Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed August 2019

    Great trip, great company and a plenty of sticky rice!!!

    Excellent trip from beginning to end and thoroughly recommend it. This was my third Exodus trip and I can not recommend Exodus enough as a travel company!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Great Wall of China is truly amazing. Approximately 90% of the time we were on the less touristy sections of the wall with our group being the only people on the wall. To have one of the wonders of the world all to yourself is something not many can say and was really special I thought. Even though walking along the restored sections was beneficial in understanding how the wall looked a few hundred years ago - or in 'Mulan' - I really enjoyed walking along the original/unrestored parts as it gave you a sense of the history regarding the wall but also the people who worked/served on it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry!!! This was my third exodus trip and like all Exodus guides I have met, Jerry clearly loved his country as he was very passionate and knowledgeable about all things Chinese ranging from culture, food, history and language. Jerry had a good sense of humour which ensured a positive group atmosphere throughout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be fooled by the distances listed in the trip notes. It may look as if the distances are quite short if you are a keen walker, however the constant up and down of - at times steep - steps in almost constant 30+ heat and 90% humidity ensured it is challenging even for one who may consider themselves very fit. I took a pair of walking boots and trail-running trainers, my advice to future travellers is to take a pair of trainers with good grip because on the one two occasions I wore my boots they were too warm meaning I wore my trail-running trainers for the rest of the time. Also you will need trainers with good grip because the wall is very steep in places and on the one day we had rain the wall was also very slippy! General travel advice, be prepared for plenty of sticky rice and practise using chopsticks before you go if you are afraid of looking like an amateur.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Excellent trip and recommend it to anyone. Even though the trip is mainly about the Great Wall of China, going inside the Forbidden City and walking across Tiananmen Square was memorable as was going to a Taoist temple and seeing all of the offerings given to the Jade Emperor whilst attempting Tai Chi on the Wall!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Philip Atess

    Fantastic trip

    Another well organised and memorable trip by Exodus. Varied activity and ran very smoothly including transport, accommodation and food. Guide very knowledgeable and passionate about his country. Would definitely recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the various sections of the wall and getting to shake hands and get a signed book from the person who discovered the Terracotta warriors.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Passionate and knowledgeable about his country. Tried his very best to make sure the group enjoyed the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Terracotta extension as you see a more authentic China than Bejieng. Xi-an is much cheaper £3-£4 for huge meal and drink and overnight train journey is certainly an experience. You can get away with shorts on the walks and certainly only need summer walking boots but ensure they have good grip as some sections of the wall are steep. Only take very light waterproofs, Chinese just use umbrellas. Practice using chop sticks before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Reviewed June 2019
    Catharine and David Finn

    Fantastic walking trip

    Fantastic holiday walking the Great Wall .... great group leader and lovely group of people. We both found The Wall absolutely amazing and China is such an interesting country to visit. Would love to go back to visit another part.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole of the wall was more amazing than we imagined but particularly the 28 Towers walk.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alan was outstanding.....really knowledgeable, enthusiastic and organised. Nothing ever seemed to be a problem or too much trouble as he just sorted things out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take toilet roll and hand gel as not always available. Download VPN before you go if you want to access internet as some sites are blocked.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Peter Kenny

    The Great wall, a great holiday

    An excellent overall experience, really enjoyed the walking, especially the less touristy parts of the wall. The hotel rooms in Beijing and Xi'an were looking a little tired but, they were clean with comfortable beds and good showers. The homesteads were fine with very welcoming hosts. The food overall was very good, although breakfast was a little limited if you like your traditional "English" style to start the day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Standing on a hilltop and seeing the great wall stretching out for miles over mountain peaks that look so steep that you'd think they would be impossible to climb let alone build a wall over.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader in Beijing was Alan, he really was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble for him, on numerous occasions he went out of his way to help us, I really can't praise him enough. Our guide in Xi'an was Chris, he was OK, nothing more than that.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Having done a number of treks with Exodus don't underestimate the physical challenge that this trip offers. Don't be fooled by the distances in the trip notes, it is very up and down with hundreds and hundreds of steps. When we were there the weather was very hot and that also played a part.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really enjoyed walking the Great wall and China is a fascinating country to visit.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gina Crowcroft

    Great concept but, on this occasion, poorly delivered

    The basic trip concept is excellent. However, a group of 16 with only 1 main group leader was wholly inadequate - it meant that we had a lot of wasted time hanging around for the slowest person and our itinerary was unilaterally changed by the tour leader to ensure that the needs of the slowest person out of 16 was met. Unfortunately this meant that 15 out of 16 people were left short changed and did not get what they paid for. Additionally, most days we were rushed to ensure that the group lunched at a specific restaurant off the wall. Given that people would have signed up for this trip due to an interest in the Wall it seems strange that we were always being rushed everyday to get off the Wall. This meant that most days we could not linger and savour the amazing views nor take our time to get that non-touristy photo! We also had itinerary changes due to local factors. Whilst it is appreciated that these are unavoidable the revised itineraries, each time, resulted in less trekking time never more trekking time - very frustrating and left a feeling that we did not receive what we paid for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being on the less touristy parts of the Wall.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry is clearly a lovely guy and a more than adequate tour leader. I think if our group had been more evenly matched re fitness he would have been perfect. However, I believe he was too nice to actually deal with some of the issues on our trek and tried to please everyone but thereby actually not pleasing a significant number of the group. We had our trekking time severely curtailed by a combination of local reasons and a disparity in the speed between the fastest and slowest members of our group but this was not discussed properly with the group and conflicting reasons were given.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not underestimate the unrelenting steepness of the Wall trekking. Be prepared for a lot of "wasted" time away from the Wall due to where the restaurants are etc. It would be much better if picnic lunches were provided most days so that time on the Wall could be maximised. Be brave enough to question how the group kitty is used! Our bus driver ended up being tipped a huge amount (the balance of the kitty) due to our guide leader asking in front of the bus driver if it was ok to give him the balance of the kitty - strangely none of us felt that we could object! But we were all wondering why the balance of the kitty was not redistributed to us after a sensible tip taken for the bus driver.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary and execution of this trip could be improved by a few simple changes: 1. Packed lunches so that time on the Wall is not rushed 2. Two guides every day so that all members of the group could take as long as they wished on the Wall whether that being walking slowly or taking time to take photographs. 3. More information given about the Wall on a daily basis rather than just the last day 4. Changes to itinerary should always be fully discussed and explained with the group in advance
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Kerry Clough

