Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed May 2018
    Mo Framptom

    What to do soon

    This was a trip of a life time in so many ways. It was a retirement present and a chance to prove we could still do it. It was a chance to see so many animals and different environments and to see a wonderful country determined to benefit from It's wildlife while protecting this precious resource. We were guided on the adventure by N'gand who was so knowledgeable and happy to share his love of the wild and his country. Melo, the cook, fed us amazing meals, whether in a layby on route or on an open fire in the bush, we were stuffed with fresh bread and tasty food. Timon and Derek just quietly work on our creature comforts putting up and striking tents, digging the "bushy bushy" and making sure that we were safe and left nothing behind except warm memories. We did games walks and drives and mokoro rides. We saw all the animals on our lists and more besides. Even the " its just a bird" traveller began to appreciate the diversity out there. There were changes of plan, 2 punctures, one dead rear axle and so much late rain that the salt pans were lakes but all was dealt with so we hardly noticed with Nata being a good substitute, even if meeting other not so well behaved groups reminded us that bird watching needs quiet. It is a trip in the wild with dangers that we are not used to and we had total trust in our team that they would make it the best they could but keep us safe. The Falls are impressive and Zimbabwe provides time to recharge batteries (ours and cameras) as well as washing clothes.The group pulled together well, loading this arthritic pensioner in and out of the bus. We will keep in touch to share amazing photos and memories of this wonderful trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too difficult to say. Drifting on the mokoro trip through the reeds, The polers singing round the campfire. The welcome of the people. Going to sleep in a tent with lion roaring in the distance.. Walking thro the bush. All of it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    N'Gandi was a brilliant leader who was always polite and firm while encouraging us in the right way. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the animals and birds, an interest in people and respect for the countryside. He explained local customs and sensitivities as well as making sure all park rules were obeyed and that we took away only good memories. He was quietly always checking for our safety.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack less, bags get heavy and getting sleeping bags back into full cases each night is impossible. One wind proof top was all I needed, fleece was unused. Also only used trainers, boots were surplus luggage. Charging packs for cameras essential if like me you take thousands of photos. Our scarves were borrowed by those on windy hot seats!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do It!
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Mike Frampton

    A great safari, definitely to be recommended.

    Botswana is a country the size of France or Texas, but with a population of just over 2 million and some of the most stunning scenery and wildlife. We arrived at the beginning of May, just after the rainy season, so much of the country was still green. It was also the rutting season for some animals. Our safari was in the northern half of the country, starting in Maun and then taking a mokoro (canoe) journey through the waterways of the Okavango Delta to the wild campsite (ie a clearing in the trees with no other people or facilities around). Our arrival was livened by the hippos in the pool by the campsite. Hippos came be my favourite animal, for my wife it was the many colourful birds. Hippos spend the day in water if they can, coming out after dusk. Whilst in the water, they come up for air, grunt, yawn, play and make the occasional belly flops when not sleeping: they just like to enjoy themselves. After our time in the Delta, we took an optional 40 minute plane ride over the Okavango Delta and realised the vastness of it, particularly as we only saw part of it in that time. There were great stretches of waterways, grasslands and scrub with herds of animals scattered across it. No wonder it takes time to find the animals, they are all there but just scattered over this vast area. During our journey in Botswana, first east to the salt flats near Nata, then up to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, before returning via the Chobe, Savuti and Moremi national parks in Botswana, we saw herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, baboons and assorted types of deer, as well as ostrich, tortoise, puff adder, elephants, lions and a leopard up a tree with a lioness underneath waiting for her dinner to come down. We saw two Impala challenging each other and two giraffe fighting, using the horns on their heads to hit their opponent's side, as well as the amorous attentions of male impala and kudu for their females, and a lion kissing a lioness behind her head. We had elephants walk past our campsites and saw a den of hyena with the pups playing outside. On another occasion we saw an elephant thoroughly enjoying her bath, rolling in the water and throwing water over herself. At Victoria Falls, we organised our own walk to the bridge, which straddles the gorge between Zimbabwe and Zambia. At the Zimbabwe customs we got a bridge pass which allowed us to visit this 100 year old bridge and see the gorge, as well as bargain with the many pedlars of wood carvings and copper bracelets. Then it was on to visit the falls, with its 17 viewing points. Start at the first viewing point, which looks over the Zambesi river, before it plunges over the falls. From there on the viewing points get progressively wetter and the views more spectacular - so go expecting to get very wet. After that we dried out at a cafe, with magnificent views of the bridge and Zambia across the gorge. Our return was diverted by elephants on the footpath and rewarded by seeing a warthog on route as well as monkeys and a family of mongoose. That evening we joined the dinner cruise on the Zambesi, for some more hippos, a four course meal with plenty of wine and another great sunset. Our team of four led by Ngande and Melo (our cook), set up our tents and kept us well fed and looked after, even providing "pottys" for some of the wild camps where a night time walk might not be advisable. We all got used to the bush toilets, even the occasional collapse when the sand gave way! Bush showers were also provided, with a water bag slung over a branch and suitable enclosure. Mello's ability to provide three great meals a day in the bush was outstanding. He even provided "home" cooked bread with "Welcome to ... " moulded into the bread, something most of us would struggle to do with a fully equipped kitchen, let alone on a camp fire. This is a great safari, with superb staff, scenery and wild life. And one that all ages can enjoy, our oldest member was 80.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each day provided new inspirations, from punting in and flying over the Delta, to each game walk and game drive, the road side wildlife, the sand and dirt roads through the game reserves, the trees ripped up by the elephant, the many colourful birds, and not least the Victoria Falls and bride. Not forgetting the team that looked after us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ngande was a superb group leader, very knowledgeable of the wildlife, the people and areas through which we travelled. He made sure that each campsite was left spotless when we left, with fire embers buried and all rubbish remove. Even apple cores were collected up to ensure that the local flora was not challenged by a foreign plant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Check the likely weather for the season you are travelling. We were there in May, the days were hot, but the nights were sometimes cold. You needed a sleeping bag and warm top. The vehicle is open sided, with four rows of three seats. On the long journeys, you need a warm top at the start and end of the day, as well as long sleeves and and a scarf or hat to protect you from the wind and sun. Think about tips. You have two people looking after you for the full two weeks and another two for the last 10 days. You also have a group of locals looking after you in the Okavango Delta. Also recommended are the optional flight over the Okavango Delta, the dinner cruise on the Zambezi (for the occasion) and the afternoon cruise on the Chobe river (for the animals).

