Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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

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10 Reviews

  • Reviewed October 2018
    Nik Kowal

    One of the best trips ever!

    Madagascar is amazing with so much unique wildlife, plants and trees. A well organised trip, with good accommodation. Comfortable bus with lots of breaks on the long journeys. A mixture of leisurely time on the bus and in the towns, with some very strenuous treks in the reserves. Be prepared for heavy rain and blistering heat as you pass through the varied landscapes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ancient baobabs in the spiny forest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very organised and efficient, but some of her commentary got lost in translation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As above. Pack everything especially a head torch and walking poles.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Laura Davey

    Life changing and unforgettable experience

    This was a truly life-changing trip. By that I mean, it was an experience of many extreme highs, such as seeing the unique and beautiful wildlife, coupled with being witness to some very difficult scenes, such as the slash and burn practice and huge areas of deforestation. The trip has left me wanting to learn more about this incredible country, its people and its wildlife. Would very much like to visit again and investigate further into the issues this country is clearly facing. This is a very special country and any visitor will be rewarded in many ways.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife was what I booked the trip for and it did not disappoint. I had no idea we would see so many species of lemurs, reptiles, birds, plants and trees insects and frogs and at such close range, we really were so very lucky. I cannot underestimate just how special it felt to witness these incredible endemic species in their (rapidly disappearing) habitat. The call of the indri is a sound that I will never, ever forget. I feel inspired to learn more and find out if there is any way in which I can help contribute to the future of this country, as the people and the native plants and animals are facing some very severe challenges, such as a hugely increasing population, rapid loss of habitat moved over to farming, shaky political leadership, the introduction of non-native species of animals, trees and plants that cannot support native wildlife, and the slash and burn agricultural practice.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Vola was really lovely. She kept us safe, listened to feedback, was flexible with timings and programmes and informed us on any queries and questions we had as best she could. At times, she went above and beyond for her clients, giving massages to one guest who was suffering from back and shoulder pain, and taking another client to the dentist for emergency treatment. She was also fun to be around and made us laugh every day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind, and be prepared to see the mass destruction of the environment which you will definitely witness. Bear in mind, this is a very poor country and life here is hard. Saying that, the people were all very warm and welcoming to the small number of tourists that we saw. We never ever felt threatened or anything other than welcome. This is what makes the environment/humanity inbalance so very difficult to bear witness to, as the people are just as amazing as the flora and fauna that most visitors come to see. We found the physical rating of 1 to be misleading, I would say there are some moderate to strenuous hikes on this tour. Bring camera, binoculars, insect repellent and some detergent to wash clothes. Accommodation and food were excellent, much better than we expected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now, before it's too late! and do anything you can to help this amazing place. It has so much to offer from gorgeous deserted beaches, lovely people, wildlife, birds and trees you won't find anywhere else in the world - not even in zoos! It's got rainforest, culture, spiny forest, desert, incredible rock formations and valleys, natural swimming areas, mountains - everything you could ever want to see, all in one very unique country.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Charlotte Grant

    Madagascar is great, unique & marvelous but one needs to be very fit to enjoy this amazing adventure

    The trip is rated as leisurely & I would rate it challenging. We had extremely long travel days in the vehicles on winding bumpy roads (5 hr, 6 hr, 11 hr, etc.) The trip notes advise some long days, but we weren’t expecting such challenges just traveling in the van; our muscles were all tensed up by the end of each drive. The hiking to get to the Lemurs requires a person to be very fit in order to scramble up steep banks, cross streams, climbing steps up & down, & bushwhacking for 4 hrs at a time. It would be helpful to put this information in the ‘Is this trip for you’ section

