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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

Wonderful time in the beautiful mountains

We had a great group and superb leader. I echo everything that Susanne has written. Rodopi is just a magical place – it is lush and full of nature: insects, particularly butterflies, wild flowers, lichen and signs of bigger animals who were no doubt watching us. I felt extremely comfortable, more knowledgable and much more aware of my surroundings by the end of the week. The walks are varied and a good length; no rush in the morning and back in time to have a couple of quiet hours in the evening. Five days in a row is reasonably challenging, but it is also possible to miss the odd day; a couple of our group found plenty to do – maybe a short walk, glass of wine with lunch and then wander in the village. Yagodina Hotel is perfect for the trip – very friendly and comfortable, we had wonderful home cooked food – recipes local to the region, Maria could not do enough to help I have been on several Exodus Trips and this is my favourite so far.

Most Inspirational Moment

Loved the information about the bears - I felt very privileged to be able share their territory.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Julian is an excellent leader. He is friendly and unbelievably knowledgable, calm and organised with an enormous passion and respect for the Rodopi Mountains.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Book now if you love being immersed in nature.

Suggestions

I didn't want to leave!

Unspoilt beautiful mountains & meadows!

This trip far exceeded our expectations in many ways! The area is unspoilt & very quiet-we only saw one other group of hikers during our week in the mountains! Every day was filled with lovely walks through stunning scenery & we enjoyed discovering all of the flora & fauna in the area as well as spotting traces of bears! The Family Hotel Yagodina was spotlessly clean with decent size rooms & the food was amazing-all locally sourced & freshly made! Nothing was too much trouble for Maria & her team & we felt truly spoilt!

Most Inspirational Moment

Walking through the meadows seeing all of the varieties of wild flowers, including many orchids as well as moths & butterflies, many that we have not seen before!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Julian stepped in at the last minute to lead our group & he was just brilliant! He has lived & studied brown bears in the region for many years & was eager to pass his knowledge on to us! It's fair to say that his enthusiasm was infectious so by the 2nd day we were all spotting signs of bear activity including scat! He allowed people to take the walk at their own pace & was happy to educate us on the massive variety of flora & fauna we saw along the way! The weather was often rainy in the afternoons so Julian swapped walks around so that we remained safe & avoided most of the bad weather!

Advice for Potential Travellers

The weather in the mountains can change very quickly so defiantly take waterproof jackets & leggings that you can put on easily! Be flexible! Again, the weather means that walks were changed or moved days but this is to ensure that you are safe & can enjoy spectacular views on the higher walks on the better days!

Suggestions

If you love nature, especially wild flowers then this is the trip for you!

Great trip

New to Bulgaria, great week discovering the landscape, flora & fauna and culture of this unique region.

Most Inspirational Moment

Walking the plank at the Eagle's eye

Thoughts on Group Leader

Fantastic and inspirational. Passionate and happy to share his extensive knowledge of the country and region. Excellent walk leader - pace and support for strugglers.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Take a microfibre cloth to dry the bathroom floor. Take tea bags - although the herbal tea is fine, really missed a good cuppa. Consider adding an extra day or two at the end to explore Sofia.

Suggestions

My first Exodus experience, all positive.

First Ones Back

I am ashamed to say that until we started looking for our next trip I had never heard of the Rodopi Mountains. They are a wonderful place, spectacular scenery with vistas of ridge after ridge, after ridge, a week isn’t really long enough, maybe we will have to return.
The walking was very enjoyable and the accommodation just what you want on a trip like this; clean and comfortable with a happy, relaxed atmosphere, a good shower, lovely staff and well cooked, tasty, locally sourced food .
There is an abundance of wildlife in the mountains, but it is just that, wild, so don’t expect to see it all. I have come to the conclusion that the wall creeper is a mythical bird!
We were the first group in after two and a half years and everything worked really well. If you haven’t been you are missing out on a treat.

Most Inspirational Moment

This isn't the sort of trip that has one stand out moment, the experience and enjoyment builds through the week to give you a really satisfying glow at the end.

