Turtle, Ecuador

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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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  • Reviewed May 2019
    Shaun Robinson

    What a magical place....

    The trip was all arranged by Exodus and I can’t fault the organisation, it was faultless throughout the whole Journey. The Cachalote Explorer was fine, it’s not a super luxury motor yacht (its correctly advertised as a first class motor yacht) being a converted fishing boat, but the accommodation was perfectly adequate and the crew were very friendly and super efficient. The rooms were cleaned daily with clean towels by Martin who was also the waiter and bar man, and very good at it to. The chef was very good and was delighted to help one of our vegan passengers with different dishes every meal (which she often shared with the rest of us! Lol) The ship is a little noisy when travelling at night with the engines running, but I had some noise suppressing head phones that dealt with this. No one else really complained and I guess you soon get used to it after a tiring day The food was very well presented in buffet style for breakfast lunch and evening meal and there was always plenty of food. In between meals there is a tray of bananas, fruits and various biscuits and snacks Would I book it again, certainly yes without hesitation

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is very difficult to answer as every day we encountered new wonders, wether it be animals or beautiful landscapes. People have asked me what was the highlight, and I can’t really say to be honest. I personally enjoyed the walks on virtually untouched islands, sea lions, marine iguanas the list is endless. Some of the sea life you can see from the boat it amazing. I spent many hours on the sun beds on the rear deck and some of the views of the islands from the boat, well it’s like some magical kingdom.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Luiz was excellent, a very knowledgeable guide approved by the Galapagos National Parks and always around to answer any questions we needed however difficult

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Firstly take plenty of cash for any alcohol drinks/incidentals on the boat. The trip notes and also the book handed to us by the boat crew state you can pay by credit card, you can’t. I went to pay the bar bill which was around $300 (don’t ask! Lol) and they said they could only accept cash which put me in a very difficult position The organisers should make this clear, and I can definitely confirm this directly affected the crew tip as most of it had to be used to pay the bar bill instead if them, which was very unfortunate but I had no choice Take sturdy boots, and waterproof sandals are useful for any wet landings If you are a light sleeper, ear plugs at night or in my case noise suppressing headphones were perfect.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do it, it’s a trip of a lifetime and when you get back you will sit in your chair and think, wow, did I really just go there .......... When we landed at Baltra Airport in Galapagos, at the very moment we touched down I had a lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes. It’s the sort of trip only someone like David Attenborough gets to do right?
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Barbara Baker

    Monkeys, caiman, snakes, giant otters, sloth and multiple birds!

    A great extension to our Galapagos trip. We used the extra time in Quito to see more of the city and visit the Equator - found it easier and cheaper to use a hotel booked taxi than the official tours. The journey from Coca is very much part of the experience - lots to see especially when you transfer to the paddled canoe for 2 hours along small blackwater creek to the lodge. Parrots aren’t guaranteed at the licks but we were lucky enough to see a troop of peccaries instead! All the activities, apart from the night hike, involved a trip in our canoe from where there was always lots to see. Our guides were helpful and brilliant at spotting animals in the mass of green, but there is also plenty to see around the lodges.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the wildlife including a baby anaconda, 6 types of monkey including grumpy capuchins, rare woolly, and iconic golden mantled tamarin; a family of giant otters resting by the creek, a pair of roseate spoonbills and the noisy prehistoric “stinky turkey birds”.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leaders were excellent- Jose was the bilingual guide, he also ate with the group of 6 and helped paddle; Shayan the local who spotted things we needed binoculars to see- and also helped with photos and paddled. William was the official paddler - and also helped with spotting. It was good to have the same team from arrival in Coca to departure.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It’s hot and humid, rains most days but the wildlife is fantastic- not as close to you as Galapagos but much more varied. Take binoculars if possible and long lens (waterproof) They loan you wellingtons for all the off site activities- if you don’t fit standard size such as muscular calves then consider taking your own! And take long socks. Long sleeves and trousers are best but I was bitten through the material at the parakeet lick - use plenty of deet even where covered. No mosquitoes at the lodge as the lake is too acidic for them to breed. Leave a suitcase in Quito if returning to same hotel - everything is paddled up river.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have the time then do it!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Debi Jones

    What an experience!!!!

