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

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Maddie Hallwood

    A bladder stretching, inspiring, bumpy, simply amazing adventure!

    This is not a trip for anyone seeking a rest. The days are long and you aren’t going to get a nap on the bus unless you nab a front seat or can sleep literally anywhere. However, you will get to see some absolutely amazing creatures in the wild that you will not see anywhere else, see the magnificent baobabs, fake baobabs and fake fake baobabs and find yourself in more different landscapes and climates than you can reasonably expect in one country. So many people have told me Madagascar is on their wish list but, until you have been there, you can not imagine it. They need all the tourism they can get in order to help more locals understand how conservation can actually benefit them and, with the rarity of species that Madagascar has, the sooner you go, the better.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I admit to getting tearful at my first sighting of an Indri in the wild - these animals do not survive in captivity. And actually finally getting close enough to a mouse lemur for me to see it with my own eyes - I could have watched them all night ( as they didn’t pay any heed to us). And, of course, actually getting up ( and down) the Tsingy. And the photos of the Alley of the Baobabs at sunset still take my breath away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rija is simply fantastic. She exudes passion and knowledge for her country and its peoples and nature, always seeking ways for us to understand more or have the answers to our questions. I particularly appreciated how she sought ways for us to interact with the locals so that we could all gain from the experience. She is very thoughtful, seeking to consider everyone’s particular preferences or circumstances and maintaining a sense of humour through out that is positively delightful. However, the test of a good guide is when things don’t go to plan and we had a little bit of an unscheduled extension to our trip. Rija was calm, clear and reassuring and, even when we had no idea when and how we would get home, we were happy to trust her judgment. I trust Exodus to treasure their relationship with Rija, she is an ambassador both for Exodus abs Madagascar.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a good torch and spare batteries. I hadnt realised just how many hotels do not have 24 hour electricity and I used my torch for pottering around inside my bungalows at night much more than for the night walks! The roads in Madagascar rival any I have seen anywhere else in the world for poor condition. But Dama, our main (modest) driver is capable of taking that bus anywhere. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised at the standard of hotel and food throughout the trip. There is an opportunity to do laundry after a week. All hotels we were in had WiFi at reception when they had electricity on and some had sufficient connection to support WhatsApp calls... how times have changed.. I suffer from vertigo and I managed the Tsingy ( with the help of my fellow travelers) - and I am glad I did. This trip ends with an internal flight back to the capital. When the trip notes say that internal flights can be unreliable, take that very seriously and don’t plan anything you really can’t miss for the days immediately after you get home just in case. Exodus did a brilliant job in getting us back as soon as they could, just like we knew they would.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have a sense of humour, a sense of wonder and like an adventure, do this!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Mike Giles

    Much more than it says on the tin!

    Ordinarily fans of group holidays we chose Tailormade for this trip as none was available the week we wished to travel. We were so impressed with the service that this may now have implications for our future adventures. Although we sometimes missed the company of fellow travellers we enjoyed the same itinerary and were blessed with the undivided attention of our guide, drivers and specialist wherever we went. We rarely handled our bags and as Seniors we welcomed an additional hand that always seemed available when alighting boats and other vehicles in which we travelled. The Islands are very different and each has its own ecosystem and character. Centrally based good quality hotels in both Sao Miguel and Faial enable main features of both to be fully explored without constantly moving on. Every type of land and sea transportation is readily available and Island hoping is easy using local ferries and inter-island air services.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Of course, the highlight of the trip must be Whale and Dolphin Watching. This is mainly focused around Peter’s Café Sport a unique establishment in Horta where you can mingle with the locals, boat skippers, conservationists and likeminded visitors becoming part of a clique exchanging daily experiences of sightings of these cratures and many others too. Properly briefed and kitted out we set out in groups of no more than a dozen aboard RIBs accompanied by marine specialists and directed over CB by spotters strategically located on the coastline. These boats are ideal for the purpose not only offering a fast exhilarating ride over the distances to be covered but a stable viewing platform riding easy on the swell near the creatures encountered. On one trip we saw at least nine individual whales diving and feeding, also a mother with calf so close you could smell the breath. On another we were accompanied by a huge school of dolphins teasing the skipper with their agility to dive and reappear unexpectedly at any point around the boat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nuno Garcia was our Local Guide, and local in every way. He seems to know everyone on and everything about the Islands where he was born, lives and so obviously loves. Add to this his naturalist knowledge and professionalism he is the perfect guide. To the two of us he became a friend and travelling companion and it was sad and strange when he did not come home with us!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather may be stated as variable so pack accordingly. However we found it generally kinder than forecast and did not unpack either fleece or rain-gear at all during the week. If you intend bathing in thermal pools don’t wear your best swimsuit or one that is dominantly light coloured, it may not stay that way!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In a Euro economy we expected European costs but were pleasantly surprised by favourable prices in restaurants and shops.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Gary Cox