Thoughts on Group Leader

We were lucky, we had two, both of whom were excellent, on the top of their game, and with a great sense of humour. Svetla was always cheerful, knowledgeable and helpful. Here unusual academic background in anthropology and a host of other subjects meant that she could impart a lot of very interesting insights into the social as well as natural environment. Julian has an encyclopedic knowledge of the area and years spent in bear research which gave us the bonus of having his enthusiasm and expertise, as a result of which I can now identify a worrying number of species by their poo! They were both great fun to be with and I would very happily sign up for a trip knowing they were the leader.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Come and enjoy it! Make sure you have a reasonable level of fitness, bring a plug for the wash basin and think about doing an extra couple of days in Sofi,a either at the start or the end of the trip, it would be time well spent. Mountain weather can be variable, so come prepared.

Suggestions

The Rodopi mountains are a spectacular location and the people we met were lovely. If you like walking in mountains, have an interest in wildlife and enjoy discovering local food this is a great trip to sign up to. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Oh yes, one last thing everybody in our group got along really well together which made it an even more enjoyable experience, so a big thankyou to them too.

Walking in wonderful Rodopi mountains

A memorable walking holiday. The walks were through forests, gorges and beautiful wildflower meadows. Lovely views! A very pastoral feel to the whole holiday – and very relaxing. Yagodina is a small friendly village in a peaceful location. The hotel was clean and comfortable. Food was good – lots of local produce was used.

Most Inspirational Moment

Everyone mentions the lunch stops - but it was so lovely looking at the wildflowers, the birds and the views. There are not many places left in Europe that are so unspoilt. We rarely saw other people when we were out walking. Finding bear paw prints on a walk through some woods was unexpected!

Thoughts on Group Leader

Nelly was excellent. One of the best guides I have encountered on a holiday. She spoke English fluently and was a good communicator with the group. Her knowledge of the local flora and fauna was extensive. She gave us a lot of background on the history and culture of Bulgaria. She was very helpful and attentive to the needs of the group.

Advice for Potential Travellers

I spent an extra day in Sofia and I can recommend this. There is a lot to see in the city centre. The Metro system is easy to use and cheap. Be prepared for showers when out walking and take lots of sunscreen.

Suggestions

I wish I had tried to learn a few words of Bulgarian before the holiday. If you are not flying direct to Sofia make sure you have enough time to make your connecting flight. One hour was not enough when flying from Manchester due to delays.

A great walking holiday in unspoilt Bulgaria

This was an excellent trip in a relatively unspoilt and bucolic part of the world. The Rodopi mountains in southern Bulgaria, near the Greek border, make for relatively gentle but sublime walking. We ambled along easy trails through deep gorges, natural forest and woodland, and, best of all, high alpine meadows, with carpets of wild flowers.
The hotel in Yagodina was excellent – clean, with plenty of hot water after a day out. The food, even as a vegetarian, was varied, using a lot of local produce, and generally excellent. At the hotel, local beers were cheap, about £1.25 a bottle, though the wines were less so – think UK supermarket prices. It even had fairly good wifi!

Most Inspirational Moment

All the walks were lovely, but the lunches among the wild flowers, sitting in a high meadow, were something special.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Neli was an outstanding leader. She was attentive to the needs of her party, patient, and was a great source of knowledge about Bulgaria, its history, politics, and culture. She really knew her local flora and fauna, and even knew all the names in English! She also boasted just about the best English language skills I've come across in a local guide, indeed her vocabulary would have put many native speakers to shame! Most importantly however, she was absolutely passionate about Bulgaria, and the Rodopi in particular.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Bring a waterproof, it showered on most days, although only in the afternoon. Bring binoculars for the wildlife. Bring at least a one-litre water bottle - it can get hot, and although the walking is not arduous, the days were quite long. If you get Exodus to book flights with a stopover, check the timings. They wrecked our first day by allowing just one hour at Frankfurt airport. The plane was late taking off in the UK, and mayhem ensued. We eventually arrive many, many hours late, after many changes in flights! This was the only negative about the whole holiday however!

As the Nike Ad says "Just Do It"

Having travelled extensively but not to Bulgaria previously I was very interested to see what I would think of the country and I wasn’t disappointed. I flew direct from Ireland on Thursday and spent two days in Sofia before I joined a group of 15 others on the Saturday. I am not surprised that our trip was full/sold out. We spent a great week enjoying all aspects of rural Bulgaria. The walks averaged out at ten miles a day based in Hotel Yagodina that is ideally situated and very well run. The weather was perfect, despite many forecasts that predicted otherwise.

