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 December 2017
    M B

    AAA - Patagonian Highlights

    Saw a lot of Argentina and Chilean Patagonia . Trip Notes accurately reflected the activity days, the two long walks are challenging and taking trekking poles is a must ( if you normally use them ) . The end couple KMs of both walks are steep uphills so may be a bit harder for some. However you can turn back / drop out of the final section if you wish .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No one moment comes to mind.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier Espil is passionate and friendly . He gave detailed information at all times but left us to make our own decisions with that info. i.e. suggested places to eat , when to change money , restaurant pricing and food selection .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that ATMs are very temperamental with UK chip & Pin cards. sometimes they work , mostly they dont . This might be obvious at start of transaction or you might get taken all through security , down to cash amount selection and then a message appears saying transaction disallowed. Everyone in group ( British cards ) had issues in several locations. Only Bank of Patagonia in El Calafte and Ushuaia allowed cash withdrawals without any issue whatsoever . There is only 1 ATM in El Chalten , at tourist office and it spent most of its time out of service / rejecting cards ( British / French / Australian ) . Current - Nov 2017 - restaurant exchange rate was 17 or 18 Argentine dollars to USD. So you could pay for things in USD cash at that unofficial exchange rate and receive any change in Argentine money . Some restaurants do not take USD in denominations below 20 USD and apparently high denomination notes 50 USD / 100 USD are the preferred denomination when changing money at bank / exchange office.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Apparently Xavier is a fan of Colmans mustard , so if you have bit of luggage space spare I am sure a jar would be appreciated ! Be aware for internal Argentina flights hold luggage is 15KG and this is enforced . Its worth double checking on web site of Aerolineas Argentina , but dont get caught out having to pay excess luggage fees - they are not cheap .
  • Reviewed November 2017
    John Taylor

    Patagonia at its best

    This was a great non-stop trip with Xavier, who was a wonderful guide. The trip exceeded our expectations because of Xavier’s in depth knowledge.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mountain days, the included glacier visit and the guided walk in Tierra del Fuego were all equally inspiring, and the tango show made a great finale.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was the best tour guide we have been on holiday with. He was permanently cheerful, enthusiastic, responsive to the whole group’s and individual needs and great fun to be with. Xavier also had excellent relationships with the local guides, who were all equally enthusiastic about their specialisms.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    These are the things which are described very accurately in the trip notes. We did experience four seasons in a day: snow, sun, torrential rain, high winds, calm etc, so you need lots of adaptable clothing and waterproofs. The two day walks and the additional day walk the group did were long with step sections over rocky paths (all the walks were 20km long). The travel days by bus were very long. Everything on the whole trip, except wine, was on a par with London prices (this is not a cheap destination). Add about 10% to the guide prices given in the trip notes. You can complete the trip with dollars, with no problems then with non-functioning ATMs or restaurants which won’t take credit cards. The downside of this means travelling with large amounts of cash. (There is no need to take Chilean pesos.) We travelled out a day earlier to enjoy Buenos Aires; we wished we had taken two extra days because there is so much to do in Buenos Aires.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Remember that this is South America. You need a patient and relaxed attitude to everything to enjoy this holiday.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Robert Atkinson

    Wonderful highlights of this beautiful area

    I booked this trip as a land only holiday as part of a wider trip to Chile and Argentina I was undertaking. I'm so glad that I did ensuring I could enjoy the key parts of the National Parks of Argentina along with the excellent logistics of being part of an organised group with a top notch tour leader. It exceeded my expectations. Well done Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the most inspiring part of the trip was the two full day walks we did at Mt Fitzroy and Torres del Paine. Despite not having clear weather conditions, we were able to make challenging ascents and to enjoy the key 'money shot' views of each iconic natural landmark just as the clouds broke. With the sun shining through each was revealed just at the right time making the efforts to hike up really worth it. hard work on the feet and knees but so rewarding.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Xavi. An Argentinian who was proud of his country, really knowledgeable, friendly and wanting so much to ensure we all had a great time and got as much out of our trip as we could. He was able to share the history and social context of places we visited as much as the geographical and natural world that we were experiencing. Very honest on how things would be each day, which additional tours were worth the money in the relevant weather conditions and with a superb sense of humour that was really endearing. One of the best group leaders I have ever come across. On our first day in Patagonia, he welcomed us with preparing the mate for all os us to taste and share. To do this may be part of showing us Argentina, however in his culture its an honour to be offered and to receive the mate cup. Lovely gesture. Xavi also had to deal with an individual in the group who was disruptive in their comments and attitude at many times. Despite this challenge he was professional at all times, ensuring that he balanced the needs of all and preventing the nonsense of one person from affecting the enjoyment of the holiday for the others. Thats quite a skill and he did it wonderfully.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are considering this trip I would; Ensure you are fit and capable of the two long days walks and consider taking walking sticks to assist you. Pack plasters for walking blisters Keep your packing light as the internal flights only have 15kg checked baggage limits. However excess baggage rates are really reasonable. Extend your trip at the beginning or end by an extra two days minimum to make the most of Buenos Aires
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Mike Whitton

    Even better than expected!

