Turtle, Ecuador

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

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17883 Reviews

  • Reviewed January 2020
    Mike MacRae

    Fantastic scenery, challenging cycling

    A challenging 3 with plenty of uphill. Some quaint places to visit and stay. Luckily the majority of the group were like minded people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the section over Chapman's Peak.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bradley did a good job of keeping a difficult group together and was flexible in his approach to the itinerary. Sifiso, the driver was a great support to him. Bikes were fine tuned daily.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to read the trip notes before signing up. People on our tour potentially ruined this through lack of preparation. If need be I.e being more than an hour behind the leaders get in the bus and listen to the leaders advice.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Enjoy the experience come with an open mind.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Euan Stanwix

    Absolutely Amazing Scenery

    This was my first trip to the Annapurna region and chosen because I'm not sure what it will look like in even 5 years time with all the road development going on. Yes, there are a couple of days where you're walking on a dirt road which used to be the trail but the lasting memories are of the spectacular scenery, the fantastic Nepalese people, the great camaraderie in our group and our leaders who were superb organisers and really good fun as well. The first time you catch sight of the Annapurna range is just awe-inspiring as the snow-capped peaks tower above you. You could never tire of that amazing panorama. Other obvious highlights are crossing Thorong La pass at 5,400 metres (it got tough above 5,000 metres!), the sunrise on the top of Poon Hill and the numerous river crossings on suspension bridges. However, I will also take away the warmth of the local people, the great food, the little insights you get into Nepalese village life as you walk through the mountain villages and a better appreciation of the people and their culture. They have far fewer material possessions than people in the UK but seem to smile a lot more - a lesson in there I think. I would recommend this trip to anyone who has a love of mountains and different cultures but don't wait too long because the 'development' of the Annapurna Sanctuary area continues at a pace so the landscape is changing, and not necessarily for the better if you like your trekking without too much traffic.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of Thorong La pass at 5,400 metres. We got up at 2:30a.m. at around 4,500 metres and set off with head torches for the top of the pass. After a tea stop at 5,000 metres it started to get tough and our group had a collective feeling of relief and achievement when we reached the top of the pass in glorious sunshine. How people climb 8,000 metre peaks without oxygen I do not know. The trek is very well organised inasmuch as you gain altitude slowly in the 8-9 days before Thorong La and so most of the party didn't need Diamox and only had occasional headaches which is quite normal. The sunrise at Poon Hill also deserves a mention as it is absolutely spectacular and not at all arduous compared to Thorong La.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Tsering Dorjee Sherpa. I've been on numerous organised tours with various travel companies and I can say that Dorjee was one of the best leaders I've had teh pleasure of meeting. He was mature beyound his 23 years, extremely well organised, very passionate about Nepal and his Sherpa heritage and went out of his way to ensure the trip ran smoothly and that everyone enjoyed it. He was ably backed up by other guides and a team of porters, all of whom interacted with our group and collectively we had a great experience. If you're lucky enough to have Dorjee as your guide you will have a great trip and will learn a lot about Nepal, it's people and its culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    (1) Changing money in Kathmandu - the Himalayan bank will give you a much better rate if you bring new £50 notes. Any used £20 notes were scrutinised and any with writing on, slight rips in etc. were not accepted. It's also difficult to change the Rupees back to Sterling in Kathmandu so leave time to go round a few bureau de change. The rates are pretty similar across the bureaux de change (2) Most of the tea houses have power of some description to charge electrical items (USB or Mains) but power banks to charge phones / camera batteries are useful. Take a bag to put all your batteries in and put it in your sleeping bag at night to prevent them losing charge (3) The Exodus sleeping bags / down jackets tend to be on the heavy and bulky side and as weight/bulk is at a premium it's good to bring your own if you can. We had sleeping bags rated down to -2c (comfort) which were fine coupled with merino baselayers at higher altitudes (4) We had a Steripen, as did a number of our group, and they are the best thing for these types of trips as they probably cost the same as all the chlorine dioxide tablets you would need instead but you don't get the nasty aftertaste of tablets. Be sure to bring spare rechargeable batteries and a fast charger to keep the batteries charged. (5) We bought diamox in Kathmandu (£1 compared with £30 for a private prescription in the UK). We didn't need them in the end but we did use Ibuprofen for the occassional headache. Drinking lots of water is essential and a number of the group thought the garlic soup of the trail may have helped alleviate altitude issues

