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

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  • Reviewed June 2019
    Martin Hodgkinson

    South Africa: Walking, Landscapes and Wildlife

    This trip is a great way to See South Africa across a variety of landscapes, mainly through National Parks and game reserves. There is a range of environments from the Drakensberg mountains to the Indian Ocean beaches at St Lucia with spectacular walks. There are long drives, over 3000km in total, in a reasonably comfortable 14 passenger minibus. Travelling in May, the weather was dry, sunny and warm, except at night and the highest walks. The accommodation varied between basic and very comfortable, but always clean.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Most of the scenery was striking but the Drakenberg mountains was probably the most spectacular, especially at sunrise. The walk from the historic battlefield at Isandlwana to Rorke's Drift was very atmospheric and fording Buffalo River was an certainly an experience in waist deep water (take a dry bag for valuables just in case). Although I have experienced better safari drives elsewhere in Africa, the night safari in the Kruger was memorable after seeing a pride of 8 lions on the move.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sku and Morrison looked after us well with good knowledge of the areas and wildlife. They set a good pace on the walks for the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you are practised and fit for hill walking with a backpack as some walks are steep and most of the terrain is rocky, not prepared, paths. Good knees and ankles are essential! Walking poles can be helpful on some walks. The chain ladders on the final walk are not demanding unless you suffer from vertigo. There were laundry facilities at St Lucia. In May there were no or few insects although covering in the evening is still advisable, also for the cooler temperatures. Periodic stops at good supermarkets allowed replenishment of snacks or anything else. Food and drink at restaurants is very good and excellent value.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our group was a good range of ages from 29 to retirees which made the mix more enjoyable. South Africa is a spectacular country and, for any who has not yet been to Africa, this trip is great way to start. Be prepared for the inevitable tips. ATMs are available in towns and most places are happy to take card payments.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Chris Williams

    South Africa: landscapes, wildlife and battlefields

    The Exodus holiday in South Africa was a wonderful introduction to African landscapes and wildlife. I have travelled widely in my life but with little experience of Africa. This holiday exceeded my expectations in two ways: the remarkable opportunities to see wildlife at close quarters in Kruger; the amazing landscapes of the Blyde River canyon, Swaziland and the Drakensurg Mountains. My enjoyment of the holiday had a lot to do with the way it was organised and led by the group leader. I have been left with many great memories.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was inspirational to be in Kruger National Park for a few days and to see the great variety of wildlife. I'm thankful that there remain a few places on earth that have this rich ecosystem. A three hour walk just after dawn was especially exciting - being aware that large animals were around us and that we were walking through their natural habitat, their world

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Rowan Moon, was excellent and I rate him highly. His enthusiasm and energy was infectious. He is natural leader and developed a close relationship with us as a group and as individuals. Organisation and time-keeping was excellent. He has developed a very good working relationship with Sofiso, the driver, and I felt safe and well-cared for at all times. He has remarkable wildlife-spotting skills and was able to detect the presence of animals (including many species of birds) and identify them accurately and instantly. He also has very good hiking skills and was confident at route-finding and care of people who struggled on more challenging parts of the mountain trails. The driver, Sofiso, was superb: very safe driving at all times on some challenging road surfaces, very well organised for luggage and food preparation and hard working & reliable in all ways. He is also friendly and good company. Betz, a trainee guide, worked hard assisting with food prepapration. A few times she gave information when we were touring in the minibus but I found it really hard to understand her because she has a very strong South African accent. This would have been a big concern for me if she had been our group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My advice for travellers buying this holiday is to ensure that they are as fit as possible for the days of walking. And to be aware that while the trails are not over-long, nor are the altitude climbs significant (about 700m maximum), the routes are very rugged at times, there are parts when there are steep or near vertical sections on or near the route, there are a few quite tricky river crossings and there are very challenging metal ladders on the last two days (see my comments below). The guide Rowan, and the driver Sofiso, gave excellent support on these walks.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would definitely say that there is a walking activity grading problem for this holiday. The walking grade 'Moderate' says 'general underfoot conditions will be fair'. However, on all the days there were sections of the trail which were more demanding than 'fair' - the Blyde River canyon to some extent, but especially the Tugela Gorge hike, the Witsiehoek 'Crack' hike and the Sentinel Peak hike to the ladders. These three days, if fully completed, including ascent (and descent - you have to come back down the same way) of the frankly hair-raising 20 metre ladder up to the Tugela Falls viewpoint, would clearly fit into a Challenging category in my opinion. So, the length of the walks are Moderate (about 2 to 5 hours max) but the trails are rugged and challenging at times. Should the holiday be given a Moderate/Challenging rating? Or the last 2 days only could be given Challenging. Please note that Day 13 description should make clear that the Crack is demanding for those with vertigo and has a 7 metre ladder which is in quite poor condition. My wife was made aware of the ladder just the evening before and had to miss the day's walking for this reason. Our guides, Rowan Moon and the local guides hired were superb at all times helping us with these routes. Thank you.
  • Reviewed February 2019
    Elizabeth Moxham

