Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

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  • Reviewed September 2018
    Daren Kearl

    Excellent Week Trip

    My advice is to visit Albania soon before everyone else catches on! At the moment it feels relatively tourist free and undiscovered to those who like an adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The North has wonderful unspoilt mountains for walking in. I am glad I went on all the scheduled walks and didn't take the shorter option on the White Circle as the views were amazing for little more effort. The cultural highlight for me was seeing the painted frescoes in some of the churches in Berat castle. I was not expecting the detail or amount still surviving.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Dorien Malaj, was very helpful and friendly. He coped well with all the demands that a group of 16 different adults with varying walking abilities and interests presented. His contacts with locals felt like a big part of the ability to experience many aspects of Albania that other visitors might not have.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My tip if I did it again would be to remember to bug spray legs if wearing shorts as I came away with quite a few itchy swelling bites.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Alex Burgess

    Amazing Albania!

    This trip is a perfect introduction to the beauty and culture of Albania combining the cultural highlights of Tirana and Berat as well as the walking in the Albanian Alps.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through the wild flower meadows around Valbone and seeing the wide array of colours as well as bufferflies, wild orchids and reaching the snow level!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ed was brilliant! He was clearly passionate about his country and wanted to impart the history, culture, food and drink and all other aspects of Albanian life on us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be open-minded. Albania felt incredibly safe, it's people friendly and countryside delightful. Try the local Raki. Each area produces it's own variety but beware it's very strong!
  • Reviewed July 2018
    jane atkinson

    walking in albania

    This is a really great trip combining some really challenging walking in wonderful, completely unspoilt mountainous terrain for the first half of the trip and a short exploration of Albanian culture for the second half. The accommodation in the mountains in very friendly, family run guest houses was beyond my expectations and always very clean - a great experience. The food, particularly at Valbone, was excellent and plentiful. It was a great pleasure to visit a country/region where tourism has not yet arrived!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to pin down any particular moment - walking in the completely unspoilt, non touristy (difficult to find these days!) Albanian mountains was certainly inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Arvil was an extremely pleasant and well informed leader who spoke English fluently. However there are 2 points I would like to raise regarding his decisions 1. For reasons which were never made clear the already scheduled long drive from Valbona (Day 6) to Berat was extended to go via Dourros on the coast (his home town I believe). There appeared no good reason for this. This made it an extremely tiring day of almost 12 hours arriving at Berat at 1900 where we were, after checking into our hotel, taken off for a guided tour of 2 of the oldest mosques in the country (on the itinerary for the following day). Most of the group including myself were too tired to either challenge this or declined this tour. 2. On Day 5 the option to do the full length of the White Circle was not given. Although I was perfectly happy to walk only as far as the ridge and back down the valley, I know that at least 2 of the group was very disappointed not be able to be given this choice. Again no reason for this was presented by Arvil.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not fit and a seasoned walker this trip will find you out!!! The Exodus rating of 3 Moderate is a little understated I would say. The mountain walking in this programme is really wonderful but if you are not already a regular walker and unfit think twice about this. Having said all of the above I would highly recommend this programme if you like unspoilt untouristy places - go now before its too late!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I hesitated to give the programme the "excellent" rating which in many ways it deserves - the wonderful walking, excellent food and accommodation, and good guiding (despite my above comments on Arvil's handling of the programme in a couple of instances - mainly because the cultural part of the programme, in my view, could be improved greatly by adding an extra night at Berat (which everybody loved) instead of just the one night. In that way participants would have time to really appreciate this really fascinating city and recover from the long trip from the mountains. Most of the group were of the same opinion.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Chris Porter

