Turtle, Ecuador

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

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Charlotte Meller

    Memorable Madagascar

    This trip gives you a glimpse of an incredibly varied country rich with unique wildlife and landscapes. Yes the roads maybe a bit bumpy :) but you soon forget that when every day you see so many endemic lemurs, sifakas, chameleons and, if you are lucky, a fossa. The tour leader Rija is the best that I have ever met on an Exodus trip. Her vast knowledge and infectious passion made the trip even more special and memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each type of forest -rain, spin and dry offered something different but they don’t prepare you for the spectacular limestone forest at Tsingy. Simply stunning. .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for delays on the internal flights !
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Annemarie Cavana

    Madagascar wonderful adventure

    our guide Armel was fantastic he showed us so much on our journey through Madagascar, he was so proud of his country and wanted us to experience as much as we could in the short time we had in each place The experience from start to finish was amazing, we got to see the variety of scenery, culture, wildlife and so much more. I would highly recommend going to see this part of the world 🌍

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The time we walked up peak Toby Camping overnight then setting off at 4.30am having breakfast on a ledge with our porters were all set up and organised Then finally reaching the top with an amazing view

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armel is a credit to your company taking great pride in his job and organising everything to presision We had some lovely surprises Even had a Easter cake delivered in the middle of nowhere on Easter Sunday That was something that wasn’t expected Voiding to malagasi homes The list goes on

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy malagasi dollars

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I can’t wait for my next adventure x
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Howard Mapley

    Trekking In Madagacar Sept 18

    This was another excellent holiday with Exodus. A great balance of walking, sight-seeing and a peak to climb. All the Exodus team were excellent. The scenery is wonderful, Peak Boby a challenge and the last two nights at the beach was a relaxing end. The group were one of the best I've been with. A great mix with a couple from the USA and two blokes from Sweden, the rest from the UK. Everybody got on very well, the group really gelled and all supported each other. The Malagasy people are ubiquitously friendly and the scenery stunning.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the peak was an inspirational moment for me as it always is. The group being invited to look around into villagers home was unarranged, unexpected and a brilliant insight to how the family lived. The most inspirational moment was when a young boy, about 9 or 10, without being asked, jumped into a shallow river to help people across after one person stumbled.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija was an excellent leader - bubbly, passionate and knowledgeable. Rija was admirably supported by the excellent mountain guides, trekking crew and bus driver. One couples' bag did not make it to the trek as it was missed off the 4x4s and left at the hotel. This caused the couple discomfort for 24 hours until it arrived and they didn't make it up to the top of Boby. Rija sourced sleeping bags for the couple. This was a simple, avoidable yet impactful error which I'm sure will not be made again by Rija. Just make sure your bag goes on a 4X4!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Antanarivo, the capital is not worth any extra time in my opinion - we stayed an extra night and wouldn't do so again. We went to what they call a 'zoo/botanical garden which was very much not up to western standards but the taxi ride was an experience! We had a couple of hours round the town with Rija walking up to a viewpoint which was enough. Be aware that the sun can be fierce on the trek. At the end The Spiny Forest is well worth the trip but cover up with long shirt and trousers and insect repellent as there are biting insects. The snorkelling is cheap and very much worth it for the boat ride alone if you don't fancy snorkelling. At the beach hotel, try lobster if it's on the menu, it's a fraction of the cost in the UK and caught fresh each day. Check out the older reviews on this page - they provided me with much info before the holiday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I changed a lot of cash at the airport and didn't need to. You can change a bit at the airport and then the next day you can get money out of the ATM with better rates. Rija advises what she thinks you'll need. There were about 3 chances to get cash from an ATM. Don't haggle too hard, the gifts from the remote villages are cheap . The group split during the trek with stronger walkers at the front - this was easily accommodated with several guides and Rija making sure everyone was ok. The 'peak' day is a tough day so don't rush it - it doesn't matter if you reach the camp at the end of the day over an hour later that the first to arrive - there's plenty of time.
  • Reviewed December 2018
    David Dowson

    Madagascar on two wheels

    Cycling on this trip is still the best way to explore Madagascar in just two weeks. The ever changing scenery from day to day and the terrain just made this trip one of the best, add in an excellent tour guide and support team, nothing was to much for any of them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had its special moments, for me cycling through the small villages were among my highlights and of course seeing the Lemurs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Armel couldn’t be faulted he tried his best at every stage to make sure we got the most out of our trip, his leg massage certainly helped with the bout of cramp I got on the first day of the bike ride, didn’t have a problem after that. Otherwise Armel was as good as any tour guide I have experienced, I noticed he was better at spotting the wildlife in the parks than the local guides were, thanks Mel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just take every day as it comes, the scenery is ever changing, but except that this is a country trying to pull itself out of abject poverty, so not everything runs perfectly smooth, in saying that Armel and his team did everything they could to deal with any issues that cropped up. The whole experience of cycling in Madagascar is better than individual moments.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A few on the tour did get upset stomachs at different times so couldn’t pinpoint the cause, however, it is worth taking three to five day course of Ciprofloxicin just in case.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    T C

