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Turtle, Ecuador

Reviews

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.

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Reviews

Fabulous way to experience South Africa

The outlined itinerary covers the vast, varied, and stunning scenery of the more rural South Africa. Plus time spent in Kruger National Park. This trip is for easy going and seasoned travelers who are willing to ‘go with the flow’. There are times when a route might change, the weather isn’t cooperating, or a pause for mechanical issues is necessary. This trip is a value !!! Together, in the sprinter van, long transfers are covered, the host/guide, makes comfort stops accordingly, and our bikes are on the trailer, with us. We are never too far from our day packs , snacks, and fluids. Having our own van in Kruger gave us flexibility for our own game drives. Having our meals prepped in Kruger gave us more time to use the pool, rest, birdwatch, and at night, watch the evening sky. We had little cultural interaction with the local people, yet we cycled through small town centers, farmland, and housing settlements with waves of “hello’ hello’.

Most Inspirational Moment

Songimvelo Nature preserve; hard packed gravel through an abandoned mining town. The birdsong was non-stop and the flora was all ours. Hlumu mountains, the overlook was very impressive. Mac Mac pools was a welcome refresh after a hot and hilly ride. We had a good mix of friendly people, really fortunate, good laughs, adventurers, able to chill and enjoy.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Tellus is an experienced leader. He loves South Africa and wants his guests to embrace it, as he does. He is able to pivot and change course when the need arises. He delegates appropriately to his assistant, Rhea. They work in tandem without disruption. Rhea is eager to see that the slowest rider gets to where they need to be and does so with a smile. They both know alot about wildlife. Tellus was helpful in preparing us for our 'add-on' self drive journey. They both prepared delicious meals and were reluctant to accept help with clean up. They were always planning ahead, where to buy beverages before nightfall...what groceries we'd need to the next day It was obvious that they wanted us to have a wonderful and safe experience and they were going to do everything they could to facilitate that.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Get in shape. This is challenging cycling, lots of "undulating' terrain. It is doable but you want to enjoy it. The road surfaces vary, hard pack, tarmac, gravel, most have shoulders and most of the time we were not in heavliy trafficked areas. The weather can be cold, damp, rain (pack accordingly) to hot, hot, hot.... Day 1 cycle starts at altitude .. do not be discouraged, pace yourself, the remaining days are not at altitude. Pack a type M adapter(for purchase at JNB airport)AND a multiport USB if you have more than one item to charge or are using an e-bike (outlets are limited in some accomodations). You will need a headlamp for evenings. Americans cycle with lots of safety gadgets: I was thrilled to have my rear view mirror on my bike helmet. The SA driver does not regard cyclists, at all, so on the few roads with traffic , seeing behind me was reassuring. Padded gloves for the downhill when the road is bumpy, the bikes are good but the repetitive vibration can be numbing. Pack a head scarf or kerchief, you'll use it. You will want your own hydration packets, i.e.LMNT. If you can't tolerate instant coffee, pack your own travel press. Hot water is available but a true brew, hit or miss . Groceries are well stocked with snacks, juices, fruits, cheeses.

Suggestions

If you are easy going and like an adventure...this is a wonderful experience ! Add to your vacation and head to the coast. The Garden Route has lots to offer. South Africa National Parks are well organized.

Most awesome trip around the mountains and Lowveld

Very well organised with two incredibly knowledgeable guides. The Eco lodge at Sungabala was sublime. Max and Rea (the guides) could not have been any more helpful and accommodating to our needs. The cycling itself was tough at times but immensely rewarding; to get the sense of being closer to the wilds rather than viewing from a car window.

Most Inspirational Moment

Competing the ride and hearing the much longed for words of “no more hills!” More seriously the first day of riding in Golden Gate NP, very peaceful and an abundance of wild life.

Thoughts on Group Leader

They were excellent, knowledgeable, helpful and supportive. Amazing how they could ride all day and then start making meals and setting camps.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Pack rehydration sachets as the ones you can get in SA don’t taste great.