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We spent five days in Cape Town on our way back to London and can thoroughly recommend this if you have opportunity. At the moment you have organise the Cape Town end yourselves, but we were able to extend our group flights to do this. Hopefully, Exodus will provide this as an option in the future.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Susan Wiser

    Best ever❣️

    So many wonderful moments. First the people of Botswana are the nicest I’ve ever met. And I’ve traveled a lot. The guide, Ngande, was so knowledge about plants, animals, birds, reptiles and his country. He was professional, friendly and handle even breakdowns (there was one) with efficiency. The cook, Mello, ensure 3 delicious meals a day cooked on an open fire. And the assistants put up tents and made sure details were taken care of. Now for the wildlife - lions, leopards, warthogs, hyenas, zebras, elephants, hippos, incredible bird life and so much more. My friend and I agree it was truly the best ever trip and worth our 39 hours of flying❣️❣️❣️

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not just one moment. We had an amazing group of 12 and we all continually had a fantastic time. From baby hyenas to elephants 20 feet away. Incredible.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ngande was the best. Shared so much, kept us safe and answered a zillion questions. He kept his staff moving and took care of them too. Perfect leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take less then you thought you needed (it gets heavy), winter is chilly, dryer wipes keep the mosquitoes and bugs away, buy a small, powerful camera, Amazon sells a very lightweight sleeping bag, a cotton scarf 🧣 for the dusty car rides, plenty of suntan lotion, and enjoy every moment.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just do it. So worth it.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Martin & Pippa Hodgkinson

    Camping in the game parks and see a variety of wildlife

    This was an excellent opportunity to see African wildlife and experience camping in the National Parks. We had six nights 'wild' camping in the parks and game drives early morning and evening. The other nights were on camp sites with showers, restaurant and a bar (open to 2am so noisy), and 2 nights at Victoria Falls in a comfortable but basic lodge. The wildlife is varied and plentiful and met most of my expectations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Travelling in Mokoros in the Delta was magical although the wildlife was sparse. The activities there were nature walks rather than game drives. The evening cruise down the Chobe River gave us our first real encounter with hippos and other game. Seeing the leopard and lions in Chobe/Moremi close up.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kenny was great at spotting and tracking animals and birds. His knowledge of natural history was extensive. He was a safe driver which is essential given the terrain and the state of some of the tarred roads. He sometimes had difficulty in herding 11 of us to what he wanted and I had to buy a map (Shell tourist map of Botswana is excellent) before he described where we were going. Botswanas are friendly people and the crew were keen to please.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long, uncomfortable journeys in an open vehicle not designed for long distance travel. Seating 12 it will not provide good seats for all if there is a full uptake of places. Wild camping is without any permanent facilities and animals close by so head torch (with back-up), wet wipes and insect repellant are essential! Take a South African plug adaptor for the camp sites and Victoria Falls as they cater for SA visitors. Quite a few extras for the 'optional' activities eg anything at Victoria Falls, Chobe River cruise and flights over the game reserves as well as camp site meals and the usual tips.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take a good camera and long lens and trust the guide to get you into the best positions.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Phillip Dixon