    Walking in Albania

    We completed this walk in mid September so experienced good walking weather conditions, not too hot plus rain at night, how considerate. The trip was just as described in the detailed trip notes involving some stunning high mountain walking plus a range of terrific other non exertive cultural experiences. Phew. Instead of entering back into our rather luxurious new Mercedes coach on day one after a delicious lunch in Shkodër we crammed into this battered rough and tough old blue bus with no seatbelts and mis matched seats. This wonderfully set the scene for all that we were about to head on a trip into serious back country. Great fun.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Theth to Volbona via Volbona Pass was fantastic, stunning mountain vistas and you felt could almost touch Montenegro we were that high and close. A close second though was the Lake Komeni boat trip, deep gorges and wildlife close by on the shore, so near yet too far.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian was a great and personable tour leader deaing with the range of personalities in a large group with aplomb. He displayed considerable knowledge of his country and seemed to know practically everyone in Albania. A highlight was his sensitivity in frequent engagement with locals, who genuinely appeared to appreciate our group’s attention rather than rushing past.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Fitness is quite important as it is not a stroll in municipal parks. Several of the walks were quite challenging, as to be expected with 1,000 metre ascents /descents, although the rewards were equally spectacular. Some people found sections of the Volbona Pass walk vertiginous, although with the group travelling at a slowish pace there was no sense of rushing to catch up.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    David Martin

    Some fairly challenging walks with fantastic views followed by more leisurely sight-seeing

    The trip notes warn: "This trek is suitable for the average walker who is prepared to put in some physical preparation". For us, as a family of 5 adults, the longer walking days provided more challenge for some than others. However, worries (suggested to me by my doctor) that my creaky 60-year-old knee would give up were unfounded, though I found walking poles essential. The trip notes perhaps understate the poor state of the remote mountain road down to Theth, with vertiginous drops off the side of the road and some scary moments passing other vehicles. It is not only on the walks that you need to be able to deal with heights! The 'basic hotel' in Theth is, in fact, delightful: rooms are simply-finished but very attractive and the view from the terrace down the valley as you sip raki or a cold beer, or both, is lovely. Service is slow at busy times but the family who runs the hotel make up for any failings by their warm welcome.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We went for the walking more than the sight-seeing and the walk over the Valbona pass was, despite its challenges, the high point. The views up from Theth were very different from those on the way down to Rragam and Valbone. Everywhere we looked there were jaw-dropping views. The drive down to Berat was very long but the city is beautiful and well worth it once we got there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It would have been great if the guide had been more knowledgable about the basics of the geology, flora and fauna of the mountain area.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do assess your own level of physical fitness and do some preparation, even if a stiff climb up the South Downs is rather tame compared to 1000m ascent in the Albanian Alps. Don't be put off by any enduring reputation that Albania has for violence. There are probably still a great many guns in private hands but we didn't see any. The political situation described most eloquently by Robert Carver in 'The Accursed Mountains' no longer applies: the book is well worth reading but not as a guide to modern Albania. A lot has changed in 20 years!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We couldn't have found a better group holiday for our family holiday together. It was the sort of adventure we all like.
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Lynn Roulstone

    Good mixture of walking and culture

    This is a holiday for those who want a mixture of some quite tough walks in rather remote places and also wish to explore the culture of this little known (to most British people) European country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the mountain on the walk between Theth and Valone. I really didn't think I'd make it, but ti was worth it for the view. The wonderful Ethnographic museum in Berat - and the town itself. The veiw from the Hotel Panaroma on the last night - it lived up to its name.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian always had interesting facts to tell us about the areas we were visiting and was very good at adapting plans to the needs of the group. We wouldn't have seen so many amazing places without his knowledge.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walking can be quite tough, if like me, you are used to walking in less hilly/mountainous areas. Be prepared to pack a lot into each day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The town of Berat was amazing, as was the hotel there. I'd have loved to have stayed another night so I could have explored the local area more.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Arthur Caves

