Turtle, Ecuador

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed May 2019
    Peter Day

    Sicily Food and Culture Trip

    A great balance of food and culture - all of the highlights covered, and no food specialities left untasted. The itinerary was a perfect blend of food and culture, and the itinerary itself was perfect - nothing could really be improved upon.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Roman villa mosaics

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rosario was excellent. He looked after every detail of the trip, was always available to assist with any question or problem that arose. Incredibly enthusiastic, and a native Sicilian, he acted as our entree to Sicily.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    While classified as level 1, there was a great deal of walking on some days - up and down stairs in most locations, and while detail is provided under "Is this trip for you?", the word "leisurely" is a little misleading, and it would be worth reclassifying the trip to at least a 2! That said, in many places, there were options to do more or less strenuous activities. e.g. at Mount Etna, there were three grades of activity possible. While nothing more could have been included within the 8 days of the tour, travellers may consider adding two-three days on their own to visit Cefalu (including a trip to one or more of the Aeolian Islands) which is easily accessible by train from Palermo. The other locations visited relied on in-depth local knowledge, and some of the attractions are only accessible by private transport, so it would be impossible or impractical to visit most of the places we went to if you did your own thing in Sicily.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The tour is at least as much about culture as it is about food, and while this is detailed in the trip notes, it might be worth reflecting this in the title of the trip.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Helen Bouchami

    Wonderfully varied trip

    Loved Peru. Land of contrasts and dramatic scenery, from the soaring peaks of the Andes to the world's second deepest canyon and the highest navigable lake, from the simple lifestyle of the Titicaca islands to the sophistication of Miraflores in Lima. The surprise of a desert oasis with towering sandunes. Basking seals among rows of pelicans and boobies on the offshore islands, majestic condors in the canyon, and cute alpacas and even cuter vicunas. Impressive Incan structures - from Machu Pichu to terraced mountainsides, and the elegant colonial architecture of the Spanish. The trip notes mention the early starts and long hours on the bus - this is true, but the spectacular scenery provides an excellent distraction. The bus itself was large, and although it lacked a little of the camaraderie I've experienced on smaller mini-buses with Exodus in the past, the space to spread out and the on-board loo were appreciated. My attitude is that the hours of travel are the price you pay for seeing so much, and those are the memories that remain. I loved the variety of scenery and activities on this trip. I thought it was very well put together, including allowing for a gradual adjustment to altitude.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Machu Pichu lived up to expectations, a highlight of not just this trip The condors were a wonder. Some came really close, but so quickly that I had no time to adjust my zoom. The home stay, whilst not the most comfortable experience, was fascinating - the weather there was cold and rainy, but our hosts, the mamatis, were a delight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Giuliano was an excellent organiser and very personable. So hard working, he was constantly checking ahead to ensure that everything ran smoothly

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes say no walking poles are allowed in Machu Pichu, so I had left mine at home. On our first, guided visit I found many people, even the young and fit, using them, so I bought one for the next day (c£10) and found it much easier to move around the site which has steep steps, uneven surfaces and few handrails. . It is definitely worth the second optional entry. RE. gifts for the homestay hosts, food from the San Pedro market in Cusco, fruit, cheese etc. was very acceptable if you can't fit anything from home into your case. Don't be overly concerned about altitude. Most people felt some effect, but a little breathlessness is not altitude sickness. Take the advice re. hydration and not overdoing it. It was curious - I climbed up to the Sun Gate with no problem, but found myself (as did others) gulping air occasionally when lying down, or bending to put on shoes - mainly on the Lake as this was our highest overnight stay. BTW I am in my seventies

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I just wanted to add my appreciation of the drivers used on the trip. Mountain roads with their many bends, and lots of lorry traffic, don't make for easy driving. They waited patiently for a safe place to overtake, which allowed the group to relax and enjoy the scenery.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Malcolm Mahony

    Fascinating and beautiful country

    The desert landscape and Petra are stunning. The scrambling is exciting. The archaeology is outstanding. The culture is fascinating.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Abdullah worked hard to make the trip successful and enjoyable. He was totally unflappable!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You should be aware that the trekking area is heavily used by 4-wheel drive vehicles taking tourists on day trips. This compromises the wilderness feel. Unfortunately they also leave behind a lot of plastic litter.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was very impressed by the generally tolerant and supportive attitude of Jordanians towards the 3 million plus refugees who live there. What a contrast to most other countries! Excellent service by Exodus staff.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Barbara Baker

    Monkeys, caiman, snakes, giant otters, sloth and multiple birds!

