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 September 2018
    Hannah Reese

    Fantastic week, thoroughly recommend

    An awe inspiring trip, with something for everyone, and covering all the key sights, sounds and tastes of Jordan. I knew I wanted to see Petra, but didn't really have any particular expectations of the rest of the tour, I was just curious to see the country. Everything was beyond my expectations, and our leader Eddie and the great group of fellow travellers really made the trip for me. This is my third Exodus trip, and they've all been very different, but equally good. We arrived into Amman late at night and were assisted through immigration and driven to our hotel. The hotel is clean and modern and very comfortable, although if you're at the back you might be woken by the call to prayer - a regular feature for the week! Day 1 was a walking tour around the ruins of Jerash which was really interesting, and then a dip in the Dead Sea and a swim in the pool above it. That evening several of us took taxis to Rainbow Street to find a restaurant for dinner (for the rest of the trip our leader Eddie took us to a different restaurant each night, also pointing out options for anyone who wanted something different). Day 2 and we left Amman with a long day of driving puntuated by stops at Mount Nebo, Arnun Valley (viewpoints and the Mujib Dam), Madaba, Kerak Castle, and finishing with dinner with a Bedouin family in their home, before checking into the hotel in Petra at around 10pm. Loo and snack stops were plenty, and between stops we were given all the info on the places we were going to see (plus jokes and stories!). Day 3 was a full day in Petra. The hotel is close to the entrance to the site, which was appreciated after a day of walking, but the rooms aren't as nice as the Amman hotel. Everything is fine, nothing major to complain about, the rooms could just do with some updating - particularly the bathrooms. In Petra we stuck together as group, walking down the Siq, seeing the big reveal of the Treasury and then along the valley. A couple of people opted not to walk the trail of 600 steps up to the viewpoint high over theTreasury, but it was well worth the climb if you have a decent level of fitness. There are two Bedouin tea tents on the way where you can take a much-needed break in the shade. That evening two of us took the option of the Turkish Bath just down the road before dinner (my tired legs appreciated the massage!), then Eddie took us all to a nearby restaurant. Day 4 was another full day in Petra, this time walking in the back way from the modern Bedouin town, and then walking around the 'nabatean neighbourhood' of cave houses. After a break for a drink, most of us set off on the climb up 850 steps through the rocks and hills to The Monastery. It was hard going in the heat, but there are rest stops on the way to buy water and snacks and plenty of amazing views to take in as you go. We ate our packed lunches in the cafe/rest stop opposite the Monastery, which is a surreal and amazing view. Having covered nearly 10 miles on each day in Petra (148 and 143 flights of stairs each day accodring to Fitbit) most people opted not to walk back in for Petra by Night, which has some very mixed reviews. Instead, after dinner a number of us headed to the Cave Bar near the visitor centre for cocktails. Day 5 and we had a lie in (there are a lot of early starts) and then left Petra, but not before exploring Little Petra and learning the history of the camel trains and the people who lived there. We stopped in town to buy lunch to eat on the bus, Eddie having pointed out the bakery, mini-markets and shawarma shop. We drove on to Wadi Rum, arriving late afternoon where we transferred to the camp in trucks/jeeps, left our luggage, went to the loo, and then set off on a 2 hour tour of the desert. The landscape is stunning and we had a great vantage point to watch the sunset before returning to camp for dinner. The tents are for two, so any single travellers are paired up with another of the same sex, as when the trip is full there aren't quite enough tents to go around. The tents are traditional woven structures with a flap across the entrance, single beds with a blanket and pillow, and a low wattage electric light from the ceiling. The loo block is a little way behing the tents and very clean, with two loos and a shower on each side. It was beautiful sitting under the stars after dinner, listening to a local musician playing traditional Bedouin music, before retiring for an early night. Day 6, and five of us had a very eary start with the optional camel ride at 5.45am. I can't recommend this enough - from the hilarity of trying to get on