Fantastic trip & Guides

Highlights: # seeing abundant wildlife/bird life throughout trip # cycling through varying landscapes # the tour leaders/guide/driver/cooks The entire trip covered 2000km (cycled almost 500km of it) and we saw varying landscapes, some of which was quite stunning.

Most Inspirational Moment

Too difficult to say one moment. Over 12 days there were many. My favourite cycling days were in golden Gate NP, Royal Natal NP, cycling down into Barberton & cycling from Graskop to Blyde river Canyon. Wildlife & birdlife was amazing in Kruger NP but also throughout trip. Keep your senses alert throughout whole trip - there are many sights, sounds and feelings to be experienced.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Bradley Campher & Evans Angel were brilliant, both individually and as a team. Bradley is excellent as a cycling guide. He provided clear briefs of the cycling segments. He made sure we were safe and provided much needed support & encouragement. My bike performed well with no issues. Bradley also cooked meals and provided helpful information on history, cultural issues. His motto is to ensure the client comes first & I felt that was true for me. Evans main role on this trip was the driving and he also cooked lovely meals. He followed us closely when we were cycling to warm drivers and in case we needed water, food or other support. He is a qualified guide and so provided information on many matters including info on the animals in Kruger and other interesting information

Advice for Potential Travellers

Get fit for the cycling. Most days are very undulating so lots of uphillls, as well as a couple of great long downhills. Great scenery to distract you though! Well worth the effort. I had certain concerns about coming to SA but I felt very safe with Bradley & Evans guiding our trip. SA is an incredible place & people are very friendly. . Wildlife & birdlife are amazing and seeing the big 5 and more made the trip for me, as well as the guides, Bradley & Evans :-)

Suggestions

Go for it! You won’t regret it.

Brilliant trip!

Excellent trip, so well organised and carried out. Lots of cycling made easy with the great guides.

Most Inspirational Moment

So many inspirational moments cycling with such a great group! We enjoyed the cycles at our own pace and got to know everyone well over the 2 weeks. I loved staying in Kruger for the 2 nights and heading out on game drives to spot animals. The hot spring pools in Badplaas were a nice treat!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Adonia was so helpful throughout the trip and always good fun. He and Evans were both very knowledgeable about the areas we were cycling through, the animals, nature, and history. & an excellent cook!

Advice for Potential Travellers

Lots of hills to climb and initially is at very high altitude.

Suggestions

Thank you to Adonia, Evans, and Exodus for the great trip.

Fantastic trip

Wonderful cycling amidst fantastic scenery . The roads were smooth and quiet , some challenging ascents and wonderful descents. Accomodation was often basic but always comfortable and clean. Food was often cooked by our guides – this was a real positive, both were good cooks and this allowed us to stay in some remote and beautiful places. The whole trip was a real adventure.

Most Inspirational Moment

So many to mention , the remote beauty of the Drakensberg, the final day cycling along the Blyde river canyon, the amazing wildlife in Kruger where we ate under the stars.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Adonia , our guide was great, we were a group with a wide range of ages and abilities and he ensured that everyone was looked after and had a great time. Evans our driver was great also , a guide in his own right , he was a mine of information. Both gave us interesting insights into the history , culture and wildlife of the region. Both were excellent cooks, had great senses of humour and were responsive to our needs. We were a group of 12 , an extra person would have been useful at times , in particular a bike mechanic.

Advice for Potential Travellers

This is graded 4 and it often felt like it. You need a good level of cycle fitness to fully enjoy this trip. The altitude ( we clocked 7000 ft on the first day) took its toll at first as did the baking heat. Be prepared for a hard first day ( although beautiful and awe inspiring) The first few nights in the Drakensberg were cool , even though the days had been warm so take some warm clothing. We also encountered some thunderstorms so waterproofs a must. There are very few shops , cafes and restaurants so if you like shopping, and fine dining this is not the trip for you. You don't need a lot of smart clothes.