    South Africa walking and Wildlife

    Really excellent trip with great variety of walking and wildlife, wonderful scenery, great accommodation and fantastic guides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I have to name two, one travelling through Kruger and the other being in the Drakensberg

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Marco was excellent, well organised, worked extremely hard to make sure all our needs were well catered for and was extremely knowledgeable about wildlife and different geology. He was ably supported by Jojo, the driver and Roman who was training. All three were absolutely great.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for a lot of travelling in the minibus. The trip notes make this clear but I’m mindful not everyone fully takes everything in. Also, some of the walking is quite strenuous on uneven ground and involves some scrambling over boulders, river crossings so make sure you have appropriate sturdy footwear.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I loved staying in the two private reserves, particularly Zululand Lodge which was a change in the itinerary from staying in St Lucia. The settings for most of the accommodation was absolutely fabulous.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Jenny Williams

    First time in Africa

    This was my second trip with Exodus, and I was confident that I was going to have a good time, get good value for money, and a wonderful experience. I was not disappointed. The booking was effortless, including the add on of four days in Cape Town that I requested. All the information that I needed was in the trip notes,and I felt well prepared. Our guide, Innocent is very knowledgable, and keen to impart this to us, and for us to have as good a time as possible. JoJo, the driver/chef, is also very well-informed, and a very careful safe driver. A lot is asked of him, as he would often prepare a meal for 13 after a long day's drive, sometimes on pretty basic equipment. This he did, always cheerfully. Both were very keen to explain how we can help the local craft industries, but we never felt pressurised or uncomfortable. The variety of experience, each day something new, was a fantastic introduction to South Africa. One week essentially wildlife spotting, the second hiking in some very dramatic scenery. I strongly recommend adding on a few days in Cape Town, if you haven't been before. It is less than a 2h flight, and a beautiful, easy, interesting city, and a great contrast to the game parks and mountains.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    From the wildlife aspect: a troop for 8 giraffes crossing in front of our jeep. Or maybe the lion kill? Or the weaver birds in the reeds? A vast herd of buffalo? Not to mention two rhinoceros. From the hiking: climbing to 3165m in the Drakensburg, the last 40m by chain ladder.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As I have said, Innocent is charming, reliable, knowledgable, and keen to help with any (reasonable) request.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Add on Cape Town!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus is, in my experience, a reliable, well organised company, which gives good value for money. It is not 5*, and if that is what you want, you will have to pay a great deal more! But for a 3* deal, with some accommodation above that, you will not be disappointed. When I got home, I turned the page of my Cicerone calendar to November, to see the photo of The Sentinel, in the Drakensburg Amphitheatre, take from the lodge we stayed in!
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Audrey Henley-McCarthy

    Full on and very enjoyable

    Really enjoyed this trip even though we probably did not chose the best time of year to do this, April. Sayin that the weather was quite kind to us. Letaba Game Reserve was a lovely start to our tour, the rangers at Mtomeni Safari Camp were very knowledgeable and friendly, food, especially breakfast, was very good. Permanent tents were much better than expected. Found the safari section a little repetitive but still enjoyable. Early starts and then pretty full on all day but never felt rushed. Loved the beach at St Lucia, a relaxing few hours there was appreciated as allowed us to recharge our batteries. Battlefields tour very interesting and would suggest if possible that you try and get your guide to add in a visit to Rorkes Drift to complete the story. Drakensburg was the highlight for me, good walking and marvellous scenery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking in the Drakensburg, very atmospheric and beautiful

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Colly is a great tour leader prompt, helpful, considerate, accommodating, knowledgeable and an excellent cook. Catered extremely well for this vegetarian. Our driver Jojo is a very experienced careful driver who was a great foil to Colly. Jojo is fun and also very knowledgeable especially about recent South African history. A great team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Walking for me was the top end of moderate as there are a lot of ascents and descents on fairly rocky paths. Walking poles would have been useful. Don't bother talking a lot of snacks with you as there are supermarket shops every few days when you find most of what you want. Sandwich box very useful for the packed lunches so that you do not end up with a soggy mess in a plastic bag at the bottom of your rucksack. Music for the long bus trips was very useful, recommend Graceland by Paul Simon.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Hazel Edwards

    South Africa Walking and Wildlife

    Well, what a trip! Soaking up the sights and sounds of South Africa and Swaziland was truly an amazing experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many unexpected inspirational moments for me. These included spotting both the white and black rhino and, at night in my tent, listening to hippos and other animals snorting and grunting close by. It was also a delight interacting with local shepherds in the mountains, and star-gazing at night. The vast dark sky made it easy to see the Milky Way. All fabulous!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nothing was too much trouble for Colly. He clearly enjoys what he does and was proud to show us South Africa and share with us his extensive knowledge of flora, fauna, local history and culture. He and Joe the driver made a great team. Both men were very kind, patient and friendly.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you're looking to do a 'big' holiday and can't quite make up your mind which one, then go for this trip. It offers incredible variety and an unforgettable experience.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Josephine Fish