    Walking in Albania, July 2016

    A great way to discover a little of this real gem of a country, this trip combines some amazing days of walking with interesting cultural sights. The walking is truly first rate, perfect for day hikes, the days in the mountains are full of unspoilt beauty and rugged terrain, always with comfortable (and surprisingly good quality) accommodation waiting at the end of the day. Coupled with days sightseeing in Berat, Prizen and Kruja, this makes for a truly enjoyable, memorable trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Valbone pass, looking down one way to Thethi and the other to Valbone, under clear skies and rugged, handsome mountains in every direction.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien has the unique mix of skills that make for a great guide, able to move from mountain guide to city seamlessly he makes the whole experience run like clockwork, no small feat and to be appreciated no end by travellers.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In the heat of high summer the walks may be a little tougher than you might expect, consider those days the high end of moderate, but this is balanced by the other days and short walk options.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    With the tide of tourists spreading south from Croatia, go before it gets huge.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Alan Long

    Walking in Albania

    This like many of the exodus trips did not disappoint. What a welcome from our local rep Dorien , despite the heat of the day he was smiling all the time. the trip starts quietly in Tirana then moves into the mountains, fough roads even river beds we got through to the wonderful area around Theth, magnificent in a rugged way. Then the walks start, if you are not fit these next three days will find you out, up hill and more, but the scenery and view is worth it. The trip brings you to Berat with it`s wonderful cafe culture with long boulevards. This largely undiscovered country and its people are so welcoming and friendly that it was a sad day when this holiday came to an end.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My highlight`s are many but the view you get from standing high on of the Albanian alps taking in the magnificent scenery is breathtaking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien. Well what a man he is not only well learned in the history of Albania, he is also funny, he also was able to relate to all the group, whatever age or gender.He was just lovely.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind and just enjoy this wonderful country
  • Reviewed June 2016

    Walking and More in Albania

    This trip offers a combination of (fairly serious) walking and culture, and as such might be slightly mis-named, in that the walking is concentrated at the start and the trip then becomes more of a mix - this is worth pointing out in case you are expecting heavy duty walking every day. It didn't bother me though, I loved the mix and exploring this fascinating country still struggling with its new freedom whilst also giving the old legs a bit of a stretch. There's a fair bit of travelling around, but nothing too serious, and I found the day trip into Kosovo provided an extra dimension.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Two things - the sense of achievement on reaching the summit of the mountain pass, which provided a rewarding view for the considerable effort involved to get there, and connecting with the locals. Dorian, our guide, seemed to know someone wherever we went, and these contacts were free with their thoughts and feelings and didn't mind how many questions we asked them. They were also extremely free with the raki! These were experiences I seriously doubt I'd have got if solo travelling.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorien is a great guide, very eager to please, maybe even too eager. He could afford to relax more, maybe eat with the group, but he is always thinking about how to make the trip better. This a laudable aim, but for now let's enjoy it as it is!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely pack good walking boots and wet weather gear. Otherwise, no need to overdo it (as I did). Also, make sure you are relatively fit or you won't get the most out of the trip. Finally, to reiterate if you want to do 10 miles every day, this may not be the trip for you. If you want a mix, it is.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albania feels very safe, and although one of our group had a camera stolen, it's entirely possible the culprit was another traveller when we stopped at a guest house (not from our group I hasten to add). The accommodation was also of a pretty good standard - aircon and wifi was freely available (not everywhere, but mostly), although there were no safes in any of the rooms.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Lynn Guy

    Amazing Albania

    A challenging experience in the most stunning scenery which offers a reasonable balance between walking and sight seeing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The moment I stepped foot on the top of the Valbone Pass - a real achievement for me to have conquered the climb!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorian is an inspirational guide who is passionate about his country. He is knowledgeable, encouraging and supportive. We all learned so much about Albania and its history, as well as experiencing a fantastic, if challenging holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ensure your own fitness level. The early days of this holiday are challenging. I found them really difficult - primarily because I was inadequately prepared.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Accommodation throughout was very good. In the main it was better than I had anticipated. Most hotels were located in beautiful picturesque surroundings and offered comfortable rooms. I'm looking for my next Exodus adventure!
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