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 November 2017
    Stephen Bowman

    Simien Mountain Bimble.......

    Overall a very good trek. Yes, some of the days are a little hard but then it says that in the trip notes so read them! Great views and wildlife and a, mostly, great support team and leaders. Only reason I've not given this trek an "Excellent" rating is due to the group of very annoying scouts that apparently all trek groups must have whilst in the Simiens. They feel obliged to walk six inches behind you and interfere frequently when not required. Some verbal encouragement keeps them out of your hair for a while but they'll soon forget! Not irritating enough for me to suggest going elsewhere for your trek, but I'd suggest that both the Brit and local leader brief them to stick to "scouting" and route finding and that Europeans like our personal space! (And if we want to run down a 1000m decent then that's just fine even if not wise!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Quite a few I guess, seeing the wolves & monkeys/baboons/what-ever- they-are?, summit day, Suzies favorite view point......

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both where great, Messi, our local guide/leader and Suzi, who I believe has only just started out with Exodus :-) Both, having done it all before, solve problems before they occur, have tons of local knowledge, (plus Suzi has been everywhere so is good source of ideas for the next trek).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Things have changed since the trip notes were written. Cash is easy to get until you hit the wilderness and yes, you do need local currency. Snacks don't need to be brought from UK by the bucket load; firstly you are pretty well fed including snacks during the day, secondly there is access to "supermarkets" on route to the park so you can get certain snacks there. Not the best choice I grant you. You can get you kit washed twice during the trek, the crew do a good job. And no, there aren't many rivers to wash in! One basically and a rather nasty one if you wish when you camp for two nights in a village. Rely on the wet-wipes!
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Irene Neilson

    Great trek in an amazing country

    This trip is a great mixture of culture and trekking. Time in Addis at the Ethnographic museum and the experience of the Debtre Birhan Selassie church in Gondor highlights the deep richness of the culture and history of Ethiopia. It is a fascinating country so desperately underestimated by the outside world. The trek itself, particularly along the Enatyie Escarpment is full of great views and unusual rock formations. In some parts there is an overwhelming feeling of isolation and timelessness. The antics of the Gelada Baboons only adds to the enjoyment.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although an extension, and therefore technically not part of the trek, it has to be our time at the monolithic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and journeying there by donkey to the mountain monastery as worshippers in white robes trekked to the service on the hillside and the chants from the service drifted towards us. It was a surreal and very magical experience. On the trek itself there were many magical moments as the scenery was so outstanding - maybe particularly in the late afternoon when the descending sun would cause the rock formations to glow and the sound of the masinko being played with real talent at our last camp in the mountains. We were also fortunate enough to see two Ethiopian wolves and an Ibex during the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Messi was good - dealt with everything very competently and created a good team spirit.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Its worth spending time exploring the history of Ethiopia before going on the trip. Utube has several interesting documentaries. If you can, extend your stay to include at least Lalibela. See "Lalibela, Wonder of Ethiopia' by Jacques Mercier and Claude Lepage and "Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia" by Maria and Joseph Friedlander. The latter book also has a section on Gondor and useful explanations of the paintings of the Debre Berhan Selassie church

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Any spare gear is greatly appreciated. We took a bag of spare gear/clothes with us which we were able to give to Messi at Gondor pre-trip. There is a large public swimming pool beside the hotel in Addis -you get a permit (free) from the front desk of the hotel which you show at the gate to the pool. You need a swimming cap and a lock for the lockers. Its best to change into a swimsuit at the hotel else it's a case of finding a bush by the pool. Good smallish pool at Gondor with great views of the escarpment. Wifi at both hotels but no signal on the trip.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    David Anderson

    A world class trek in a cultural haven

    The Simien mountains is a world class trek - not too challenging, but challenging enough for most able hillwalkers - the three toughest days are days 5, 6 and 7 - our group was strong and we managed them well within daylight with a couple of hours to spare. Ethiopia is unusual for most African countries, as it has many archeological/ historical sites - Gondor (part of this trip), Lalibela, Axium and Bahir Dar, all worth a visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Simien mountains did not disappoint - each of the ten days were different, and each day was peppered with stunning unforgettable views. The remoter sections away from the highway were the best, with the local people at their most friendly. Summit day on Ethiopia's highest mountain Rasdashen, was a high point in all senses of the words. An unexpected pleasure was how good the coffee was - everywhere. The 3 day extension to Lalibela was well worth doing (bit pricey though) - the visit to the mountain monastery and the 8 rock churches in the town, each hewn from one piece of rock, all dating back nearly 1000 years are incredible [more stunning than Petra for me].