    A fantastic iconic adventure.

    Did i enjoy this trip,you bet.From the start to the end this trip was a revelation,everyday was an highlight.Back home after 3 days,and iam still buzzing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Peru is so much more than Machu Picchu,which of course is fantastic.For me,the homestay on Lake Titicaca,the local market next to San Pedro market in Cusco were truly memorable.I could go on,and on,everyday was inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This was probably my adventure of a lifetime,and Daniel,our group leader,made this happen.His organisation skills,his patience,his passion for Peru were exceptional.Through his leadership we experienced a magical Peruvian adventure, many, many thanks Daniel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take lots of spending money(you will need it)and enjoy Peru.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't just read these reviews,go,go,go to Peru!!!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Dexy D

    Chocolate Hiking in Chamonix

    Fantastic fun week of hiking based at Chalet Chocolat with amazing hosts Zohi and Ben and top guide Emma. Nothing was too much trouble, including parking my car on demand ;-) Amazing three course meals every evening and interesting and varied salad options for packed lunches. Felt like staying in someone's home rather than a chalet. And the cakes made every day were outrageously delicious. We were made to feel very welcome and Zohi and Ben were very happy to share their knowledge of the local area, which was another bonus. We laughed a great deal this week and that was often due to their relaxed and welcoming manner. The hikes were also varied and challenging and never short of a spectacular view!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Mont Blanc from almost every angle! Having dinner directly watching the sunset over the mountain and meeting a great group of people who I hope to stay in touch with.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It was Emma's first tour as an Exodus leader and she did a great job. She shared her vast experience of trekking with us and managed the group very well. She had lots of fun ideas to bond the group and was happy to support everyone as they needed. We enjoyed her company over the week.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be fooled by the level 3 rating. Even at this level, some of the hikes have significant ascent and descent and require a certain level of fitness. Poles are helpful.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    IZABELA RUPRIK

