodus customers would be more than happy to pay this for a nice meal on a comfortable chair once or twice during the trip. There are a few fairly lengthy bus transfers but it’s such a vast place that they’re inevitable; our guides kept us amused with information from time to time along the way and Adonia had a small library of books on the wildlife for us to read through. We were fortunate in not having a full group as we had plenty of space and travelled in comfort; I think it would be pretty uncomfortable if there were 14 people and it would also make it difficult for everyone to get a good view on the safari days. The accommodation varies along the way, but is all fine. The Eco camp on days 2 and 3 is wonderful, the hotel at Hazyview is nice although the pool wasn’t clean (the pool at the lunch spot that day was far superior), the final night’s accommodation is lovely and spacious with great views from the bar - head there in advance of dinner to watch the rocks changing colour as the sun goes down. The tents in the Kruger had fans and fridges which was more than I’d expected, although you will have to share the washrooms not only with other campers but also an interesting array of insects attracted to the light - but in general the bug count (and particularly the mozzie count) is pretty low on this trip. Keep a look out for the porcupine in the Kruger campsite - it headed down between the wash block and laundry at around 7pm both nights we were there, it moves a lot faster than you’d think! It’s a shame that the hotel at Graskop is out of town as it looked like there were quite a few interesting shops to potter around there. A couple of nights we had to keep the bikes in our rooms - not much of an issue for me as I was on my own, but probably a bit of a squeeze for two. WiFi and phone coverage isn’t available everywhere, or at least not good connections - so expect some respite from electronic communications! I was lucky as my bike was reasonably good, albeit a bit on the small side. It did however struggle to switch from the large ring to the middle one at the front, but the rear gears were infinitely better than a number of my fellow companions who all had lots of issues with their bikes during the trip. People signing up for a level 4 trip will all be keen cyclists with good bikes at home, and Exodus need to make sure that their local partners are aware of the expectations of their clients. Having bikes which need fixing multiple times a day simply isn’t good enough and takes away some of the enjoyment factor of cycling in such lovely areas. As a minimum the bikes need a thorough inspection before each trip commences and be replaced where necessary. If the support team could spend a little less time preparing food for us all they could do a proper check at the end of each day, and they should certainly be given more spare parts for use during the trip. The local company needs to make appropriate investment to ensure more than just adequate equipment is provided.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Sandra for her review; we were very pleased to read that overall she had an enjoyable trip, but we were sorry that she was disappointed with some of the meal arrangements on the tour.  This tour is structured in a way that we feel offers our customers a range of experiences, from those provided in accommodation, prepared by our local team and eaten in natural surroundings, and also, when they are not included, the opportunity to buy some locally and sample the variety of dishes and snacks available in South Africa.  In some locations, due to the remote nature of the places we stay, there are no restaurants nearby, and meals are cooked and served by our fantastic local staff.  While we regret that Sandra feels this could be improved, we hope this explains why the tour is set up in this manner, but having said this, we have made some minor amendments to the itinerary recently, with three lunches and one dinner removed so clients have additional opportunities to visit local restaurants.

     

    We also understand that Sandra and some other group members had some difficulties with the gearing on their bikes.  We would like to assure her that our local team have a thorough servicing and maintenance procedure, with all bikes being checked before each trip; a mechanic also travels with the group to assist in the event of issues arising as the trip progresses.  While we are sorry for any issues Sandra experienced, we have discussed this with our local team and can assure any customer considering joining this trip that we usually receive excellent feedback regarding the bikes.  We are, nonetheless, sorry for any problems Sandra encountered.