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Messi was first class - and the team he lead was excellent. A lot of effort was put into to ensure our safety and well being - no-one fell ill on the trip. The cook was amazing - the food on the trip was probably the best I have ever had over more than 20 similar Exodus trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack as light as possible - wear and gift old clothes/equipment at end of trip. Don't overdo the snacks - biscuits/nuts are always on offer. The sun is unrelenting - high factor lip balm a must.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Apart from a few pre-teen children pickpockets outside the hotel in Addis, the country is incredibly safe and in this respect reminded me of walking around Asia rather than Africa.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Venkatadri Seshadri

    Excellent Adventure

    This trip takes you off the beaten path into the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. It is a national park with a single road going through it providing a connection to the outside world for the 2,000 families still living in the villages there. The trek takes you through the high-, mid- and low-lands with terrific and varied scenery. You will see plenty of Geladas (up close) and if you're lucky, also the Walia Ibex and Ethiopian Wolf. The trip is long (140+ kms and 10 days) and the hiking is quite tough. I would rate this trip to be more like a "6" rather than a "5" due to the distance traveled and the steep ascents and descents with difficult footing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through the troop of Geladas on the very first day. There were literally hundreds of them in that group and you can get very close to them before they get nervous and bounce away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mesi is an outstanding guide. He is very knowledgeable and makes sure everyone is taken care of.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. Take money (Birr) into the park with you so that you can buy soft drinks on the trail from the kids who sell them (you'll need the fluids and the sugar), and also so that you can buy drinks (beer and soft drinks) from the camp sites. You can also buy souvenirs from the villagers as you pass through the villages. 2. Bring plenty of high energy snacks, especially snacks with lots of sugar in it. 3. Bring plenty of water purification tablets. You'll need to carry 3L of water per day with you. 4. The sun is VERY bright - prepare accordingly. The temperature fluctuates greatly from day to night and from highlands to lowlands. In the highlands, the temperature will drop below freezing at night. It will get up over 30C during the day in the lowlands.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    James Ross

    Memorable trekking over 'Ethiopian flat'

    A gentle 2 day cultural introduction to Ethiopia via the museums, churches and castles before some serious trekking in the mountains, or as out guide called it - Ethiopian flat! A well thought out trekking itinerary, with a few easy days to begin with to help us get used to altitude. Tougher days followed but everyone coped and the support from our guide, Messi, and the local crew was excellent. For our efforts we were rewarded with fantastic views over the mountains, including a good sunset, and a 4000m peak or two (optional). Also some great chances to see the local plant and wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many. I loved all the Mountains and the 4 Sisters Restaurant in Gondar but the school visit was special. The children had so little equipment compared to what we're used to but they were so enthusiastic and friendly. The tip I learnt is bring pens but also bring balloons.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Messi was excellent. Leading from the front but happy to fall back to help out those at the back of the group. Had plenty of information on Ethiopia and the area we were trekking in and always seemed happy to educate us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's quite a tough trek but get fit before you go, hydrate when your there, and pack to cope with the basic camp facilities (lots of wet wipes, and loo roll) and you'll love it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The group I travelled with was just as important as the itinerary and support staff in making the holiday as memorable as it was. A superb experience.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Claire Edwards

    Beautiful Ethiopia

    Those epic views come at a price - lots of steep ascents and descents - but The Simiens are achingly beautiful and worth the effort.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I have so many memories. Mesi made us all keep quiet for 5 mins so we could take in the view on day 2 and it was quite overwhelming. The shower at Chenek camp wouldn't work so Liz and Mesi poured freezing cold water over us as we squealed, amidst much laughter. Being surrounded by kids wanting to practice their English. Having my hair braided (and subsequently losing a handful!!!) by a little girl who was fascinated by blonde hair. The list is endless.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mesi and Liz made the holiday for us. We could not have asked for more attentive, fun and knowledgeable guides. Half of our group had an ailment of some kind and Liz took care of every one brilliantly while Mesi managed the local crew impeccably.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a tough trek. We had very long ascents and descents, which are difficult at altitude. The crew were so patient and supportive but be prepared for this. One person in the group had a reaction to doxycycline - photosensitivity which meant she had to be blind-folded and make use of Vanessa the ambulance mule. A few of us didn't bother with anti-malarials. There is a risk-benefit that needs to be discussed with a healthcare professional prior to travel. Buy double the wet wipes you think you need, it is very dusty in the dry season. Don't under-estimate the sun. The temperature is pleasant much of the time but you need a lot of protection. Take rehydrating salts to flavour the water and replace sweat. Dioralyte tastes horrible! Some campsites need 2 chlorine tabs per litre so budget for this Take moisturiser. I didn't bother and ended up all dried up like a raisin! If you have space in your bag, take kit that you are happy to donate to the crew at the end of the week I didn't need most of my snacks as the guides always had biscuits, nuts etc, although some of the men were glad of extra. The food is excellent. Chef produces wonders every day….but most of us wished that two sheep hadn't been slaughtered because this meant lamb on 4 nights out of 9 and we didn't really want it. Some groups might love this but if not, tell the guides early in the week.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were a number of moments on trek that I wished I had booked a beach holiday because my knees hurt so much, but it was a truly wonderful experience. The crew didn't just do their jobs, they looked after us. Be warned, Ethiopia will get under your skin!
  • Reviewed February 2015
    NEIL MUNRO

