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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.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

Lots of our clients also like to post handy tips and advice about their travels. It’s great to know what to expect on an Exodus adventure before you go, so make the most of their experience and you’ll make the most of yours!

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Reviews

Spice Trails TGK 0402

An amazing adventure exploring beautiful Kerala with local guides.

Most Inspirational Moment

Walking through the timeless beauty of the tea plantations and mountains with the sound track of the Bulbul birds. The delicious 3 course curry picnics eaten on mountain peaks with views across the valleys. Sitting in the shade eating freshly made banana fritters as the houseboat drifted down the backwaters, watching the kites, kingfishers and bee catchers swooping and diving over the water. Stopping for a warm welcome and a refreshing 2p cup of tea in a tiniest tea shop in a mountain village.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Santosh Kumar was the perfect leader, his local knowledge, his wisdom and his gentle sense of humour kept the group happy and engaged throughout our adventure. He not only guided us through the tour but also helped us to understand local customs and etiquette so that we could be respectful and be welcomed as visitors to the community rather than just tourists. He knows everyone! so wherever we went we were made welcome. Santosh managed our group so well with his calm 'can do' attitude. Even long journeys were made part of the adventure, with the amazing views of life from the bus and the extra special ‘Santosh surprises’ along the way, which could be a local artisan at work, a flower market, a roadside cafe with an incredible view or even a hillside cattle market. On a trip like this there will always be glitches, but Santosh always had a brilliant ‘Plan B’ and sometimes plan C! which always worked out perfectly. Travelling in the minibus was an adventure in itself and we had total trust in Jogi, our excellent driver, on the busy and at times chaotic Indian roads!

Advice for Potential Travellers

If you like walking and nature and seeing the sunsets and sunrises in the mountains and sleeping under the stars, then you will enjoy this wonderful adventure. Pack thin layers as it was really hot walking in the mountains, but could be quite chilly in the evenings and early mornings at the camp site (we all wore woolly hats and gloves in the evenings around the fire). Long sleeves and long trousers are preferable on the mountains as we were often walking through prickly things and of course there was the risk of insects and leaches (we had no trouble with either as it was quite dry). In towns and temples it felt more comfortable to follow local etiquette and have shoulders and legs covered. Scarves/sarongs were useful as quick cover ups for respect or for sun/insect protection.

Suggestions

The tents were simple 2 man tents and toilet facilities were basic BUT the 'camping team' looked after us so well, with amazing meals cooked at the site and delicious 3 course picnics on our walking days. This was our first 'group' tour and we were apprehensive about being in an anonymous group of tourists glimpsing India from a high rise air conditioned coach! But we needn't have worried, as Santosh made sure we experienced real India, met real people and had a fabulous Kerala adventure.

Fabulous Trip

This trip was just great on many levels. We had a very enjoyable holiday with a great small group and we all got on and laughed throughout the trip.
Trekking for the first 6 days after arriving in Munnar, was through stunning scenery, tea plantations, mountains, views, a village seeing real local life. However it wasn’t always easy in 28-30 deg with some pretty steep ascents and I found it challenging at times even being quite fit although not at my peak! I think calling it a level 3 rating in difficulty underestimates the walking. We walked from 7-16 km each day. Camping was wonderful, excellent food was cooked in basic conditions and our hot lunch was carried by the guide each day. Just had to carry a lot of water & sun stuff.
The second week was amazing too. As per itinerary we saw Madurai, temple is spectacular, we all did the street food tour & all ok after! Peniyar National park walk and the boat trip were great, saw elephants and other wildlife. The houseboat was so relaxing and the food was amazing. Out homestay was wonderful too, we were all together and spent time on the beach but it was v hot.
Our guide Santosh was A** and looked after us so incredibly well, took us to all our dinners & lunches not included so we didn’t have to think at all!

Most Inspirational Moment

Too many to pick one but the scenery while trekking & sunsets were stunning

Thoughts on Group Leader

Santosh was fabulous. His English is excellent, he was on top of everything all the time, good sense of humour, went the extra mile for our group of 6. And managed to seem so relaxed all the time

Advice for Potential Travellers

It was hot so take more long sleeves than you think you’ll need if, like me, fair. Very comfortable walking boots essential & I used a few blister plasters as feet swelled although never need in uk

Suggestions

Just loved it!

fun and rewarding trip.

