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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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65 Reviews

  • Reviewed April 2020

    Eye Opening Views and Great Weather

    On the interior of the island I sometimes I felt that I as walking through a set for a prehistoric film with towering spires of solidified lava, lush vegetation, and some plants that are pot plants in the UK growing wild to giant proportions. On the coastal walks it is mesmerising to watch and hear the waves battering against the base of the cliffs. Following the levadas along vertiginous rock faces and through caves, I marvelled at how they were created using only hand tools. The Madeirans are very friendly and the service in the hotels and restaurants is second to none. The drivers were always on time and I never felt rushed to be anywhere. The weather was exceptionally sunny for the time of year and we were able to swim in the sea very comfortably. The Christmas illuminations in Funchal were amazing. I have never seen so many anywhere else. For such a short flight from the UK I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone just to see this varied and stunning island.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were walking high up above the clouds and came round a corner to see cloud slowly filling a valley below us to the brim. We watched as the cloud reached the top and then slowly started to flow over a ridge down into the next valley like a slow-motion waterfall. Everyone went quiet and just watched. Later on we reached the ridge and walked across it through the flowing cloud.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Andre, arranged a birthday cake for me which was a really nice thing to do and typical of his caring attitude. Andre knows a great deal about the fauna and flora of the island and stops the walks at intervals to point out items of interest, and to explain something of their history and ecology. it is clear that he loves the island a great deal. He sometimes played his ukulele as he walked! Andre is funny and cheerful but could be quite direct. Most people liked this and but a few didn't. Personally I think that he was very patient, cheerful, and almost inexhaustible with what was a large group in sometimes dangerous situations. On a small note I would say that Andre perhaps needs to carry flyers or written information for trips that he mentions for our free day. He kindly booked whale watching for a group of us but we didn't have a contact number or location for the company (Andre pointed to the place on Google Maps on his phone whilst we were in a bar the day before). Never the less we found it and it was a great afternoon (albeit I left my sea-legs on shore that day).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Exodus does warn that this holiday is not for vertigo sufferers and with good reason because sometimes the paths can be very narrow with sheer drops to one side and a rock wall to the other, and occasionally you may have to very carefully pass walkers coming the other way. The paths are by no means like that all the time, and in fact some of them are wide and dressed with stone, but you can't avoid the narrow stretches. The holiday is graded as Moderate and I think that is fair but potential travellers should note that it is hard on your knees because of the very steep ascents and descents. Andre recommended walking poles to relieve the strain but I preferred not to use them because they can get caught in the cracks in the bare rock that formed some of the paths. A couple of people dropped out with sore knees but they still enjoyed themselves by visiting attractions and meeting us in the evenings.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Flights arranged by Exodus tend to be London centric but Madeira is accessible from many regional airports. One or two of group weren't aware of this and their journey times just to get to the London airport (Heathrow, I think) were longer than some of the flight times from the regional airports. On several mornings prior to our walk we were taken by Andre to the nearest supermarket to buy food for our lunch. This could take some time because the supermarkets were invariably very crowded even early in the morning. At a more remote location we were offered the alternative of a bag meal by the hotel. I think that should be an option at all the hotels because it would save a lot of time in the mornings. We were scheduled to be in Funchal for the final two evenings but ended up some way out of and above the town in a beautiful but expensive hotel (it used to be the British Embassy). If this happens to you, ask about hiring a taxi to go into Funchal for the evening especially if is Christmas or New Year.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Pamela Peers

    Great walking in a beautiful island

    This is a great week's walking with a lot of variety in the walks covered. The hotels are generally of a good standard and the food was good and varied, with plenty of fresh fish and salads.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of Pico Ruivo, and looking down through the clouds through which we had walked to reach the summit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was brilliant! A great guide and excellent company. He's clearly a very experienced guide and was diligent in ensuring that all members of our large group were comfortable with the walking pace, and provided supported when anyone needed it. He always found excellent places for us to eat and we were particularly grateful for his guidance on things to do in Funchal on our free day

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a great trip ... book it!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Christopher Simpson

    Walking in Madeira

    A week of varied walking and a chance to get away from the crowd. We were impressed by the stunning scenery in challenging terrain and weather conditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk Westward, along the cliffs from Machico to Porto Santo was dramatic without being too scary. The most strenuous day (5) up to Pico Ruivo was spent mostly in clouds/rain, but when the clouds lifted, we had astonishing views down into the valleys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    André Pontes was an excellent guide, with a real passion for the mountains, and great knowledge of the often unique Madieran flora and fauna. He encouraged us through relentless ( unseasonable he said) rain and kept our spirits up. He was a very good judge of the strengths and weaknesses of our group, and offered help when needed, and kept us all safe en route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Conditions change rapidly in the mountains..... Take a range of good ( waterproof ) clothes and sturdy boots.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were not returning to the airport with the rest of the group, but on Monday 17th June at 18:00. You had arranged a taxi transfer for us, which André and the hotel both confirmed, but it failed to turn up at the Windsor Hotel. At all. This induced in us a minor panic. The hotel called a fresh taxi for us (this cost us 30 Euros) and we made it to be the final check-in customers for Easyjet! .........so you may wish to talk to the taxi Co. about this.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Margaret Proud

    Walking week

    Great holiday, good walks

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Great guide who brought the island, walks and its flora alive

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent!!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    S J REYNOLDS

    A very enjoyable trip in Madeira was had by all!

