Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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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 December 2017
    Pamela Woodward

    cycling vietnam

    We were "blown away" over and over again on the trip. Our guide Lam and the support team were beyond excellent. They seemed to know what we needed before we did. Everything was done with a smile and a positive attitude. Over and over again they were checking our bikes and gear. I am so very very impressed with them!!! The weather was hot hot hot in some places and torrential rains in other places. Luckily, no wind. I am coming off from a previous biking injury (broken back and sacrum) and am also taking medication that inhibits my physical ability so I usually finished towards or at the end of the group. I also was not able to finish the Pass however, the guides made every effort to help me out and let me ride in the bus when needed--with no frowns given. The bike rides down the two passes were amazing and had me shouting with joy. The food--excellent. The places Lam had chosen for us to eat were safe for our foreign stomachs as well as being traditional Vietnamese food and good as well. The mid ride refreshments perfect--and often. I have such a positive feel for this trip and the excellent guides. I have been fortunate to have been on several trips with 3 extended biking trips and this trip with the guides, scenery, cycling route... was one of the best.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The day I completed the 95 KM day. I have some physical deterrents so I was super excited that in spite of them, I was able to do it. Also, the descent from the two passes. Wow, what a ride! Also, the almost comical riding in the torrential rains with a smile on our faces. The continual "Hello" from the children. We, being from the US did not know how we would be received and the positive attitude and embracing by the Vietnamese was a lesson as well as a humbling experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lam, our leader---oh my gosh! Excellent. Like I mentioned, I have been on several guided trips and Lam was one of the best I have experienced. Lam was accompanied by 3 others--Tang, Long, and Y. They anticipated what we would need before we even knew we needed things. They worked so well together. What a team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather can be extremely hot as well as humid. I don't think, unless you live in similar weather systems, that you can fully prepare for that. Train and do what you can to prepare but even if you cannot do the hills and passes, you can still be a part of the adventure. If having to ride in the bus once or twice gets you to experience this adventure, then "just do it". As I get older, I realize that I do not have to be first but to be part of it is so fulfilling.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only hesitation I had with the trip was that there seemed to be several on the trip that were in extremely good cycling condition. They seemed to want to push the pace and wanted to be first or near it. Since this was my first time in Vietnam, I wanted to experience the countryside and it's people and stop to take photos, or marvel at something I saw or stop and go back to take a photo when I passed a school with young students and everyone of them called out "Hello" to me. Lam, our main guide kept stressing that this was a holiday but I felt that if I stopped to take the photos I wanted, I would keep the others back. This was a frustration. This was not Lam's doing but more the pressure from many of the other cyclists. I can do the push push push here at home with just concentrating on the road in front of me and seeing how hard I can cycle but in a new country, I want to experience that country--not the push. I don't know what to suggest to change this... one of the extremely fit cyclists would turn around and redo some of it. Perhaps this could be something suggested in situations like this. ???
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Tim Brooks

    Land of the Thunder Dragon

    Bhutan is a country whose culture and environment are still free from the negative influences of the modern world. It's a quiet even serene place, free from pollution and benefitting from a low population (just some 700,000 people live in this small kingdom). The five day point-to-point trek was well run and enjoyable. It included visits to a couple of fascinating monasteries. The highlights have to be attending the spring festival in Paro and the half-day trek to the world-famous Tiger's Nest monastery.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although the spring festival in the Dzong in Paro was amazing, it's the unexpected things of most trips which last in my memory. For my trip in Bhutan, this was the welcome we got from the monks in the monastery on the last day of our trek as we headed down the valley towards Thimphu.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide Norbu and his team looked after us very well. I hope to go back one day and see more of this lovely country. Norbu informed me that Exodus is thinking about opening a new trek in the high Himalayas in the north-west of the country. I couldn't see this trip as an option in 2018 - but will keep a look out for it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bhutan had been on my bucket list for quite a few years and I was not disappointed. While the cost of the trip is prohibitive, the tourist tax means that there are still relatively few tourists in Bhutan, meaning it's unspoilt. Furthermore, you really don't need much spending money as the tourist tax covers pretty much everything from the accommodation and transport to meals. The only money you'll need is for drinks and souvenirs. This makes the price of the trip more bearable in the overall scheme of things.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go now before others do. We were lucky with the weather on our trek, but others are not so lucky - so go prepared with all weather clothing for the trek. The approach by plane into Paro airport is not for the faint-hearted. However, it's one of the most fascinating airports in the world, rivalling Lukla in Nepal for hairiness. You will be amazed how close the runway is to the mountains. The plane makes a sharp left-turn in its final approach to landing - so have your camera ready for some aerial shots. The terminal building is impressive too with typical Bhutanese painted walls.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Steve Ingleby

