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 April 2018
    Gareth Grimshaw

    Excellent trip!

    Chile is such a beautiful country. It has a very varied landscape from deserts to lakes to glaciers.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved the flamingo lakes. I felt I was on another planet and could have stayed there all day.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jaime Maynard was superb. I think everyone loved him. He was knowledgable, friendly, laid back and had a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Definitely pack for all weathers. We experienced temperatures from near freezing right up to 30 degrees.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take your binoculars. I forgot and regretted it.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Susie Marchant

    Not Relaxing but Packs a Lot in!

    A very busy schedule which can leave you exhausted at times but is essential due to the length and geographical constraints of this stunningly beautiful and varied country. The Atacama was amazing with its unspoiled panoramas of deep blue lagoons set against snow-capped volcanos with vicunas grazing undisturbed, and the elegant movements of the flamingos as they seem to do a dance as they fish at the Chaxa lagoons, unperturbed by onlookers. There is so much wildlife to observe and nowhere ever seems crowded. The varieties of tree species and fauna are fascinating too The National Parks are really well maintained and unspoilt. The weather in Patagonia can be quite wet and windy so be prepared but when the clouds part to reveal the granite towers of Torres de Paine it will take your breath away

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me the Atacama had so many aspects to it - from the full moon rising at sunset next to the snowy peak of the Lincancabur volcano set ablaze with colours of the setting sun, to the extraordinary sight of the steamy Tatio geysers in the freezing cold of sunrise, followed by a dip in the thermal springs to complete the experience The silent beauty of the salt lagoons - stunning!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gaynor was outstanding - really organised but very calm. Her knowledge and passion for her country seemed limitless so I think we all came away with a greater appreciation of life in Chile. Gaynor was warm and compassionate, always with a smile - and had a laugh I shall never forget! Her timing was good so we managed to fit in a couple of extra walks. She really enhanced the enjoyment of the trip and was always willing to answer our many questions. A lovely person.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Would recommend taking a direct flight to Santiago Buy Pesos for your trip in the UK - don't bother with USD they are a nuisance to change and the rate is not good. Zodiac trip can be paid in local currency or on credit card Take waterproof walking shoes and poles if you like them for inclines like the Osorno Volcano walk. trainers are not adequate. Patagonia can be very wet and slippery under foot I took a travel kettle as I like to make hot drinks in the room - no hotel offers kettle in room.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do go to Chile - it is not over run by tourists. Even the busy attractions were sparsely attended It is so beautiful Try and speak a little Spanish The food was a little disappointing - I did get bored of having to make a cheese sandwich at breakfast to take for lunch on the road. Maybe I didn't experience the best restaurants but food was a bit overcooked and dry and lacking flavour, for my taste. Some lovely soups though
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Linda Parkin

    An amazing trip

    A lovely trip which includes a very varied itinerary. You get to see different areas of Chile, from the desert , city life, lakes and mountains all with amazing scenery. Seeing the sun rise through the steaming geysers in the Atacama desert and the frozen glaciers in Patagonia were my highlights. There is a lot of travelling with internal flights but how else would you get to see all the different areas. Gaynor our guide was excellent, well organised, calm and caring , every day was a new adventure and she was always happy and smiling. A really lovely trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the sun rise through the steaming geysers in the Atacama Desert and the frozen glaciers in Patagonia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gaynor our guide was excellent, well organised, calm and caring, she was always happy and smiling
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Colin Owen