    4 of the big 5 in Botswana

    Of all the safaris I've done this is the most wildlife I've seen in a small period! 4 of the big 5 in one day. Then at night enjoy the sounds of the animals beneath more stars than you've ever seen. It is tent based but very comfy, food is amazing - fish & chips + baked fresh bread one night! They even do a bush shower so it isn't roughing it. The guides are excellent, wildlife and scenery even more so - this isn't a holiday it is an adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Finding a leopard on the final day in Savuti, perched high above us and so well concealed. Our guide Moses found lots for us to see. Also heading out on the walks and being taught to pole a Mokorro canoe by Hendricks in the Delta - they were great guys and loved showing us their culture and wildlife

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Moses was fantastic, he dealt with problems calmly, adjusted plans to fit in with client requests and found us lots to see. Throughout we were sharing jokes as well as details of each area we visited.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The prices listed in the trip notes for optional activities can be quite far out. The Chobe River cruise is 410 pula for instance. If your main focus is Vic Falls then go in wetter months but other areas may be harder to get to, if you want lots of wildlife the drier months bring them to waterholes and the grass isn't so tall.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be aware wild camps mean exactly that, animals will be close to camp and despite being briefed some people felt they could wander about, then seemed shocked when a guide came running after them to make sure they were ok. Facilities in Nata and Audi camp are much like a holiday camp in the uk, with showers and facilities to use, and good restaurants.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Lois Pope

    Lois

    The tour leader Jamie really went out of his way to show us the best of game life. We got really near to the Big Game. He was a very good driver too on difficult terrain. Our cook Mellow produced wonderful food and always greeted us back to camp after a game hike, with a smile and the kettle always boiling! The trip to Salt Pans was a waste of time as there wasn’t much to see and 2 days of long long driving to this area and then all the way up to Victoria Falls. The lodge at VF was a disgrace, showers in appalling state and toilet with no plug to pull only wires sticking up! It wouldn’t stop running. The game life, food and tour leaders direction made this trip worthwhile but all in all, not good value. LP

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Game life, food, tour leaders knowledge.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Nothing to add to above

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank Lois for her review, although we are sorry that she was disappointed with aspects of this trip. The salt pan excursion is included in the itinerary as it is on route to Victoria Falls, and feedback in the past has suggested that it is a welcome break from the cross-country drives. Regrettably, late localised rains on this trip made it impossible to fully explore the pans, and it was not possible to make alternative arrangements at such short notice. We regret that Lois found the Victoria Falls accommodation to be disappointing; we would like to genuinely apologise for this and we have discussed the concerns raised with the management team to ensure that improvements are made for the future.

    John Penge - Product Manager for Botswana

  • Reviewed October 2016
    Robert Howson

    Botswana Wildlife and Wilderness

    My partner and I had the most fantastic time on this tour. Of course there were a couple of long drives but then Africa is blinking huge so we expected that. Yes, it was dusty - it was the dry season. The range of environments was great, the pacing excellent and the encounters with nature and people were well managed and yet up close and personal at the same time. So much was done for us that we sometimes felt pampered but it is a tiring tour and we were grateful that the team, led by Sam, did so much for us with such good grace. A great bunch of people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The most inspirational? Big ask! Alice our poler in the Delta was brilliant, open and it turned out an amazingly talented singer. The vastly knowledgeable Jeremy who led our bush walks in the Delta and never tired of trying to find out what bug was what and was a talented comic turn and singer to boot. Moses our guide who became my nephew or was it my uncle (don't ask) was a genial, funny, kind, caring guy who never failed to spot a track or a bird or an animal at amazing distances at speed on bumpy 'roads'. Sam our tour leader was just great, there for us all in every way, good natured, quietly authoratative, knowledgeable and caring. He judges your wellbeing by the size and honesty of your smile. Meeting all these people and more besides were among the most inspirational moments.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As I said but I'll add here, Sam's a man who can cook up a feast with seemingly little effort. He martialled his team quietly and was a calm, fun and efficient leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a thin scarf or a Buff for your nose and mouth on the dry and dusty drives. Trust your team - they know why you're there and they'll do a better job if you don't try to advise them about things, like where they should park up to get the best photos.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    With 12 of us in the 4 rows of 3 seats there were issues about the daily seating plans! I think that only 9 should be in those vehicles. The front 3 seats have such little leg room and because the sides join the floor at an angle the two outside seats in front don't even have a flat floor to put both your feet down. I'm only 5' 7" and I was uncomfortable quite quickly. We've travelled in similar vehicles that have been configured for 12 but much more comfortably, perhaps they were longer wheel-bases?
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Andrew Oldham

    Best wildlife experience, ever!