  • Reviewed December 2019
    Sue Altman

    Great itinerary, excellent guides, shame about the bikes

    The bikes are key to the enjoyment of a cycling holiday. I have enjoyed at least 12 previous cycling holidays with Exodus and the bikes provided for this trip were the worst I have ever had. It was difficult or impossible to change gears smoothly on both the front or rear gears. The chain frequently hopped 2 gears, no gears, or changed on a whim entirely by itself. Frequent adjustments were made by the guides, but any changes didn't last more than 20km. I suspect the cables needed changing, but this wasn't in their remit. The display on the handlebars were completely obscured so you had no idea what gear you were in unless you memorised the back and looked down at the front, making it easy to cross chain and exacerbate the problems. On first sight of the bikes at least 2 had new chains which were drooping almost to the ground.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We saw the most astonishing range of animals, including a cheetah, a leopard and 4 baby lions in The Kruger National Park and quite a few outside. The view of the porcupine moving at speed 2 night running on the same route between the toilet blocks in the campsite at dusk was just amazing. I loved the tours of the Rourkes Drift and the Cave paintings

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader Adomi was brilliant; well organised, very well informed . His team consisting of Rio as support and Innocent as the driver worked well and they were friendly and, chatty and mixed in with all of us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't book this trip until you have assurance that the bikes have been replaced or all the key components changed

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All the meals included were prepared by the leaders and driver. I would have enjoyed the trip more if we had eaten in more restaurants. Apart from the first meal, their cooking was excellent, but I do like to sit at a table after a long day in the saddle and have a choice of food and a glass of wine offered. There were restaurants in most places and the food was very cheap and good. We couldn't understand why it was organised like this. It also seemed unnecessarily very hard work for the team. Finally I do like proper coffee not instant for breakfast!

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Sue for her review; we were pleased to read that she enjoyed the itinerary and found her tour leader, Adomi, and his team to be friendly and helpful, but we were very sorry that she was disappointed with the quality of the bikes provided for the trip. All of the bikes used on our South Africa trips are fully serviced at the end of each season with new components fitted, and our local trained mechanic carries out checks on each in between each tour.  Should mechanical issues occur during the trip, at least one member of the team working on the trip, who carries spare parts and a toolkit, is trained to address them.  Our head mechanic in South Africa has explained that in this instance, the bike had been fitted with a new derailleur cable before the trip, which we understand led to Sue having some difficulties with the gears.  Whilst we sincerely regret it was felt this was due to issues with the bike, we feel it is worth mentioning that we generally receive positive feedback regarding the bikes on this tour, and we genuinely hope that this helps reassure that the condition of the bikes is closely monitored.  John Penge – Product Manager.

  • Reviewed April 2019
    shaun bowler

    Excllent leader but disappointing trip

    A beautiful part of Africa. The trip would have been so much better of some proper road bikes. Town hybrid bikes make the cycling up and down never ending hills very hard work. The accommodation and food was extremely average. The rand is so weak, it was cost so very little more to eat in some nice places and stay in some really nice guest houses we passed. It felt that we were on a budget! The food in SA is exceptional and we never got to experience it. The saving grace was our guides who also were good cooks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    the Views in the Drakensberg's, especially when going down hills.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    they were both excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take some nice food with you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    please review the accommodation, food and bikes

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Shaun for his review. We were pleased that he found this part of Africa to be beautiful and the tour leaders to be excellent, but we are sorry that he was disappointed with the bikes, accommodation and food. We are very confident that the bikes we use are the most suitable for this tour, as they are robust enough for some of the rugged conditions. The route offers spectacular roads and we select the best available accommodation along these routes for groups of this size. The feedback we usually receive about the accommodation and food on this trip, which visits rural parts of South Africa, is usually very positive, as are the reviews for this trip overall, but we nonetheless regret Shaun’s disappointment. John Penge – Product Manager

  • Reviewed March 2019
    Janice Eastman

    Cycling and Safari in South Africa

    This was a good trip with a great balance of cycling and safari. However, there are some really long transfers between days, not just the transfer to and from the airport. With 14 in a 14 seater mini bus it was not the most comfortable of journeys, especially for the men with their larger shoulders. Make sure you do some training before you go as there are some long hills, which require endurance. The guides were most helpful and encouraged everyone. They also prepared some good meals, taking into account everyone's dietary needs.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting really close to some of the animals in Kruger

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bradley was informative and helpful, also a great cyclist.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Train for the hills. There are many and they require endurance, especially in the heat. If you take your own bike, like I did, it would be preferential to have a 11-32 cassette. I only had 28 and it was very hard work at times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus could improve the experience if a bigger mini bus was used. It was very tight with 14 passengers in the back in a 14 seater bus, when some of the transfers are over 4 hours long.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Bill Petrusiak