    Discover Costa Rica

    An excellent introduction to Costa Rica, and in particular its wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many, although we particularly enjoyed the night walks that were available at the lodges. The forests come alive at night and provide opportunities to see wildlife that doesn't normally appear during the day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent - Antonio was a superb ambassador for Costa Rica. He organised additional walks to ensure the team got the most out of their visit. He is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of Costa Rica, and is particularly good at identifying the many different birds we saw and heard on our travels. Mention should also be made of our driver, Alex. Despite limited English he was always friendly & enthusiastic, kept the coach spotless both inside and out, and must know the width of the coach to the nearest millimetre!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a universal sink plug - few hotels and lodges have them. Ponchos (and perhaps over-trousers) are more flexible than a conventional cagoule as it covers cameras & rucksack also. For people enthusiastic about photography, take a flash (if not fitted on camera) and a tripod. There is little light under the canopy even at midday and so shutter speeds are slow. For taking photos of specific species (e.g. amphibians) you may find that use of flash is not permitted (sometimes for all species on night walks) and so a tripod is the only way to get good photos. Make sure you protect your camera from moisture ingress. Rain is exceptional at times and a couple of our party had camera damage as a result.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is no need to change dollars to colones at the airport. Dollars seemed to be accepted everywhere and you will normally get change in colones.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Mary Purnell

    Mantas, extreme weather and good company

    The prospect of sighting whale sharks was the big attraction for this trip, along with plentiful snorkelling opportunities. The MV Felicity has great character and a wonderful crew who couldn't do enough for their guests. We had a lovely group of people and who got along famously from day 1. Snorkelling was well organised and well led by guide Kamey and our multi-talented Captain. However the whale shark experience was a huge disappointment, not because the crew didn't do their best to get us an encounter, but because the whole thing in the Maldives appears unregulated with scant regard for the welfare of the creatures. As soon as a whale shark was spotted, boats sped up from all directions dropping snorkellers and divers in the water. There are no speed restrictions in force, and no limits on numbers and we were surprised to find scuba in use around the whale sharks. We had a talk from someone from the whale shark research project on the boat, which set out guidelines for encounters, but these seemed to be disregarded by many of the boats in the area.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snorkelling with manta rays over the reef early one morning. The crew worked really hard to get us in the right spot and I got some lovely photos

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kamey worked really hard to get us the best snorkelling despite the adverse weather conditions, and was very knowledgeable and helpful

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would hesitate to recommend this trip to anyone who wants a whale shark encounter, and come away feeling that the dignity and well-being of the creatures has been respected.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Christopher & Alison Bruce

    Absolutely incredible

    Such an amazing expedition. Paul Goldstein moves heaven and earth to ensure that the most is gained from the trip and no time is wasted. We cannot recommend this experience highly enough, and would do it all again in a flash.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The sheer majesty of the place and the overwhelming abundance of the wildlife. Being able to get so close to penguins and seals who have no fear of humans is a real privilege.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Inspirational and a human Duracell Bunny!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Book well in advance and as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Diana Osmond

    Classic Thailand

    We found Bangkok very busy, horrendous traffic jams, 2hours from the airport etc, so not a good start, but in general it is an easy-paced and varied tour. High points for us were Hellfire Pass (death railway) and feeding bunches of bananas to elephants at the sanctuary. The hotels are all very comfortable and we were pleasantly surprised they all had swimming pools. The cookery class is a great idea, but not if you’ve just stepped off an overnight train....none of our group felt up to it despite having paid for it as part of the tour (should be optional/rescheduled?) The absolute downside was the “relax on the beach” final 3 nights. Hua Hin is a city, not a beach resort and although the hotel wall adjoins the beach it is not the sort of beach for relaxing on at the best of times. Whilst we were there (and according to hotel staff for the whole month) it was high tide during daylight hours so we couldn’t even walk along it, the water was right up to the wall all day. We made the best of it in the adjacent pool, surrounded by workmen and paint fumes as the pool bar etc is unfinished. We would thoroughly recommend the optional trip to the national park and absolutely stunning cave....you need to be quite fit to get up to it, but so worthwhile once there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the Death railway, museum and cemetery

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amy (Ae) was very funny, kept us all well entertained!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be careful how you pronounce Kwai....the way we traditionally pronounce it means something very different in Thai. It should be more like Kwhere than Kwhy, but if you want to give the locals a laugh, just carry on!
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Laura Jones

    Captivating Costa Rica

    This trip was varied so provided something for everyone. It was an easy trip - there is excellent infrastructure in Costa Rica, the standard of accommodation was good and the walking was not difficult.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Wildlife viewing by boat in Tortuguero Zip lining in Monteverde

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Antonio was extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic and organised. He provided an amazing amount of information about the flora and fauna of Costa Rica and his love of the country really shone through. He went above and beyond the call of duty by accompanying us on walks during free time and by always being on hand to answer questions. Antonio's english was exceptional.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When it rains it really rains so take a poncho - that way it covers you and your rucksack. It is difficult to dry things out once they get wet so consider taking some 'proper' trekking clothes that are quick dry material.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We thoroughly enjoyed this trip. There is regular moving about but lots of time to relax and take your time to see amazing animals and take in the atmosphere. The trip is very easy.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    steven elliot