    Wildlife Adventure of a Lifetime

    I have been dreaming of seeing lemurs in the wild since I was young and this trip did not disappoint. I had never done a group tour before and was admittedly very hesitant to sign-up for one, but the itinerary allowed me to see most of what I wanted to, so I thought I'd give it a try. In the two weeks, we were able to see thirteen species of lemurs, which was thrilling and more than I had expected. The itinerary is thoughtfully laid out and even the long days travelling were made better by the many stops and stories from our group leader. I can't describe the feeling of first arriving to our cabins in Andasibe to the sounds of Indri calls in the forest. It was really out of this world. The diversity of landscapes and parks that we visited was excellent and I couldn't have planned it better myself. Having a local guide and engaging (mostly) with local tour operators and businesses was an important aspect of the trip for me as well. Overall, excellent adventure that I wish I could go back in time and do again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the first night we arrived in Andasibe to the call of Indris in the distance. That will be a memory that stays with me forever. The dry forests and desert landscapes were so incredible to see as well. The beach in Anakao at the end, spectacular! Getting to know our group leader as well and spending time with her on the trip was also very special, as well as the lovely people in our group. Perhaps not inspirational, more sobering, was getting to see first-hand the devastating effects of slash-and-burn agriculture. It was disheartening to witness this and other environmental destruction. The biodiversity in Madagascar is particularly precious and I fear it will be gone within the next couple decades. I'm more committed than ever in continuing to support local organizations to protect what still remains. Please do not purchase any souvenir animal products, wood products, gemstones or other trinkets that can't be sourced ethically. Foreigners continue to have a role in driving some (if not much) of the ruin you will witness.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was excellent. I can't say enough good things about her. She is intelligent, kind and had a great sense of humour. She took her job very seriously and had so much integrity, I didn't question for a moment that we were in great hands the whole trip. We had quite a large group, 16 people (which I was not aware of before arriving in Madagascar) and initially worried about how one person was going to be able to manage so many people, but she did so with great expertise and care. It was a tough job for her, but I always felt she had all of our best interests at heart and was flexible with the schedule, depending on how people were feeling and what their needs were. I was quite sad at the end to say goodbye!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take it as it comes, be flexible and don't arrive with too many expectations. I've done a lot of traveling and don't take this privilege for granted, but this was one of the top adventures I've ever had. The opportunity to see the most endangered mammals on the planet and the exquisite biodiversity this island has to offer, really can't be matched. Try and stay in the moment and really appreciate every minute of this adventure. If you're not comfortable being in an intensive group situation or going without creature comforts, this may not however be the trip for you. Expect and plan for digestive illness, it comes with the territory. I suffered quite a bad case of food poisoning, but the group leader managed it well and allowed for me to convalesce for a couple days before rejoining the tour. Educate yourselves before coming, about the island, peoples and appropriate conduct when visiting delicate ecosystems. Do not feed the animals, ever, we had some people who did this and it was incredibly upsetting.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to do this trip all over again :)
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Deborah Terry

    An Extraordinary Trip

    Madagascar is an extraordinary country facing numerous challenges. Its national parks are excellent and much of the scenery is spectacular. It is, however, very poor and facing many environmental challenges. This makes it all the more creditable that the hotels and food on this trip were both so good.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many, but obviously the lemurs - we saw at least 15 different varieties, plus all the other wildlife, and the baobabs, plus the Highlands scenery. And the wonderful jacarandas in flower in Tana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Vula was one of the best leaders I've ever had on an Exodus trip. She has huge warmth and charm and was never off duty. One couple had to be airlifted to Jo'burg and many of the rest of us were ill, and she was brilliant at checking we were OK. She's passionate about showing her country to visitors and was determined that we'd get the best from the trip. She went the extra mile all day every day and can't be praised too much.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip takes stamina but amply rewards it. It packs a huge amount in in a short time and the contrasts of experiences etc is excellent. Pack light (the Isola hotel does washing), be prepared for a 24-hour bug, and take plenty of Jungle Formula. Wifi was generally available, but mostly in reception rather than in the rooms. Contrary to some of the advice given we had no difficulty in finding ATMs in most of the towns we went through, so taking all cash seems a bit unnecessary. And anyway you won't spend much. I had 36 hours on my own in Tana at the start of the trip and while I was careful, I enjoyed going out, exploring and finding good lunch spots. As a 60-something female I felt perfectly safe.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Deforestation is happening apace, so go soon. A unique destination.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Nik Kowal

    One of the best trips ever!