    Just returned from Madeira, whilst the weather was pretty miserable we still had a great time. Andre our guide had to substitute a couple of our walks due to the weather conditions. Very impressed with Madeira and the locals who very helpful, but I would suggest maybe going at a different time of the year, (Not April). Exodus planned everything from we lifted up the phone until we were left back to the airport. The hotels, the pack lunches, the walks, flights etc.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The entire trip. Each day was very different and a great experience. The only downside was the weather. It meant that two days had to be rescheduled, but a great trip none the less.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was good, very approachable and nothing was a problem for him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Following the tips by Exodus and the things which you need to pack to take with you. As you have been given this list for a reason.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Pierre Vinsot

    Best way to discover a beautiful island

    Very well organised trip in a magnificent natural place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking up in the cliffs of the northern coast.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Graham Williams

    A good trip

    An interesting and enjoyable walking tour of Madeira.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Dramatic cliff walks and beautiful levadas.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was excellent. We were all glad that he rearranged the walk on day 5 because of bad weather in the mountains.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I went in March, when the climate was nice for walking but few flowers were out. Apparently late April, May or early June would be better for flowers but not too hot.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The local tap water is good to drink and most of us had refillable water bottles to save unnecessary plastic waste, but both the hotels who supplied packed lunches included TWO plastic bottles per day, with no option to just have the food. The receptionists were not interested in my comments on this but it might help if Exodus had a word with the hotel managers.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Helen Botham

    Fun in Madeira

    Lovely bunch of folks , lots of laughs and good local guide who always made sure we could eat together and knew some great restaurants. He also found us chances to swim in the sea at the end of some walks. Great weather and varied walks amongst the flowers, plants and mountains of subtropical Madeira. Plenty to do in Funchal in our free time, beautiful gardens.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being with such lovely people

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was lovely . He was up for a laugh and happy to answer all questions. He made sure we understood what we were doing with a meeting the previous evening. He was young and fit and had the transport , local buses and minibus , well organised and also knew good bars for an after walk drink and a good variety of excellent restaurants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it. That was my first holiday on travelling on my own and it was excellent. I recommend going from your local airport if you can. I went and returned a day early so that I could fly from Manchester and this fitted in well with the holiday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you Exodus.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    CLIVE Beauvais

    WALKING IN MADEIRA

    THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS WALKING HOLIDAY

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    NO PARTICULAR OUTSTANDING MOMENT

    What did you think of your group leader?

    GROUP LEADER, ANDREAS, WAS EXCELLENT. OBVIOUSLY VERY PROUD OF HIS ISLAND. HE HAS GONE TO A LOT OF TROUBLE TO LEARN AS MUCH POSSIBLE ABOUT FLORA AND FAUNA. HE WAS FUNNY AND ENTERTAINING THROUGHOUT.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I THINK THIS PARTICULAR EXODUS TRIP COULD BE IMPROVED BY REDUCING IT'S LENGTH BY ONE DAY. WALKING SUNDAY TO THURSDAY AND FLYING HOME ON FRIDAY. THE FREE DAY ON FRIDAY WAS SOMETHING OF AN ANTI-CLIMAX, ESPECIALLY AS WE AGAIN HAD TO KILL TIME ON SATURDAY UNTIL THE BUS LEFT EARLY AFTERNOON TO TAKE US TO THE AIRPORT. I APPRECIATE THAT YOU RARELY USE THE HOTEL IN WHICH WE STAYED ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT, BUT, IN MY VIEW, IT WAS UNSUITABLE. IT IS IN A VERY ISOLATED SPOT, WITH NO CAFES, SHOPS, OR RESTAURANTS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE. IT WAS UNFORTUNATE THAT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT HAD SOMETHING OF A NIGHTMARE ON THE THURSDAY EVENING DUE TO BEING EXTREMELY SHORT-STAFFED.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Martha Knight

    Stunning views, wonderful walks, excellent company

    I'm just back from a fabulous week's walking in Madeira. The scenery, weather and company could not have been better. Thank you to Andre, our guide, for helping to make this week so successful. There was lots of laughter along with some strenuous walks set against the majestic background of mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. I highly recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the walks were completely different but the second day's walk was stunning covering both the mountains and the ocean and including the levadas. The drink at the end of the walk was a welcome reward in a bar set next to the ocean. Pretty perfect.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Andre, was great. He was knowledgeable, fun to be with and always seemed to be aware of our safety needs without being intrusive. He clearly loves Madeira and managed to pass in this love to the group. The arrangements went smoothly and all transport and luggage transfers were seamless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Madeira!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the walks was hard because of the climb up the mountain consisting of many flights of steps. Be aware of any personal limitations such as knee problems. The walks are considered of moderate difficulty but that one was tough and many of us felt it had been under graded. The views at the top, however, were worth it!