    Simien trek

    The website describes this trek as at the harder end of challenging and I think that is absolutely spot on. It is also totally worthwhile with the astounding scenery, remarkable wild life and smiling locals.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Obviously getting to the top of Ras Dashen gave a real sense of achievement but it would have been a great trip even without that bonus. I hadnt expected so much contact with the locals and the enthusiasm of the children was totally infectious; And I certainly had never imagined that a large group of Gelada baboons would walk through our group as though we werent there!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The Sara/ Messi duo was unbeatable. With Messi I had total confidence in everything he did while Sara was the most efficient/ enthusiastic/ caring guide I have ever had the privilege of trekking with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for extremes of temperature. On two of the camp sites the temperature came down to zero in the tent (and was obviously much colder outside). But during the day the sun was also stronger and hotter than I had anticipated - in spite of the altitude I walked in shorts and short sleeved shirts almost every day. And dont feel the difficulties are over once you have completed the three very long days (including ras dashen)! Personally the hardest and most nerve racking day for me was the subsequent long descent on quite difficult paths from the Highlands to the Lowlands - a day described in the Trip Notes as 'much easier'. I suspect I had let my concentration slip - not a good idea!
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Norman Maudsley

    Simen Mountains Ethiopia - 10days Camping

    Just back from a seriously good trekking & camping holiday taking in the Simen Mountains in Northern Ethiopian. Filled all my expectation of a cultural trekking holiday. To enjoy the trek you must be physically fit and used to a multy day regime with early starts hot days and possibly cold nights for this Challenging graded holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The fantastic changing views of the mountains as we travelled around the area, together with the wildlife and flora.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sarah was 100% committed to the group going away from the experience fully satisfied, nothing was too much trouble for her, where she got the endless energy to multy task amazed me.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You are going to be away from mass tourism, in wild country, away from the comforts of home, accept this and take home with you some excellent memories to amaze your friends and family.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it now before these wild places become full of tourist hotels and fully surfaced roads, enjoy the present conditions and take yourself back to nature.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Jonathan Bayley

    A fantastic and varied trek

    There is a great variety offered on this trek. Our November departure started in grazing land where we climbed to see some stunning views of the mountains. After the Ras Dashen ascent the landscape and vegetation changed to be more arid before dropping into the Lush and hot lowlands. As well as the walking and stunning views we had chance to see a great deal of wildlife (wolves, Ibex, Gelada and a good variety of birds). The start was on the tourist trail, we often shared with other groups and were in site of the "road". However, once we dropped into the lowlands we got a great feeling of being off the beaten track and a good chance to interact with the locals as we were camping on the outskirts of the various villages.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The welcoming atmosphere from staff and locals along with a stunning natural environment - not photo will ever do justice to the views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leaders were excellent. Our local guide was knowledgeable and keen to share information on wildlife, nature and people. Our Exodus guide was great at organising and making sure things ran smoothly as well as providing practical help with trekking and giving an foreigners input.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to treat all water so plan appropriately with filters or tablets. In several places you need to add double tablets so they can run out fast. We were treating around 3L of water per day while trekking. It may be useful to have 3x1L bottles not just 2 as refills were not available on all days. You may get away without river crossing shoes. We did as the water was low and we crossed in bare feet. After some rain you may not be so lucky. When it rains it pours and got cold, don't expect hot weather all the time. The nights can be very cold. Most of our group had light weight down jackets or thick fleeces. We had frosts on the higher campsites overnight. As with all trips of this type there is a chance of getting ill. Some of our group had mild stomach upsets and a well stocked first aid kit makes things more manageable. Come prepared with patience if you get the visa on arrival. It took us 3 hours to get the stamp. It is frustrating but then most of our group were in the same queue. Expect equally tedious processes every time you go through the airport. Do some research on what to do in Addis on your return. It is not the most interesting of cities for tourists and a bit of research may mean you get more out of the free day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This area will become increasingly popular over the coming years. Already camps are becoming more established and busy. The road is being built right into the mountains. For now it is relatively unspoilt but that will not last.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Elizabeth De Lannoy

    Simian Mountain Trek

    The Simian Mountain trek conjures up images of hot dry mountains and dusty valleys but the reality is far from just this: Rugged mountain tops silhouetted against steel grey skies, lush green pasture leading to tall stands of eucalyptus and acacia. The trek is really a trip of two halves, the first involving scenery much as you might find in an exaggerated version of the English / Welsh uplands with unpredictable weather to match! The wild camping isn't a 'wild' as you might expect with established toilet blocks available in most and usually a flat pitch. Passing Gich the scenery changes to the dramatic spiky peaks and escarpments familiar to anyone who has Googled the trek beforehand! The weather also changes to arid and hot with a number of challenging ascents! Camp food was excellent and the guides first class. Book this if you are looking for a trek to somewhere where tourists are a novelty and life hasn't changed in eons for most of the rural community.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting a rural school that has been part funded by Exodus.
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