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 May 2018
    dom Maxted

    Great walking holiday

    Really enjoyed this trip. Many activities, so many that I had to have a day off. Saw bears. Lots.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Bears. Bran Castle. Walking around mountain top in the fog.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was great. Gave a really interesting talk about Romania. Could maybe slightly improve navigation skills.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a compass.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Villa Hermani was lovely. Food excellent.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Cynthia Konkin

    Carpathian Walking and Bears

    This was a great trip with lots of gentle hiking in incredible scenery. The guesthouse is amazing with great food, beautiful views and a wonderful passionate owner who also accompanied us on some excursions. Magura is a beautiful, remote, rural and peaceful village. It is like going back in time. Go now before things change!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the mountain scenery and of course, viewing the brown bears from a cache in the woods.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was knowledgeable and efficient but sometimes seemed not very enthused or maybe distracted and quiet. Katharina who owns the guesthouse was absolutely passionate and spent a lot of time telling us about the area, the wildlife, the history and life in Magura. She also went to the bear sanctuary with us and took us bird watching.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The elevation gains on the hikes were generally very gradual. We worried about some of them but really didn't need to. It is an extremely peaceful place but, there are dogs that do bark at night sometimes so you might want earplugs if that is going to bother you. Go soon. This is a magical place that is bound to change eventually.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Guy Dixon

    Carpathian capers

    Great accommodation, good food and excellent group leader. Unique combination of outstanding scenery, history, flora and fauna. Interesting insight into a charming and often overlooked part of Eastern Europe. Definitely worth doing if you're looking for something a bit different.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking up on the bucegi, the long local walk on day three, Brasov, everything on the final day, Thomas, and hanging out drinking beer at the lovely guest house.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I'd skip the optional trip to the bear hide - too far, too bumpy for an evening trip.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Angela HORTON

    Carpathian Walking & Bears

    A wonderful holiday based in the beautiful, remote, rural village of Magura. The village is accessed via a long, winding unmade road so get used to a bumpy ride. If you get out of the van immediately after you leave the tarmac it will take approximately 45 - 50 minutes to walk up hill to Villa Hermani through the woods - follow the bright pink paint splodges on rocks or trees. Transylvania is like stepping back in time, where local people still travel via horse and cart and cut hay with scythes, although they will be on their mobiles as mobile signals, 3 & 4G and WiFi are readily available. Romania is home to many European brown bears and seeing them from a hide in the forest was one of the highlights of our trip. In addition to the walking there is a visit to Bran Castle which was given to Queen Maria of Romania in 1918, and to the delightful city of Brasov.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many inspirational moments so I will list them in no particular order: Viewing the bears in their natural environment from the bear hide Watching the bats in the bat cave The 12 mile walk along the gorge and through meadows Visiting Libearty, the bear sanctuary Seeing red squirrels in the woodlands The stunning scenery

