Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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178 Reviews

  • Reviewed November 2019
    Brian White

    Well Delivered Challenging Walking in a Beautiful Area

    We did the challenging week in early September. Having done many 'challenging' holidays with Exodus in the past, for the first time a very challenging weeks walking was actually delivered. This was our first time in Tuscany and from the moment we got off the plane at Pisa we were taken with the area. The accommodation was idyllic and the surrounding scenery stunning. The day trip by train to Lucca was well worth it and very interesting.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was a great area for some serious walking, summits, views and scenery. Even the vehicle transfers to and from the start of the walks were interesting. The demanding two day walk with an overnight stay at the comfortable refuge was a great experience along with the strenuous summit of Monte Cusana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara was a very good and knowledgeable guide who had a great passion for the area.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather was very kind to us in early September and we walked mainly in t-shirts, but we did have one wet afternoon when it absolutely poured, so take decent waterproofs and proper boots. There are problems with ticks in this area so it is important to check yourself at the end of each walk. We found a few! For the challenging departure you need to be fit otherwise you will hold the group back. Take good boots, poles and ideally a hydration system (Camelbak) as you get through plenty of water, and refills are not always available on the route. Although the overnight refuge was more 'posher' than some, you still need to take earplugs, eye shades, towel and a red bulb head torch. The food is excellent and plentiful and there is hot water, showers and proper toilets! All in all, a good experience and the thought of a refuge should not put you off booking this trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip has to be the best challenging walking week we have been on with Exodus. Do it, you won't regret it!
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Annie Hibberd

    Magical mountains in Italy

    This beautiful undiscovered corner of northern Tuscany was both a delight and a surprise, and especially gorgeous in all its autumn glory. If you love mountains and views come here. If you love trees, they make the walking even better. There are Medieval villages too and gorgeous local food and wine. Perhaps a little more strenuous than other grade 3 trips, but with a good pair of boots, walking poles, lovely Braccicorti cooking in your belly and the best guide ever, you will reach heights, literally, you hadn't imagined. With two exceptions, all of our group were 60+ and it was all achievable and a good challenging mixture of climbs and descents (with a fine hostelry at the end in most cases!) The walks were all interesting and varied in the amazing geography of Garfagnana with a brilliant day out to Lucca in the middle of the week. Don't hesitate - just go there!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing to the top of Monte Prado in clear warm weather in late October. The autumn colours of the beech trees, which extend to the tree line, were just beautiful - and catching a glimpse of a golden eagle on the way down. Walking up through the dappled light of the beech woods, knowing there were wild boar, deer and even wolves (higher up) unseen, but there nonetheless.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara is probably the best guide I have had the pleasure of walking with. Her love and knowledge of the area shines through as well as her vast skill and experience at getting the very best - plus a bit more - out of us motley crew. If I knew she was leading another trip (assuming the endurance levels were within my reach!) I would not hesitate to choose it. She went above and beyond to make two birthday celebrations on the final day most memorable - especially her home made cakes!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take good boots, definitely walking poles - and learn how to use them properly. Layers and rain protection. Late October was lovely and warm on most of the days, but a hat and fleece at the summit was welcome, even in bright sunshine. Leave your busy life behind and be ready to immerse yourself in the amazing peace of the mountains.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be prepared to be amazed and delighted.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    David Lowe

    A brilliant holiday

    We have walked many times on Exodus holidays and this rated at the top of our list of many great holidays. We chose a challenging week and were very pleased that we had. Braccacorti as a base was a delight - views across the valley to distant mountains, really comfortable and delicious food (and plenty of it!). The walking was as it had been described in the brochure - challenging but so rewarding and so varied.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hardly a moment but the two day walk with an overnight in the refugio will be a lasting memory of a great trip. This was a first venture into an overnight stop in a refuge. We didn't know what to expect but "really warm", "good food", "comfortable with plenty of space", "hot showers", "set in the heart of the mountains" all contributed to a wonderful experience. Walking the ridge with some wonderful views into Tuscany and Emiliano with the sun on our backs and good company - wonderful!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara was simply great! Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for her in explaining what we were going to be doing, checking we were OK, making sure all arrangements were in place...this we have come to expect from Exodus leaders. Sara added much more - sharing her own experiences as a world wide traveler and leader, telling us about the region in which we were walking, listening to our experiences, introducing us to local people, the family who run Braccacorti, restaurants and watering holes ( the local taxi drivers and guides). Her enthusiasm and passion just shone through!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are ready for wet weather because when it rains that is something special! We had one downpour and then blue skies and sunshine for the week. For those on the challenging week and the stop in the refuge we would suggest taking a light weight towel so you can make the most of the showers. You don't need additional footwear as that is there for you in the refuge. For the light sleepers some earplugs might be helpful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Now looking forward to planning where we go next....starting with the Exodus brochure
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Anne Wenlock

    Everything I could have hoped for.