and stay on, to the beauty of the desert at dawn. After breakfast of omelettes back at camp, we transferred back to the bus by jeep and went to take a look at the Ottoman Railway from the time of Lawrence of Arabia -climbing aboard the steam train parked there. We then drove to Aqaba, where we had a short tour around the town by bus, stopped off for a Turkish coffee from a street vendor, and then arrived at the beach club by mid-morning. At the beach club there are several pools plus obviously a beach, all with loungers and umbrellas. You can rent snorkel gear to swim off the jetty which was fun, and you keep it for the day. Lunch was taken together with a buffet served by the main pool. After a packed itinerary to this point it was nice to just relax in the sun and the water. In the evening we checked into our hotel (fine, and has a small bar area for pre-dinner drink, but bathroom's need updating as flooding from the shower seemed to be common among all our rooms!). Eddie took us for a walk around the town including a spice stall, and the mosque, before we all went to a local fish restaurant for dinner. Day 7 and we left Aqaba to drive back up the length of the country to Amman. We stopped for photo opps overlooking the Dead Sea, to buy snacks for the journey, and to buy souvenirs at a bazaar. Arriving back in Amman early afternoon, we walked around the Roman Theatre and the Citadel before checking back into our original hotel (such comfy beds!) before heading out for a special farewell meal in a great restaurant with rooftop seating, The waiters were full of jokes and the food and atmosphere were great. Having said goodbye to our guide and driver back at the hotel, most of us then headed down the road to another hotel for a drink in the bar (most hotels, including ours, are dry). Day 8 and we transferred to the airport at 8am before flying home, with happy memories, tans, and some new friends.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say, but I think the first reveal of the Treasury in Petra, and the sense of achievement at having done the climbs to the high places and the views that you were rewarded with, would probably win out. The huge expanse of the desert at Wadi Rum, with the gorgeous sunset and sunrise and the clear stars, was just stunning. The simple relaxation of the beach day in Aqaba was also something I hadn't realised I needed until we were there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eddie was fantastic. He was obviously proud of his country and full of information about everything we were going to see, as well as the history of Jordan and there in general. He was always smiling and his sense of humour and his jokes and stories kept everyone entertained. As far as I could see, everything ran like clockwork and we never had to worry about anything while we were there.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do it! But seriously: In early September the weather was very hot, and hats and water bottles and lightweight clothing are a must. The two days Petra were the most energetic so be prepared for 7/8 hours out in the sun with a lot of stairs and walking, but there are plenty of places to have a drink or something to eat when you need a break. If you're afraid of heights (as I am) a couple of places can be a bit daunting, but I was able to do all the climbs so don't worry about it too much. Jordan was more expensive than I thought (I hadn't thought too much about it!) and lunch or dinner with a soft drink was typically 11-16 JOD ( £12-17) which adds up if you do the optional extras and also buy alchohol. Food is plentiful but if middle eastern cuisine isnt your thing, you'll probably be buying snacks! Breakfasts were the weakest meal with the hotel buffets being pretty limited. Be careful on the steps in the Roman Theatre in Amman. I was wearing my old faithful walking sandals and still slipped on the smooth limestone coming down and aquired some brilliant scrapes and bruises (thank you to Eddie for employing the first aid kit!). Clothing - I read lots of conflicting advice on what women travellers could wear. Having been there, I'd say if you're going when it's hot definitely take several pairs of loose/lightweight trousers, tshirts with capped sleeves, a large scarf you can wrap around you if you need to, and a long sleeved shirt you could throw on for modesty or protection from the sun - there isnt a lot of shade on this trip. When we went out for dinner I was aware of looks and stares, but nothing uncomfortable and we were generally made to feel very welcome everywhere we went. I think just be repsectful of where you are and you'll be fine.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Alan Fox

