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 September 2017
    David Scott

    Lhasa to Everest

    the trip felt like a real travel experience, rather than a holiday. This is because Tibet is such a land of contrasts: The monasteries with their devoted pilgrims as well as monks, the modern Chinese cities, the villages with a still medieval lifestyle, the lakes and mountains, and of course the punishing altitude. It has a real feel of being a long way from home.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My first view of the Potala palace in Lhasa, the clouds lifting in the morning at Everest Base camp North to reveal Mount Everest, the amazing colour of the scorpion lake, seeing the yellow hats of the monks, like Roman legionary helmets, laid out on their seats in the monasteries, discovering I liked yak butter tea.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The many bureaucratic and organisational demands of this trip mean that a committed and capable leader is essential for success. Fortunately for us Keshar was always tirelessly working away to ensure that we got the most out of our time in both Nepal and Tibet. Ready with information and advice given in a friendly way whenever he was asked, (which was often), he was a real asset. On the way back to Lhasa he also revealed himself to be a great singer of Nepali folk songs.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Tibetan public toilets are horrible beyond description. I would have liked a face mask with some scented essential oil to put inside. Also consider buying yuan before you get to Tibet. They weren't available in Kathmandhu and those who had to buy them in Lhasa faced a long complicated process in the bank before getting hold of any.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were glad we did the Chitwan extension. After the dry, stark landscape of Tibet, which by its very nature is a tiring experience, it was wonderful to revel in the rich forest with its many birds and butterflies. We were lucky to see four rhino as well. It felt like such a refreshing end to an amazing and multi layered experience, and gave us time to think about all we had seen and done, before the journey home and a return to normal life.
  • Reviewed October 2016
    Terence Stevenson

    Tibet

    Wonderful trip but be aware that this is not a trip for the faint hearted. The altitude is a real issue and even though Exodus says there is plenty of time for acclimatisation the impact of an instant leap to 3500 metres can be frightening.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting the nomads. This was unplanned as I suffered from altitude sickness.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    the group leader (Gum) was excellent and very knowledgeable. Nice smiley face personality and looked after us from start to finish.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you have suffered with altitude sickness before go prepared.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Caroline Bradley

    Highlights of Tibet

    Breath taking in many ways.. physically due to the high altitude but also the country and the scenery was fabulous

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Tying a white pray scarf (in memory of my mum who always wanted to go there but never managed to before she died) to a pole at Everest base camp. It will remain their with all the other pray flags and scarfs flapping in the wind taking their good wishes and prays up and away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pleasant, competent guy who knew his stuff regarding altitude and it's affects on people. He had all the gear which he knew how to use....just in-case we needed it (oxygen cylinder and portable compression chamber). He could also sing a good Nepal folk song, showed a bit of sense of humour but kept himself to himself.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to be mentally and physically prepared for this trip. A good strong stomach and pair of thighs for the toilets!! A tip would be take some Vick or menthol to put under your noise before you enter them!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Well worth doing, would not have missed it for the world.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    M B

    Highlights of Tibet - ACB

    A busy trip , although not arduous, covering a lot of distance in order to see lots of different landscapes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The turquoise lake, Everest Base Camp , Potala Palace amongst others

    What did you think of your group leader?

    BothNepalese and local Tibetan leaders kept provided informative commentary and useful assistance ( when buying things in local shops etc ) .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Toilets ( public toilets ) range from grim to deplorable. Carry lots of own hand gel and toilet tissue . keep small change ( 2 yuan ) for toilets as there was always a screeching demand for money ( doesnt appear as if that money is NEVER spent on actually doing anything to improve facilities ) . At first opportunity get hold of some tiger balm or similar ( vicks ) to put under nose before entering the toilets. Make sure you bring a small torch or head torch , especially useful at Rongbuk monastery for toilet visit at night . Buy/bring some sweets / snack for the long coach days , on those days could be long break between miserly breakfast and lunch . Bring some "squash drops" or juice flavouring to add to water. You have to drink a lot of fluids to help stave off AMS and plain water gets pretty boring after a few days. Also bring re-hydration powder , as agin drinking so much water daily flushes through your body . Also bring some nasal decongestant and your own painkillers ( Ibruprofren ) as everyone seemed to get "stuffed up nose" ( due to altitude) . Some travellers were using Diamox but by no means was everyone. Seemed like average meal with a soft drink ( i.e. fried rice and a coke ) would be around 45 - 50 yuan , easily spending 100 yuan a day on 2 meals . Alcohol ( beer ) would increase that budget . I purchased Yuan in UK to avoid any issues with bank opening hours in country . Lots of "admin and bureaucracy" for local guides to deal with , so some time wasted at numerous checkpoints. Gongga ( Lhasa) airport has a level of "admin" all of its own.............the thermal body checking caught a few people out and they had to be "cooled down " before entry allowed.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The altitude can cause some discomfort , but drink plenty of fluids, do things SLOWLY and listen/follow advice from the guides . Said as an unfit , overweight 50+ whose main discomfort was with a head cold.
  • Reviewed April 2015
    Pamela Powley