    A wonderful mix of mountains, lakes, glaciers, wildlife, vast landscapes, huge steaks and friendly people. This was the fulfilment of a long-held dream, made very special by our brilliant guide, Xavier. The climbs to Fitzroy and to the Torres del Paine are fairly demanding, but well within the capacity of anyone experienced with walking in the Lake District or Snowdonia. Regrets? If only we could have stayed longer in El Chalten and Torres del Paine - but this is a 'highlights' trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many! Sunrise on Fitzroy; walking on the Viedma Glacier (don't be put off by warnings of a difficult approach- it's very well supervised and very well worth doing); the 'wild frontier' feel of El Chalten; the remoteness of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel...... Pretty much the whole trip is inspirational. And we were so lucky with the weather.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant. Xavier is informative, funny, hard-working and attentive. Excellent inter-personal skills.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some details in the trip notes are awry: The optional boat trip from El Calafate to see icebergs and glaciers does not include a visit to the Perito Moreno glacier. There is an over-emphasis on taking dollars - we could have paid for pretty much all of it in pesos. The dollar costs of options are rather out-of-date - they cost quite a bit more. On reading previous reviews it's clear that some travellers need to take on board that this trip does involve two long walking days that cover rough, steep terrain - be prepared!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We discovered that there were fixed tent sites near the refugio in Torres del Paine N.P. We wonder if there could be a camping option, as communal 'sleeping' in small rooms can be difficult and uncomfortable.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    Kate Harvey

    Patagonian Highlights

    An excellent trip with the opportunity to gain a real perspective of the scale of Patagonia. This trip offers a diverse range of environments from Buenos Aires to the Steppe to the mountains and Peaks of Torres deal Paine. There is a lot of overland travel but this is all part of the experience. The food and accommodation were superb.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved seeing icebergs calving off the Perito Merino glacier and hiking in the very windy Torres del Paine to see the Granite towers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was outstanding. Highly knowledgable of both Argentina and Chile. He had a great sense of humour and was very willing to accomdate the different interests of the group.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take mostly Argentine Pesos, some US dollars and some Chilean Pesos. Additional trips can be paid for in dollars. Food is more expensive than at home so you will need a reasonable amount of spending money.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Might be worth flying direct. Air Europa were appalling and very rude. I don't tend to complain about things but I did on this occasion. Make sure you take a bottle of water on the long flight to Buenos Aires as they only served two drinks on the whole flight!
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Grant Corrigan

    Patagonian Highlights

    Our first group holiday! A fantastic experience, well organised by our guide, Xavier. From the initial group meeting at the hotel in Buenos Aires till the final day, the trip well planned. Yes, there were some long travel days and the major treks were challenging but the Trip Notes reflected things accurately. The scenery was fantastic and this was matched by the sense of achievement felt on completion of the long treks (well maybe the day after!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the sunrise on Mount Fitzroy.........or maybe hearing the thunderous cracks of the ice at Perito Moreno glacier. Very difficult to pick a single highlight.SFYUp

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great, Xavier was laid back but hit all the right spots, keeping the group working well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pay attention to the Trip Notes and don't underestimate what you are taking on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was a privilege to take part in this trip, absolutely jaw-dropping at times
  • Reviewed December 2016
    Laura Jones

    Patagonian Highlights

    Beautiful scenery, friendly locals and lovely food! The walking was challenging (and we don't think the trip notes really described what we were letting ourselves in for) but well worth it for the views and the sense of achievement at completing the walks. We had an amazing trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the base of the Torres del Paine. Seeing (and hearing) ice calve from the Perito Moreno Glacier.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was great. He had a really good sense of humour and was calm and relaxed whilst being incredibly organised. We felt we were in very safe hands.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely take lots of layers that you can easily carry in your backpack (including a thin waterproof jacket). Walking poles are really helpful for the steep downhill sections on the two major hikes. We had really good weather for both the walks (base of Mount Fitzroy and Torres del Paine) but you should be aware that if it rains heavily then both the walks would be very difficult and/or too dangerous to attempt. The Viedma Glacier has receded significantly in the last three months and we got the distinct impression that it was felt by the local guides that reaching the glacier (in order to be able to walk on it) was no longer safe. This optional excursion may therefore be unavailable or inadvisable. We decided not to do it as we felt it probably was not without risk. The cost of the optional excursions is increasing all the time so take plenty of US dollars. There is no need to change US dollars for Chilean pesos as the three days in Chile have lots of included meals and most places take US dollars anyway. Take blister plasters as they cannot be bought in Argentina or Chile. The guides will be really grateful if you donate any left- over plasters when you leave as they think they are great and cannot buy them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We thoroughly enjoyed this holiday and would definitely recommend it - we had an amazing time. However, we are not walkers/trekkers and we were a bit surprised at the physicality and technical difficulty of both the walks. We had not appreciated that from the trip notes. Perhaps the trip notes could spell it out a little more clearly that both walks have very steep sections with big boulders and/or loose shale which are likely to be a challenge for most and definitely will be a new and challenging experience for those of us who are not experienced trekkers. Xavier (and Edmundo the local guide in Chile) were so amazingly good at their jobs and experienced that we did not doubt that we would make the trek safely but we really were shattered!
  • Reviewed December 2016
    June Egglestone

