Turtle, Ecuador

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

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed April 2019
    Tim Marshall

    Try the Moonstone trek!

    Booked trip late, so the Inca Trail itself was sold out. This didn't bother me, as the Moonstone trek sounded great - and it was. Loved the fantastic scenery, the pre-Inca and Inca structures, the glimpses of Andean village life, the excellent food, and the peace and quiet of the trek. Rest of trip was great, too - good itinerary, excellent organisation. Cuzco is a wonderful city to explore. Really enjoyed optional Sacred Valley day trip. Machu Picchu did not disappoint, either (and I have found the odd big-name sight disappointing in the past). Overall, hard to fault this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the trek from start to finish. Beautiful on third day of trek to see glaciers high up, then regular mountains, then the Sacred Valley down below, all at same time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mike (main tour leader) was great - very knowledgeable, and proactive in responding to people's needs and requests. Henry (Moonstone trek leader) was a quieter character, but had the necessary skills to lead us competently.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get as fit as you can to enjoy the walking more. Altitude can affect anyone, even if it has not affected you previously, so be prepared to feel out of sorts or have a headache. At the same time, don't worry overly about it - the guides are good at monitoring people's wellbeing, and know what to do.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    On the Moonstone trek, you miss out on the classic view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate high above, where 'The Inca Trail' ends. But the Moonstone trek is a far less visited Inca trail, and you still get a full tour of Machu Picchu. If doing the Moonstone trek, you might want to check how many are in the group, as the groups are apparently smaller for this than the classic Inca Trail. We had four trekkers, which was fine, but a smaller group than that might feel a little odd.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Marie Gale

    Fabulous trip in every way!

    What an absolutely amazing trip! The itinerary was full on, early starts and some long days, as the trip notes indicated, but this is necessary as there is so much to enjoy in this huge country. Peru is a wonderfully varied country and has so much to offer, interest and intrigue it's visitors. Exodus has excelled again with this itinerary, the group leader, hotels and transport and even got the timing spot on to see the condors! Small things, such as having a coach with a loo on-board, plus charging ports on the day we were heading to the homestay, make the trip more pleasurable and Exodus the excellent trip organizer it is.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Aside from Machu Pichu, seeing the condors soaring over the Colca Canyon was truly awe-inspiring. Our tour leaders timed it perfectly and we had a wonderful view for the time they remained there.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Edwind was phenomenonal! Nothing was too much trouble for him and his organisational and communication skills were excellent. He was always prepared to go 'above and beyond' the call of duty. He was sensitive to the mood of the group and was very attentive to those who were feeling a bit 'under the weather'/struggling with the altitude. Small gestures go a long way, such as arranging for every group member to have a burger courtesy of Exodus when we were advised not to eat the quinoa as it had been left on a warm bus. No one objected to this, but of his own volition he organized this for us all. He was patience personified! And he smiled throughout. I noticed on our last day that the tour leaders of the next two trips had left written instructions for their groups on their first evening and were not due to meet their groups until the next morning. Edwind however, met us at the airport, which was great after a long and tiring flight. His warm greeting was very welcome and this gesture typified him throughout this trip and what makes him the exceptional leader he is.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes! Pack accordingly and be prepared for some early starts and long days as this is a full-on itinerary but the trip is definitely worth it. Try not to fall asleep on the bus as you will miss so much - amazing scenery, flora and fauna, culture, geology and history. Don't hesitate to take up the optional second visit to Machu Pichu. I was uncertain about whether to go for it but I'm so pleased I did.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus has excelled again. Thank you for a wonderful trip!
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Robert Hales

    Galapagos

    An enjoyable trip

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy the trip

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    An enjoyable trip
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Brian Guest

    A rocky road; a wilderness of salt; and an ancient culture.

