Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed May 2017
    Ruth Foreman

    Western Explorer depart 30 April

    Overall an excellent trip. There are a couple of full days driving but this is necessary to cover the number of locations in the itinery

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The waterfalls in Yosemite

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Before booking, consider travelling a couple of days early so you have time to explore San Fransisco - my flight arrived mid afternoon which left no time for that. Similarly, as there is not an overnight stay in Las Vegas at the end, you may want to consider staying on as my departure flight left only a couple of hours mid afternoon in the city.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Vernon Deymos

    Mr

    If you love seeing spectacular natural wonders and also see some amazing cities, this trip is for you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Driving on Xmas Day in the heavy snow and blue skies from Zion to Bryce Canyon. The amazing views got even better in the snow! It was my first white Xmas as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was kind, friendly, courteous and professional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The tour does not leave much time to explore San Francisco and Las Vegas. I recommend arriving a few days before and/or staying a few days after the tour ends for city sightseeing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In winter Mono Lake is not included on the itinerary as the road is closed.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Graham Wright

    Western Explorer USA

    A remarkable experience giving tasters of 5 quite unique National Parks. The group is small enough to give freedom to explore each area according to ability and fitness levels by oneself or in small subgroups. A lot of travelling but the views are worth it. Accommodation excellent although the facilities were not always used due to a packed timetable. People need to be aware of early morning starts to make the most of the day if walking as we experienced unusually high temperatures at the end of the season with no rain. There was sufficient freedom to choose whether to eat in the evenings with other members or in subgroups. The included activities added to the experience and were well worth it. Optional activities were available and wide ranging.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each area was so unique and an unexpected contrast with each other. Yosemite was spectacular and Death Valley at -282ft below sea level with a temperature of 110F was impressive compared to 3 days later in Bryce Canyon at 8300ft with the onset of ice on the upper trail. Bryce itself was so mystical and fantastic to walk through the Hoodoos. Zion was so superb especially in the evening sun and the views from Angels Landing are something to behold if one has no fear of heights. Monument Valley- conjures up all the old westerns and other films that have used the setting for backdrops and just to immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon is all that needs to be said as words can not do it justification. Fortunately, the stays in cities were short for me as I am not a city person, but one feels compelled to just wander down the Las Vegas boulevard for a complete contrast- the loudness and brashness could not be so far removed from ones previous experiences the days preceding.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ron Prince was consummately friendly, courteous, professional and full of good advice, information on what to see and where to go. He was well informed on historical and cultural issues. He was available when needed to offer any assistance but was also able to protect himself and have free time so as he could pace himself for a very packed two weeks.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for early starts. Be sensible about your walking/hiking abilities in areas that are far greater and higher than what most people are used to and especially be aware of the dry heat that builds up throughout the day. We were fortunate with the weather but it can change very quickly and flash floods have been known to occur in some of the areas visited.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Better arrangements need to be made for the breakfast in the hotel in San Francisco as they were not prepared for a group of this size with such an early start (7.30)- they open for breakfast at 7am. Exodus need to send all the necessary information re insurance, emergency numbers, that we have provided on our booking forms, to Grand American Adventures so as the individuals do not have to duplicate this information once there. It would be helpful to know exactly what 'cooking ' facilities and utensils are in each accommodation used if one wishes to make their own breakfast or evening meal. The American 'tip/service charge' needs to be recognised as to the extent this adds to one budgeting.
  • Reviewed June 2016
    Paul Gofton

    Western Explorer

    A wonderful trip with each day having numerous wow moments.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to pick just one but the most unexpected was the walk down Antelope slot canyon and photographing the spectacular colours and shades on the rock that the sunlight cast. Also the 4x4 drive in Monument valley with the Navajo tribe a place I have always wanted to visit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Erin was excellent. She had a couple of long days driving but still had loads of energy. She had a good knowledge of the places we visited, had plenty of suggestions for our free days and tried to vary the places we ate at.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are planning on spending extra time in San Francisco at the start then there is no need to visit the Golden Gate bridge. On the first actual day of the trip the minibus deposits you at the bridge and allows you time to walk across before collecting you from the other side. Don't expect any time to visit / see Hoover dam, due to security restrictions meaning all our bags would have had to be searched we did not stop. Although we did visit Glen Canyon dam which is a similar structure and size earlier on the trip There are a couple of long days travelling one of which is around 7 hours, however there are numerous stops and videos to watch also the time seems to pass quickly when looking at the scenery. The earliest we set off in the morning was 7. All the accommodation was good with the 2 nights at Zion particularly good

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have been on 8 trips booked through Exodus this was the best of the lot
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Derek Gott