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational moment was getting so close to the lemurs, we could practically touch them. We had the joy of watching a number of different groups for long periods times. I have tracked the mountain gorillas & traveled all over the world, but have never been in such a unique country. Ever day was filled with adventure & excitement & new destinations. It took a lot of effort & challenge to do this trip, but at the end of the day it was totally worth it. Go now before it gets to filled with Tourists.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was Vola & she was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes carefully & be in very good physical condition so you can enjoy every moment of this amazing country.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Tipping can cause consternation as we all view tipping differently. I agree that we should tip for great service & we want to put money into the Madagascar economy plus we want to get money to the Madagascar working people. However I do not agree with the suggested leader tip.The suggested tipping for our leader was $5 U.S. per day; $5.00/day x 14 days = $70/person tip x 14 people is $980. $980 is a fortune in Madagascar. If our leader is paid well (as it says in the trip notes), I don’t believe the leader should receive an additional $980. I believe we should tip according to the country we are in. The leader should get a fair tip, but $980 is far too much. The trip kitty of $50 is fair, however the group should be told what amount of tip is being given as the tip is given; we should not have to wait until the trip ends to know the numbers. On all other trips we were told what tip was given as it was given to the person. Our leader did not share the tips given until the trip end. I am not confident the tip kitty went to the appropriate people.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Karen Butler

    Great trip to see Lemurs

    Loved the trip, great country, great people, great guide and great wildlife

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lemur island, loved the fact that the country was supporting the re-introduction of "pet" lemurs back into the wild, great experience

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mel was fantastic, I couldnt find fault if I tried !!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Many early starts and long road trips but well worth it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was saddened to see the extent of plastic on the beaches, and the use of plastic straws everywhere
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Steve Gilbert

    Wow, Wonderful Place and Excellent Holiday

    I travelled there with some expectations regarding wildlife especially. These were exceeded. I was amused, impressed and very pleased at the number of wildlife sightings and especially the great opportunities I had for some brilliant wildlife photography.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was no single moment I can identify. It was each occasion we went for a walk and encountered the Lemurs and Reptiles. Through the choice alone of the Lemus and Chameleons we got very close on more than one occasion. I will emphasise this was the animals choice not mine. Brown & Ring Tailed Lemurs can approach up to an arms length away. I didn't get bitten but I was wary. But it was exciting!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija was one of the most enthusiastic and happy tour leaders I have had the pleasure of travelling with. Not only was she informative and organised she was also an expert wildlife spotter. She had an ability to spot something, when all we could see was undergrowth. I distinctly remember the rare 4 inch chameleon in the dark that she spotted from 10 paces when actually it was under a large leaf? I've never travelled with a leader equipped with xray infrared vision before, but I have now.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The tour company was good and supplied bottled water every day. Don't throw away the bottles. They are a desired commodity to the people in the hills and they are very happy when you hand over the empties for them to put their local produce in, honey, oil or similar. You may like to hand over other stuff too but the children can get a bit boisterous so choose your moment carefully if its something for them. Dont forget the adults, they are poor too. In a couple of areas during September it got chilly in the evening, please remember a light fleece or jumper.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was surprised so many people used their mobile phone or tablet to take pictures. Be patient with them, as I noticed it took them much longer, and they stood so much closer to the subject than us with the SLR cameras.
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Eve Doyle

    A Great Experience

    This was an excellent trip. Very well organised. Madagascar is a huge island and there are some long travel days to get across the country. Very varied environments and we saw lots of different wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being close to , seeing and hearing the Indri Lemurs was a very special experience. My favourite day was the walk in Isalo National Park.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija was one of the best guides I have ever had. Her local knowledge was amazing. She had done this trip many times and she knew how to make it run smoothly, sometimes in difficult circumstances. Despite her experience she was still really enthusiastic about everything and made the trip really enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take walking poles if you usually walk with them. It was torrential rain in the Rainforest and I could have done with my full set of waterproof clothing and back pack cover. I should have taken a warmer jumper as well as my fleece. The hotel at Isalo offered washing very cheaply and we got all our wet and muddy Rainforest clothing washed and dried there. Change all your money at the airport on arrival and when you go back through later. The ATMs [we had two opportunities] may only allow you to change around £50. Those who did try and change money at the bank had to queue around 2 hours to be served!! No where took cards. Be prepared for the unexpected...no electricity, no running water, hold ups, bumpy roads, changes of time, unexpected encounters with local people etc

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You need to have an Adventurous spirit. These sort of trips are more of an experience than a holiday!
  • Reviewed November 2014
    Anonymous .