    Memorable Adventure

    Walking the Great Wall in the less touristy sections (in fact almost no other people at all) together with the Xi'an extension to see the Terracotta Warriors surpassed my expectations. It also opened my eyes to a whole new positive side of China that my preconceived ideas had not imagined. A wide range of walking from the flat in Beijing to the undulating and steep on the Wall, on even paths to shingle and scrambling. Delicious food throughout, far superior and less salty than in the UK and friendly, curious locals. Topped off by an absolutely superb Leader/Guide Jerry, whose infectious enthusiasm, wide knowledge of all things Chinese, sense of humour and ability to tell jokes in English made for a truly memorable experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Wall in the quiet sections was spectacular as it weaved its way into the distance over undulating hills with forts on top for as far as you could see. Feeling like we had it all to ourselves most days.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding. Fluent English, infectious enthusiasm and love of China, friendly approachable personality, ability to assess the trekking ability of all of the tour participants and make adjustments to the walks as appropriate, which in most cases for our group was to seek acceptance from all to walk further than the Tour Notes suggested. He was funny, extremely helpful, organised things to do in the evenings if you wanted to participate like Chinese dumpling making and watching and participating in Chinese paper cutting. He also had a good line in English jokes once he knew the group was open to such banter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Xi'an extension and walk or cycle the full 14km of the city wall. It is in fantastic condition and affords great panoramic views of the old city inside the wall. For me it was just as good to do as seeing the Terracotta warriors, which I suggest you get to by 9am as the hordes descended by 9:30 and made for a more stressful viewing experience!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't be put off by the long winded Chinese Visa Application process. if you are open minded your experience on this tour in China will pay you back many fold. Go!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jo Harthan

    One of the best trips

    Fabulous trip but, as with all Exodus holidays, the success is dependent on the tour guide. We had Jerry and he was faaaantastic! What a guy! Knowledgeable, committed and with a wonderful sense of humour. Thank you Jerry - you made the trip gloriously memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Great Wall in the mountains with hardly anyone else in sight. Great opportunity for silent meditation whilst walking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry was fantastic. Knowledgeable, funny, energetic and an amazing, last-minute organiser despite difficulties caused by a large Beijing conference.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you only consider yourself moderately fit, I would recommend doing a bit of training before the holiday to avoid stiff legs in the morning. Parts of the wall are exceptionally steep, both up and down, and the trip involves walking for 6 consecutive days. And if you go in April, be prepared for all weathers - we had freezing temperatures and sleet one day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're hesitating - don't. Just do it. I just wish it had been longer. Also, for those fellow GFs - the food was fabulous and the dishes containing wheat were few. I don't eat Chinese in the UK but the food on this trip was nothing like the UK offerings and was really nice - and lots of it.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Anthony Peake

    Walking The Great Wall

    Most enjoyable trip accompanied by a fun group of fellow walkers and an enthusiastic guide. Would have been 5* BUT a lazy attitude by, i take it, the local tour operator who when given months notice of one of the days hiking having to be altered due to a closed/dangerous section only replaced it with a makeshift day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the mass of people on Tienanmen Square on a public holiday

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Enthusiastic and Knowledgeable
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Shuling Wu

    Walking and Trekking the Great Wall

    It is a great experience! I am so happy to meet the new friends from UK. And the leader Jerry is very reliable to make sure everybody is safe.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking on the top of the original Wall

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He is responsible and makes everybody is safe and sound. It is appreciated to learn his comment about the popular news but it would be great he can share the information and knowledge about the sight, the history, the location and the hiking plan. Some times the group like the sheep and he is the sheep-dog and we just follow him blindly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    British Chinese, American Chinese and the similar can be the potential travelers.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Michael Cooper

    MEETING THE WALL

    Walking the great Wall of China is invariably on lots of Intrepid travellers wish lists or objectives - simply just do it. You will not regret making the decision. If you have not been to China before it is both an introduction to the country (especially Beijing) and walking one of the most documented locations in the world. The majority of the meals are inclusive but this is a bonus as it includes both restaurants in Beijing and and more authentic Chinese cuisine in the Home stays. I do not think I will not bother with a Chinese restaurant again in the UK.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Actually walking on the great wall and and viewing the changing scenery and especially away from the tourists and crowds. Exodus do deliver because for 90% plus of the walk you do not meet/encounter any other walkers. When you do meet the crowds it just brings it home to you how fortunate one has been in being away from the masses.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry was both entertaining, knowledgeable and well organised. His timings were spot on and he could be approached on any issue. A tour leader is best judged on when something goes wrong and he/she has to think on their feet or has to deal with an individuals issue. I saw evidence of Jerry responding to both of these situations.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of steps both up and down and have an 'open mind' to the the home stay accommodation as it may not be what you perceive.