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Traian was very relaxed and friendly and was keen that all our needs were met. He briefed us on the following day's activities after our evening meals. Traian was extremely knowledgeable about his country's geography, history and politics and he was keen to share his knowledge with us. Before dinner one evening he gave an informal lecture which was really interesting due to the content and Traian's delivery. Traian's passion about his county's future is apparent and we felt we came home much more aware of issues that the people of Romania are experiencing. Traian also leads 'Highlights of Romania' and I believe we gained from the information that is given on that trip. Whilst he had a rather casual approach to walking he didn't get us lost and he let us lengthen walks whilst others continued in the vehicle which we appreciated.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't change your money at the airport as the exchange rate is very poor 4.1 Lei to the £ compared to 4.95 to the £ in Brasov. The restaurants in towns accept credit cards and Villa Hermani accepts local currency, sterling, US dollars & Australian dollars but not credit cards. Your bill for the bear hide trip , beer, wine, tea and coffee is settled on the Friday evening before you leave. If you are used to walking regularly the walking is extremely leisurely, however if you are unfit, over weight or don't like hills then you will find the walking more challenging. We were somewhat disappointed with the amount of walking but enjoyed the long walk and every other aspect of the holiday. Villa Hermani provides a hairdryer which is perfectly adequate but not as powerful as at home. Walking poles are available to borrow from Villa Hermani If you are travelling with Tarom Airlines they do provide you with a complimentary hot meal and a glass of wine or beer, tea or coffee on the flight. We were also given a tasty sandwich on the transfer bus as we did not arrive at Villa Hermani until shortly after midnight.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Villa Hermani is a very comfortable place to stay and the family run business is keen for everyone to have a good time. (see my tripadvisor review for additional information) The food is plentiful and varied and even the fussiest eater should not go hungry. I was particularly impressed with the vegetarian food on offer as it was very varied and tasty. The Villa Hermani operates a very successful and great value for money honesty bar. You take what you want from a large fridge then write your name on the sheet provided and put a tick by the items you have had. At the end of the week you are given the total and asked to pay in cash. This also applies to payment for tea and coffee (other than at breakfast when it is included) the WiFi and for the trip to the bear hide.
  • Reviewed August 2017
    Neil Thomas

    Bears Essential

    I had not realised before arriving in Magura just how remote, rural and remarkably beautiful Romania could be. The village where we were based is accessibly only via a long, winding unmade road... so get used to leaving modern life behind. In this part of the world people still travel via horse and cart and cut hay with scythes. It was like stepping back into Tudor times. Fortunately, this also means that Europe's largest group of wild brown bears are still able to thrive and going to see them from a hide in the forest was one of the highlights of our trip. There is also plenty of opportunity for hiking, with walks of varying severity on all but one day of the holiday. The views are spectacular - in some parts resembling Switzerland or Austria, in others California and the Rockies. We also took in trips to Bran Castle - to which the Dracula legend has been eagerly attached - and to the delightful city of Brasov.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing four bears from our hide in the woods.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thomas was very energetic, very knowledgeable with - for a German - a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the Trip Notes carefully. There is no opportunity to change money for the first few days, so either take some Lei with you or spend some time in Bucharest first - as we did. I would also recommend taking walking poles.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip to the bat cave on our first day was a bit naff, although it did give me the chance to make jokes involving Robin. The food on the trip was plentiful and very tasty and our one evening meal away from Villa Hermani - in Predeal - was sensational. If there is one thing I have to suggest to Exodus it would be to dispense with the "meal" on the bus the first evening. This consisted of a fairly indigestible pre-packed sandwich at a time when no-one felt particularly hungry. I would also suggest that the cost of the trip to the bear hide be included in the price of the holiday. Who, after all, is going to refuse the chance to go on this excursion?
  • Reviewed August 2017

    Carpathian Walking and Bears

    A most excellent holiday led by Thomas, who was an knowledgeable guide, and who adjusted the walks according to the group ability and the temperature which was in the mid 30s Centigrade. Walking in such temperatures and at such altitudes can be challenging. Thank goodness for fresh water springs on the hillsides! The guesthouse was well appointed and the food was excellent. An honesty bar came in for much use when we returned from our travels! The major criticism arose when we came to settle our bills at the end of the week as the guesthouse did not take credit cards. This MUST be added to the travellers advice as there is no access to cash machines without a long drive. We only just managed to cobble together enough money by adding £ sterling, Lei and a few dollars which we had fortunately carried.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing bears in the wild

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Knowledgeable and efficient

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of cash - no cash machines anywhere near the guesthouse.
  • Reviewed July 2017
    Marie Maciver