    Highlights of Madagascar

    This is a fabulous holiday for experiencing a breathtaking natural environment. Landscapes range from the lush bright green rice fields, dry spiky desert, rugged canyon full of texture and shades of ochre and terracotta, the tangled green rain forests down to the turquoise, crystal clear coral sea - not forgetting the white shell strewn sands. There are so many different Lemurs to see, even the nocturnal, tiny mouse lemur with a penchant for bananas. Lemurs leap with their clinging babies among the tree tops defying the camera, others 'pose' swinging upside down and, at times, just fluffy bundles, legs limply dangling snooze above paparazzi heads. Chameleons, some tiny, some podgy, tantalize the spotters by merging into their leafy or stony backgrounds whilst over sized butterflies, moths and insects scurry about underfoot and overhead. The natural pools, cascading waterfalls and brightly coloured flowers evoke memories of the Bounty adverts. There's so much packed into each day - as well as night, morning and daytime trekking with the 'spotters', there's opportunity to watch wood and zebu horn carvers, silk weavers, even wine tasting. Travelling is by mini bus, 4x4's, speed boat, traditional canoes, even a zebu cart out to the boats which is quite an experience! The Malagasy people waved and smiled whilst the enterprising children loved little treats but particularly bottles of water which was such a precious gift in the south.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole group was enthralled by the wildlife experiences and cultural visits and stories but we were all totally inspired by the amazingly resourceful recycling projects. We visited some very enterprising people who had built mechanisms from scrap materials to enable them to create the most intricate things as well as essential, everyday basic utensils. The Malagasy people work in such difficult circumstances which are effected by the climate and environment and working conditions are archaic with little regard to health and safety to say the least. It is a rich country in terms of gems and spectacular natural beauty but the infrastructure is poor and even basic commodities are so difficult to obtain and control, particularly power and water which are so precious.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our local group leader, Tyena, was excellent. He ensured we were well informed, well supervised, well fed and our experience of Madagascar was educative and authentic. Our safety was also of utmost importance to him. He never rested until we were settled and genuinely enjoyed telling us about his country, helping us to be better informed about cultural issues, environmental problems and the daily lives of the Malagasy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Currency - Stirling or USD changed into local currency on arrival at the airport is all that is required. There are few opportunities to use ATM's and locals/hotels refer local currency. Mastercard is not accepted anywhere. Meals are very reasonable with 3 courses plus drinks averaging around £6 - yes cheap!! On arrival at the Tana airport be prepared to argue with security staff regarding Yellow Fever certificates - they're not needed but those people without them had to pay bribes of up to $20 to get through security!!! Take non electric mossie plug ins etc as electricity is mostly not available at night. I did take a travel kettle though ( for when I had a socket and electricity) as there's times when you're desperate for a cuppa even without milk! Take a good torch and camping light for your room. We virtually all had problems with batteries due to the climate so take spares for the camera. Take a load of Imodium and re-hydrates and a good deet spray or cream.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take a few long sleeved cotton shirts for trekking off rain forest tracks plus long or roll up bottom walking trousers and plenty of tee shirts. Leave bling and glam at home - just take casual clean for night (it's dark anyway!!!). Leave plenty of room for 'tat' shopping and buy some small sweets to keep the children happy - it's not really encouraging begging as they're inquisitive and when you see how poor they are you'll be glad you've got a treat!
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Nancy nancy

    Marvellous Madagascar!

    A really varied trip with the opportunity to see several different areas of Madagascar; the gorgeous beaches, some beautiful national parks and delightful lemurs and chameleons!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The range of lemur species that we were privileged to see interacting in the wild and swinging in the trees! I was surprised how close they came to us, allowing for some fantastic photo opportunities!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was a native Madagascan so was able to give us a real insight into his country. He was also very eager to ensure that everyone had a positive experience and nothing was ever too much trouble... Having received the groups details before the trip began he'd even arranged some birthday surprises (a band and a cake) for one of the group members.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was colder than I expected in the north, particularly at night - pack plenty of warm clothes for this part of the trip. And be prepared for crowds/chaos when you arrive - no one seems to queue for their entry visa!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was struck by how poor the Madagascan people were, even compared to other African countries I'd visited. If I were to visit again I would take more T-shirts etc that I could give away when I'd finished with them or perhaps try to support a local organisation through something like the stuff your rucksack website.
  • Reviewed December 2013
    Anonymous .