    I hoped for a lot, but expected nothing (especially in the Amazon) but we saw more wildlife than I knew there was! And as for the Galapagos.....Sensational. Holiday of a lifetime and would recommend to anyone. Truly brilliant. Am delighted to have managed to have whittled my photos down to about 650 (and 35 videos!). The Napo Lodge was stunning with fabulous staff but the Cachalotte was possibly even better (though cabin much smaller and less glamorous than lodge). The memories will be something I treasure forever. The organisation from beginning to end made everything so easy and I will definitely be travelling with Exodus again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snorkeling with sealions, a turtle and penguin (never having snorkeled before!) And the animals and birds just being truly fearless and natural I could go on....

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very pleasant and efficient

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try snorkeling at home first! I panicked the first 2 times in the water (although it was a deep water snorkel) but after an hour's practice in the shallows I took to it like a penguin to water. And take lots of SD cards!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just GO!!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Kirsten Andersson

    Met and exceeded expectations

    Great trip first to Napo then to Galapagos. We were delighted with the quality of service, organization and attention to details.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were so many moments to choose from. Highlights were swimming with sea lions, watching wave albatrosses mate and watching land iguanas battle for territory. A difficult but natural moment occurred when we watched a boa attack and absorb a parrot

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader in Napo was great. Knowledgeable and highly skilled communicator. Group leader in Galapagos was a nice young man but we could tell he was on one of his last trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be ready to wake up early and go to bed early. Eat everything they feed you; you’ll either work it off in activities or sweat it out in the heat.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were flummoxed and frustrated with the tipping of staff. We found the suggested tip rates to be far too high and we’re concerned that the tips are being used to supplement wages which is not the purpose of a tip. Exodus needs to find a better system. That was the only thing we were very dissatisfied about
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gabi S

    Lifelong ambition realised

    The whole holiday exceeded our expectations. Our guides were exceptional and our group gelled immediately. The number of flights and time spent in airports was tiring but didn't detract from the overall wonderful experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really can't decide. It was all amazing! That iconic view of Machu Picchu; the scenery; the wildlife in the Galapagos.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Adolfo Salazar in Peru and Berny Jacome on the Cachalote Explorer were THE BEST!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read all the trip notes; they are excellent. Take good waterproof jacket for Peru/Machu Picchu and a pac-a-mac type for Galapagos. You may well not need it in Galapagos and you won't want to carry anything bulky. The ATMs in Galapagos were few and far between and only gave out relatively small amounts. Try to make sure you have enough currency to cover everything before you get to Galapagos as the credit card machine on the ship may not work!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We would go back in a heartbeat. If time and money had been no object, we would have done the two itineraries in the Galapagos, back to back.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Sophia Spurgin

    Fabulous Holiday

    I had a fabulous holiday to two inspiring places - Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. Although the journeys were long and tiring everything worked like Clockwork. We were lucky to have like-minded fellow travellers who we got to know really well by the end of the holiday. The Galapagos was particularly good and the boat ad it's crew were excellent. We were well looked after with hikes, snorkelling and excellent food.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I particularly enjoyed our trip through the Mangrove with turtles and penguins and taking photos at every opportunity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two group leaders who were exellent : Adolfo Salazaq who looked after us in Peru. He was always cheerful and through his contacts, always got us where we needed to be. He joined us to meals and answered our questions well. We liked him very much. Berny Jacome in Galapagos was superb. He was extremely knowledgeable and very pleasant and confident in his job. His skills as a guide were impressive in someone so young. I would highly recommend you use him wherever possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Sarah Novelli

    Galapagos

    The most fabulous trip, worth every penny, saw so much , great accommodation, well organised trips ! Two weeks spent with a lovely bunch of people seeing

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the wildlife up so close and personal

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was an amazing group leader in every sense of the word. Everything well organised, always on hand to help . Very good communicator, with a fabulous sense of humour...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although the trip says leisurely/ moderate due to the humidity when we travelled some may find the walking harder than they expected.. never underestimate the strength of the sun ( as Pablo would say)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it !!!!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Robert Hales

    Galapagos

    An enjoyable trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy the trip

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An enjoyable trip
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Margaret Shaw

    An amazing adventure with awesome wildlife

    This was a full-on trip, early morning starts with full days of activity - but SO worth it! Each of the 4 islands visited were very different in both their landscape and wildlife. Tourism in all but the last island (Santa Cruz) was very low key and I felt privileged to be there and see all that I did.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were quite a few inspirational moments, snorkelling with rays, sharks, turtles and sea lions, dolphins swimming at the side of the boat, but for me seeing a huge manta ray jump completely out of the water right in front of our boat was the moment I shall never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was a great guide, he was very keen to share his huge knowledge with us all, had a passion for all the wildlife and was extremely proud of his country. He even managed to smile through our incessant barrage of stupid questions, ie ‘will there be a toilet?’ ‘Do we get changed now?’ ‘Do we need fins?’ ‘Do we need to take everything with us?’