    A great extension to our Galapagos trip. We used the extra time in Quito to see more of the city and visit the Equator - found it easier and cheaper to use a hotel booked taxi than the official tours. The journey from Coca is very much part of the experience - lots to see especially when you transfer to the paddled canoe for 2 hours along small blackwater creek to the lodge. Parrots aren’t guaranteed at the licks but we were lucky enough to see a troop of peccaries instead! All the activities, apart from the night hike, involved a trip in our canoe from where there was always lots to see. Our guides were helpful and brilliant at spotting animals in the mass of green, but there is also plenty to see around the lodges.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the wildlife including a baby anaconda, 6 types of monkey including grumpy capuchins, rare woolly, and iconic golden mantled tamarin; a family of giant otters resting by the creek, a pair of roseate spoonbills and the noisy prehistoric “stinky turkey birds”.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leaders were excellent- Jose was the bilingual guide, he also ate with the group of 6 and helped paddle; Shayan the local who spotted things we needed binoculars to see- and also helped with photos and paddled. William was the official paddler - and also helped with spotting. It was good to have the same team from arrival in Coca to departure.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It’s hot and humid, rains most days but the wildlife is fantastic- not as close to you as Galapagos but much more varied. Take binoculars if possible and long lens (waterproof) They loan you wellingtons for all the off site activities- if you don’t fit standard size such as muscular calves then consider taking your own! And take long socks. Long sleeves and trousers are best but I was bitten through the material at the parakeet lick - use plenty of deet even where covered. No mosquitoes at the lodge as the lake is too acidic for them to breed. Leave a suitcase in Quito if returning to same hotel - everything is paddled up river.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have the time then do it!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Alan Colgate

    Undiscovered Trails of Cape Verde

    The trip was different from what I was expecting but very enjoyable at the same time. Some of the trails were difficult for me especially when going down steep slopes and I was not the only one who felt it should have been graded 4 not 3. As I am interested in geology I found the island of Santo Antao particularly interesting with the frequent evidence of its volcanic past. Also the local guide was passionate about 'his Island' and very informative. One problem which could have been avoided was that when we were at Cha de Morte (I think that it was the name) we were kept awake all night from 9pm to 7am with extremely loud broadcast 'music' as it was their annual 'festival' just that night. To sum up I am glad I went!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1. The exciting ferry crossing to Santo Antao (the sea was quite rough), and 2. the coastal walk on Day 5 to Ponta do Sol. The cliffs are geologically extremely interesting. Although the walk is very hilly there is a decent coastal path the whole way so the slopes did not bother me at all.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A very friendly helpful person.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To note that many of the paths require a good balance going down and the later suggestion by Exodus of bringing walking poles was necessary for those not so agile.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The Island are anything but 'green' as the name may suggest. It never rains but relies on moisture from clouds on the higher points similar to Madeira and the other Atlantic Islands.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Condon Corbett

    Amazing Sri Lanka!

    From the private pick up at the airport in Colombo to drop off at the airport things could not have gone more smoothly. The pace of the tour was excellent given its short duration. Accommodations were very good-clean, comfortable and well located. Sri Lanka is a stunning country with friendly people, beautiful scenery and an abundance of wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing to the top of Lion Rock (Sigiriya) to view the remnants of the ruined palace and the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside from 200 metres above. Magical!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Suresh was excellent. Very well organised, knowledgeable of his home country, it's history and different cultures which he imparted to us in an interesting and fun manner. I appreciated his somewhat sarcastic sense of humor as well. Schedules were well kept and adjusted as necessary based on the group consensus.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take part in all of the included sightseeing and activities, especially the bike tour through the villages where you will be warmly greeted by the local children as you cycle by.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a trip of a lifetime!
  • Reviewed May 2019

    Vietnamese

    This trip lived up to what it promised from the start to the end. It was excellent value for money and provided a real insight into this wonderful country and it's people. Our group consisted of 16 people, some couples, some travelling independently with a range of ages from the UK, USA and Spain. By the end of the two weeks we were all good friends. The weather started pleasantly warm, although very cloudy, in the north and steadily became hotter and sunnier the further south we travelled. Our group leader Anh Tran, who we knew as Viet, also helped to make this trip special as he worked hard throughout to provide us with information and guidance about the places we visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling through the Vietnamese traffic in Hue was daunting but very rewarding once we had survived unscathed. This was due to the support of the additional leader and Viet who ensured the group were able to safely negotiate the large number of scooters and other vehicles which weaved their way around us. The visit to the Cu Chi tunnels was also fascinating and it was good to hear about the Vietnam War from a different perspective and witness the conditions that these people had to live in. Seeing the good nature of the Vietnamese people and how they make the most from the limited resources they possess makes you realise how fortunate we are.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Viet was full of enthusiasm and was always keen to share his extensive knowledge of his country and it's culture to the group or to individuals. As we travelled from place to place Viet had everything in place at the right time ensuring the smooth running of the trip. He even provided us with additional hand written notes of recommended places to visit or eat in our spare time. Throughout he displayed a great sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The train was a really good experience and although the noise and movement of the train was not an issue we did find the beds were very hard and the day that followed very long,

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only things that we thought could have been better were that after the meal on the boat in Halong Bay, it would have been good to encourage more socialising with some music or card games... This was also the case after the meal at the homestay on the Mekong Delta. The long day after the train journey could be better arranged. Perhaps, after going to the Citadel, it could be arranged to go to the hotel to relax by sitting around the pool or going for a swim as it would not be possible to check into the rooms at that time. Then have lunch at the hotel before going to the other places of interest later in the afternoon. The optional family meal could then be switched to the following evening. This would make it less tiring.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Peter Loughridge

    An excellent introduction to Japan.