Really enjoyed this trip. I liked the busy pace, the treks, houseboat and the homestay in particular. It was only a small group but we bonded easily over a couple of beers on the first night and that continued through the duration of the trip.

Most Inspirational Moment

Probably the trekking and in particular the third day which covered a lot of ground ending in a tea plantation near to the village of Yellapetty.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Excellent - organised, helpful and very knowledgeable.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Be prepared for he leeches if it rains but don't let that put you off, its an excellent trip and one of the best I've done.

Suggestions

Day 8 - drive to Mundhan. I would have ideally gone straight to Madurai, Mundhan was just a stop for the night and I think it may have been better to continue the drive for a couple of hours to Madurai which was of much more interest and would have allowed us more time there.

The good and the bad

Although the trip notes said hiking on clearly defined trails, I found this not to be the case – much of the time there was no visible trail and we were bush whacking through leech infested mud. At one point, stopping for a short pee break I became separated from the group and became lost. Despite shouting loudly and blowing my whistle it was a few nerve racking minutes before I was able to find the group. Once again the lack of any clearly defined path made the situation worse. We experienced heavy rain every day while trekking through the Western Ghats, which made the leech situation horrendous, everyone suffered multiple bits on their torso. The provided leech socks were effective around lower legs and ankles, but were bulky and made hiking shoes far too tight – black toe nails etc. Given the condition of the walking conditions, which were treacherous and slippery, I feel we should have been accompanied by a second guide to deal with any emergency situations and perhaps to prevent trekkers from becoming separated and lost. Our leader, Santosh Kumar, was excellent in trying to address our concerns and varied the last scheduled day of trekking to avoid any further leech encounters or injuries. He also ensured that given the weather conditions we made camp in the higher ground rather than the planned site which was waterlogged. The food whilst camping was exceptional – probably the best Indian food I’ve ever eaten. All the other aspects of the trip were very good and enjoyable.

Most Inspirational Moment

I've always wanted to visit the Kerala Backwaters and our short time there met and exceeded my expectations of this part of the trip.

Thoughts on Group Leader

I've already mentioned Santosh - he was informative, caring, had great organisational skills and was all-round first class.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Make sure to avoid the earliest trips in the season, take good wet weather gear and roomy hiking boots.

Suggestions

Despite the issue we faced while trekking, no-one can predict the weather, this was a very enjoyable trip especially when sharing the experience with a group of like minded people.

Trekking needs an urgent revamp

It’s difficult to give an average rating for this trip as most of it was excellent, especially the food and the enthusiasm of the tour leader, Santos. However, I have serious concerns about the trekking/camping element. 1. We were on the 29 October departure, which I think is too early in the season for trekking in this area. We had heavy rain most days. Leeches were a big problem (everyone got bites) and the provided leech socks were too bulky to fit comfortably inside footwear. We ended up with very sore feet and will definitely lose a few toenails. Having the team leader take out leech pincers with a penknife was not a highlight! 2. The trekking guide’s English was not good. Only one guide was provided (the tour leader did not join us on the trekking) and at one point my husband got left behind and his absence was not noticed. Contrary to the trip notes, the walk on Day 3 was not on paths – the guide simply tried to find a route through the forest. This was not safe and everyone had a fall. It was lucky that no-one was seriously injured.

Most Inspirational Moment

Cruising on the backwaters.

Thoughts on Group Leader

Excellent - he was happy to share his knowledge of India.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Do not go in early November.

Review Centre
Reply from Exodus

We’d like to thank you for your review, Amanda, and we are heartened to receive your comments about your tour leader, Santos, which have been passed on. On the other hand, we take our customers’ welfare extremely seriously, so we were particularly concerned to learn about the times during your trip that you felt this was compromised. We generally find that departures at this time of year run smoothly, but we are aware that your trip was impacted by unforeseen heavy rainfall, which created problems with leeches. Whilst this is of course outside our control, we would have hoped that the clothing provided by our local team would be effective in repelling such parasites, so we were regretful to read that this was not the case. We are wary that a lengthier monsoon season could become commonplace so, going forward, we will not be offering departures in October and will instead add further trips in the spring. We were also concerned to discover that your day 3 walk did not take place on the designated path, but on an alternative route through the forest. We expect our leaders to generally stick to the standard route, but we trust their topographic and geographic knowledge to make changes to a walk if there is a valid reason to do so. We are assured that the deviation you took was a known part of the trail and was deemed safer than the regular path as it had better grip underfoot after heavy rain, although we acknowledge that several members of your group suffered falls on this day, which must have been worrying. We will use your helpful feedback during future reviews of this tour, and we do hope that the issues you faced in India do not discourage you from travelling with Exodus in the future.