    This was my first holiday abroad for several years as well as my first booking with Exodus. My initial contact with the company was very positive and as soon as I booked my excitement began. The Agriturismo Braccicorti was idyllic and food was both plentiful and delicious (and washed down with Braccicorti wine). As for my fellow travellers, you couldn't have chosen a more like-minded group. I can't wait to start planning my next holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing Mount Prado, the highest peak in Tuscany. The views were incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Liz was a brilliant group leader. She was knowledgeable about the local area, an excellent Italian speaker and an experienced mountain leader. She went out of her way to ensure that everyone was happy during the climbs and considered everyone's abilities. Liz made train, taxi and restaurant bookings for us. She certainly seemed to go above and beyond!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes very carefully, consider how fit you are, wear technical clothes in summer, make sure your insurance is good enough for this activity - you will be asked to note down if you are covered for a helicopter evacuation. Get a good rucksack which is comfortable to wear for the whole day.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    J C

    Fantastic walking and first class accommodation

    This was my fourth Exodus holiday, all were excellent but this was probably the best overall in terms of consistently excellent accommodation, food and walking routes. Our Agriturismo was beautiful, delicious food and wine all locally produced, plus a lovely large pool. Rooms were very comfortable. This is a mountainous area with unpredictable weather, so come prepared for some heavy downpours/thunderstorms mixed with hot sunshine, even in July. Our guide Tony was very professional and knowledgeable, and provided a good mix of encouragement and flexibility to enable everyone in the group to get the most out of their trip. Thoroughly enjoyed the free day in Lucca, hired bikes and rode around the ancient city walls. Don't believe the trip notes which suggest Cinque Terra is do-able on the free day, it is too far away.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking for 2 hours up a mountain in torrential rain , thunder and lightning, drenched to the skin despite all my rain gear, then coming out at the summit to blue skies, hot sunshine and jaw-dropping views across the peaks in every direction. Magical!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tony was excellent - highly experienced, a great leader and a wonderful mixture of Yorkshire grit and Italian charm.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare for varied weather - this part of Tuscany can get very wet even in July.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Some issues pre-trip with incorrect information about travel arrangements but this was sorted out by Exodus to my satisfaction.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Jo Ware

    A well balanced, challenging trip

    It was with some trepidation that we embarked on this walk. Not having participated in an organised holiday for many years and being rather "senior" in age we were unsure whether we had picked the right grade. However, from the time of booking to our return, the trip went without a hitch. The Tuscan scenery is stunning, and we loved the accommodation at Agriturismo Braccicorti - comfortable, homely accommodation with home produced Italian food. The walking was varied and challenging in places however never beyond our capabilities. This was mainly due to Sarah our excellent guide who had a wealth of knowledge and experience and in a short while was able to assess the groups abilities - and encourage when necessary. What a sense of achievement when we reached the summits! A balanced itinerary of four days mountain walking, an interesting walk around the local villages with Luigi and a visit to Lucca ensured a holiday to remember and one to be recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing to the summit of Monte Sumbra and Monte Prado

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Knowledgeable, encouraging and observant

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you Exodus for the quality of the trip and efficiency at every stage
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Heather Franks

    Brilliant week

    We had a really brilliant week - Sara our guide was the best ever and went out of her way to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves and accommodated those who couldn't quite manage to do every walk all the way. She also managed to organise fantastic weather - not wet and not too hot and a great group! The accommodation was in a fantastic location with a lovely outdoor pool. The family were friendly and produced scrumptious home cooked food from local produce.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching a golden eagle majestically glide through the air - below us! I decided to simply watch rather than fumble for my camera to get what could have been a fantastic picture but miss the spectacle.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I have been on 20-30 group trips with Exodus and other companies over the past 11 years and Sara was one of, if not the, best group leaders I have had. She was always professional and approachable and did whatever she could to ensure our enjoyment.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I was a bit hesitant about booking this trip (activity level 3) as I am "getting on" and having to reduce the activity levels I do. However the walks were easier than I anticipated because of the amount of shaded woods we walked through and a lot of the gradients were more gradual than I expected. We didn't have to do a couple of the tougher end bits to the summit. Both times I (and others) opted out of the summit the group was retracing it's steps and we were able to sit and wait with beautiful views - no hardship!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Lovely get away from it all week!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Corrie Huntley

    Excellent

    Despite poor weather conditions we did fabulous walks, with the leader taking the weather conditions into consideration, so we therefore had the best experiences.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching a viewing point where I saw the summit of the next mountain, and then achieving that summit without realising that was our destination. I had actually said I didn't think I could get there to some of others whilst standing looking at it, and I'd just presumed that wasn't where we were going.... I found I was capable of more than I realised with the support I got from our leader Sara.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic. Very caring and supportive to all the group members. Aware of their individual needs and concerns. Answering all the questions with her extensive local knowledge plus promoting the Exodus company wholeheartedly during conversations.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just go with an open mind, relax and enjoy. Do not hesitate to share your concerns and worries with your leader.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Ron Powell

    Great holiday - despite some unkind weather

    I decided not to downgrade the holiday because of two days of bad weather. Our guide could not have done more in the selection of walks, and they were still good - if soggy - while the scenery was all you'd expect when the clouds lifted.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were several, the views over Lucca from the tree-covered Guinigi Tower, and from the summit of Mount Sumbra, plus the view from our room when the clouds eventually lifted.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sara could not have done more to make the most of the weather with which she was presented on the first two days, and her arrangements in every other way were spot on, including her advice for the non-walking day. A great companion and guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for all weather, even in Italy in May.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Elaine Richards

    Lovely holiday despite the weather!

    The walking in this area is spectacular, through beech or chestnut forests up to amazing peaks. We did not have the best weather but the walking was still a joy. The accommodation is homely but with all the facilities that you require from a hotel with special touches such as being able to make you own hot drinks at any time. The food was locally sourced and well cooked. The pool is a welcome addition although unfortunately we weren't able to make the most of it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The 360degree views form Monte Sumbra and visiting the hermitage of San Viano.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This is the second time that Sara has been our group leader. She is an inspirational leader, she brings a group together and manages to get the best out of everyone by giving them self belief. She knows her stuff and shares her love of the area that she is in.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you love walking in beautiful surroundings you will love this trip