    Western Explorer

    There are some long drives but the scenery is awesome and we were fortunate getting day after day of warm sunshine.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were several. Seeing El Capitan and Half Dome again after 33 years. Climbing to Angels Landing in Zion NP. Seeing the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon. The Navajo experience at Monument Valley and descending to Plateau Point in the incomparable Grand Canyon.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had a different leader each week. Both of them were very good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long days travelling and carry plenty of water. Eating out is a great pleasure but allow for the 18%tips.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Anonymous

    The Wide Wild West by Mike Giles

    When we started serious travel over 20 years ago the USA was never near the top of our agenda, to be honest it was never on our original list of must see places at all. However with the developing world reasonably well covered our time had come to visit our cousins across the pond. We started our holiday with a couple of added days in San Francisco. Highly recommended. It is a city easily negotiated with local transport and there are sights not to be missed. You can reach the Golden Gate Bridge from the city centre using local buses, ask for a transfer and, if a senior, accept a substantial discount and proffered seat. A return walk across the 1.7 mile span of the bridge is invigorating and gives magnificent views of the harbour. Have care for the trendy cyclists who, head down, pedal the pathway looking only to knock seconds off a previous best. Cable Cars are a nostalgic way of getting to and around downtown, the boardwalks and Chinatown. The Californian line, which is the least crowded, ends close to the Holiday Inn where day passes can be purchased. With stops every couple of blocks you can hop on and hold on as the locals always did but expect to queue in the most popular spots. The National Parks visited on the tour are magnificent and each very different with a range of walks and activities to be savoured individually depending upon fitness and ability. We cannot, as others, tell of the elation of reaching Angels Landing, wallowing waist deep in the Zion Narrows or descending perilous tracks into deep canyons. However we can recount we had some wonderful peaceful hikes in breath-taking locations at our own pace and distance. Free shuttle buses are operated by park authorities which make it possible to link easy-going and moderate hiking routes to viewpoints and to otherwise enjoy full days in the park. Monument Valley, Death Valley, Lakes, Dams and the sheer magnificence of scenery just kept rolling out ahead of us as we journeyed on through what is really just a small part of the west of this immense country. We are not hedonistic travellers, preferring natural wonders and historic edifices of an ancient world than modernity, so Las Vegas held little lure for us but we were to be dumfounded by its temples devoted to Lady Luck. Based in a prestigious central hotel we were well placed to explore every other luxurious resort on The Strip. We went to Paris, Venice, Rome and Egypt all in the course of one day and two evenings. Each vista faithfully reconstructed with no expense spared, such are the profits of the relentless gaming which epitomises this city. Unbelievable! We just loved it! The final day was a drive across desert to Los Angeles where this particular trip ended at Custom Hotel LAX with an immediate evening flight for UK participants. Again we added to the schedule, pre-booked two nights there and once more made use of local transport. We joined the old hippies and young things at Santa Monica Pier, the end of Route 66, and also chilled out on Venice Beach and Boardwalk. 'They playing our song Gal?' 'Yea Man!'

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Monument Valley is truly inspirational but the Grand Canyon however must be our highlight, it is after all, well, much grander than the others. Awesome! You will hear this said a lot on your travels but this is really what the word is all about. You may feel the helicopter trip is a very expensive option but we took it, really enjoyed it and have no doubts whatsoever as to money well spent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    On these trips driver and courier are one, not an easy role with many long day's driving followed by checking in and admin procedures. Ron Prince was a safe and patient driver and organised the days well. He periodically stopped at (super)markets so that we could buy breakfast foods, drinks etc. whilst he shopped with the luncheon kitty. This made a great difference to the economies of the trip and the daily picnics he planned became a feature of each journey.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If there are two things we UK travellers cannot get our heads round its bargaining and tipping. The good news is you don't bargain in the West except perhaps at a local Trading Post, but then why just hit on the indigenous people? However tipping is a part of a culture you must quickly embrace especially in the leisure industry, where staff who provide services essential to your trip are poorly paid. Simply put, it is the anticipation of a generous tip which elicits the high standard of service which exists and conversely it is deserved. Not to adequately tip your waiter, maid, driver etc. on the basis of personal economy is both unfair and insulting. Unless of course you have had poor service in which case it is customary to say why you think this is so.
  • Reviewed May 2015
    Sandra Smith

    Western Explorer

    This was an amazing trip. The scenery was outstanding and became unbelievably more so on each successive day. The unexpected snow both in Yosemite and at Grand Canyon added to our excitement rather than dampen our spirits and although we were disappointed not to fly over the Canyon due to weather conditions, it was still a wonderful holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The fantastic shapes of the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. were so out-of-this-world and Monument Valley brought back lovely memories fo the old Westerns we used to watch as kids.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader did everything to make our trip as good as it was. She was a great driver and organizer as well as being knowledgable about the places we passed through. She was also caring and fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take layers because the weather is unpredictable especially in the mountains, whatever the season.
  • Reviewed August 2014
    Stephen Low

    Incredible views, great food and wonderful memories!