    Great Patagonian Adventure

    Fantastic scenery. Both the included walks were quite hard, but you can go at a slow pace, and the view at the top was worth it. Travelling to the end of the continent was a highlight too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Perito Moreno glacier is just so impressive, especially the noise when a bit breaks off. Do the optional boat trip (wrap up!).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was an excellent group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Not all the hotels have hairdryers, so if that is important to you, bring your own. Bring walking poles for the two walks. I enjoyed the Todos Glaciares boat trip from El Calafate, a restful way to see 2 more glaciers, and floating ice. In Ushuaia it's worth doing the longer boat trip to see the penguins, the catamaran actually "parks" on the beach (you dont get off ) - you can see the penguins fairly close up. Even though there were some long bus days - especially to get to Ushuaia, I didnt find them too arduous, and we had regular stops along the way. Just make sure you have a few good books to read, and I used a neck pillow too for the odd kip. Do bring wine/beer to the refuge, it will save you loads.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend this trip, and give yourself some extra days in Buenos Aires if you can take the extra time off. Argentina is quite expensive, and prices for the optional trips are going up all the time, so budget for more money rather than less.
  • Reviewed April 2016
    Harriet Hancock

    Out of this world!

    This really was an amazing trip from start to finish! The itinerary is so well planned out and although there are longer journeys, it is all worth it for the amount of beautiful places that you visit and the ground that you cover in 2 weeks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I cannot pin point this to only 1 moment. Both of the walks to Mt Fitzroy and Towers of Paine were truly incredible. They are not easy but they are worth every single step as you are constantly surrounded by breath taking scenery! Also our visit to the Moreno Glacier was brilliant and we were lucky to see giant parts of the glacier falling into the water. The thunderous sounds were so impressive.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was a brilliant tour leader all the way through. Not only was he extremely passionate and knowledgeable he was also a lot of fun and kept us laughing throughout. Even on the long bus journeys he kept us smiling! He was also spot on with recommending the best wine to go with our dinner.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The walks are not easy so I would really recommend making sure you have a good level of fitness before you travel. The first walk to Mt Fitzroy is a full days walk and is 21 kms and the walk in Torres Del Paine is 18 kms. There is quite a steep climb to reach both viewing points for about an hour or so but there is no rush and everyone went at their own pace. I recommend coming prepared with some entertainment for the long journeys. Although if you finish your book like I did the scenery you drive through never gets boring! If you like wine in the evening I recommend buying some in Argentina before you travel to the refuges in Torres Del Paine as it is really expensive there.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This really is a wonderful trip with incredible scenery and delicious food! I don't think I will ever taste steak like that again.
  • Reviewed February 2016
    Odile Thompson

    Patagonian highlights

    A wonderful trip I would definitely recommend if you like barren landscape, mountains and glaciers. The itinerary was well thought out and even though there were long stretches travelling on the mini bus, this allowed for a great overview of Patagonia.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Fitzroy Massif and Moreno glacier were stunning. Having said that I also enjoyed the varied scenery in general which varied from mountainous to barren wind swept plains. The wildlife was very exciting especially spotting the condors and the full day boat trip in Ushuaia was worth it for seeing the penguins and sea lions. The food in restaurants throughout the trip was excellent not mentioning the wonderful Argentinian wine.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Xavier was fantastic, friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. He did a really good job suggesting and booking restaurants for the group to eat out in the evening although it was left to individuals whether to join in or not. He introduced us to 'mate' a herbal tea drunk from a special 'cup' with a metal straw which is shared amongst friends which we often had on our bus journeys.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although I am an experienced walker, walking each year in the Swiss Alps on challenging paths, I found the treks quite hard. This was not because the treks were difficult but more due to the pace set by the fitter and faster walkers. Xavier was very good though walking at the back of the pack and there was always the possibility of turning back at certain points for those wishing to stop.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All the accomodation was good even the basic hotels and refugio. The places were all very clean and comfortable.
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