    HIGHLIGHTS OF MADAGASCAR

    Amazing variety of scenery and more wild life than I'd expected from reading other reviews of trips to Madagascar. We saw several different species of lemurs and a fantastic variety of chameleons! The trip requires some very early starts to see the wildlife when its most active, but its well worth it. There are some long bus journeys but the roads were in better condition than I expected from the description in the tour notes, and for me personally, the inspiring scenery and interesting street life in towns helped pass the time. Towards the end of the trip there are 3 days at a beach resort, which for me was too long. Once we'd visited the Spiny Forest nearby there wasn't much to do. Even if you like sunbathing (I don't) this is made impossible by the strong winds that develop every afternoon, which pick up the sand - if you tried staying on the beach you'd be sand-blasted, and similarly, the wind churns up the waves and makes snorkelling impossible. I liked every other place we stayed at so ideally I would shorten the time at the beach and have another night in one of the other national parks  waves and makes snorkelling impossible.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing such a variety of chameleons, both in the wild and at a fantastic sanctuary we visitedLemurs, especially the very tame (but wild) ring-tailed lemursAwesome landscapes!The spiny forest national park right down southWaking up to the sound of Indri calling in the jungle before dawn, also hearing a family chorus when we were watching them - I will never forget!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tahianna, our leader, went out of his way to make sure we were all happy and comfortable. He gave us a lot of information about Madagascar, including personal insights and experiences that really enhanced my understanding of the country. At one point, about 2/3s of us were taken ill (a hazard of travelling in less developed countries and nothing to do with the trip) - he came to each of our rooms over the next 24 hours to check we were ok, made sure we had water and whatever else we needed, and even rearranged the itinerary when it was obvious that the group weren't up to going to a national park. I would give him 11 out of 10 for his tireless care and consideration of our needs.We had a different guide, Roger, for the last 36 hours (the guides change when you fly back from Tolear). I wasn't too impressed by him, it felt like we were a load of boring tourists to him!   

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You will witness extreme poverty so be prepared, especially if you're not used to travelling in less developed countries. On the positive side, your tourism is bringing much needed income and creating an incentive to protect the rapidly disappearing rainforests.You need to be reasonably agile on some of the walks (the trip notes say reasonably fit, but its not just about distances). At times we were clambering over rocks or walking on very uneven paths.Be aware, especially in Tana, of the risk of petty crime (snatch and run). This is nothing to worry about so long as you know it could happen. After learning that one of our group had a necklace snatched on her first day there I took off my (very small) gold St Christopher that's been with me on extensive travels over 20 years... if I'd realised that even this small item would be a temptation I would have just left it at home.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was really impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of local guides in the national parks.I paid for an extra night's accommodation, as the group flight home was full. My booking, and 2 other bookings, was stuffed up by Exodus, as the hotel we had written confirmation we would be staying in was full. This meant transferring to somewhere nearby - the 2nd hotel had our bookings no problem and was nicer - but it was still annoying as I lost half a day of the time I'd set aside to do some independent sight-seeing in Tana after the rest of the group had gone home.Related to the above, and various hassles with invoices before my trip, I don't rate Exodus admin that highly! Having said that, this trip was fabulous and I couldn't have seen everything that I did without either joining a group or spending a fortune, so I'm glad I did it. I would recommend this trip to anyone with a curiosity to get out and about and see this fabulous country!  
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous .

    HIGHLIGHTS OF MADAGASCAR

    A great trip with more wildlife than expected. Slightly longer beach stay than most exodus trips.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    When one if the wild ring tailed lemurs jumped right over my head as I stood in the boggy rain forest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armel was an accomplished leader and good at managing expectations. He like to make revelations so only told us the next bit of info.