Most Inspirational Moment

The consistency of how beautiful the views were each day when we lunched. The other aspect that really appealed to me was how natural the food we ate during the week was and how little processed food was served during our stay at Hotel Yagodina.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Nelly's command of the English language is the best I have ever experienced in a non native speaker. Her willingness to help and accommodate people in the group was outstanding. Her passion and knowledge of the flora, fauna, folklore and history of Bulgaria was unsurpassable. I believe she has found her forté as a guide and I intend to nominate her in the Exodus Annual Leader Awards.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Some of the group members who didn't spend a night or two in Sofia either at the beginning or the end of the holiday regretted their decision. I really enjoyed my two day stay in the capital and saw more of it than I imagined I would when I joined an organised cycle tour of the city that covers about 20kms and lasts about three hours.

Suggestions

If in doubt, just book it. I don't think you will be disappointed.

A fantastic walking holiday in remote and beautiful mountains

We had five strenuous but not exhausting days walking through really beautiful gorges, meadows and mountains and came back to a welcoming and comfortable simple hotel each evening. Our guide was exemplary in her local knowledge of flora and fauna so there was much to learn as well as to enjoy. Highly recommended if you want to be out all day amidst a fascinating landscape.

Most Inspirational Moment

Sitting and gazing across the valleys and gorges from 6,000 feet up.

Thoughts on Group Leader

A fantastic leader.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Bring binoculars.

A wonderfully authentic Bulgarian experience; interesting walks, comfortable accommodation and a lovely group

This trip provides a great introduction to a very special, unspoilt part of Europe which maintains traditional practices in agriculture and food production. Yagodina is a real find and I hope its uniqueness can be retained; the local people were friendly and the Yagodina Family Hotel offers a genuinely homely atmosphere, including comfortable accommodation and plenty of interesting and well presented food. Maria, the proprietor, runs an impressive operation and is always available to ensure that guests’ needs are met.

The walks were well chosen and the week’s itinerary gave an excellent overview of the Rodopi mountains, including insights into the history, culture, flora and fauna of the area.

Most Inspirational Moment

Lunch most days was in beautiful meadows with masses of colourful Spring flowers and great views of the mountains - a real joy! The traditional Bulgarian singing and dancing on our final night was very enjoyable - Maria's mother and her team were an inspiration, and it was nice to see three generations of the family joining in the fun.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Svetla is excellent, and her passion and affection for the area were infectious. She is very well organised, always cheerful and positive, and has a great sense of humour. Her style in leading the walks was relaxed, whilst highly professional and she always ensured that all members of the group were comfortable with the pace.

Advice for Potential Travellers

If you have time, stay an extra night or two in Sofia but make sure you join the group at the airport for the transfer to Yagodina - this can be arranged via the Exodus Office when you book. Sofia is an interesting and historic city, with impressive Roman ruins, a thriving music and cultural scene and some excellent restaurants. It is compact and easy to get round with a modern metro system. There are free city walking tours, which are highly recommended - tips for the local, well-informed, English-speaking guides are optional but well deserved

If you go down in the woods today....

A superb holiday in beautiful countryside, staying in an excellent local hotel with walks that make the most of what the region has to offer.

Most Inspirational Moment

Realising that bears were probably within a kilometre or so of us as we walked through the forest. Julian's enthusiasm about all things 'bear' was catching. His expertise was not, however, limited to bears. The most photographed moment was on the last night when a small group of ladies from the village came to share traditional songs and dances. Seeing fellow walkers joining in with enthusiasm was a special moment.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Julian is a superbly knowledgeable leader. His long association with the region makes him an expert in the area's cultural heritage, as well as in local flora and fauna. His extensive knowledge of the mountain tracks and paths meant that there was always an alternative possible if weather conditions dictated a change of route.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Be prepared for changes in the daily routes - the mountain weather is unpredictable and thunderstorms meant we had to abandon one climb for a more sheltered walk. Late snow also meant we did not reach the highest point described in the trip notes. The alternative were always carefully explained and fascinating. Bring waterproofs. Delicious four course meals can become a habit. Be prepared either to keep up the strenuous walking routine at home or suffer hunger pangs for the first few days at home.

Suggestions

This is a great way to visit Bulgaria. You could add on a day or so to see Sofia but the mountains are sufficient to justify the trip. The orchids were plentiful and the traces of bears were a wonderful reminder of the varied wildlife that makes its home in the region.