    Carpathian Walking and Bears

    A thoroughly enjoyable trip with good company and excellent guides - Tomas from Exodus, Janina and Catarina from Villa Hermani. Most days were walking - at variable heights and distances but one day was given over to history/culture of the area. A good balance.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the bears! There were 2 opportunities - an evening in the hide and a visit to the Sanctuary to see the 'rescued' animals. No- one could fail to be moved by the stories of these bears.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas was a very good guide. His knowledge of the area history and wildlife had obviously been well researched.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't bother taking much lei ( local currency) - Euros are acceptable in most places. Added to which, there isn't too much to actually buy. The extras at Villa Hermani are extremely reasonable. Make sure you take extra footwear - we got very wet one day and although there is a 'warm room' , boots will not necessarily dry overnight.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Villa Hermani is a terrific place to stay. My room - a single was very comfortable - plenty big enough ,with a balcony, en suite and lots of hot water. Needless to say, immaculate. The food was excellent - no choice but well cooked and plentiful. Breakfast was large with a good choice in the morning and for preparing packed lunch. Book early if you want a single - there were not many available. This is quite a demanding trip but well worth doing. A former reviewer noted that some of the days' activities ended quite early but I found that this was a good chance to rest, shower and compare notes with other members of the party.
  • Reviewed May 2017
    Peter Sumpter

    A largely positive, interesting and varied trip, despite four seasons is a week

    The walking was good, but maybe it was the varied other experiences and activities that made the trip more special. The visits to Bran Castle, the fortified church, the local "bar", Brasov. And of course the wildlife - the bears and the fire salamanders. Most exceeded expectations. The dip in the weather meant what were probably going to be the best hikes were not possible. I feel that some re-arranging of the itinerary might have benefitted us. Lovely and varied scenery, though. The guesthouse as a base was great, and we were well looked after. Hikes straight from the door are always a plus. As is unpacking and packing just once.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was the overall variety for me, therefore hard to pull out one inspirational moment. And so I won't.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Overall he was good and I thank him for one particular action (enough said!). Probably could have added a little more to what I got out of the trip, especially in terms of understanding the history of the country and its people.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    While graded an activity level of 2, remember that this is in mountains with 20km covered one day. Inevitably the group travels at the speed of the slowest. You'll be pretty unlucky not to see bears - wild they are, but also fed so the viewing from the hide is very likely to happen, and to be quite enthralling. The binocs are a real plus here.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Probably worth adding that the Romanian people are certainly friendly / welcoming. The schnapps should be sampled (or the cherry brandy version if something sweeter is preferred). Stating the obvious, the people on the trip really do help to make it. And this tour was a good bunch. The bat cave wasn't a stand-out moment for me, but maybe at times it's rather more populated (with bats, rather than people).
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Suzanne Anderson

    Carpathian Bears review

    A superb trip with a great hotel, lovely staff and a fabulous tour guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My favourite part really was seeing the bears it was truly magical, cute and cuddly. The heart did pound a little as we walked to the bear hide but knowing they are more scared of you than you are of them helped a lot. We saw many bears over 10 in fact including a mum with her two cubs, truly amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Udi our group leader was fabulous, he was very knowledgeable and insightful with all that he shared. I particularly loved that he knew so much about all the flowers and birds it really added something to the trip for me.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you get travel sick at all then take travel calm tablets with you. There's not much travel involved but if you suffer its really helpful to take them, once I did I didn't suffer at all. I travelled with KLM via Amsterdam from Leeds and they lost the luggage on the way out so make sure you have flights that allow at least 2 hours transfer otherwise they will struggle to transfer your bags for you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Romania is a beautiful Country with so much to offer, I'd highly recommend this trip to anyone who likes to walk and see nature at its best. simply wonderful!
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Gemma Reid

    Carpathian walking and bears

    One of the best holidays we've been on, beautiful scenery, lovely walks, good food and company.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was a privilege to see the bears, and we loved Brasov, but really just the valley we were in and the walks we went on were the best bits. And the horse and cart ride!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Udo was an informative and entertaining guide. What this man doesn't know about flora and fauna isn't worth knowing!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We found walking poles very useful, but there were plenty to borrow if you don't have your own. The walking is rated correctly in my opinion, the most challenging day had an option of a shorter walk anyway. Be prepared for the fact that dogs live outside in this area and it's pretty noisy at night, ear plugs might be useful!
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