    This was an incredible trip which exceeded my expectations! The National Parks on the itinerary were all places I'd wanted to visit for a long, long time but actually visiting them was much more impressive than I had imagined. Often this was due to the scale of these natural wonders which you just can't get a sense of in photographs or it was due to the varying colours of the rocks such as in Zion or the Grand Canyon which made the views all the more enjoyable. Unfortunately when we visited Yosemite there were forest fires nearby and the smoke spoiled some of the views but luckily the park itself remained open! Yes there are some long drives but the varying landscapes, regular stops for photos or snacks, WiFi, good conversation and a wide range of music available on the tour leader's iPhone all made them pass fairly quickly. It's a fairly busy itinerary but I did feel it provided enough time in each place to really get a 'feel' for them! The vast majority of restaurants I ate in were terrific (be prepared for large potions), the standard of hotels was very high and it was a great group of people to be on holiday with!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's difficult to choose as there were many but sunrise at the Grand Canyon was very unique as you could watch the many ridges in the canyon gradually catch the light until the whole view was illuminated and then take an early morning hike!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lana did a terrific job - she was always full of energy and happy to answer questions! She strived to make sure we all had a great experience whilst on the trip and organised everything very well!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you can, spend a day or two in San Francisco prior to the trip starting and if you plan on visiting Alcatraz be sure to book tickets as far in advance as you can. I'd also recommend hiring a bike and cycling over the Golden Gate bridge. Some days on the trip we started fairly early in the morning so be prepared for those.
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Jonathan Fryer

    Western Explorer

    A taste of many things! A time to walk alone and travel together. What a great way to discover Western USA. From walking the Golden Gate Bridge with clear blue skies to the 'awesome' view from Angel's Landing in Zion Valley. From the unforgettable moment you reach the rim of Bryce Canyon to the madness of Las Vegas. As a sworn-in Ranger (a very rigorous assessment) I feel qualified to recommend this trip to those who love variety and do not want to sit on a beach and roast. Fantastic.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Looking over the edge of Bryce Canyon was wonderful OR the precarious climb up to Angel's Landing and then just looking...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Devon was very informative and patient. He had a great sense of humour and was passionate about his country. He even tried to teach me the rules and tactics of baseball - what a sport (him, that is). He adjusted the schedule to allow us see a few extra sites. He even even had a word with an obliging barman who slid a glass cold turkey down the bar for me to catch. He was my 'dad'. Devon deserves a pay rise.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Packing and unpacking frequently does not suit all travellers and many hours on the road can be uncomfortable. It terms of money, is important to allow for tips. The cost of tips took some of us by surprise. Top up with water whenever you can (our guide was excellent at reminding us). When you've taken the trouble to save up, book and travel, do everything.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The optional trip to Antelope Canyon was money well spent. The colours and images were lovely. Likewise, the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon was memorable. In Zion NP, DO make the effort to walk up the 'scary' extra bit from Scout's Landing to Angel's Landing. I stayed up there for 45 minutes. Very rewarding. The tackiness of Las Vegas was worth experiencing once. The blue skies over the indoors Venetian Grand Canal, the atmosphere of the casinos, the lights and sounds and the enormous breakfast at the Paris Hotel - all need to be seen, experienced, heard and savoured...at least once in a lifetime.
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    WESTERN EXPLORER

    Ever changing scenery even made the travelling seem to pass by quicker than on other trips. A real variety of landscapes and colours with options for walking depending on individual wishes. All the scenery from the 'Westerns' and more. Wherever we went the views were fantastic. Hotels good and the outdoor lunches (and the evening barbecue) inspired by our tour guide were just right for the settings.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Having avoided looking at pictures before going, the evening view from the rim of Bryce Canyon is unbelievable and unforgettable. Views stretch the equivalent of north London to the south coast!  We weren't planning on taking the helicopter ride at the Grand Canyon but the closure of the National Parks (this was the only one we missed) prompted us to take the plunge. Even flying over the canyon it is impossible to take in the scale and to realise the river is a mile below. The change in the vegetation coming from the Sierra Nevada to Mono Lake, with its tufa rocks and wildlife, was almost instantaneous and summed up the trip in terms of the ever changing scenery. The trip around Monument Valley with the Navajo guide was all that was expected from the films.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rebecca was full of enthusiasm and sought to meet everyone's needs. She did a sterling job as driver (safe and comfortable), guide, luggage handler, hotel booker inner, lunch organiser etc., etc. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Very limited time in San Francisco so worth considering travelling a day or two beforehand. The National Park walks are at a fairly high altitude so be aware of this for both for breathing and temperature. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is limited room in the tour minibus with a full party.
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