Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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3 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2017
    Ross Bishop

    Trekking in Madagascar - September / October 2017

    This trip is a thoroughly varied and perfectly paced active journey through one of the most captivating African destinations I've ever visited. The scenery is constantly stunning, the wildlife which is often unique was a privilege to see and the Malagasy people are humblingly friendly and welcoming.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspiration was frequent and varied on this trip: from spotting lemurs in the treetops (we saw a total of 5 species) to being amongst some dramatic rock scenery in both Andringitra and Isalo National Parks. If I had to choose one moment, it would probably be the sense of achievement in reaching the summit of Pic d'Imarivolanitra and marvelling at the remoteness and drama of the surrounding scenery. The Hotel de la Plage at Ifaty on the coast was a gorgeous way to end the trip too with the opportunity to take a sedate pirogue trip out to sea and snorkel on a beautiful reef.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija worked tirelessly and always with a great sense of humour and patience to ensure that the tour operated smoothly. She was typical of all the Malagasy people we met who continually impressed me with how they achieve high standards with limited resources in a country that is obviously lacking in economic clout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although the road journeys are often quite long, the scenery is continually interesting and helps you get a real sense of rural Madagascan life so don't let that put you off. Temperatures can be quite high and the sun can be fierce in late September so sun protection is important. Although accommodation and food standards were generally high, there were a few cases of food poisoning in our group so don't forget to pay attention to food hygiene.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I had high expectations for this trip before I left and they were exceeded by a significant margin. I would urge any traveller who likes to get away from it all and combine activity and wildlife into their adventure travel destinations to seriously consider Madagascar - a country so deserving of the opportunity for economic growth through the sustainable development of its tourist industry. This trip contributes towards this goal perfectly.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Peter Rogerson

    Trekking in Madagascar (September 2016)