    Madagascar is amazing with so much unique wildlife, plants and trees. A well organised trip, with good accommodation. Comfortable bus with lots of breaks on the long journeys. A mixture of leisurely time on the bus and in the towns, with some very strenuous treks in the reserves. Be prepared for heavy rain and blistering heat as you pass through the varied landscapes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ancient baobabs in the spiny forest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very organised and efficient, but some of her commentary got lost in translation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As above. Pack everything especially a head torch and walking poles.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Kathleen LOvell

    Cycle Madagascar

    Absolutely loved it. My only criticism being that I felt like we should have set the bikes up on the evening of our first get-together. We spent a lot of time fussing with bikes on the first morning. That way we could have got away earlier on Day 1. We could have got out of the city earlier and quicker, had more time watching the Dancing Limas at the Reserve and not been biking so long in the hot sun. Also, the trip to Ramofama was unpleasant - too many tourists all there at the same time and scrabbling through and breaking the native forest. We saw very little in the way of Limas - saw many more further on in the trip.The evening event was great so you would really only need to stay there one day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having lots of time and room to see the ring tailed Limas at one of the smaller parks. Going there in the afternoon was great value - much better than using up valuable cool cycling time the following morning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely outstanding. Patient, funny, supremely organised, caring, considerate, always aware of what was happening. A delightful man whom we were privileged to have and get to know. We learnt so much about the local people and areas because of him

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Carry diarrhoea and vomiting tablets - be super careful about water, salads, hand washing

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would loved the cycling to have been several more days
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Kathleen LOvell

    Cycle Madagascar

    Absolutely loved it. My only criticism being that I felt like we should have set the bikes up on the evening of our first get-together. We spent a lot of time fussing with bikes on the first morning. That way we could have got away earlier on Day 1. We could have got out of the city earlier and quicker, had more time watching the Dancing Limas at the Reserve and not been biking so long in the hot sun. Also, the trip to Ramofama was unpleasant - too many tourists all there at the same time and scrabbling through and breaking the native forest. We saw very little in the way of Limas - saw many more further on in the trip.The evening event was great so you would really only need to stay there one day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having lots of time and room to see the ring tailed Limas at one of the smaller parks. Going there in the afternoon was great value - much better than using up valuable cool cycling time the following morning.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely outstanding. Patient, funny, supremely organised, caring, considerate, always aware of what was happening. A delightful man whom we were privileged to have and get to know. We learnt so much about the local people and areas because of him

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Carry diarrhoea and vomiting tablets - be super careful about water, salads, hand washing

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would loved the cycling to have been several more days
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Laura Davey

    Life changing and unforgettable experience

    This was a truly life-changing trip. By that I mean, it was an experience of many extreme highs, such as seeing the unique and beautiful wildlife, coupled with being witness to some very difficult scenes, such as the slash and burn practice and huge areas of deforestation. The trip has left me wanting to learn more about this incredible country, its people and its wildlife. Would very much like to visit again and investigate further into the issues this country is clearly facing. This is a very special country and any visitor will be rewarded in many ways.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The wildlife was what I booked the trip for and it did not disappoint. I had no idea we would see so many species of lemurs, reptiles, birds, plants and trees insects and frogs and at such close range, we really were so very lucky. I cannot underestimate just how special it felt to witness these incredible endemic species in their (rapidly disappearing) habitat. The call of the indri is a sound that I will never, ever forget. I feel inspired to learn more and find out if there is any way in which I can help contribute to the future of this country, as the people and the native plants and animals are facing some very severe challenges, such as a hugely increasing population, rapid loss of habitat moved over to farming, shaky political leadership, the introduction of non-native species of animals, trees and plants that cannot support native wildlife, and the slash and burn agricultural practice.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Vola was really lovely. She kept us safe, listened to feedback, was flexible with timings and programmes and informed us on any queries and questions we had as best she could. At times, she went above and beyond for her clients, giving massages to one guest who was suffering from back and shoulder pain, and taking another client to the dentist for emergency treatment. She was also fun to be around and made us laugh every day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind, and be prepared to see the mass destruction of the environment which you will definitely witness. Bear in mind, this is a very poor country and life here is hard. Saying that, the people were all very warm and welcoming to the small number of tourists that we saw. We never ever felt threatened or anything other than welcome. This is what makes the environment/humanity inbalance so very difficult to bear witness to, as the people are just as amazing as the flora and fauna that most visitors come to see. We found the physical rating of 1 to be misleading, I would say there are some moderate to strenuous hikes on this tour. Bring camera, binoculars, insect repellent and some detergent to wash clothes. Accommodation and food were excellent, much better than we expected.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now, before it's too late! and do anything you can to help this amazing place. It has so much to offer from gorgeous deserted beaches, lovely people, wildlife, birds and trees you won't find anywhere else in the world - not even in zoos! It's got rainforest, culture, spiny forest, desert, incredible rock formations and valleys, natural swimming areas, mountains - everything you could ever want to see, all in one very unique country.
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