    We have always wanted to visit Japan and this trip gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit the cities, rural areas, travel by train, experience Japanese cuisine and, best of all, explore by bike. The itinerary was varied and interesting. Onsens (hot baths) have to be experienced and helped relieve tired and aching muscles at the end of the day. We stayed in a mixture of modern hotels and the more traditional ryokans with tatami mats and futons. The Japanese people we met were always polite, pleasant and helpful. This was a travel experience like no other. Just do it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Arriving at the first ryokan and learning how to observe Japanese customs in this environment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very well organised and efficient. Perhaps a little shy at first but this passed as the trip progressed and his confidence in dealing with the group developed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a fairly large backpack as there are two separate days when you don’t have access to your suitcase. Keep your evening wear to a minimum as many of the hotels and ryokans provide a yukata (a casual summer kimono). Be prepared for rain and low temperatures. Very little fruit available generally and virtually none at breakfast.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Japanese drivers generally considerate and patient. We felt safe on the roads.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    David Hughes

    Everest Base Camp - a journey to heaven!

    This trip met and exceeded my expectations by miles! I have never seen scenery so beautiful in my life , it was truly wow! It was the hardest thing (trek wise ) I have ever done and breathing at times in the higher parts was tough but it was more than compensated by the experience. A big shout out to Bikash T ( TNT190427) who was a brilliant leader and encouraged us a long the way and ensured we paced ourselves the result of which we all made it to Base Camp! His team were all brilliant too!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Base Camp after such a long journey to get there. I never thought in my lifetime I would see this and it literally took my breath away and was very emotional when I arrived!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As stated above Bikash was a great leader and was certainly always reassuring me whenever I had any nervous moments and was easy to talk to and great sense of humour too !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not underestimate how tough this trip is. The more preparation you put into this , the more you will enjoy it. It is worth it! Also , it gets expensive to buy snacks the further you go up, I would recommend bringing energy bars etc from home it save you money. And, finally , when the leader says pace yourself , take notice, as walking too fast is not a good idea at that altitude!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Wonderful trip and life changing experience!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gina Crowcroft

    Great concept but, on this occasion, poorly delivered

    The basic trip concept is excellent. However, a group of 16 with only 1 main group leader was wholly inadequate - it meant that we had a lot of wasted time hanging around for the slowest person and our itinerary was unilaterally changed by the tour leader to ensure that the needs of the slowest person out of 16 was met. Unfortunately this meant that 15 out of 16 people were left short changed and did not get what they paid for. Additionally, most days we were rushed to ensure that the group lunched at a specific restaurant off the wall. Given that people would have signed up for this trip due to an interest in the Wall it seems strange that we were always being rushed everyday to get off the Wall. This meant that most days we could not linger and savour the amazing views nor take our time to get that non-touristy photo! We also had itinerary changes due to local factors. Whilst it is appreciated that these are unavoidable the revised itineraries, each time, resulted in less trekking time never more trekking time - very frustrating and left a feeling that we did not receive what we paid for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being on the less touristy parts of the Wall.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry is clearly a lovely guy and a more than adequate tour leader. I think if our group had been more evenly matched re fitness he would have been perfect. However, I believe he was too nice to actually deal with some of the issues on our trek and tried to please everyone but thereby actually not pleasing a significant number of the group. We had our trekking time severely curtailed by a combination of local reasons and a disparity in the speed between the fastest and slowest members of our group but this was not discussed properly with the group and conflicting reasons were given.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not underestimate the unrelenting steepness of the Wall trekking. Be prepared for a lot of "wasted" time away from the Wall due to where the restaurants are etc. It would be much better if picnic lunches were provided most days so that time on the Wall could be maximised. Be brave enough to question how the group kitty is used! Our bus driver ended up being tipped a huge amount (the balance of the kitty) due to our guide leader asking in front of the bus driver if it was ok to give him the balance of the kitty - strangely none of us felt that we could object! But we were all wondering why the balance of the kitty was not redistributed to us after a sensible tip taken for the bus driver.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary and execution of this trip could be improved by a few simple changes: 1. Packed lunches so that time on the Wall is not rushed 2. Two guides every day so that all members of the group could take as long as they wished on the Wall whether that being walking slowly or taking time to take photographs. 3. More information given about the Wall on a daily basis rather than just the last day 4. Changes to itinerary should always be fully discussed and explained with the group in advance
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