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be very aware of the sun whilst snorkelling, a few in our group did get sun burnt. When there are such fantastic things to see it is so easy to forget that you are sometimes in the water for an hour or more and even the best sun creams struggle in these salt water conditions. My advice would be at the very least to take a rash vest or rash suit. One or two in our group after being burnt even snorkelled in their pyjamas! They worked perfectly. Others in our group hired wetsuits, our guide, Pablo always wore one. I took my own very lightweight 1mm wetsuit and was so glad I did, not only did I not have to worry at all about the sun, it also protected me from the biting flies when we were above water listening to our guide. For the hiking, I managed mostly in shorts but long trousers were a good call when we descended into the volcano to view the fumaroles, the path was very overgrown with thorny bushes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are reading this review then you are obviously considering doing the trip yourself ~ stop dithering, just do it, it’s amazing and you won’t regret it.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Elizabeth Jones

    Spectacular Galápagos

    From snorkelling with sharks, sea turtles and sea horses to watching giant tortoises, swimming iguanas, dancing blue-footed boobies, leaping manta rays, penguins and mating eagle rays, to trekking around a huge caldera and steaming volcanic vents… this island-hopping adventure to explore the Galápagos by land and by sea was a spectacular and unforgettable experience. The range of activities and places visited in this trip allowed us to fully experience and be captivated by the unique biodiversity and landscapes of the region. The wildlife of land, sea and sky is so abundant and diverse and allows for many magical interactions. It is fascinating to learn about the culture and history of the islands to more modern conservation efforts, such as the numerous breeding programmes of the different giant tortoise species. We got the chance to meet local people, taste local food and get off-the-beaten-track to be further immersed in the traditions of the different islands. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational moments were bountiful, but particular highlights were: swimming with many Galapágos sharks and a hammerhead at Kicker Rock (San Cristóbal) seeing Galapágos penguins, manta rays, dancing blue-footed boobies and swimming marine iguanas around Las Tintoreras (Isabela) snorkelling with many Pacific green turtles, sleeping white-tipped reef sharks and a sea horse at Los Túneles (Isabela) trekking up to the rim and around the impressive caldera of Volcán Sierra Negra to see many lava formations, steaming fumaroles and mineral deposits (Isabela)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Tour Leader was Pablo Montalvo from Ecuador. He is a very friendly and caring person and was very passionate about his role as a leader, giving time to everyone in the group. He worked hard to keep the trip running smoothly, coordinating with the numerous local people that assisted us. Pablo's knowledge and passion for Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands was exceptional. He explained in impressive detail about the marine life, plants, geography, history and culture in superb English, whilst joyfully helping a few of us hablar Español! Pablo went above and beyond to make the trip an enriching and unforgettable experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was great to have your own snorkelling gear (mask, snorkel, fins) for comfort in knowing they fit well and how to use them. Snorkel gear was readily available for hire on most islands. A rash vest and/or wet suit was a good idea for sun protection and to be warmer when snorkelling (45+ minutes in the water can be cold at certain times of the year). Cotton scarf/ sarong and secure, wide-brimmed hat were very useful on boats when you might be more exposed to wind and water spray and the sun. Waterproof jacket/ poncho and non-waterproof ‘wet’ shoes were useful in tropical downpours and wet-landings and walking on the islands. Take a good camera and underwater camera, with a lot of memory and rechargeable batteries. Take a good wildlife guide to help identify the many amazing animal and bird species. Take plenty of high factor sun cream as it is expensive to buy locally. Read the book ‘Floreana’ by M. Wittmer before visiting Floreana for the fascinating history of island life.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    For the March 2019 trip, the 2-day camping trek to Volcán Sierra Negra on Isabela was modified into two one-day treks due to recent volcanic activity (Exodus had fully informed us of this before the trip). The second day was a longer trek of 24 km and some members of the group chose to do local activities and relax around Puerto Villamil instead. For those of us that joined the trek, it was an exciting chance to see many lava formations, steaming fumaroles and sulphur deposits, and enjoy a good physical challenge! The modified itinerary allowed for an additional snorkelling trip to Los Túneles, a series of interesting lava formations and the chance to see many marine species. Whilst I would have loved the chance to wild camp on the volcano, the alternative activity was a fantastic experience and became one of the highlights of my trip.
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