    Magnificent landscapes

    Chile is a country of the natural landscape. So it isn't a particularly cultural experience as, for instance, is Peru. On Discover Chile we went in only one house (Pablo Neruda's in Valparaiso), no museums and there's no Spanish colonial architecture to speak of. But the landscapes are wonderful and sometimes unique. The world's driest desert at one end and icebergs at the other. The internal flights are necessary to see this hugely long country; they felt appropriate and acceptable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Day 5 - the stop at Reserva Nacional de los Flamencos then the steady and compelling bus climb to altitude culminating in the magnificent and majestic Miscanto and Minoques volcanoes with their respective lakes. The guide gave us 30 minutes at the Reserva, nowhere near enough. We told him we wanted more and stayed 1 to 1.5 hours which is about right. The Atacama is much more interesting than you might imagine. Don't think of it a just a desert - it's deservedly a major attraction in Chile with lots of interest and even topped Torres del Paine for me.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A charming man but one who seemed to struggle initially with the size of this group (16) and, in trying to please, was at times indecisive and lacked direction. After several days there were definite rumblings of discontent within the group. He assimilated this and became better so that by the end of the trip he was as he should have been at the beginning. His knowledge of Patagonia was good but less so of the other regions and this is definitely an area which could have been improved. A good solution, which would have enriched the tour, would have been to use a different local guide in the each of the regions leaving the group leader freer to manage, rather than guide, the tour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I agree with the comments of Peter Rooke, reviewing a different Discover Chile group from mine, on clothing and food. I would, though, advocate lightish walking boots, say three season UK or at least approach shoes. If you choose conventional shoes instead make sure they are stout, as my mother would have said, up to rain, sand, dust and sometimes rocky uneven ground. I found no need of insect repellant at all and nor, so far as I am aware, did any my group. For the colder elements you will need a shell jacket so you can layer up and down underneath with a fleece and maybe a base layer under your shirt. Take gloves and a warm hat. Wind/waterprrof overtrousers are a good addition. You do not need full-on UK winter kit for a February trip; even pre-dawn at altitude it isn't that cold. Don't be concerned about the amount of trekking; it's high quality but pretty minimal and there isn't a great deal of climbing. If trekking is what you like, this trip will disappoint from that point of view and you would do well to reconsider. Chile is not a cheap country; think European out of pocket expenses. Budget up to £50 per couple per day and take a bit extra for contingencies. (Hotel del Paine $10 for a bottle of local beer; in the same hotel a fixed price buffet dinner, no other option, at $38pp; Santiago and San pedro pizza for two, one glass of admittedly gorgeous house wine and a Sprite or Cola £40; two airport small vending machine capuccinos £6). Everywhere takes plastic but it's useful to have some dollars cash. As regards pesos I changed $100 at the outset, paid for meals etc with a cash card, and that pocket cash lasted the two of us pretty well the whole trip. Think carefully about your packing on the internal flights and take whatever you most hold dear into the cabin. If you're travelling as a couple, switch clothing between your two cases. My group did five internal flights on LATAM. The entire group's bags, every checked case, went missing on one flight and three of those bags (mine included) didn't turn up till 24 hours later. On the next flight four of us lost bags again, myself included, for 24 hours.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have separately suggested to Exodus that it considers adding in a wine tour - 1.5 to 2hrs - into the Valparaiso day. You drive right through the heartland of Chile's renowned wine-producing area and this could easily have been fitted into an otherwise pretty low-key day.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Peter Rooke

    A great introduction to Chile

    A great way to experience four completely different parts of Chile. There's lots of travelling on this trip but at a reasonable pace. All our flights went like clockwork; no hitches or delays. Most of the hotels used have changed for the 2018 season and we had no complaints – all were fine. One of the reasons we chose this Exodus trip is because many of the excursions and activities included in this trip are charged as extras by other travel companies. It's worth shopping around and comparing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tough question - among many great moments some that stand out are our first sight of the Andes as we flew into Santiago; the salt lakes of the Atacama; the Osorno volcano and the Lake District; Patagonia - the whole of Patagonia - particularly the Torres del Paine National Park. We did the Easter Island extension and that was amazing too.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was friendly and efficient - making sure transport arrangements worked smoothly. He had a fund of information and stories about Chile which helped pass the time on some of the longer drives.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The optional Zodiac boat trip is worthwhile, you see a glacier close up and it's an enjoyable day. We were a little apprehensive beforehand but they provide long, warm waterproof jackets. We needed them primarily as a windproof layer as we didn't get wet at all. Also, you're only on small boats for a fairly short time before transferring to a larger boat. It felt safe and well organised. Take a sunhat and plenty of sunscreen. It's easy to underestimate the high UV factor in Patagonia due to the cool breeze. Pack/wear layers: it's cold at the El Tatio geysers before sunrise but then gets hot quickly. When packing think of it as the equivalent of travelling from the Sahara to summer in northern Norway. Take a water/wind proof jacket, fleece, gloves, warm hat and a sunhat. In Patagonia we went from wearing a woolly hat to a sunhat in a couple of hours. Heavy walking boots would be overkill for this trip. Good walking shoes are fine; there isn't a lot of walking and it's on good paths. Carry insect repellent with you: most of Chile was fine, although we encountered some mosquitoes in Patagonia (on the Zodiac trip), and there can be horse flies at Petrohue Lake (the name means place of the flies). Easter Island has mosquitoes too. Be aware of the altitude in the Atacama. San Pedro is fine, but both the Miscanti and Miniques lakes and the El Tatio geysers are higher (although you're only there for a fairly short time). We were a little disappointed with Chilean food; they're rather fond of cheese and ham. It's worth hunting out places to eat. Estaka in San Pedro was pricey but good (go through to the quieter area at the back); there's a decent pizzeria near the hotel in Santiago and the Liguria restaurant in the next street is good too. There's a good pizzeria on the square in Puerto Natales. Do the Easter Island extension! It's well worth it. You can get an Easter Island stamp in your passport if you ask at the post office in Hanga Roa. Our room at the O'Tai hotel was basic (with A/C), the hotel has lovely gardens and a pool, a very tranquil place and very, very well located (very helpful staff too.). If you're visiting Easter Island look out for James Grant-Peterkin's book, 'A Companion to Easter Island' it's very informative and portable.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip spends a short time in Santiago, consider going out a day or two before the trip stars to explore the city and see more of it. Similarly, the Easter Island extension is short, we wished we'd added another day or two to our Easter Island trip just to have more time to relax and enjoy it.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Roger Loveys

    Does what it says in the notes

    A trip full of variety which moves at a good pace. Definitely feel we know more about Chile on return.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each section of the trip provided its own highlight. The dramatic scenery, flora and fauna of Patagonia left a lasting impression.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Robert was an excellent leader being both exceptionally knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Chile. He was full of anecdotes which kept the group amused during the longer bus journeys.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Money changing available during the introductory walk around Santiago - better rates than at the Airport. As Chile is 'the longest country' in the world there is inevitably a lot of travelling.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Debbie Henderson

    Fabulous Country!