    A week in Jordan

    Excellent Trip - fulfilled all my expectations - our Guide Zuhair was superb.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    on our second day in Petra spending time chilling at the tea shack by the High Place of Sacrifice.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    our group leader was Zuhair - very friendly and approachable, a mine of information and a great style of telling us about places, people and history - selected restaurants all good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Petra is expensive - stock up on snacks at town before. Road Houses again are expensive - always barter. the 'Set meals' are fantastic - lots of mezze - but there is almost too much food so your could order off the menu if you do not want to put weight on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Could almost have done with more excursion time in Wadi Rum.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    susan proverbs

    a week in jordon

    full on trip which was very informative and interesting.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    all sites were good especially Petra, Little Petra and camping in Wadi Rum

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eddy was entertaining and engaging

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Lots of walking and climbing in Petra Campsite at Wadi Rum basic but a great experience
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Barbara O'Neill

    A week in Jordan

    An excellent trip, very full on but really interesting. Although the trip notes state that the trip is 'moderate' I would say it was more energetic than moderate. Lots of climbing and walking

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping in the Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    June is exceedingly hot, go in March/April/May to avoid the heat

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Jordan is an amazing country and well worth a visit. I felt very safe and welcome
  • Reviewed May 2018
    alan darling

    fine, does what it says on the tin

    An amazing experience, better than expected. The 2 days in Petra were fantastic and we saw everything.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just exploring Petra it is so vast.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    we had 2 leaders because ours could not take us because of personal reasons. Eddie our second leader was great, very knowledgeable and amusing and organised our trip brilliantly and dinners, a very important part of the holiday . Our first leader Hassan , had his own agenda, good with facts but did not help us with domestic issues.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In April take a range of clothing it is cold in the morning.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We did not have the best of experiences. Because we had 2 emergency leaders, our first one did not help us with where to have dinner in the evening, a very important part of the holiday and bonding with the group. He also took advantage of a new member and insisted that she collect the money for 3 events which included the guides tip ! He benefitted from this and also the payment to Petra by candle light, charging us a fee for buying the tickets which was the handed over to a MEMBER OF THE GROUP TO COLLECT and put her in a very stressful situation being in charge of the event. DO NOT ASK HIM AGAIN !!!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    julia gibson

    a week in Jordan - much more than Petra

    This is a full on trip but we covered so much. It's probably only now that I am home that I can really appreciate it all. Issa our guide was really knowledgeable and did his best to make sure we all got the best out of the trip. Mohammed, our own personal armed escort, was also a great addition to the trip although a little unnerving at first. Long travelling days were broken up by lots of stops and toilets and water were never far away. We carried our water with us on the coach in the form of two massive plastic containers so we could always top up. The weather was perfect for exploration, sunny but not too hot for Petra although Aqaba was pretty hot. Food was reasonable although a little predictable by the end of the trip. The sheer scale of Petra can only be experienced by being there and having the second day to explore at one's leisure was great. The beauty of the desert landscape in Wadi Rum took me by surprise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the treasury emerge between a gap in the rocks then discovering its magnificence in full, and the sheer beauty and tranquility of the night time in the desert were my highlights.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was very knowledgeable and keen to share it with us. At times it was a bit of a route march to keep up with him, the emphasis was for you to stay with him rather than him to check on us - which led to two of us misplacing the group at one stage!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you do dress appropriately, it is a strict muslim country and although we were told they are tolerant of visitors we felt more comfortable if covered up to a reasonable degree ( below the knee skirts/shorts and shoulders covered). Alcohol is not freely available, the cave bar at Petra saw a lot of our custom! There are a lot of steps at Petra but most places can be reached by donkey or horse, not just the monastery if you find this tough, you do need a reasonable level of fitness however.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    As with most Exodus trips it was really well organised and despite what was happening across the border in Syria we felt safe at all times. Every day brought new discoveries and wonders. This was an amazing experience I encountered by accident but am so glad I went.
  • Reviewed April 2018

    A Week in Petra

    A great week with a great bunch of people This was the trip just as I expected it - Petra being the highlight, but Wadi Rum coming a close second. Or maybe Jerash? Mount Nebo? Two disappointments - firstly Madaba where we rushed through the town to see only the Ma’daba Map (well worth it) because we had stopped off at a ceramic centre for adults with learning difficulties which turned out to be a large shop with less than half of the items being ceramics and the rest the usual ‘stuff’ you could find everywhere but here the assistants were very pushy. Secondly, Aquaba where, because we couldn’t get into our rooms, we went straight to the private beach for snorkelling, swimming etc. which is supposed to be an additional option but we were told to pay the JD20, with no options. A bit annoying as many of our group were not interested in sunbathing and swimming on a private beach overlooking Palestine on the other side of the Red Sea.a -