    Highlights of Tibet

    This was a wonderful trip. We were very lucky to return home a week before the earthquake.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the snowy Himalayas against a blue sky and reaching Everest Northern Base camp.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Gum, our Nepalese Tour Leader, who was with us the whole time, and Dhorjy, our Tibetan Tour Leader, were both brilliant. They were charming company, very knowledgeable and most considerate. Gum is very highly trained and experienced in dealing with minor medical matters including altitude sickness.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a challenging trip because of the altitude and the cold but if you are generally fit and healthy it is perfectly feasible for the over-seventies. You do not have to climb all the steps in the monasteries if you do not want to. Although there are some long drives they seem quite leisurely in the comfortable Landcruisers and there are no early morning starts. The hotels are of a good standard and the trip notes give a clear description of the accommodation at Rongbuk. However,you do need to be prepared for some unspeakable toilets along the way. There is medication you can take to prevent altitude sickness and our Tour Leader gave me some when I was slightly affected.
  • Reviewed October 2014
    Anonymous

    Some helpful tips for this trip

    Be under no illusions as to how tough this trip can be despite it being only an overland journey, but the rewards made it worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Beautiful monasteries, seeing the Potala Palace at long last, the incredible colours at the Yamdrok Tso lake and that first sight of Everest.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Prem is very experienced and a pleasure to travel with. Our local guide Dhoji also worked tirelessly to get us around the sights and through the numerous checkpoints.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    On this trip you have a lot of practical issues to consider, so be prepared. Here is my account of how I and some others managed on our trip, but please do your research and make your own preparations accordingly. Health - The prescribed drugs that I took with me were amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin and acetazolamide, but I only needed the ciprofloxacin to treat bacterial diarrhoea that I picked up in Kathmandu. Antibiotics should of course be a last resort for treatment but my symptoms had persisted for a few days. I didn't need to take paracetamol for the mild headaches associated with the altitude, but we all seemed to have stuffy noses. Decongestants if used continuously can cause nose bleeds and I used locally sourced Tiger Balm, buying a small bowl and dissolving some in boiling water (the hotel rooms have kettles) to inhale each night before going to bed. We paid into a kitty and bottles of water were provided, so fluid intake was sufficient (as were the associated toilet stops). I bought dried fruit from a supermarket to help balance my diet. Hygene - Do take plenty of hand gel (I got through 3 little bottles of it). I had packed a toilet roll, but I found the small packets of tissues that I bought in Kathmandu to be more convenient to carry. Many public toilets cost 1 or 2 Yuan to use, so make a collection of small notes when you can. I only used 2 little bottles of high factor sunscreen and a stick of lip balm, but our trip was in October. I never used my DEET as I only saw one mosquito. Food - Breakfasts can be basic. Attempts to imitate western dishes deteriorated as we travelled further, so going Chinese was the easiest option in Tibet. Supermarkets offer an opportunity to supplement your diet. I regretted not taking some vitamin tablets with me. Accommodation - At Rongbuk I needed and used my 4 season down sleeping bag, elsewhere in Tibet I just used my sleeping sheet, I also carried an inflatable pillow which I only used once and I used a 1 litre water bladder as a hot water bottle. The hostel at Rongbuk is somewhat rundown, cold and draughty and the smoke from the cooker chimney discouraged us from lingering in the only heated part of the building. The tented camp up the road may seem more comfortable, but the toilets there were dire. Some hotels struggled for hot water and the chamber maids at Zhangmu were the rudest I have ever encountered. Travel - the Land Cruisers were not as roomy as I expected, but I had a collapsible daysack with me that I used as my 'cabin baggage' each day. The buses used were generally spacious enough. Costs - I bought my Yuan in the UK (easy to do these days) and ended up taking too much, but then I didn't spend much on souvenirs (many are imported from India and Nepal anyway). Changing money in the banks in Tibet is very slow and bureaucratic, but the ATM seemed to work fine if you use the correct bank. The most expensive chapel to take photographs in was at Shigatze and cost £75 for still photos, but at other monasteries it was only £2 or less per chapel, so ask your local guide for advice on the best value photo opportunities. Meals in Tibet cost about £7 including one drink. GBP and US$ can be easily changed at the hotel in Kathmandu and can also be used a Delhi airport, although change is given in Indian rupees. Reading material - we had no trouble with this on our trip. I took an e-reader with me for convenience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip can seem a bit rushed at times, but there is a lot of distance to cover and much to see. I recommend taking a small tripod and a polarising filter to the more serious photographers, although some photos will have to be taken through a vehicle window as you whizz by.
  • Reviewed September 2014
    Lisa Payne