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You don't need to be super-fit to do the Annapurna Circuit as most days don't exceed 12 miles but the altitude can be debilitating. As you can't train for altitude just ensure you have a good base level of fitness, your boots are well broken in and you are very familiar with all your gear. For the photographers I took my Canon EOS with a 10-22 and 70-300 lens. Yes, the long lens weighs a fair amount (1 kg) but you get some fantastic close-up photos of the Annapurna range. Also make sure you take a polarising filter because the glare can wash out your photographs.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Dennis Deminchuk

    Challening but rewarding

    I am rating this trip as "poor" only so that people will read this and get an idea of whether or not it is for them. If you are looking for a leisurely cycling experience, this is not for you. If you want a challenging, sweat-inducing experience, then this is it. The roads are mostly gravel which is hilly, loose, dusty, and very bumpy. If that is what you are looking for, then take this trip. That said, the rest of it - sleeping in tents, fireside meals, safaris on bikes, using fat bikes, seeing the wild animals - is well worth it. I did end up riding in the support vehicle a lot, and so I got my enjoyment from the trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I quite enjoyed getting up at 4:30 and climbing a high dune to watch the sunrise - on Christmas Day. Also enjoyed riding fat bikes over the dunes and cycling on a safari.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader set the pace according to the fastest cyclists, so I was often the last one or I rode in the bus. Also, he was not entirely clear on the activities of the day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read what I wrote above. Don't forget a torch; you'll need it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The vehicle had charging capabilities and they usually worked. It accommodated the 3-prong Namibian plugs as well as just USB ports. Most of the campsites had charging stations as well and access to wifi.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Emlyn Jones

    Essential Peru

    We were on the same trip as Neil Thomas and agree with everything that Neil has written in his detailed review. One part of the trip that Neil didn't mention was the Nazca Lines. From ground level these look like very uninteresting scratches in the sand, if you can see them at all. From the air they are amazing. But to see them from the air you have to fly in a very small plane, which is not for everybody. If you are happy to fly in a 7 seater plane that banks steeply from side to side to show people sitting on both sides of the plane the "lines" below you then go for it, it is well worth it. If you don't fancy the flight, there is a tower that you can climb to get a good view of .a couple of the lines, and a new much taller tower was being built.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first sight of Machu Picchu. It really does exist!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Giuliano Gallesi was an excellent leader. He is very knowledgeable, but also knew when to stop talking and just let us soak up the view. He took extremely good care of everybody on the trip and was available from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Peru is a big country, so to see the Nazca Lines, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and see condors flying close up in just two weeks involves a lot of travelling. That combined with the altitude at Cusco and Lake Titicaca makes it an exhausting trip. It is well worth the exhaustion and I wouldn't want to have missed any of it.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Shirley Hanlon

    Excellent

    Warm cosy cabins, excellent day trips. Fantastic food. Peace and quiet.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everyday was inspirational. Having never tried, snow shoeing, dog sledges, snow mobile, reindeer slay or forest skiing every day was a new experience. Brilliant fun. Also saw the northern lights which was such an added bonus.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lars was very knowledgeable, with his dry sense of humour made the trip really enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When you go to the forest cabin a ordinary sleeping bag is fine to sleep in. There are two massive log fires that keep you very warm. Head torch is a must have.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the best holiday adventures I've ever had. Such peace and beauty. Brilliant holiday.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Ruth Toller

    Great place to spend New Year

    Real getaway for New Year with a great group of people and excellent guides and support. Energetic enough to justify all the food we were presented with but plenty of time to relax.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lying on the frozen river watching the stars (unfortunately no Northern Lights that particular night). Optional snowshoe on the Little Bear Trail was really good and contained the hardest section of the whole week due to the previous days' weatehr conditions

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Good communicator, very knowledgeable and willing to give us some indepedence. went out of way to be helpful