    Rocks; mummies; Routa 40; rocks; vineyards; rocks; cactus; salt flats; rocks; Inca ruins and more rocks!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The heat and stark beauty of the Salinas Grandes salt flats

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had a series of leaders over the week. The first was very helpful and acted a driver and guide. Later we were on minibus day tours with different leaders.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't put too much trust in LATAM's schedules. There were several flight amendments before our trip and finally a 12 hour change just days before we were due to fly to Salta. Further delays made us 14 hours late and we missed our first day in Salta. The trip notes and itineraries are liable to change. But this allows you to extend the tour by a few days. Spending a whole day in Purmamarca proved a really good option as it's a long day in a minibus. Your tour may be cut short or altered due to other travellers being late or preferring not to visit sites. We only had 30 minutes to visit the Inca ruins because we were running so far behind the schedule. Research beforehand. More options are available for your free days than may be advertised. Take a good camera with a wide angle lens as the landscapes are stunning. And it also pays get up early for the dawn light on the rocks at Purmamarca. ATM's in Argentina restrict you to 4,000 ARS and cost a lot to use. But Santander Rio have branches in all the towns we visited. If you have an account, it gives you a much better rate. Spend a few days in Buenos Aires if you have the chance. It's pretty safe and easy to get around. There's some lovely Art Nouveau architecture, a lively cafe culture, craft markets at the weekend, fine Opera and bookshops, tango dinner dances and lots of urban art. We recommend a 5-hour cycle trip: Hidden Graffiti And Urban Art Tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The climate, food, scenery and culture of the indigenous people in the Salta region is very different from elsewhere in Argentina: and a real contrast from Patagonia and Buenos Aires. A holiday in itself.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Brian Guest

    One bike - two countries.

    The snow-clad volcanoes and emerald lakes of the Andes mountains. Gravel tracks, black lava fields and ancient forests of monkey puzzle trees.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Crossing the Andes by bike: not once but twice!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tai and his younger brother Yal worked tirelessly to support the group. They gave a clear briefing on each day's itinerary and generated Stava maps to show the route. On the road they shepherded us through the traffic and managed to control both those keenest to reach our destination and those more content to just enjoy the scenery and walk the hills. They coped very well with the inevitable problems which occurred: our punctures; occasional falls; late transfers; variable accommodation; wet weather; etc, etc. They were always ready to chat with the group and explain about the local people, their history and culture .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes are not always updated and itineraries may well change. Our mountain bikes were very good but with limited space for carrying spare kit or a camera. Although the support vehicle was close at hand, you might consider a ruck-sac or handlebar bag useful. Research beforehand. More options are available for your free days than may be advertised. We really enjoyed excursions to Mount Tronador from Bariloche and later to Huerquehue National Park from Pucon. Take a good camera with a wide angle lens as the landscapes are stunning. And it also pays to get up early for the dawn light. Breakfasts are sometimes meagre but expect your waistline to expand: portions for lunch and dinner are huge! ATM's in Argentina restrict you to 4,000 ARS and cost a lot to use. Santander Rio have branches in all the towns we visited. If you have an account, it gives you a much better rate. Spend a few days in Buenos Aires if you have the chance. It's pretty safe and easy to get around. There's some lovely Art Nouveau architecture, a lively café-culture, craft markets at the weekend, fine Opera and bookshops, tango dinner dances and lots of urban art. We would recommend a 5-hour cycle trip: Hidden Graffiti And Urban Art Tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If the weather is fine, as it fortunately was for us, cycling in Argentina and Chile is a joy. Traffic is generally respectful and the distances covered are easily manageable in the time. Where the trip notes describe parts of the route as gravel, be prepared for some pretty rough going. In places it was safer to walk. But the best is saved for last: the Parque Nacional Conguillío - with black lava field and forests of monkey-puzzle trees under the brooding Llaima Volcano.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Brian Guest

    Grab your camera ....... big skies, mountains, lakes, glaciers and wildlife!