    Highlights of Tibet

    A wonderful exposure to Tibet (and elements of Nepal)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Due to a temporary landslip blocking the road back into Nepal we used helicopters for the final leg of the journey. This was a fabulous bonus. All sorted out without fuss and bother - a stress-free solution to a local problem

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The leader was brilliant - exemplary even, sorting out the practicalities of the trip but also discretely dealing with health issues. He was caring, knowledgeable and professional whilst friendly and outgoing

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We travelled in August and needed both hot and cold weather clothes. There was rain most days but mostly short-lived and had very little impact on our trip. (The monsoon probably differs year-to-year.) In other months no doubt the balance of requirements would differ. Shorts are not appropriate since there are many visits to temples and so forth. You need to be reasonably fit: the temples use ladder-type stairs between floors, and you are at significantly-high altitudes. Take a street map of Kathmandu, to find your way around during freetime

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Be aware that Tibet is really a police-state with frequent police checks on roads (outside towns) and so forth. However this has more impact on the local staff supporting the trip rather than us visitors
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Joy Newman

    Highlights of Tibet

    A brilliant journey to a beautiful part of the world.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was totally humbled and inspired by the devotion of the pilgrims at all of the monasteries and temples we visited. Lhasa was a fascinating city and a great place to people watch particularly around the Potala Palace. I wish we could have stay longer as there were several places we did not get time to visit. Seeing the beautiful north face of Everest, in all its glory with blue skies and fluffy white clouds on the roof of the world, was truly amazing. The weather was perfect, despite being bitterly cold over some of the passes and when the sun went down.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Prem was outstanding. He was with the tour from start to finish and managed our tour professionally and efficiently. He was extremely knowledgeable of the places we visited. He paid particular attention to our ability to cope with the altitude and ensured that the group properly acclimatised. Prem is definitely one of the best guides we have encountered on our travels with Exodus. Our Tibetan guide was superb. He was extremely patient with us all, particularly when our enthusiasm to explore resulted in us wondering off in all directions. We were a small group in two land cruisers in Tibet and our two guides swapped between the vehicles each day to share information with us. Our naturalist guide for the Chitwan extension was also excellent and extremely knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Have your luggage receipt handy in Kathmandu as customs check this against your bag tag before you leave the airport. On the flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa we were advised not to lose our boarding pass until we actually arrived as flights sometimes divert to an alternative airport in China if the landing is aborted due to high winds. We circled the airport at Gonggar several times before landing but that could be normal practice. Be prepared for all of your bags to be searched on arrival and departure from Tibet in Zhangmu. When we left they were particularly interested in our ‘reading material’ so it's a good idea to have books and maps handy. In transit at Delhi airport security, if you do not use the correct gender queue you could find yourself briefly separated from your hand luggage and run the risk of leaving something behind as we did. All hand luggage is stamped as checked at the same time and security will not allow you to leave without that stamp on your bag label. The cost of taking photographs in the monasteries and temples gets progressively more expensive as the journey continues. Beware of pickpockets. In the monasteries and among the pilgrims in Tibet there is a tendency to become complacent and in awe of their honesty. Offerings of money are left in many locations and frequently seen just lying around on the floor. This honesty does not apply to everywhere in Tibet as I discovered to my cost when my purse was stolen in a supermarket in Shigatse. In hindsight I should have been paying more attention – while one young lady caused a distraction her accomplice was up to no good. Luckily my purse contained only some of my spending