Suggestions

The bikes, whilst perfectly adequate for the trip needed some TLC. Lots of people found the gears clunky. Thankyou to all the individuals on our trip. We had a great group of people and had lots of fun and laughs.

Spectacular scenery, amazing wildlife, a really memorable trip

This trip exceeded our expectations on lots of levels. The scenery when cycling is unbelievably spectacular (the cycling is not for wimps as lots of climbing!). It is not a luxury trip but accommodation is comfortable and allows you to access such beautiful places. We had a great group, hard cycling mixed with activities such as swimming at waterfalls, short hikes, historical sites with lots of information along the way from our 2 guides Adonia and Evans who had great local knowledge. 2 days at Kruger were incredible, so much wildlife at such close quarters including Elephants, Giraffes, Lions, Zebras, Water buffalo, Hyenas, Impala and beautiful birds. We seemed to pack so much in it’s hard to remember all that we did. The weather was mixed, with blazing sunshine, torrential rain, some cold evenings as at altitude and hailstones the size of walnuts but all added to the experience of adventure (pack for all seasons!)

Most Inspirational Moment

Cycling through beautiful exotic South African terrain along deserted red earth dirt track with the strange noises of African birds and animals, warm sunshine, beautiful Acacia and unfamiliar plants trees and flowers, gazing around at the mountains and blue sky - so far away from noisy busy London life. 2 other highlights for me were swimming in icy cold waterfall pool with fellow cycling pals, and on the final day in Kruger stopped the truck on the road as a lion casually sauntered past us at a distance of about 2 metres! So much laughter all the way through the trip, we had a ball

Thoughts on Group Leader

Adonia was a good organised leader who made you feel safe and responded well to extra requests such as additional stops. He was a strict timekeeper which was important with a tight schedule. He was sociable and friendly with a good sense of humour and made a good job of accommodating different abilities within the group. He had good local knowledge and imparted this along the way. His assistant Evans was also an experienced guide with a warm friendly demeanour, nothing was too much trouble. The 2 boys worked incredibly had, driving for miles, cycling with us, cooking us meals and breakfast when we were away from restaurants. They both gave the impression they enjoyed being with us and really wanted us to have a good time. They were approachable and open to suggestions.

Advice for Potential Travellers

This trip has quite hard cycling so not for people who are not regular cyclists - however so rewarding and worth the effort. Pack for all seasons, don't expect luxury but everything is perfectly comfortable. Pack a torch, some binoculars, good waterproofs. Antimalarials are required for Kruger region. We spent some time in Joburg before trip - fascinating to hear about recent history / end of apartheid, but not a safe place for tourists to be wondering the streets unaccompanied.

MZD221113

Brilliantly crafted trip. Cycling, accommodation, places we visited Excellent👍

Most Inspirational Moment

Many inspirational moments. Mountains, the expanse of the country, the sounds from thunderstorms to bird songs, the animals in the outstanding country parks….

Thoughts on Group Leader

Group leader Adonia excellently lead us with his local knowledge, team building and cycling. Always ready to answer any questions and encourage us along the challenging cycle route🚴🏻‍♀️

Advice for Potential Travellers

Just go on this trip you won’t regret it….

Simply the best!

This was our first Exodus cycling holiday and it won’t be our last! The scenery was varied and beautiful, the hotels were better that I was expecting and the cycling was challenging but manageable and a great way to see the countryside.

We were able to ride at our own pace through out the trip, with one of the guides at the front and one bringing up the rear and breaks every hour or so for water and snacks.

Food from the Exodus Mobile Kitchen was excellent – every meal was something different and we were often the lunchtime the envy of other tour groups! The buffet meals in the hotels were also good – a range of options to suit everyone.

