Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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  • Reviewed June 2019
    michael blake

    two wonderful weeks in costa rica

    A superb tour that delivered pretty much everything it promised. Good accommodation and comfortable transport. Wonderful scenery, amazing birds, mammals and vegetation throughout.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cruising the quieter backwaters of the Tortaguero National Park, Seeing a mother and baby Sloth at close quarters, incredible birdlife on the Tarcoles river and magical two nights at the Esquinas Nature Lodge.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armando was an excellent group leader who was very good at locating, identifying and explaining about all the myriad life forms we saw.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A must for lovers of birds and nature

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Spending two nights at each stop made for a fairly relaxing trip.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Maureen Cross

    Discover Costa Rica

    Excellent trip in all aspect, better than I expected

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole trip but very impressed with the beauty of Costa Rica

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jonny Villalobos is a lovely man and a great tour leader. He is very passionate his country. His knowledge of the history, the people and what the country is doing to improve and conserve the country is incredible. The depth of knowledge about the wild is fantastic. More importantly is the way he imparts his knowledge in all the areas, with passion and in a way that is so captivating. He is more than a guide, he cares deeply about the group ensuring all their needs are met. He puts in a lot of time and effort & works hard to ensure our welfare is met and that we feel comfortable. I know he has previously been voted best tour guide but he should be voted again as 'the very best tour guide'

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    maybe to let people know that there are some quite steep climbs. Although Jonny did make it clear that we didn't have to do the climbs and when we did to take it at our own pace.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No, just that it was a great trip and to thank Exodus, and in particular Jonny Villalobos, for all the effort that they put into organising the trip. For the thought that has gone into the selection of the places that we stayed at and the consideration for the local communities and ecology of the country
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Glenda Beale

    Great Wildlife in their natural habitat

    Beautiful Costa Rica tour with an amazing and passionate guide who expertly led us through the different geographical landscapes and wildlife. We saw so much in 2 weeks, very active, and understood what we saw. Great group of people sharing the experiences with. Highly recommend the tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up at 5 am to go Quetzal watching and 2 hour later actually clearly seeing the resplendent bird.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Johnny Villalobos was a beautiful person who was passionate about Costa Rica and the wildlife. He was extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife and both what we both heard and saw.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring Binoculars and a good zoom camera. My small compact umbrella was very useful. Waterproof boots a must.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    14 people on the tour was enough to all see the wildlife in walks. Do the optional Monteverde Sky Walk through the Cloud Forest canopy and suspension bridges.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Annie Marshall

    Don’t miss this

    A couple of friends and I joined this trip. It’s an amazing wildlife adventure that’s not to be missed. Tropical rain forests and cloud forests, some in the mountains, by the Caribbean coast on waterways and on the Pacific coast with beach time. Always options carefully explained by Johnny our superb guide whose enthusiasm, passion for wildlife and humour made it all come alive. He answered all our questions about the history, culture, birds, animals and plants of Costa Rica with great patience! Hotels very comfortable, delicious breakfasts and the provided meals were good, the staff friendly and helpful. It was hot and humid in the lowlands and cooler in the mountains. Rain was mainly in the afternoon and in May it was dark by 6pm. I took walking poles but didn’t use them though a couple of people did. Plastic bag for camera and binoculars is wise. Rain gear is essential. There is sound daily advice about open or closed footwear, long trousers or shorts. In summary, if you’re keen on wildlife book! I intend to add the Coastal Secrets trip to my list- near the top.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Very difficult to decide as the whole point of had trip is the biodiversity. Seeing sloths, monkeys, coatis, anteater, beautifully coloured birds with such varied songs, colourful butterflies and other insects, listening to and searching for frogs were all so interesting. The range of colourful and varied plants and fungi are surprising . If I had to choose one it would be our walk in Savegre in the cloud forest where we saw our 4th Resplendent Quetzal and our second Trogon. But the optional canopy walk was incredible too. Don’t miss it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader deserved his prize 2 years ago ...Guide of gbe Year. He is nominated again this year and I have voted. Johnny Villalobos is an outstanding guide. He is a wildlife expert. He took us out to look for the shy Quetzal at 5.30 am, chatted to the farm manager and we joined a group of photographers in the field . He led us on the canopy walk and on our nature walks, checking each of us had seen each bird or animal before moving on. He was always patient and polite , has rather a wicked sense of humour, gave us options, advice about clothing to wear for each excursion and fielded our endless questions with great patience . 5 stars for Johnny.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go on the trip. Do the canopy walk. Take rain gear , walking sandals and shoes with some grip. Carry rain gear and a plastic bag for your camera and binoculars every trip. Take quick dry clothes and insect repellant. Take a small torch. I did the zip lining which was great fun. There were Howler monkeys in the trees! I did the thermal pools with lots of the girls, we bought cocktails and had great fun. I also did the waterfalls at La Fortuna. Johnny took us on a short nature walk to get there. The many steps back up are ok. I enjoyed both of these optional extras but the best one was definitely the canopy walk and bridges. This was a highlight of my trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Like- minded travelling companions who gelled, shared sightings, photos , stories and looked out for each other were another highlight of the trip. Our driver Jose was great fun, very helpful and got us safely to each destination despite some hairy driving and overtaking by others on the roads. The Costa Ricans we met were helpful and polite. However don’t wear any valuables in San Jose as they may get ripped off you- a n attempt was made on one of our group on arrival day. No other incidents. The National Museum gives a history of the country and lots about the indigenous people. We enjoyed our visit. We also went to the Jade Museum. Too big and a bit repetitive unless you’re interested in the different pots made in each region.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Linda Kirby