    A fantastic way of seeing a brilliant country. You get close to nature and there are plenty of opportunities to take some great photos. Excellent support from the staff.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The last 48 hours of wildlife viewing was the best I have ever experienced. It was almost like a wildlife documentary (sadly David Attenborough was unavailable) as we met a cheetah and her cub at dusk, again in the early morning and then witnessed the cheetah make a kill. Later that afternoon (via wild dogs) we met the cheetah again but tragically there was no sign of the cub. Her calls would make even the strongest man blub, but then 2 lionesses stalked and chased the cheetah and we believe she escaped. Surely that was the big finale to the trip? Errr no.... 2 male lions vs a herd of buffalo the following morning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was excellent. He knew his country, the wildlife and how to run a brilliant trip allowing the customers to enjoy themselves. He coped with unexpected luggage issues and our constant demand for bigger and better sightings. Vasco the Botswana guide was brilliant getting us closer to the wildlife than we would have hoped for, without worrying the wildlife. He knew where to position the van to get excellent shots. Timon and Dodga (the assistants) were both hard-working, friendly and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As with all Exodus trips study and follow the trip notes carefully. It was cold on some nights (I took a down sleeping bag) and very cold for quite a few hours on the truck, so you do need lots of warm clothing until it heats up. The dinner cruise at Victoria Falls was a highlight for many of us as the service, food, drinks and views were all excellent - a touch of luxury. Take advantage of some of the extra activities. The advice on tipping in the trip notes was contradicted by Sam and this needs clarification, but allow more than is suggested for local staff as well as the crew.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I wish I had remembered that the instant coffee in that part of the world is pretty rubbish and had known that you cant buy gin at Johannesburg airport to take into Botswana, but that's just me. This may help someone though!
  • Reviewed August 2016
    David Jackson

    Wildlife & Wilderness of Botswana (WZT)

    This trip delivered everything it promised,helped by unbroken clear skys. As with all Exodus trips the notes were accurate and should not be left unread, a wildcamping safari is just what it says! So lucky to join a group of mature travelers to whom laughing was second nature, it really does help!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to list, unique animal behavior, glorious bread made fresh in an iron pot over embers, the night sky, the optional activities.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam and Vasco were absolutely on top of their job nothing was too much trouble or left to chance. Vasco's skill produced some outstanding wildlife encounters.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do take note of the trip notes, if it says cool nights thats what it means. A real treasure of a trip if you love African wilderness. Do save some extra cash for the optional extras which were so worth doing.
  • Beautiful Botswana!

    This is an excellent trip that I'd highly recommend. The pristine wilderness of Botswana, the plentiful wildlife and the variety of activities on this trip made it a holiday to remember forever.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Pretty much everything we did was amazing on this trip. We were very lucky to see two male leopards in the Khwai reserve next to Moremi, endangered African wild dogs (one pair with 10 pups and a the next day a group of 5 dogs hunting), male lions (three times in Moremi) and a pride of lions in Savuti including about 6 cubs and 3 lionesses feasting on a wildebeest. Of course, there were many elephants too who will visit your camps in Savuti and Moremi and also zebra, impala, kudo, buffalo, wildebeest and beautiful birdlife too. The Okavango delta is really beautiful and I really enjoyed the Mokoro rides and the game walks. Also, it is really worth doing some of the optional extras at Victoria Falls - I did the white water rafting, 15 minute helicopter flight and the sunset dinner cruise. I would recommend all of these without hesitation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sam was great and very friendly. Kenny was a man on a mission when it came to tracking down the animals and as I mentioned we were lucky to find leopards and wild dogs and this was definitely down to his efforts. The guys who cooked for us at camp were also amazing and I don't know how they consistently served up such great food on the camp fire (including freshly baked bread!).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I went in June which is a really great time to visit. It's their winter but this means it's clear blue sunny skies and about 28 degrees every day which was perfect. The sun goes down at 6pm and then it turns cold which makes it more comfortable for sleeping but ensure you have some warmer clothes for the evenings. For the long drives the truck is open sided so take a lightweight scarf to protect your face from sand and wind and a warm jacket like a fleece and maybe some gloves and warm hat. There are some mosquitoes in Victoria Falls so take a mosi net for your tent as these are not provided. I used Incognito products instead of Deet and got no bites all trip. The optional Chobe sunset cruise is a must and as I said before it's definitely worth paying for the optional activities in Victoria Falls. Be aware that there are 4 staff that you will need to tip at the end rather than the normal one leader you have on most trips so factor this into your budget. The tips came to about $160 in the end although it's up to you what you give. Be aware that if there are more than 8 of you booked on a tour then the vehicle will be cramped. We had 7 which was just right as no one had to sit wedged in a middle seat with a worse view.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I've never been on Safari to the more well known destinations such as Tanzania or Kenya but I would definitely recommend Botswana instead particularly as you'll be supporting a country that has banned hunting and is successfully limiting poaching to a minimum. This is a once in a lifetime special trip to a friendly and beautiful country so go now!
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