    I booked this trip a year ago and had high expectations. I was not disappointed! Fabulous country with very distinctive regions. Seeing the Atacama was top of my list and remains my favourite. The Torres del Paine comes in second and we did get good weather there.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Amphitheater, Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama. I had a picture of this as my pc wallpaper - I knew it was in Chile, but not exactly where. When it came into view I was totally speechless. It was an amazing moment!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Ignacio was a great people person, someone who loves his country and wants people to see the best. He was full of information and also amusing stories about life in Chile. Unflustered and calm. Great guy to have in charge.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do be aware there are long travelling days and the internal flight schedules can be erratic. But don't let it put you off! Food is reasonably expensive though the meals are usually big. 10% is added to bills in restaurants. Try the traditional Pisco Sour drink. If not on the group flight be aware of unauthorised taxi drivers at Santiago Airport. It should cost no more than 20000 - 25000 Chilean pesos for a one way transfer. It helps to know some Spanish but people are generally friendly and helpful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The memories will live on of this beautiful country. Not cheap but if it is on your bucket list GO...it is well worth it!
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Paul Devall

    Discover Chile

    Excellent place to visit

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Torres Del Paine national park. We were fortunate enough to arrive with good weather and could see the range in all its glory. Easter Island whilst expensive is worth the trip, the island is beautiful and the Moais amazing. In all honesty the places visited as a whole were fantastic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex was great, he was always there when we or any of the group needed him. In every place we visited he smoothed the way and ensured we all enjoyed it.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As other travellers have noted there are some long days. I am sure some of this could be changed with different flying times etc. but you do lose a lot of time on buses and in airports. Be prepared for some stunning scenery and don't get caught out with the different climates at each area that is visited.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Chile is a great place, the people are friendly and in some respects its like stepping back in time. Be aware that dollars are the currency of choice in the Rio Serrano Hotel (or credit card). We never had any problems changing money except in Easter Island. If you decide to do the extension be aware that there are ATM's but no money changing facilities and that some of the restaurants are shut on a Sunday.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Joy Jackson

    Discover chile

    It was an excellent holiday and Alex was a very good guide and went out of his way to make us all comfortable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were such contrasting landscapes it is difficult to decide on one, but perhaps on reflection I would have liked to have done more trecking in Patagonia. Also it was not apparent from the trip notes that the best sight of the glaciers is from a boat and not from a landbased viewpointso I am glad I took the zodiac.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As said before Alex was excellent but ought to ask for insurance details - my first Exodus trip when this wasn't done

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes on the way from Punta Arenas to to Puerto Natales there is one cafe and loo stop where one gets charged for the toilet. Go to the shop on the right with the blue roof, which had an indoor loo and only charged 200 pesos, whereas the one on the left has an outside loo very dilapidated and charged 300!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There was one day when we could take a cable lift to go up and down. It is cheaper if you are over 65 but Alex didn't seem to know this. Also he didn't forewarn us of the likely charges, so if you are like me and only take out for the day the money you are going to spend you could get caught out. Also it was not apparent that the hotel in Torres Del Paine much preferred receiving US dollars, so I was annoyed that I had converted dollars to pesos when in the Lake District! This should have been explained more carefully.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Mark Brumwell

    Discover Chile - An Excellent Introduction to a Stunning Country.

    This was an excellent trip. Having seen many stunning photographs of Chile, I went on the holiday with high expectations. I was not disappointed and indeed my expectations were exceeded. It is a truly stunning country with a huge variety of dramatic scenery, friendly people and interesting wildlife. This trip is a very good introduction to the country, covering a lot of territory in two weeks, allowing you to identify the bits to come back to with more time at a later date.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The highlight for me was Patagonia. It reminded me of the better parts of New Zealand, Alaska and the remote northern parts of Canada. We were lucky to have good weather in Torres del Paine National Park so I got some good photographs. The optional boat trip back to Puerto Natales was exciting and, although quite expensive, was well worth the additional cost.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex was knowledgeable and attentive without being intrusive. He was a pleasure to talk to and gave sufficient information to enhance the travel experience without overloading us with lots of facts that we probably wouldn't have retained. Occasional problems were sorted out quickly and efficiently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although not physically demanding, this is an intensive trip with a lot of travelling, so best suits those with sufficient energy to really enjoy the experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The quality of hotels on the trip is good except for the Don Raul in San Pedro de Atacama. The rooms were unbearably hot, very small, dark and claustrophobic. Service in the hotel was rather hit and miss (we had to ask five times for our room to be cleaned), the food in the restaurant is very expensive with small portions (in contrast the restaurants elsewhere in the town which are fine) and maintenance of the hotel is poor. A better quality hotel here would be most welcome.
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