money. I know it seems obvious but spread your cash and secure your cards, passport and phone. Free Wifi in the hotel in Lhasa was excellent but elsewhere not so good. Virgin email worked fine but some other providers and many websites are blocked. Take plenty of antibacterial wipes, gel and loo paper. Tibet takes squat toilets to a new level. We had a kitty for our drinking water supplies throughout the trip and Prem kept this fully stocked to ensure we maintained our fluid intake. The air quality in Nepal is particularly bad. You may want to take something to cover your nose and mouth. The air is dry in Tibet and you barely sweat at altitude so you don’t have to worry about missing the odd shower or two. Lip balm, hand cream and moisturiser are essential. All are available in Tibet but unless you can read Chinese it’s not easy to decipher the contents. Chitwan National Park extension was a great way to relax at the end of our tour despite the 5 hour drive along quite scary hairpin roads to get there and back. You don’t have to stick to the scheduled itinerary and can forfeit for other options or just add to them if you have time for an extra charge. I was initially a bit nervous about the dugout canoe option after reading some reviews on the web. In the end I actually elected to go twice as it was so calm and peaceful. There was aircon in the lodge and mosquito mesh on the windows and doors.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don’t expect luxury and be pleasantly surprised when the accommodation exceeds your expectations; our rooms were generally clean and comfortable with hot showers at most locations. There was no heating or hot water at the accommodation in New Tingri. Heating installation was imminent apparently and although there was supposed to be hot water we eventually gave up running the tap. Extra duvets were provided here so no issues with keeping warm at night. When we arrived at base camp we all elected to swap experiencing the cold basic guest house in Rongbuk to overnight in a Teahouse yak tent just 3 kms down the track at 5000m. Outside the clear night sky and a beautiful view of Everest, inside the cooling embers from the stove fueled by dried yak dung and sheep droppings kept us all snug and warm and was not as smelly as you might think. We used our sleeping bags here but duvets and blankets were available. Without doubt this was a fantastic trip.
  • Reviewed May 2014
    Ross Pezzack

    Unique adventure

    Great trip to a very unique area of the world. A view of Tibetan life, religion, geography, Chinese influence , great food. We also were able to get base camp and see everest very clearly, a wonderful experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Everest! The Tibetans devotion to Buddhism! Insight into monks.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both great! They had to deal with the Chinese controls throughout but it went well. Very helpful throughout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go on this trip but there are LOTS of steep stairs and ladders at religious sites, u are in a very isolated country , some accommodation is challenging (very doable but they are not Holiday inns), u need to be somewhat self sufficient. U are on a group visa so u have to go through check points together, move your own luggage in places, and travel as a group. Great way to meet new friends!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Unique trip worth experiencing, well guided. Go for it!
  • Reviewed November 2013
    Anonymous

    HIGHLIGHTS OF TIBET

    A very varied trip - everything from temples to beautiful snow scenery.  Unfortunately the 'snow scenery' stopped us getting to Everest Base Camp, which was a great disappointment, but obviously you can't argue with the weather and avalanches.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Potala Palace - and probably watching the pilgrims prostrating themselves and circling the Jokhang

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Keshar is an excellent tour leader - capable, approachable and with a great sense of humour

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The altitude is definitely a force to be reckoned with!  It's probably worth checking out Diamox with your doctor before you go.  (We didn't - and I don't really feel I got the most out of the trip because of feelings of lethargy.)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is a lot of red tape surrounding a trip to Tibet.  Guide books and maps that refer to Tibet - rather than the Autonomous Region of Tibet or China - are not allowed and will be confiscated.A lot of Tibet has already been 'China-ized' so go before it's too late.  (If it isn't already) 
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