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inevitably, the two days in Petra, particularly starting early on the second morning (7am), walking through the Siq and reaching the Treasury almost on our own.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Isaa was very helpful, a little earnest to begin with but loosening up by the end. He imparted an enormous amount of information, perhaps too much so! I would have preferred if we had not had to go around as a group at each site. This was particularly annoying at Kerak where we, and other large groups, prevented easy movement of couples or small family groups. Our driver, Jamal, was an amazing driver with a big friendly smile at all times. However much of a character Mohammed was, it was a bit disconcerting having a gun-totting policeman walking around with the group!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do make the effort to make the early start on day 2 at Petra. Do have a torch and wet wipes for the camp - it gets dark very early and the loo block, where you won’t want to spend too long, is a bit of a walk away! Do make sure you not only have your swimming costumes but also your water shoes for the private beach at Aquaba - the sand is far more uncomfortable here than at the Dead Sea.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you plan to spend an additional day in Amman, before or at the end of the tour, be aware that we get an awful lot done in the last afternoon namely the Jordan Museum (Dead Sea Scrolls), the Roman theatre plus 2 little museums, the Citadel, a rush through the downtown market and lunch at Hashem’s. We found Darat-al-funun (Little House of the Arts) just north of Downtown - it’s a very small art centre with peaceful, shady terraces where you can have iced coffees, smoothies etc and walk through the gardens to the ruins of a Byzantine church. You could also have a more leisurely walk around the market, stopping to buy figs, dates or some of the wonderful selection of nuts! From there walk to Rainbow Street (do ask for directions, Jordanians are very kind and will try very hard to help). Have lunch at [email protected] which is in a street off Rainbow Street, near the bottom. It has a lovely terrace cafe and despite its name, we were the only tourists!(apparently very lively at night). There’s nothing too special about Rainbow Street by day, but the gift shops offer you the chance to buy better souvenirs without the pressure of the sales staff you get at the regular stops during the trip. If this is your first Exodus trip be aware that there is no such thing as a lie-in! However, it is a wonderful chance to find out about this wonderful country - you’ll love it!
  • Reviewed April 2018
    J John

    Comprehensive

    The guide was informative and well organised. We visited all the key sites in the week and had time to explore. Not a lot of time to relax, but the emphasis was on visiting the sites of special interest. There were two afternoons with opportunities to sit, by the Dead and Red Seas.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Petra and Jerash. Both places were huge and had so much to explore. The time available was insufficient to familiarise oneself with the area properly.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was polite, efficient and friendly. He knew the areas well and how to get the most out of the time available. He also organised a couple of unscheduled treats for us - a picnic and an evening meal under the stars.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t be surprised by early starts and having to keep to a schedule. A rucksack or light handbag is essential for day time use.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Megan Benton

    An excellent tour of a fascinating country

    We had a wonderful week in Jordan. The country has so much to offer in terms of history, geography, geology, natural environment, culture and food, not to mention sunshine. The tour was well designed, generally giving enough time for us to enjoy each part of the tour, and the logistics were very good - meals, accommodation, transport, tickets, etc. were well organised. The food was excellent!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk to the high place above Petra was amazing not just for the view from the top, but also for the beautiful and strange rock formations and colours all along the way and the surprises - tombs, views, etc. - around every corner. (Also, there were not many souvenir shops along the route, compared to along the Monastry walk.) The sunset and sunrise at Wadi Rum were also really special.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader, Samer, was outstanding. One of us has done six or so similar group-based tours with this company and others, and Samer is the best guide he's had. His English is excellent, his knowledge of his country is deep and broad, and his friendly, unflappable disposition was much appreciated. The two coach drivers were also excellent, considering some of the awkward manoeuvres needed at times!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would advise potential travellers to go to Jordan! Also, I would advise them to start to get to know others on the tour sooner rather than later - we really enjoyed our companions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We would have liked to see more of Wadi Rum. We had some time in the morning at Wadi Rum to explore the desert a little on foot, but we would have liked to see more of the area by 4x4. Little Petra was interesting, but we would have preferred more time in Wadi Rum instead.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Anthony Chewter

    A week in Jordan

    What a wonderful country, full of Eastern promise. The people were lovely and did not annoy us as we passed so many little shops. The country was clean and the hotels of a very good standard, a little bit more expensive then we first though it was going to be, but it is a fairly rich country so prices are on the higher side. The Dead sea, Mount Nebo, Wadi Rum, Aqaba were all fabulous but Petra was something else, amazing place and so much bigger than we thought it was going to be. Brilliant week and made even nicer by the fact we had 16 companions from 4 different countries, no smokers no moaners just wonderfully friendly people who were there to enjoy this amazing country. Thanks to all of you.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Petra, truly a wonder of the world

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Somer new his bible and history to the point it was sometimes way over my head, but he always made it sound interesting, truly a gentleman.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take more money than you initially think of.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    GO,GO,GO
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