    A very busy but well paced trip that I thoroughly enjoyed. The trekking is tougher than I'd expected, due to the heat, and there were some stiff climbing and descents, but the paths were very good and the views en route were stunning. Both Isalo and Andringitra, where the majority of the trekking takes place, are very different and offer very different experiences. Madagascar is an interesting country, quite different to other places in Africa that I've been too, but sadly, almost totally deforested nowadays, so the distances between the various national parks are several hours drive apart, meaning some long sessions on the bus. However, the scenery is very interesting nevertheless - Madagascar is not a flat country so there is plenty to look at while you drive. A nice touch was that the bus would stop one side of a village, you'd all get out and the bus would drive a couple of miles up the road allowing you to amble through the village to break up the journey - we did this several times and they were very welcome breaks. This did mean, however, that there was very little wildlife to see outside of the parks, and indeed, within them sometimes. I had expected more if I'm honest, however, our tick list of Lemur spieces was still good - around 6-8 I think. In Ranomafana, the rainforest, we saw quite a few, although they tended to be high up in the canopy. The night walk we did here was excellent though - our guide managed to find 2 mouse lemurs in the dark, and there were lots of Chameleons, and this was definitely worth doing. The beach resort at the end was paradise. You have a free day and although the whales had gone, so that trip was out, some of us elected to visit the fishing village just up the coast, which I loved. You can easily walk to the village, by turning left out of the lodge, but the paid for visit allows you to wander around the village itself, rather than just watching all the boats on the beach. In the afternoon, we visited the "Spiny Forest", which was actually more of a botanical garden, but still interesting. On the camping portions on the trip, the first two nights (in Andringitra) were very basic, and it got quite cold at night, but the 3rd night was at a lodge, which was lovely - and they sold beer there - so was a very welcome place to end the time in the national park. In Isalo, the camp site is in a lovely location, and the porters had kindly brought a couple of crates of beer with them, so we had beer that night too, so it was only the first two camping nights were we had no beer and very basic facilities. The hotels were all excellent and tourist standard for Madagascar. They all had patchy Wi-Fi and the restaurants and bars were good and all sold beer, so we didn't need to leave the hotels in the evening to eat or drink. However, there is only 2 places where you stay for 2 nights, and we tended not to arrive until tea-time, so there was very little unpacking. I think I only had one cold shower during the two weeks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved seeing the mouse lemur on the night walk in Ranomafana, as that was very unexpected. In Anja reserve, you WILL see a lot of ring tailed lemurs, which are great fun, and I loved the time we spent with them. The scenery in the two national parks was stunning and worth the effort to get there. The beach resort at the end was lovely and I really enjoyed the visit to the fishing village Although not a particularly hard slog, getting to the top of peak boby and enjoying the amazing views was also great.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija was delightful - she always had a smile on her face and was unfailingly nice and polite and it was lovely to meet her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. The beer is quite strong. THB, the national beer, is 5.5%. Even the Skol, the weakest we found, was 5% and there are beers stronger than this. Don't get caught out thinking you are drinking Fosters, or you will regret it the next day (speaking from experience I'm afraid). 2. The first two nights of camping were quite cold, so take some warm clothes for the evening, and something you can sleep in. 3. The food is good generally, and the beer reasonably priced. Just after Brexit the currency had dropped from around 5,000 Ariary to the £ to less than 4,000, but the beer was still around 5000 for a large bottle. A main course for dinner was around 15,000, so still good value. I made do with £300 worth for the whole trip. 4. Get currency at the airport when you arrive as the banks are VERY slow - it took 3 or 4 people about 2 hours to change money at the first money stop, making us very late for the hotel on day 2. 5. During the day it was very hot, even if the evenings were cold, so you will need plenty of water - so take a bladder to put in your rucksack as you'll go through bottles very quickly. 6. When camping, you leave a chunk of your luggage behind. If you have a second Exodus bag, which folds up small, take this to put what you won't need while trekking. The porters will take up to 10kg for you, leaving you with just your day sack to take while walking. 7. washing in the rivers is possible, but awkward. The first couple of days it was too cold in the evenings, but the final two were fine for washing as it was still warm (there were hot showers at the 3rd campsite). 8. On the last day in Isalo, you visit the natural swimming pool, so this is the day to take your cozzies. You will have a couple of hours to rest / swim. Porters bring your lunch to this spot - as it is only 45 mins walk from the bus. 9. I opted not to do the early walk on the last day in Isalo, as you return to the campsite for breakfast, but they saw some lemurs on this walk, so I was gutted to miss that. 10. take a few little gifts for the kids - balloons, pens etc. - they will greatly appreciate it, particularly if you plan on doing the village walk in Ifaty. 11. There was very little opportunity for souvenir buying, apart from the village we visited on the first walk, and on the beach by the beach resort - although one of the masks I bought turned out to be riddled with woodworm, so check this if you buy anything. 12. Ignore the height gain / loss that the trips notes give for the Isalo trek, it's another two days of steep ups and downs, but the scenery is again wonderful. 13. Take loo roll for the camping, and wet wipes if it's too cold to wash in the rivers. Pack as lightly as possible, as you don't see your luggage during the day as it's on the roof, and you have to leave quite a lot behind when camping.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I really enjoyed this trip and I think it had a nice balance of wildlife and trekking.
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Alison Church

    Trekking in Madagascar

    A breathtaking trip, with the perfect balance of stunning scenery, fascinating wildlife, cultural experiences and wonderful people! Madagascar is a truly unique country with incredibly warm and welcoming people; this two-week itinerary gave a really good glimpse into what makes it so special. I literally loved every second of it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Impossible to give just one on a trip of such variety; every day had something new and unique. Getting to the top of Peak Boby was a great feeling; catching a rainbow arching over the hills as we drank beer with our feet in the river after our longest day of trekking was magical; dancing round the campfire with the porters under the stars was indescribably special; seeing a stunning sunset over the sea under the palm trees on a white sand beach was gorgeous; catching glimpses of the black-and-white ruffed lemur and the mouse lemur was unexpected; getting up close to the cheeky ring-tailed lemurs was highly entertaining; swimming in spectacular waterfalls was amazing; soaking up the most amazing silent landscapes was breath-taking; being invited into the homes of local villagers was heart-warming; and seeing the smiles and being treated like a celebrity by each and every Madagascan person we met is incomparable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armel was brilliant! Entertaining, knowledgeable, inspiring, but most of all with an energy and drive to share with us everything he loved about his country, he made sure that every one of us also fell in love with Madagascar!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't miss Madagascar, it's the most incredible country with the most incredible people!