    Excellent

    This was a joint celebration of our 70th birthdays so we wanted it to be extra special. It was an amazing experience, with a wonderful group of people, led by an extremely professional, knowledgeable and proficient guide, Johnny Villalobos. Thanks to Johnny's extensive knowledge of bird calls and habitats, we were able to see a huge number of birds, including the elusive Quetzal. Johnny also had a wide knowledge of the many mammals we encountered. Apart from overnight stays in San José, we stayed 2 nights in each destination which was enough to enable us to explore what each habitat had to offer. Johnny ensured that we maximised our time in each location, though you always had the choice to opt out of an activity. Each location was well chosen in terms of being a representative sample of what Costa Rica has to offer, from hot steamy jungle, to cool, high altitude cloud forest. The accommodation was excellent in each place but we particularly enjoyed the remoteness of Esquinas Lodge, surrounded by the sounds of the forest, especially the frogs. An added bonus was the stream fed pool and later, a night walk in the forest, led by a guide from the lodge who was able to identify the many frogs contributing to the incredible cacophony of frog calls. We were given a warm welcome in each location by the hotel/lodge staff and served some delicious food. However, crucial to the success of this holiday, was Johnny's enthusiasm for what his country had to offer and his exceptional knowledge, organisational and people skills.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Experiencing the huge diversity of flaura and fauna in such a relatively small country. Seeing the vital work being done by Costa Ricans like Johnny, to protect their environment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We couldn't have wished for a better group leader. Johnny Villalobos was extremely professional, very knowledgeable about birds and mammals and was passionate about caring for the environment. His enthusiasm for his country, it's people and Costa Rica's biodiversity, was infectious. He ensured that every aspect of organising our travel about the country and the transport of our luggage ran most efficiently. Johnny was attentive and caring to two group members who felt unwell. Also, he did his best to maximise our experience of Costa Rica and often gave over and above what was reasonable to expect from a group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good poncho, insect repellent (We used Picaridin), binoculars and a camera. Make the most of the time you have there, the plants and wildlife are amazing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The enjoyment of the holiday exceeded our expectations.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Alan Walker

    Wild Costa Rica

    We saw a huge amount of wildlife during our holiday: rain-forest habitat, mangrove, cloud-forest, dry forest and a very long list of tropical birds and many other animals. Our guide could spot creatures time and time again and he was keen to help as was indeed the driver. A dozen in our group and we were extra lucky to gel well. Accommodation was good with much to spot in the grounds. Care had been taken regarding the drinking water though travelers still need to be wary for themselves. Have good memories.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Many. Coming across squirrel monkeys for myself when I separated from the group. Visiting a local family though not everyone might have that.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good. Earnest, personable, very knowledgeable on wildlife and in particular birds but with some humour. The driver too was part of our group and got us places safely however bumpy some of the roads.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be very careful in regard to drinking water and maybe buy in a bit of a reserve yourself. Be realistic in regard to how much you can comfortably carry around with you. A small bird- spotter ID book is likely to be useful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    That is about it.
  • Reviewed April 2019

    Discover Costa Rica

    This trip combines the highlights of the Costa Rica’s landscape with wild life in the national parks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife was the highlight for me. The most memorable being the boat tour around Tortuguero waterways. Waking early to the cry of the howler monkeys in the canopy near by: we set off in brilliant sunlight down the waterways seeing howler and spider monkeys and an abundance of fantastically coloured birds!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Glenda our group leader was warm, friendly, professional and contained an encyclopaedia of knowledge about both the wildlife and country which she shared with our group with enthusiasm and pride. She also had telescope that she used to take photographs on peoples phones with some amazing results!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take any cash you have in USA dollars, everywhere we went accepted them, there was no need to change any into Costa Rican colon - although in some places the change given was in Colon (which we used up first). We travelled in April, the dry season, however when it rained -which it only did for a couple of hours - it poured a poncho/ waterproof coat was essential! Also a good pair of binoculars and a book of Costa Rica birds or wildlife was useful. One person bought a simple ID chart which they used to tick off species.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Although we were told on several occasions that mosquitos are not a problem; they did not seem to know this and insect repellent was important - everybody got bitten at some point. Also do pack an anti-diarrhoea medication, unfortunately the majority of people were affected. Although at times we were told the tap water was safe I feel that this is maybe an area that could be looked into again. However, do not let those minor problems put you off this amazing adventure. Whenever possible, we took part in any additional activities (you never know if you will ever return to this amazing country). These activities included zip-wiring and the hanging bridges in Monteverde; the hot springs in Arenal; a night walk spotting frogs and toads in Esquinas Rainforest Lodge and horse riding (arranged independently) in Saverge. All in all, this holiday was a delightful experience.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Deirdre Duffy