– Sarah Puttnam, Product Manager

Amazing trip

This is a very active trip and full of different experiences. Max in Head Office provided excellent advice and customer service before the trip. It’s actually a trip of 2 halves. The first week is spent hiking in the Western Ghats, with 4 nights camping. For me, this was probably the highlight. Each hike covered different types of terrain/landscape, and as others have mentionned, you need to be reasonably fit. But don’t worry if you don’t feel up to a long hike on a given day- you can sometimes do a shorter one or just relax. The guides were fantastic, and they even carried tiffin boxes on the treks for us to enjoy a full lunch ! The food on camp was out of this world- seriously some of the best food I’ve eaten in my life, creatively prepared by the executive chef and his small team in the middle of nowhere. Unbelievable! The second week is more of a sightseeing extravaganza, with several long 5/6 hour coach rides, as per the itinerary.

Most Inspirational Moment

Walking to the top of Mt Meesapulimala Madurai - to experience the buzz and frenetic pace of a big Indian city, as well as the temple of course! The kindness and hard work of all the staff involved. They all went above and beyond what was required in so many ways to make this trip truly enjoyable and memorable.

Thoughts on Group Leader

San was the best group leader ever! He made sure everything went smoothly, sorted out any problems and entertained us with his knowledge of Kerala and India in general, along with personal anecdotes around campfire !

Advice for Potential Travellers

Take everything on the trip note list, but also a 3 pin round plug adaptor for India, and some eco baby wipes plus small soap bars for camping. Make sure you sanitise your hands after you've touched anything and everything (money,seats, toilet handles/doors etc) - that way you'll minimise the risk of getting tummy problems! The water on the coach is filtered, and at camp is always boiled, so fine to drink, but otherwise use a water filter, even for hotel water. I bought a Grayl Geopress which I used all the time and never got sick. If you are unhappy about anything, don't keep it to yourself-just talk to San and he will do his utmost to fix the problem. The hotel accommodation ranges from really good to a bit basic- we only asked to change rooms once. The toilets for 2 of the night camps were holes in the ground within a tall square tent and soil to shovel over the contents-great to get back to nature! If you want to change money once you arrive at the airport, you'll need to take cash. For £200, the commision was around 2% .Otherwise,San will take you/direct you to the nearest working ATM. As we hadn't booked the group flight, we also used the pre paid taxi service which worked well- even at 4 am- and cards are accepted for this service.

Suggestions

There's an Air India direct flight to Kochi from London which leaves on a Saturday and arrives in Kochi on the Sunday. It takes 9.5 hours out and 10.5 back. We decided to choose this flight rather than the indirect group flight. Air India was fine- little choice from the drinks trolley ( just beer or whiskey) , food ok, but flight on time both ways. If you book economy, they also allow you to 'bid' on business class seats/flat beds if they are available ! The minimum bid was £400 per person per flight.

Fantastic trip

This trip has it all. A wonderful variety of adventure, challenges, culture, stunning scenery, friendship, busyness and relaxation. South India is stunning.

Most Inspirational Moment

There’s too many to limit it to one. Climbing Mount Meesapulimala, House boat in the backwaters of Alleppey Madurai, Cooking class, Beach

Thoughts on Group Leader

Our group leader was excellent. He had so much knowledge it was unbelievable. I felt very looked-after. Santosh Kumar arranged extra cultural visits to break up the journeys. And pointed out interesting features which we would have missed otherwise. He clearly had a lot of experience and prevented problems by anticipating and advising ahead. He had the right balance of authority needed to make it run like clockwork but perfect sense of fun to make it enjoyable. Nothing was too much trouble.

Advice for Potential Travellers

Read the itinerary, kit list and trip notes. Take a flannel- it really helps with the camping 🏕️ and washing. It’s a bit chilly in the tents overnight so make sure you have a thick enough sleeping bag. I felt cold in a two seasons one. Embrace it all, accept the differences!

Suggestions

Thank you Exodus. This trip is perfect for couples and especially for singles and/or people who want an adventurous trip but don’t have the time or local knowledge to plan it.