    Better than expected

    While the scenery, the riding, the safaris were everything we hoped for, what really made the trip were the guides. Peter with his excellent knowledge, Bradley with his encouragement and concern, Vuyo, with his driving skills and always being there, made the trip so enjoyable. They had great insights, a great sense of humour and their efforts enabled us to do it all.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the wildlife

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Peter was very knowledgeable and attentive. Even when we thought he was wrong, circumstances proved he was right. For example, getting up at 6 a.m. to see the animals, or getting an early start on a hot day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be ready for some long van transfers. Also, have warm clothes for the high altitudes. Drink lots of water. Use sunscreen.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    South Africa is a beautiful country with lots of potential. Tourism will help it reach that potential.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Denise Hall

    Cycling Drakensberg and Kruger

    This tour is not a race it’s about taking your time and embracing the scenery, culture and everything the trip has to offer.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the diversity of the scenery and the wild animals in Kruger.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tallis ably assisted by Vuyo were first rate tending to all our requirements. All the meals prepared by the leaders were excellent considering the facilities available to them, more than enough for everyone and dietary requirements well catered for.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long challenging hill climbs but scenery is worth the effort.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Amanda M

    Diverse trip that exceeded (already high) expectations!

    A wonderful trip full of beautiful varied scenery, challenging cycles, wildlife, and history! While we did spend substantial amounts of time cycling, it also felt like there was a good amount of time for non-cycling activities: visiting several historical / archeological sites of interest, hiking, swimming on multiple days, and enjoying a beer in the evening. The cycle days also weren't rushed, with good breaks for coffee and lunch on most days. Our lead guide, Peter, was fantastic: so experienced in leading cycle trips and a conservationist on top of it, which was particularly insightful for our time in Kruger. The accommodation was all very comfortable and the many meals prepared by the guides were great: including several barbecues and often hot breakfasts or lunches at picnic spots!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling in the Golden Gate Park (day 1 of cycling) with herds of zebra crossing the road in front of us; the peaceful setting of the Sungubala Eco Camp; everything about Kruger Park; setting off just after sunrise for our toughest day of cycling.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Jennifer Steward

    Cycling Drakensberg and Kruger

    This is the trip for you if you're looking for challenging cycling through soaring mountain scenery combined with wildlife spotting in the Kruger National Park. There's also time for relaxing away from a city environment in comfortable accommodation in beautiful natural surroundings. The trip is a good mix of active cycling days on a variety of routes (mostly low traffic) but with hills! The game drives in Kruger give a good break before two quite challenging cycling days toward the end of the tour. All round a great trip for people who enjoy active outdoor holidays.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the challenging rides through the majestic scenery of the Drakensberg Range and, particularly, the ride along the spectacular Blyde Canyon. Spotting wildlife in the Kruger National Park and observing a rare African Wild Dog face off hyenas on a morning game drive was inspirational!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader worked hard to ensure the group was looked after well. He has a good knowledge of local history and was sociable with the group. All the team of guides worked hard, were good-humoured and took care to ensure everyone had a good time, plenty to eat and drink and enjoyed the cycling and other activities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is plenty of uphill on many of the routes so a bit of cycle training is advised. However all the routes are do-able and there is a support vehicle following the group at all time. Great for travellers who want social media downtime as WiFi is limited in many places.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There are some relatively long travel days but the drives are scenic with plenty of stops along the way.
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Ian Cooper

    Ian Cooper. Cycling the Drakensburg Ranges

    Very well run trip with Jean-Paul Gardelli looking after us, Ende driving,fixing bikes and game spotting and Skhumbuzo ably assisting and telling stories. The guys turned out excellent meals every day on the road and kept a steady supply of liquorice allsorts to get us up the hills!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Ende our driver spotting a leopard on a branch driving out of Kruger was brilliant. The scenery is truely spectacular ( just like the ads!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jean-Paul Gardelli was great. Very informative on many subjects thrown at him. Obviously loves his country and got on really well with everyone..Nothing was too much trouble for him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a great trip for the moderately fit. Lots of variety in the scenery and the driving sections are not too long.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Lots to see in South Africa so try and incorporate another tour