    A challenging experience

    We chose this holiday for the combination of walking and wildlife offerred and the areas within South Africa that it covered. We love the Kruger and were also interested in seeing the Drakensburg mountains and Swaziland. Inevitably we spent a lot of time in the minibus as we covered very long distances, but it was worth it. We saw plenty of wildlife and fantastic scenerey. We stayed in some staggeringly beautiful places. My main concern with the holiday was always the walking, and whether we would be up to it? We are both in our 70s, but consider ourselves reasonably fit, as we regularly play 3 rounds of golf a week ( walking) and always take exercise every day. In the event, we found the walking very tough. In the main the terrain was difficult: narrow steep and stoney paths with tricky footing: there was a lot of difficult clambering across rocks and a head for heights was essential! I feel that a grading of “ moderate” for the walking was misleading: it seemed much more demanding than that. The altitude is high, and this adds to the difficulty. I would have preferred to have been given the option of easier walks from time to time, so that I could look at the wonderful scenery as well as my feet! Having said this, our guide was really helpful and got me through. I am glad we went.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having 4 male lions walk past us on an evening drive. We must have watched them for about 15 minutes as we stayed with them. Fantastic!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Really good. Very knowledgable on animals, birds, and plants. Very well informed. Learned alot from him. He was also very well organised and we kept to time, without feeling stressed or hurried. He is also a very good cook: the meals he prepared were well cooked and very tastey: again always on time, and hot! He also helped me a lot on the walks when I was struggling: he was kind and thoughtful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to be tough! This is not a holiday for wimps: you need a lot of stamina. Some of the accommodation in the camps is a bit rough: this is not a holiday for softies. Comfortable walking boots are essential. You have to walk with a backpack, so a good quality one is a good idea.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were concerned whether everyone would be a lot younger than us. In the event, most people were retired or nearly retired! We had no need to worry.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Irene Turner

    Great way to see SA

    An interesting and varied trip, including trekking in several locations, safaris in a number of places, a trip to a beach and a boat ride to see hippos and other wildlife. I like hippos and gazelles.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being woken by elephants at night whilst in my permanent tent in the first game reserve we visited. Being vegetarian and not being given pasta every night for dinner. The food was actually very, very nice and thoughtfully prepared - with a different menu every night!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The two leaders, Mira and Marco, were marvellous. They answered all my questions about the trip, the country and its history. Mira Is particularly knowledgeable about all the scientific names of the plants in the areas we went.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a SÁ travel adaptor (or be pleasantly surprised when your travel companions have one). Take clothes for all climates. Be prepared not to see any Baoba trees. It's best if you like wild animals, otherwise the safaris are a bit boring. Some of the walks are uphill, but in the Drakebsberg mountains you can do your own, flatter walks. The Swazi Candles shop in Swaziland is excellent: Stock up whilst you can. No need to bring half a suitcase of food with you: as it turns out, there are supermarkets in SA that sell edible vegetarian food! The group leaders also provide excellent food!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks to my daughter and son-in-law for taking me on this fascinating trip. It was an excellent trip and highly recommended.
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Pam Peers

    Superb, fun-filled trip with lots of variety

    This trip covers a lot of ground! I can't believe how much we managed to do in just two weeks, and needed my photos and videos to remind me. The accommodation was of an exceptionally high standard and we slept very well everywhere. Our own guides were brilliant, and the external guides at various locations were excellent and very knowledgeable about their specialist areas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were too many to list them all! Crossing Buffalo River (near Rorke's Drift) was quite an adventure - certainly very memorable. Michael Caine would have been proud of us :-) The Sentinel Path walk, in the Drekensburg range, was wonderful and the ladders weren't too challenging - well worth the effort to reach the escarpment with superb views for miles in all directions. Watching hippos at close range, from the safety of a sturdy boat, was an amazing experience. The wildlife encounters were fantastic everywhere - I never imagined we would be able to see so many varied species at such close proximity.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had an amazing team! Colly, Skhu and Farai were all fantastic and worked hard from morning to night to ensure that we all had a great holiday. It was a privilege to share their insights into the fascinating culture, history and landscape of South Africa. They were very good at judging when we needed a break on the long days travelling, and made sure we had plenty to eat and drink at all stages. They prepared varied and interesting meals, and there was always more than enough for even the most hearty appetites.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes carefully. Take plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent. Don't take too many clothes - the laundry service in Swaziland was very good and excellent value for money

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    South Africa is a wonderful country and this trip provides an excellent introduction to a small part of it. We added a few extra days in Johannesburg at the end of the trip, and visited Soweto, Kliptown and the Apartheid Museum. I'd recommend it very highly and wish we'd had longer.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Madeleine Newcomb

    South Africa Wildlife and Walking

    A good mix of wildlife watching in a number of areas and walking in the Drakensberg Mountains

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The view of The Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Colly, and his assistants were excellent. They were patient and knowledgeable. It was great to witness young men with such a passion for their surroundings.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My only reservation is that I didn't get to the ladders on The Sentinel climb. My advice is to NOT LOOK DOWN at the exposed sections (I didn't do this). Your leaders will make sure you are safe the whole way.
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