A varied trip

Excellent varied trip , very few early starts which is unusual for exodus but it is quite tiring given you are only staying 1 or 2 nights in places. Trekking was the highlight and it very integral to the trip so don’t underestimate it . If you are a regular walker you will be fine but it isn’t flat and can be quite challenging underfoot. The mileage in the trip notes is also not correct , we walked 5km in Munnar then 11km, 16km, 14km, 10km and. 4 km. what makes the walking so special is that there is very few others around….yiu get the place to yourself! People are so friendly, a very easy country to get around as most speak English. You feel very safe

Most Inspirational Moment

The trekking.

Thoughts on Group Leader

San was exceptional, exodus are very lucky to have him. His English was very good as was his local knowledge He ensured everybody was happy as our group had a very wide age range 35 to 76. He never stopped, in all the hotels he was there in breakfast ensuring we got what we wanted and ensuring the waiters delivered. He even ensured we had porridge!

Advice for Potential Travellers

No need to get money out at kochi airport as commission rates are high. There is a prepaid taxi service in the airport which is open 24 hours and takes credit card. It will cost about 1,200 rupees to get to the Grand Hotel. There are plenty to AT!’s near the hotel. I used SBI and HSBC both of which didn’t charge me any ATM fees. I have a barclaycard rewards card which is worth having as they don’t charge for ATM withdrawals or ex fees on transactions. Ladies - carry loo roll and bags to put used loo roll in as there isn’t always a bin and yiu shouldn’t put it down some of the more remote toilets

A must do

I’d looked forward to this trip for such a long time and my expectations were high but these were easily met and far exceeded, what a truly fantastic trip. Each day offered new and enchanting vistas, challenges, tastes, smells, people, temples, wildlife, smiles, colours, sounds, food and spectacles – book up immediately.

Most Inspirational Moment

This is a tricky one, too many moments... the trekking was beautiful and exhilarating at every turn, especially as this was the first trip since the virus outbreak so some trails required a man and a machete - I felt very intrepid. Madurai and it's incredible temple complex was stunning, jostling and serene all at once, the slow churn along the Backwaters a golden treat and the people - so calm, cheerful and welcoming even in the tightest of motoring spots. Ooh and the wild elephants and mongooses, all a bit special really.

Thoughts on Group Leader

We were blessed with San (Santosh Kumar) a top leader and top fixer of a man. We never had to ask for anything, he was always 3 steps ahead correctly anticipating and organising everything to make the trip interesting and memorable. He lead us with intelligence, integrity, generosity and good humour, loving to impart his vast knowledge of India and Keralan culture in particular. Plus his use of the English language would put most of us to shame. I must also mention his selection and support of the local guides who were all terrific (carrying and serving our delicious lunches up and down hills each day) and our splendid camping crew and patient, giggly driver Bijou - all a delight

Advice for Potential Travellers

Just to read and re-read all the Exodus blurb and take everything suggested, they know what they're on about. Also why not try to go without paper sometimes, the water method is pretty efficient once you get the hang of it.

Suggestions

An exciting and memorable trip, I can't recommend it enough.

A Great Experience

This was a very varied trip and we took part in all the activities as did the rest of the party. The overall pace over the 14 days was very good and the only early start was at Periyar which is necessary to catch the wildlife and we were lucky to see an elephant whilst on the walk. We experienced some mist at the peak so that restricted our views but coming from England we’re used to that at much lower levels!

Most Inspirational Moment

It is difficult to pick out one thing but seeing the Western Ghats for the first time and the houseboat were up there. Also all our party really enjoyed the visit to the spice plantation and preparing a meal, Kerala style. And seeing some endemic birds species plus tahr, gaur, giant squirrel and elephant.

Thoughts on Group Leader

First rate. The 10 of us and Santo James clicked right away. He ensured everything ran smoothly and was likeable, good fun and everything needed from a trip leader. He organised all the activities perfectly and anticipated all our needs.

Advice for Potential Travellers

The trek is the central part of the tour and don't underestimate it. If you are a regular walker at the distances covered it will be fine but otherwise do some preparation. November is the end of the rainy season so don't be surprised if you get the odd shower. Take wet overtrousers with you not just in case it rains but for walking through the Shola grasslands if it has been wet eg on walking down from the peak. One or two walking poles should be used even though we don't always use them ourselves when walking at home. Also leech socks were needed on our walk after it had rained overnight but these are provided and don't be put off by coming across these creatures!

Suggestions

We were lucky in that the rest of our party were a delight to be with and everyone was very positive and enjoyed all the activities. The trip met all our expectations.