Most Inspirational Moment

Probably the safari in the Kruger - we saw an incredible volume and variety of wildlife, often quite close up - lions 3ft away, elephants crossing the road in front and behind our vehicle. The crowning glory was a leopard spotted by one of our group which just seemed to want to show off for us!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Bradley, Skhu and Rea did a fantastic job of looking after us all. From fixing bikes (and the truck) to cooking (including baking a cake on the barbecue!) to sharing their knowledge and love of South Africa and its animals, all three were amazing.

Advice for Potential Travellers

It is worth doing some training ahead of the trip, some days were quite tough - up to 2000m of climbing. But we could all ride at our own pace - there was never any pressure to keep up - so don’t let it put you off. There is always the option to get a lift from the truck!

Suggestions

There is no bar or other access to beer or wine on the first night, so if you want a drink (and you might after a long transfer), you will need to buy something either at the airport or at one of the stops on the drive.

Drakensberg & Kruger

Correctly graded as challenging, the first few days were harder than I expected with the altitude and head winds. It was quite cool there too, so a warm and windproof layer is essential in the misty conditions, arm warmers were handy too. The Blyde Canyon ride is long, but you start early (earlier than the trip notes suggest, and without breakfast before setting off); the first and last thirds have an uphill bias but the middle part is a really nice undulating section – the wonderful views are a great distraction too. It’s an enjoyable trip, with some good biking including some fabulous descents safe enough for some good top speeds, and we certainly saw more wildlife than I was expecting – take some binoculars, you’ll be glad you did.

Most Inspirational Moment

The wildlife. This time of year we were told that the animals can be harder to see in Kruger because they’re more scattered in view of the wider availability of water, but we saw plenty - and with the added bonus of lots of babies, including some lion cubs, playful young elephants and the cutest of little antelopes. We also saw some herds of zebra galloping joyously across the meadows earlier in the trip, which was wonderful to see. And late in the trip we passed some people praying by a river family close to the road; hearing their wonderful singing whilst cycling along was very uplifting.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Adonia, Rea and Innocent made an excellent team, I hope for future travellers’ sake that they will work together again because they definitely helped make it a really good trip. They obviously got on well and joined in with the group far more than I’ve experienced with most other Exodus trips (I’ve been on at least fifteen). They were knowledgeable, fun and Ado in particular was very keen to ensure we were all aware of the safety aspects of the trip. They were also good cooks, the beef stir fry and barbecue were definite highlights.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Sleep on the first part of the transfer on day one, after the lunch stop there are great views and animal spotting opportunities. Make sure you get a three round-pin adapter, only one or two places had European two-pin sockets. I bought mine at Heathrow but dare say you could get one cheaper beforehand. All accommodations have charging points, although a battery charger pack might be useful on the safari days if you use your camera a lot. You won’t need a huge amount of cash as most meals are included and there aren’t that many opportunities to buy things; if you see something you like buy it as you may well not see it again. There were ATMs at a few of the places we stopped for the guys to stock up on food, however I’d recommend getting some currency before you leave the UK or exchanging some cash when you arrive at the airport. There weren’t that many opportunities to pay by card, particularly for the smaller purchases. Take a travel towel or sarong for the day-time swimming opportunities, you may like to have water shoes for some too. Worth having a change of clothes handy on part-transfer days to avoid sitting in your cycling gear for longer than necessary. A couple of places didn’t have any soap in the bathroom and some provided a kettle but no tea/coffee. Take a few snacks or buy some at the well-stocked supermarkets along the way; the provisions at the snack stops were generally limited to peanuts, wine gums and liquorice all sorts - sometimes with a banana, apple or orange too; I have been on many trips which provide a wider variety of options at the snack stops (exotic fruits, biscuits, chocolate bars, snack bars, crips, energy drinks and so on). The larger bikes had two bottle cages, but even if yours doesn’t two water bottles are handy if you like to drink lots, especially on the safari days (most of us bought a 5 litre bottle of water each for the days in Kruger and Hazyview, everywhere else you can drink the tap water). Lots of the roads were quite light in terms of traffic, but some days were busier and the vehicles can drive quite close as they’re not used to cyclists in this part of S Africa, there were often decent hard shoulders though. Roads were generally in good condition with a few areas having potholes, sadly broken glass from discarded bottles was pretty ubiquitous. Take cleat shoes and clip-in pedals if you’re used to using them. It’s definitely worth taking one of the optional extra game drives as the drivers are expert spotters and are in contact with each other, meaning they know where the best sightings are (ours cost R700 which was quite a bit more than the trip notes suggest, but was longer and very worthwhile). The knowledge-sharing led to us seeing a leopard as well as the other members of the big five gang. That said, our guides and driver were pretty impressive when it came to spotting animals and birds too, we saw a cheetah whilst driving through the park with them; they have a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the area, and a great deal of knowledge to impart.

