Turtle, Ecuador

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2 Reviews

  • Pleasure & Pain.....

    A great trip that could have been SO much more! My husband & I mostly enjoyed the first half of this trip, chosen especially to see the Day of The Dead celebrations in Mexico. The accommodation was pretty good throughout with some lovely colonial hotels, some with lovely swimming pools. Unfortunately we often arrived far too late in the afternoon, to enjoy those facilities and the next day we were off again on the tour. Very disappointing. Travelling for the whole trip in a minibus (this was mentioned in the trip notes to be fair, but we have never had to endure this in any 7 of our previous Exodus trips, always having had much larger coaches) with no spare seats, unable to be fully comfortable or recline our seats, on some very long journeys (albeit with comfort breaks) spoilt the trip for us. Being in very close quarters with our group for several hours each day, some of whom we felt were selfish & insensitive to the needs of their fellow passengers, was at times, a strain & caused a lot of tension. In retrospect I think the tour could perhaps should be cheaper and split into two separate trips. So that those who wish to experience the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca can and perhaps add on another separate tour with the Yucatan & Mayan pyramids for those that want to experience the history. The first half with maybe more time in Mexico City to experience all that it has to offer. We are no strangers to 'full on' Exodus trips, having been to Peru last year,also China, Russia, Cuba & India twice. However this trip felt exhausting to us, mainly because of the travelling conditions in the minibus, nearly all the road journeys were longer than the 'estimates ' in the trip notes. It was also very unfortunate I was ill in Oaxaca & had to see a doctor for antibiotics and steroids. To be honest we felt that to appreciate the country, more time is need in some of the towns - Merida & Campeche especially.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Personally it was experiencing the Day of the Dead in the evening, with the families in the cemetery. The atmosphere was incredible. To see the decorated shrines and just be there with everyone, was a joy! I loved the skeleton figures everywhere and the rich colours of the marigolds on the altars. Oaxaca was a terrific place to see & feel the celebrations. We also had a great time at Frida Kahlo's house,in Mexico City even thought here were long queues, our guide had prebooked so we got in without too much waiting. I wasn't prepared for the scenery to be so varied either-vast plains,mountains, jungles, forests.... Seeing the Gulf of Mexico just as the sun set was magical! Unfortunately in Oaxaca, we were very disappointed when told by our guide that although printed in the itinerary, we were not going to have lunch with a local family, take part in the parade or go to the family's shrine in the evening. Many of the group wanted to dress up, have their faces painted and really immerse themselves in the experience. In fact that was why we had chosen Exodus, because it offered those things. But it was not to be. Perhaps the trip notes should reflect this in future, so as not to disappoint clients.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Arturo was all things to us all. From being a mine of information about his country's history, culture & religion, he was always willing to go the extra mile - from providing medication when we were ill ( a bad cold struck most of us down during the trip) to providing a fruit plate & bananas for my husband when he suffered an upset stomach and was unable to leave the hotel in Oaxaca for 2 days. Arturo took us to some very good restaurants so we could experience the variety that is Mexican cuisine - despite my dislike for chillies! He was always patient and mostly helpful. We especially had a good time with him in Oaxaca watching the dancing in the square from the restaurant balcony.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    .Be prepared for long journeys - with little in the way of 'enjoyable' food when travelling from place to place! Motorway services & cafes do not cater for gluten free diets - so take snacks with you - cereal bars, small packs of dried fruit & nuts etc. You can buy snacks but the food is very 'plastic'! . Take Mexican pesos with you - although US dollars can be exchanged, you are not always near an ATM or bank. . If you like crafts, Mexico is a wonderland. Make sure you have room in your case especially for souvenirs of the Day of the Dead. We experienced some VERY heavy rain one day but generally the weather is good in October/November - take a brolly/packable waterproof in your rucksack. . Take headphones, iPad/tablet, Kindle, book etc to pass the time on long road journeys.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Everything is as I mentioned in my overview. Mexico is a fascinating country but having had this experience with Exodus I wouldn't go back.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Keren Trimnell

    Brilliant trip

    This trip packs a lot in - culture, Mayan sites, eating, seeing local craftsmen at work, and just soaking up the atmosphere in the old Spanish colonial towns. Around and about in Mexico city, beautiful Puebla, San Cristobal and then lots of Mayan sites. The hotels were all good (had one slight problem in one of them but hopefully Exodus can get that sorted out for future trips). There are some long travelling days due to the distances which need to be covered, but it's worth it and a lot of the scenery is just amazing to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hahaha - cannot pick just one: climbing the sun pyramid and almost, just almost, making it to the top (vertigo got me); seeing Mayan carvings in an old tomb on top of a hill; some of the restaurants were wonderful; all the Day of the Dead "stuff"; watching the sunset on the seafront; swimming in a Cenote; Teotihuacan; Uxmal; Palenque and Chichen Itze.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Arturo was one of the best tour leaders I've had - from meeting the group at Mexico City airport, with a big smile, he was there for us for the whole time, sorting out any problems, answering millions of questions, and generally making sure everyone was ok. And, that smile never wavered. I'd also like to mention Fernando, our driver. He was brilliant as well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's hot and you will get sweaty climbing the pyramids - pack for that. Take a swimming costume - a couple of the hotels have pools which are brilliant for cooling down. I took hiking boots, but didn't wear them, walking sandals were fine for all the sites. I didn't get bitten and didn't use deet, but I did wear long sleeves and I think all the hotels had aircon (units). You can get washing done in Oaxaca (about £1 per item), which might be helpful. A brolly would probably be useful - it did rain a couple of times (the tropical rain that comes down hard, then stops). This trip packs a lot in but there's still a lot more to see and I'll definitely be going back.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is in no way intended to be criticism: Adding a day onto the end of the trip would be good - so that you can go around Chichen Itze and go back to the hotel, get showered, wash hair and change and pack, rather than going straight to the airport and changing there. It would also give people who wanted to an afternoon to go back into Chichen Itze, if they wanted to. Keep the Cenote - we loved it. If you could do something to shorten the long travelling days and maybe add in some minor Mayan sites (but they may be further along the route), that would be good but, then again, I don't think anyone would have wanted to miss the hotels (especially the one in Puebla) - if shortening the days meant changing the hotels. Arturo did make sure we had banos stops and coffee stops and there were nibbles to buy to eat.