    Brilliant experience

    Beautiful country, teeming with wildlife, lovely friendly people, an outstanding guide that looked after us from morning to night and made sure every minute of our holiday was amazing. This is a trip of a lifetime, we were transported to the best places in Costa Rica and guided through the national parks by an expert guide. We really had full days with as much wildlife viewing as you wanted to take part in, our guide was knowledge and passionate about the culture, the wildlife and the vegetation. I feel we had the most exposure to Costa Rica it would be possible to have within two weeks. If you wanted to our guide would show you the wildlife just around the hotel at 6am in the morning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through beautiful forests in peace and tranquillity away from the crowds, noise, traffic and stress of everyday life. Standing quietly and listening to the sound of bird calls and rain dripping. Eating lunch while watching hummingbirds.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding, he really makes this trip with his passion and professionalism.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take waterproof clothing, it rains a lot. Take a fleece and a pair of long trousers, it's cooler in Savegre. Take closed shoes for walking in the forests. Take a camera and binoculars to get the most out of seeing the birds and wildlife.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't carry or wear anything valuable in San Jose, like every other place in the world where there are tourists there are pickpockets.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Karen Lim

    Absolutely wonderful - totally recommend!

    This trip really did offer a lot - rainforest, cloud forest, canopy, beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, lots and lots of birdlife, wildlife, hot weather, cool weather, sun, rain. Costa Rica is a land of contrasts and diversity! It was one of the best holidays I have ever had.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many memorable moments - seeing the resplendent quetzals, the monkeys, the hummingbirds, the sloths, the macaws, swimming in the waterfall, the hot springs. Learning to distinguish the calls of various birds (particularly the black-faced solitaire, aka the squeaky door bird).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I've joined the Johnny Villalobos fan club - excellent guide and great guy, passionate about birdlife, wildlife, his country and the environment. It isn't surprising he was named Leader of the year 2017. A special mention to our very able driver Frank who kept our minibus clean and shiny.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring binoculars, a camera with a good zoom lens, suncream and effective mosquito repellent. No need for hiking boots, waterproof walking shoes/trainers will do. Shorts most of the time, trousers for the colder areas. Two swimming costumes (the first one may not dry in time).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Costa Rica is becoming a very popular holiday destination, so go before it gets overrun! Pura vida!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Kathryn Gregg

    Extremely Memorable Trip

    This trip exceeded our expectations in every respect. We had a fantastic holiday with a small group of like-minded people and every day we saw something special thanks to our excellent guide, Berny. Our transport and driver were also first class. Each destination was unique. The accommodation overall was excellent, especially the remote forest lodges where you really feel part of the wildlife experience. The food included was also very good, as were the optional restaurants we visited as a group with the guide when dinner wasn't included. No-one wanted to miss anything and everyone got along so well, which is always a bonus. We were very lucky with the weather and only got wet twice. We only took two of the optional (extra cost) excursions - the suspension bridges and the night hike, both at Monteverde and both very good. Berny obviously enjoyed showing us the diverse flora and fauna at each destination as he included additional walks and hikes almost every day, even if we only had an hour or so free and only one or two wanted to go while others stayed behind at the resort and relaxed. We spotted the elusive sun bittern at Tortuguero at the start of the trip and a pair of rare nesting quetzal at the end of the trip at Savegre - really exciting as we were searching for them and so special when we found them and saw them flying in and out of the nest. Really too many memorable moments to mention, but if you enjoy viewing wildlife, birds, plants and flowers without the walking being too strenuous then this is the trip for you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The excitement of searching for, and finding, the quetzals.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Berny was excellent, so enthusiastic, knowldgeable and proud of his country and birthplace.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    No need to take heavy or expensive waterproofs if you're travelling during the 'dry' season. Shorts and a cheap poncho/light showerproof jacket will suffice as the temperature is quite warm and the showers brief. It did get a bit chilly high up in the mountains - Monteverde and Savegre - but a sweater/light fleece did the job. Also, don't forget to take a pair of lighter sandals/swimming shoes, especially if you're planning on spending time around one of the many available swimming pools. Most walks required light closed-toe walking boots, but there are a few walks where a pair of open-toed trekking sandals will do.
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