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 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.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Richard Semega

    Discover Chile with Alex

    Hi had a great time, Alex was one of my best group leaders ever. Chile was beautiful. I give the trip 5 star. Thank you, Rich Semega.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The scenery was beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    My group leader Alex was one of the best ever.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring many different kinds of clothing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great trip over all.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Stephen Gilbert

    Wonderful Experience.

    Our holiday was outstanding! It was a photography heaven, between pair of us we have 3000 photos. Thoroughly enjoyed EVERY DAY. Expensive, but including Extension to E.I this was definetely worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably the most inspirational moment was a sunset picnic in front of an Ahu on Easter Island extension. Yes there was a reflection and realisation of the cultures that had passed before. But also a chance to relax and reflect on the wonderful tour and the high number of great experiences over the whole tour. There was a highlight virtually every day. It was like being on holiday 4 times as each environment/landscape is very different and it feels like you've entered another country/continent. We'd like to do this trip all over again, and again?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Miguel Angel was informative, efficient, humourous and very experienced with the running of this tour. We enjoyed his company, thoroughly nice chap.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for cold weather at Desert (-8 degrees at Taita Geysers sunrise) and also Patagonia. Although the extreme cold at Patagonia is from the wind chill so have windproof clothes with coverage over all exposed areas, hats, scarfs gloves etc. This isn't a strenuous trip. Easy walking, no big slopes. Paths are well maintained. Perhaps the cost of restaurants and bars is quite high (London prices) but you have a variety of options including take aways from supermarkets (yep its like mcdonalds/kfc/greggs/waitrose all in one?). And the off sale wine / pisco sour is cheap too!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you eat and drink at hotels I reccomend put it on the room bill and pay in US Dollars. That way I discovered the hotel waives the 19% local tax which is a good saving. Not something they advertised but made it clear when I paid so it isn't anything dishonest, its normal.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    Brenda Smithwhite

    Discover Chile review

    Wow, this was an amazing, awesome, fantastic holiday. Chile is a great place to visit, especially for the physical geography. Holiday went like clockwork, with a great guide. I don't really want to say too much because then everyone will go!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The desert, the Lake District and Patagonia were each a highlight, but there was something special about Patagonia - the setting, the landscape, the wildlife, the colours, the weather, the wind, the air.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alex was excellent, timings spot on, kept us on track, plenty of info. One of the best guides I have had.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is not a trip for culture vultures, more for scenery observationists, physical geographers, those seeking a special place to chill out, and photographers. Hotels - all decent clean hotels in good locations. Flight timings good for the internal flights. Be a bit clever with packing. I went two days ahead of the trip, and got over the long flight out and saw some of Santiago. If you see something to buy then buy buy buy, especially before travelling to Patagonia. There is a lot of travelling about but this trip actually felt like a holiday. Plenty of time for naps on the buses.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to go back and do a longer trip.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Michael Britton

    Discover Chile AAE 08/02/2016

    A great 'over-view ' of this facinating and varied country. Lots of travelling. Almost a continent in one country. The tour was better than the Trip Notes implied - most of the 'optional' trips were actually included! The pre-travel information (itinerary) was not up to the usual Exodus high standard as far as we were concerned - although some other people on the trip did receive more detailed information (even though we asked for it!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the Moai (statues) on Easter Island made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck - and I have done a fair bit of travelling. Contrast the Moai with the sight of the Queen Mary II sailing just off shore was a bonus. On the mainland, seeing the smoking volcanoes in the Atacama Desert and the Valley of the Moon from Coyote Rock was amazing. In Patagonia stopping to watch two sets of real gauchos herding sheep and cows (separately) was just what you think of in South America (but don't actually expect to see!) And the golden sunrise through the cloud on the 'horns' in the Torres del Paine National Park from our room in the lovely Hotel Rio Serrano was certainly a highlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Helen Kinzl was an excellent leader. She gave us all the information we needed and had a real passion for Chile and its people. She was always there when needed and did her best to sort things out and make the trip run smoothly to give us the best experience possible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The tap water is drinkable - but we used bottled water in the desert and on Easter Island (not sure if this was really necessary. There are some long travel days here because of the geography and infrastructure. Hopefully Exodus will choose better internal flights this season than with our trip where there were some unnecessarily early starts and a silly 8 hour stopover in Santiago en route from Calama to Puerto Montt. (Allbeit they did give us a free Wine Lands tour!) Take clothes you can add or subtract in layers. It can go from cold to hot in a few hours. Spend as much time as possible walking about seeing things and don't stay in the hotels too long!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There are some excellent resaurants in Chile - so you don't have to eat in the hotels all the time - but the service times can vary quite a lot. The local shops and people are helpful and friendly. It can be VERY windy in Patagonia - we couldn't do the penguin collony trip for this reason. San Pedro is dusty and hot - it is in the desert! It feels (and looks) like a 'frontier town'. The hotels in the town itself don't seem to have aircon (the Don Raul certainly doesn't and they don't supply fans either so the rooms are like ovens! Nor do they bother to open the bar or the restaurant some of the time) . But it is worth being uncomfortable for a few days just to do the trips - geysers, volcanos, salt flats, sand dunes. Some lunch stops were too long; the time could be better spent by having a quicker (snack?) meal, then seeing the country, rather than the inside of a restaurant
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