    Two weeks to sample Patagonia with long days hiking through beautiful scenery and the chance to view outstanding natural features and wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The views at dawn of the Torres del Paine Massif.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tomas was more than excellent. He was very attentive to all the group and their needs. He gave us a great deal of information and led the tour very well. His only fault was I think he tried too hard to please everybody. Oh, and he does talk a lot!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes are not always updated and itineraries can change. Pack light. You're only allowed 15kg hold luggage on the internal flights - but you can carry 8kg as hand luggage. The airline does not always enforce its rules though. Research beforehand. More options are available for your free days than may be obvious. Expect crowds on the most popular hikes and attractions. The Perito Moreno Glacier expects half a million visitors a year but only 2,000 tourists get to La Leona Petrified Forest ! Take a good camera with a wide angle lens as the landscapes are stunning. Try to get up early for the dawn light and enjoy the sunsets. Wildlife can be elusive and more often spotted from the minibus. See the penguins! Breakfasts are meagre but expect your waistline to expand: we dined out every evening and meal portions are huge! ATM in Argentina restrict you to 4,000 ARS and cost a lot to use. But Santander Rio have branches in all the towns we visited. If you have an account, it gives you a much better rate. Spend a few days in Buenos Aires if you have the chance. It's pretty safe and easy to get around. There's some lovely Art Nouveau architecture, a lively café-culture, craft markets at the weekend, fine Opera and bookshops, tango dinner dances and lots of urban art. We recommend a 5-hour cycle trip: Hidden Graffiti And Urban Art Tour.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were expected to contribute to a kitty at the start of the tour for tips. This and the gratuity for our tour leader added considerably to the overall cost of the holiday and the amount of cash we needed to carry. While I agree we should reward good service, I felt this was excessive on occasions. We would have liked to have had longer to enjoy the El Chalten area and the Torres dal Paine. Maybe at the expense of the long journey down to Tierra del Fuego.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Liz Fraser

    Spectacular sights and scenary

    Chile is a stunning country that has something for everyone. This trip provided a wonderful insight and delivered a variety of sights and scenery: from desert and volcanoes, to lakes (and more volcanoes) then mountains and glaciers, followed for me with the legendary moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). As the itinerary makes clear, a significant amount of time is spent travelling (I feel I am now very familiar with Santiago airport!) but that is due to the large distances covered. There is very little 'down time' and several early starts so it is definitely not for someone who wants a relaxing holiday. However, if you enjoy spectacular views and new experiences then it ticks all the boxes. Our group of 16 got on well and, alongside our tour leader and drivers, helped to make it a fantastic holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is impossible to choose a single highlight as there were so many. The colourful houses and street art of Valparaiso; the Atacama desert with its rock formations, lagoons, wildlife and the most amazing night sky; the boat trip on Lago Todos los Santos, gazing up at the snow-topped Orsorno volcano; the breathtakingly beautiful Torres del Paine and Last Hope Sound; watching the mesmerising waves of the Pacific Ocean break on the rocky shores around Rapa Nui and visits to places such as Rano Kau and Ahu Tongariki.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nacho was calm, caring and a real gentleman. He enjoyed telling us tales of his life as a flight attendant and introducing us, with a mix of enthusiasm and humour, to his wonderful country. He always had a variety of restaurant suggestions for dinner to cater for people's different preferences. I was the only one in the group who had chosen the Easter Island extension. Nacho took me to the airport for the flight, met me upon my return a few days later and took me back again the next day for the journey home to the UK. He waited while I checked in and then, deciding that the queue to go through customs was too long, took me to another part of the airport where the queue was much shorter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took advice from a previous review and took Chilean pesos with me (which meant I could gauge exchange rates and determine when to purchase them). As a result I managed with cash throughout the trip but others in the group used their credit or debit cards without difficulty in most places. Chile is notably expensive. Just one main course and some water for dinner could cost £12-£15 and, in Easter Island, it was even pricier (for example, a fish and rice dish with a natural fruit juice in a café away from the harbour cost over £25). This was a more sedate trip than I had anticipated so don't choose it if you prefer or expect some proper walks or long hikes. It is a busy schedule with some long days. There isn't much time to do handwashing and get clothes dry before heading off to the next location so you may wish to factor that into your packing. The hotel in San Pedro also has notices in the rooms asking people not to wash clothes. I ended up wishing I'd packed more long-sleeved shirts as I found myself wearing them for sun protection in the desert as well as protection against both the sun and dengue fever-carrying mosquitoes in Easter Island. If you like a bath, bring a universal bath plug as many of the hotels don't provide one.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I investigated several companies who offered pretty much identical trips. I particularly liked the fact that Exodus included most of the activities (eg the visit to Valparaiso) in the upfront price, avoiding the need to budget for additional expenditure/take extra cash. Many in the group would have preferred to have saved time by having lunch in Valparaiso rather than Vina del Mar and therefore been able to include a trip to a winery on the journey back to Santiago. While I enjoyed the stay in Puerto Varas, I'd happily dispense with the walk in the Orsorno lava fields and the few hours in Puerto Montt seemed to be just a filler while we waited for the flight to Punta Arenas. I'd also have loved more time and a chance to do some walks (e.g. for 1-2 hours) while in Torres del Paine. I had visited the area previously on a similar tour several years before and know that there are some walks that could have been worked into the itinerary without turning it into a different type of trip. I appreciate that the main 'Discover Chile' itinerary has been designed to be accomplished in 2 weeks. However, for somewhere like Chile with the sheer distances involved, it would have been lovely if it could have been extended by a further few days, giving more time in Torres and perhaps including a boat trip amongst the fjords.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Marianne Hong