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for changes of plan if the weather conditions make the original impossible, but alternatives will be equally good. Take slip-on shoes to Russian End (outside toilet) to avoid having to put on boots every time

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Very well fed and various dietary needs were well met but catering facilities mean there can only be one main dish for a meal. Mealtimes were "flexible" as the guides/leaders also did the cooking. Celebrating New Year in a cabin with no electricity or running water (but plenty of heat and candlelight and a sauna) was special.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Nigel Martin

    Cycling in Argentina and Chile Lake District

    Overall a good trip with generally good accommodation throughout. Exceptional level of support from the brothers Ti and Yal together with the driver Mathias. There is more 'down' time than on previous Exodus trips of all sorts which is something to note. The focus is very much on scenery rather than a different culture which you are likely to get in Asia, for example. Compared with some grade 4 trips that I have done recently, this tends to be on the lower end of the scale (in my view), but please be aware of the amount of cycling on gravel.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The first few days cycling were pleasant enough but the first day that provided a satisfying ride was on the '7 Lakes route'. However, cycling into the final National Park, amongst the lava flows and alongside the stunning volcano was without doubt the best day. The final lodge was also in a lovely setting.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As mentioned above, Ti was one of the best leaders that I have had. I am usually at the back of the group and spending time with both Ti and his brother Yal was always interesting and enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is unusual to have one day off let alone two as is the case here, on an Exodus holiday. If you want to do one of the typical trips (water rafting, kayaking, hot springs etc) then you are OK. If you want to walk, then it is more challenging to get the right level / accuracy of information. This is a notable surprise for the Refugio Frey walk which is mentioned in the trip notes. If you do not use WhatsApp, then it is more difficult to get the information on the route, options for days off etc. You will need to spend more time with the leader to obtain this information.
  • Reviewed January 2020

    Colourful Rajasthan

    I went on this trip with my family and we all enjoyed a lot. The trip was amazing and we actually saw different colours of Rajasthan. We enjoyed most in Ranthambore and we are again planning to go Rajasthan in upcoming holi.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Ranthambore
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Bailey Troccoli-Hughes

    Does not get better then this!

    I highly recommend this trip for anyone who loves the mountains, hiking and Spanish culture. Our outstanding, charismatic guide Jaime took great care of us from start to finish; from transfers, cultural knowledge, outdoors expertise I always felt we were in excellent hands. Jaime knowledge and love of the mountain range and culture added invaluable insight to our Spanish adventure. The cozy, family run hotel we stayed in was situated partially up a mountain providing breathtaking views. As well, the family running the hotel ensured we received delicious, authentic Spanish food every day... Easily the best Spanish food I have ever had! The 3 others I traveled with and myself are fairly active and hike regularly at home, as a result we did not find the 5 hikes challenging. However there was some technical spots and it was very rainy and windy (still lots of fun!) the last day so I would recommend proper hiking shoes and some hiking experience. This was my first exodus trip and after my outstanding experience I would definitely do another!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting people from different parts of the world of all ages! The 3 others I traveled with and myself were the youngest in our tour group and the only ones from Canada! It was very inspiring to see individuals in their 60s conquer these hikes with minimal problem! As well, it was a lot of fun to get to know the others in our tour group from other parts of the world that share the same passion for hiking and mountains!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Jaime was awesome! His outgoing personality and love for the mountains made the trip extremely exciting and memorable! I had complete confidence in his abilities and knowledge of the mountains. Jaime took great care of us throughout the week long tour by offering us support on our hikes, ensuring all our transfers were organized, sharing knowledge and advice on how to maximize our Spain trip, etc. All guides should take after Jaime's compassionate and personable ways... we loved our week adventure with him! :)
  • Reviewed January 2020
    Jane Traveller

    Great trip!

    A well organised trip with lots of variety to keep everyone interested.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Finally seeing a leopard!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent.... intuitive to everyone’s needs, can resolve any problem that arises, works tirelessly to make sure everyone’s happy, all with patience and a great sense of humour. Nothing is too much trouble. The support team were also excellent, going about their jobs efficiently & discretely.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack very little.... there are several laundry opportunities, I needed needed half of what I took. Train hard for the hills. Drink lots. Don’t expect to lose any weight.