Suggestions

I would agree with other reviewers in that I don’t understand why this trip needs to have quite so much self-catering. I totally understand it’s easier for lunches and some of the picnic spots were excellent - day 3 in particular, plus days 10 and 11. In the Kruger we could easily have had lunch in one of the camp cafes/restaurants. However I too would have preferred to have more evening meals in restaurants. After a day’s cycling I don’t really want to have to balance my dinner plate on my lap, and it’s nice to have a choice. Furthermore, the team have to work incredibly hard sourcing and preparing the meals, then clearing up afterwards; they have very little downtime on this trip. We saw steak on offer in restaurants from anywhere between £7 to £10 and I’m sure that most Exodus customers would be more than happy to pay this for a nice meal on a comfortable chair once or twice during the trip. There are a few fairly lengthy bus transfers but it’s such a vast place that they’re inevitable; our guides kept us amused with information from time to time along the way and Adonia had a small library of books on the wildlife for us to read through. We were fortunate in not having a full group as we had plenty of space and travelled in comfort; I think it would be pretty uncomfortable if there were 14 people and it would also make it difficult for everyone to get a good view on the safari days. The accommodation varies along the way, but is all fine. The Eco camp on days 2 and 3 is wonderful, the hotel at Hazyview is nice although the pool wasn’t clean (the pool at the lunch spot that day was far superior), the final night’s accommodation is lovely and spacious with great views from the bar - head there in advance of dinner to watch the rocks changing colour as the sun goes down. The tents in the Kruger had fans and fridges which was more than I’d expected, although you will have to share the washrooms not only with other campers but also an interesting array of insects attracted to the light - but in general the bug count (and particularly the mozzie count) is pretty low on this trip. Keep a look out for the porcupine in the Kruger campsite - it headed down between the wash block and laundry at around 7pm both nights we were there, it moves a lot faster than you’d think! It’s a shame that the hotel at Graskop is out of town as it looked like there were quite a few interesting shops to potter around there. A couple of nights we had to keep the bikes in our rooms - not much of an issue for me as I was on my own, but probably a bit of a squeeze for two. WiFi and phone coverage isn’t available everywhere, or at least not good connections - so expect some respite from electronic communications! I was lucky as my bike was reasonably good, albeit a bit on the small side. It did however struggle to switch from the large ring to the middle one at the front, but the rear gears were infinitely better than a number of my fellow companions who all had lots of issues with their bikes during the trip. People signing up for a level 4 trip will all be keen cyclists with good bikes at home, and Exodus need to make sure that their local partners are aware of the expectations of their clients. Having bikes which need fixing multiple times a day simply isn’t good enough and takes away some of the enjoyment factor of cycling in such lovely areas. As a minimum the bikes need a thorough inspection before each trip commences and be replaced where necessary. If the support team could spend a little less time preparing food for us all they could do a proper check at the end of each day, and they should certainly be given more spare parts for use during the trip. The local company needs to make appropriate investment to ensure more than just adequate equipment is provided.