    Chile

    This trip covered a lot of ground in a short time frame. I (and the rest of my group) agreed that the one area of improvement would be to include a visit to the wineries and have lunch in Valparaiso.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the stars in the Atacama Desert and the landscapes of Patagonia

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ignacio was wonderful. He was organized, attentive and had a good sense of humor.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring layers! It was unexpectedly cold when we visited the geysers.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Margaret Shaw

    An amazing adventure with awesome wildlife

    This was a full-on trip, early morning starts with full days of activity - but SO worth it! Each of the 4 islands visited were very different in both their landscape and wildlife. Tourism in all but the last island (Santa Cruz) was very low key and I felt privileged to be there and see all that I did.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were quite a few inspirational moments, snorkelling with rays, sharks, turtles and sea lions, dolphins swimming at the side of the boat, but for me seeing a huge manta ray jump completely out of the water right in front of our boat was the moment I shall never forget.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was a great guide, he was very keen to share his huge knowledge with us all, had a passion for all the wildlife and was extremely proud of his country. He even managed to smile through our incessant barrage of stupid questions, ie ‘will there be a toilet?’ ‘Do we get changed now?’ ‘Do we need fins?’ ‘Do we need to take everything with us?’

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be very aware of the sun whilst snorkelling, a few in our group did get sun burnt. When there are such fantastic things to see it is so easy to forget that you are sometimes in the water for an hour or more and even the best sun creams struggle in these salt water conditions. My advice would be at the very least to take a rash vest or rash suit. One or two in our group after being burnt even snorkelled in their pyjamas! They worked perfectly. Others in our group hired wetsuits, our guide, Pablo always wore one. I took my own very lightweight 1mm wetsuit and was so glad I did, not only did I not have to worry at all about the sun, it also protected me from the biting flies when we were above water listening to our guide. For the hiking, I managed mostly in shorts but long trousers were a good call when we descended into the volcano to view the fumaroles, the path was very overgrown with thorny bushes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are reading this review then you are obviously considering doing the trip yourself ~ stop dithering, just do it, it’s amazing and you won’t regret it.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Wendy Duckett

    Awe inspiring.

    A land of so many sights, warm people and the impressive Andes mountains almost throughout.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Atacama Desert. Its forever changing scenery. The Lagoons, The Wetlands and Flamingo's, Geysers over 80 in one area. Sand dunes and forever rock formations. The long long roads and starry nights. Unlike any other desert I have visited.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nacho was brilliant. His charm, smile and funny stories, seeing us all through some very long days. He was Informative throughout the trip. His observations and empathy were outstanding. Great fun and ensuring everyone's needs were met. A calm and unstressful gentleman. Would be great to have Nacho on every Exodus trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Chile felt to be a very safe and friendly country from the moment if arrival. This did not change or alter throughout. Happy walking around alone. Don't expect your International adapter plugs to work. I borrowed one and some bought some locally. The 2 circular pins were much smaller. I believe it was the European pinned one that works.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A boat trip to through the Fjords would be a great addition to this trip. As would a few hours at one of the vineyards when driving right through them.
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