    Cycle Kerala an Tropical India

    We loved this. India just hits you in the face - sights, smells,sounds,tastes. Exotic and spicy, just like a good curry. Cycling is such a great way of seeing a country and we traveled deep into rural areas where tourists don't go; we often felt like creatures from another planet and the locals seemed to agree judging by the number of selfies they took with us in them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many: Riding through Mysore in the rush hour - at the same time both exhilarating and bowel loosening. The ride up to Ooty even though we went through rain and mist and didn't see a thing. The ride the next day down through tea plantations and rain forest Walking round Guruvayoor at night during a Hindu festival and realizing we were the only foreigners. The welcome we received from Muslims on the day they celebrated the birth of the Prophet - sweets,food,ice cream,smiles. Sighting a tiger at Bandipur. The food - piled on weight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Safi was a star.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You do need to be confident of cycling in traffic. The route takes you through some busy towns/cities and along some highways. Indians allegedly drive on the left but the evidence for this is weak. Motor cycles seem to routinely travel on the hard shoulder in the wrong direction and tuk tuks and mopeds just do their own thing. Cars and lorries don't so much overtake each other as play chicken. The cycling is pretty easy - once you get to Kerala there is a near total absence of hills. The ride up to Ooty is an aberration - similar to but harder than Alpe d'Huez. The altitude of Ooty is over 7000 feet and we were very cold at the top because of the rain ( we were there at the time of a cyclone which caused flooding and loss of life in southern Kerala). Suggest you take full wet weather gear. Take hand gel and if you you expect a high level of toilet cleanliness then this is not the trip for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were a happy group and mixed well which has not always been our experience on Exodus trips. This sort of holiday is best suited to the sociable.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Julia Stevenson

    Manaslu Circuit

    This is a highly recommended adventure. The Manaslu Circuit is all it says it will be and much more. It is a truly spectacular, isolated circuit around the world's eighth highest mountain but weaves through sub-tropical settlements, before climbing into bamboo and rhododendron forest and ultimately, opens out into moraine, glacial lakes and majestic panoramic views of Manaslu, Naike, Peak 29 et al. If you like your treks remote and rugged, this is for you but don't leave it too long because the Manaslu circuit is already beginning to attract attention and in a few years may be as popular as its neighbour, the Annapurna Circuit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were far too many high points to pick out a single moment. Reaching a Tibetan style village for tea and for the first time, seeing the whole of Manaslu and neighbouring peaks before us. Rapidly escaping the chaotic urgency of a yak on a mission and then, from the safety of a wall, watching it break into a stone courtyard to raid the meal of other young life stock. Fleeing for a second time, as the yak was rudely evicted. Witnessing an elderly woman carefully light and attend to butter lamps in gloom of a monastery. Watching shooting stars from the lofty perch of the camp site at Dharamsala. Getting up at 3am for the climb over Larkya La. Stumbling along into freezing driving sleet, head torch carefully trained on the ankles of the the trekker in front of me, aware of the silent brooding peaks unseen in the darkness. The windy euphoria of reaching the long awaited summit prayer flags and the sublime views looking across and down. The glorious walk to the beautiful glacial Pongkar Lake. The unparalleled views walking down the valley to Burdin Khola.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Unlike others in the group, I had never been on a trek with Valerie Parkinson but found her to be extremely knowledgeable and very passionate about all things Nepali. As noted elsewhere, Valerie was the first British woman to climb Manaslu and has also reached the south summit of Everest. She was encouraged to talk about her experiences over a mug of tea post dinner one evening. This too, was a highlight.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do buy a Steripen. I too was sceptical and drank my first two litres of Steripened water with some trepidation but I survived. Don't eat the spaghetti in tomato (?) sauce at the lodge in Samdo. I did and for some days rather wished I hadn't.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was my third Himalayan trek and the one I have enjoyed the most. Thank you to my fellow trekkers for their humour, warmth and camaraderie but the biggest thanks goes to Exodus, Valerie and the boys for a well organised, very memorable adventure.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Andrea Redgers

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    Really interesting and varied trip, an excellent taste of many aspects of Japan.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The contrast between the charms of the ancient castles, gardens and shrines and the modern sky scrapers and bullet trains . The courtesy and warm welcome of Japanese people in all the hotels, restaurants and places we visited.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was an excellent group leader going above and beyond ensuring we enjoyed and got the most from our time in Japan. She made sure we could find the most interesting things to see and do in our free time and teaching us to negotiate the wonders of the subway independently as well as suggesting good places to eat and shop for all sorts things and an idea of how to fit into the Japanese way of doing things. She also gave us good basic understanding of how the places we visited and the things we saw fitted into the bigger picture of Japanese history and culture. She rearranged our trains after the Typhoon closed some lines to close and made sure we didn't miss any of our itinerary.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you want an overview of Japan and its varied and fascinating culture book this trip. Remember to check the weather forecast just before you go and pack with this in mind. We encountered Typhoon Lan and were really pleased to have waterproof trousers and tops, Japan is green country and it does rain.
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