Review Centre
Reply from Exodus

We would like to thank Sandra for her review; we were very pleased to read that overall she had an enjoyable trip, but we were sorry that she was disappointed with some of the meal arrangements on the tour.  This tour is structured in a way that we feel offers our customers a range of experiences, from those provided in accommodation, prepared by our local team and eaten in natural surroundings, and also, when they are not included, the opportunity to buy some locally and sample the variety of dishes and snacks available in South Africa.  In some locations, due to the remote nature of the places we stay, there are no restaurants nearby, and meals are cooked and served by our fantastic local staff.  While we regret that Sandra feels this could be improved, we hope this explains why the tour is set up in this manner, but having said this, we have made some minor amendments to the itinerary recently, with three lunches and one dinner removed so clients have additional opportunities to visit local restaurants.

 

We also understand that Sandra and some other group members had some difficulties with the gearing on their bikes.  We would like to assure her that our local team have a thorough servicing and maintenance procedure, with all bikes being checked before each trip; a mechanic also travels with the group to assist in the event of issues arising as the trip progresses.  While we are sorry for any issues Sandra experienced, we have discussed this with our local team and can assure any customer considering joining this trip that we usually receive excellent feedback regarding the bikes.  We are, nonetheless, sorry for any problems Sandra encountered.

Great itinerary, excellent guides, shame about the bikes

The bikes are key to the enjoyment of a cycling holiday. I have enjoyed at least 12 previous cycling holidays with Exodus and the bikes provided for this trip were the worst I have ever had. It was difficult or impossible to change gears smoothly on both the front or rear gears. The chain frequently hopped 2 gears, no gears, or changed on a whim entirely by itself. Frequent adjustments were made by the guides, but any changes didn’t last more than 20km. I suspect the cables needed changing, but this wasn’t in their remit. The display on the handlebars were completely obscured so you had no idea what gear you were in unless you memorised the back and looked down at the front, making it easy to cross chain and exacerbate the problems. On first sight of the bikes at least 2 had new chains which were drooping almost to the ground.

Most Inspirational Moment

We saw the most astonishing range of animals, including a cheetah, a leopard and 4 baby lions in The Kruger National Park and quite a few outside. The view of the porcupine moving at speed 2 night running on the same route between the toilet blocks in the campsite at dusk was just amazing. I loved the tours of the Rourkes Drift and the Cave paintings

Thoughts on Group Leader

The group leader Adomi was brilliant; well organised, very well informed . His team consisting of Rio as support and Innocent as the driver worked well and they were friendly and, chatty and mixed in with all of us.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Don't book this trip until you have assurance that the bikes have been replaced or all the key components changed

Suggestions

All the meals included were prepared by the leaders and driver. I would have enjoyed the trip more if we had eaten in more restaurants. Apart from the first meal, their cooking was excellent, but I do like to sit at a table after a long day in the saddle and have a choice of food and a glass of wine offered. There were restaurants in most places and the food was very cheap and good. We couldn't understand why it was organised like this. It also seemed unnecessarily very hard work for the team. Finally I do like proper coffee not instant for breakfast!

Review Centre
Reply from Exodus

We would like to thank Sue for her review; we were pleased to read that she enjoyed the itinerary and found her tour leader, Adomi, and his team to be friendly and helpful, but we were very sorry that she was disappointed with the quality of the bikes provided for the trip. All of the bikes used on our South Africa trips are fully serviced at the end of each season with new components fitted, and our local trained mechanic carries out checks on each in between each tour.  Should mechanical issues occur during the trip, at least one member of the team working on the trip, who carries spare parts and a toolkit, is trained to address them.  Our head mechanic in South Africa has explained that in this instance, the bike had been fitted with a new derailleur cable before the trip, which we understand led to Sue having some difficulties with the gears.  Whilst we sincerely regret it was felt this was due to issues with the bike, we feel it is worth mentioning that we generally receive positive feedback regarding the bikes on this tour, and we genuinely hope that this helps reassure that the condition of the bikes is closely monitored.  John Penge – Product Manager.