    ABSOLUTELY STUNNING

    I booked the jungle extension which we started from then continued onto the cycling part. Our group was small (only 4 people) but well integrated. I would highly recommend the extension but you may want to put it at the end as starting from it means an extremely long travel with 3 back to back flights. The wildlife and the views we saw were breathtaking. Many boat rides, including a canoe-like one which I dreaded (dislike of small boats) but what we saw more than made up for the stress. Be ready for not as much strenuous as stressful at times cycling due to quite technically challenging very steep descents on gravel/stones which require good mountain bike handling skills. Culturally it is a fantastic trip. I loved the flora & fauna of Costa Rica and have great memories from Colombia but Peru is simply an explosion of colour and the food is ridiculously good. The hiking part was challenging but the views breathtaking. The number of Inka ruin sites we visited BEFORE Machu Picchu was also a positive surprise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The best part of the jungle extension was the 4:30am start on a boat when we travelled to see the macaws and a beautiful sunrise on the way. Also the boat ride on the lake watching the birds, caymans and catching a piranha which then fell into our boat :) I also shed a tear when we stopped the boat in the middle of the night on the river to take in the most starry sky I have ever seen in my life (cue crying) On the main cycling part I was extremely taken with the Maras ruins, salt pans and of course the Machu Picchu itself. When we laid our eyes on the Uros (floating islands) we were all gobsmacked, too. But you cannot underestimate the assault of colours that is the way the strong Peruvian ladies wear! Realising this is not just a tourist thing in Cuzco but what they actually wear on a daily basis, came as a shock. And when the host lady at the home stay brought out all kinds of clothes and hats and we all dressed up in the full attire, hats and all, for a lovely group photo, was a fantastic experience as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    First we had Joel in the jungle who is a real Peruvian Wildlife Jedi and can spot a baby cayman in total darkness across the full width of the river. I swear I thought he had placed them there himself ahead of our night trip... Also his tarantula tracking skills are second to none. And when Jeff tripped and lost his sunglasses about 40min away from our base, unbeknown to us Joel traced back our route to retrieve them and arrived at dinner proudly holding them up (drenched in sweat and flustered). Great guy! We then have Carlos on the cycling trip. He is a mountain biker and struggled understanding my fear of steep descents but he took good care of us on and off the bike. When it was one of the girls' birthday he booked a lovely restaurant with a folk show and organised a cake, too. The driver Elvis should be renames as Evil Kenevil after driving that minibus on the most scary road I have ever witnessed! And Leonardo, the Chef, was the sweetest guy with some serious cooking skills.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I must say THANK YOU to Peter Gomes, whose review I read properly on the day of departure and which made me repack! TEMPERATURE: we went in July which is their winter/dry season. from around 10am to about 4pm it's about 30 degrees Celsius. Nights are very cold and at the Alpaca ranch it was -3 in the morning with ice on the streams. Take many layers, winter gloves and thermals for the descents from 4,300m, warm hats and something to cover your face. We only got rained on once (out of the cloud forest) but badly so waterproofs are a must. The bikes are mountain bikes and have no mudguards and you will go through some streams that run across the road so you will get wet even without rain. In the jungle it's hot and humid but you want to sleep in PJs covering your limbs to prevent insect bites. Some hotels are really nice and warm and have extra heaters but the ranch and home stay despite being lovely get freezing at night so we were wearing hats and ponchos in bed. ALTITUDE: I would recommend getting the Diamox. I had gone to the GP but she refused to give it to me and as a result I suffered badly. First day in Cusco I felt like I was not going to be able to take part. I struggled breathing and was seeing spots. But hecto-litres of coca tea helped somewhat (note: it makes you pee like mad). However, any incline (which thankfully there are not too many of) was a herculean effort. The guys who were on Diamox were absolutely fine. FOOD: amazeballs. In hotels, restaurants and the stuff prepared by the chef. We actually all agreed that there was way too much food for the cycling efforts expected of us. The snack bags were very much appreciated but the massive lunches meant we missed a few dinners. SHOES: the hike the day before Machu Picchu is a serious one and good sturdy shoes and walking sticks (which you can hire through the guide) are a must. I don't do much hiking and after that I struggled to walk up and down the steps for a couple of days... Only bring your pedals and MTB cleats if you are a confident MTB rider otherwise I cycled all the time in the hiking boots. LAUNDRY: there are 2 nights in Cusco in the middle where you can use the hotel service. Other than that you can do handwash but take into consideration that if your room have no additional heaters, the chances of your washing actually drying plummets. And at alpaca farm and home stay it is impossible as no heating is available. You will get lucky if you get a hot shower :) but it's so worth it! FINAL SURPRISE: which I did not appreciate was that when the minibus arrived to our hotel in Puno to take us to Juliaca airport, it contained a guide we did not expect. He talked throughout the ride and we had one stop over right outside the town to see the panorama. We should have been told though. We just wanted to get to the airport on time worrying about the luggage being over the limit (yeah, loads of shopping opportunities :) )

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think Exodus should equip the riders with reflective strips/waistcoats or at least the bikes with some form of reflective items for the descent in the rain forest. It was a great ride but 60km with really bad visibility at times where we were plunged into dense fog completely invisible to the oncoming cars or at times each other. All other bikes we passed had this issue sorted out. It was only for that one day but even the bike pedals had no reflective parts and it must be sorted out.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    John Riley

    Fantastic trip

    Hi have recently returned from a wonderful week on the Highlights of the Tour de Mont Blanc trip. Had a wonderful time with a great group. We were so lucky to have Mike Rhodes as our trip leader - Mike's experience and knowledge of the region and routes covered each day was exceptional. Mike was always up for a chat and happy to share his wealth of knowledge - I even learnt a few new techniques to tie up my boots. The accommodation at Chalet Chocolat and the views were fantastic . Zoe and Ben spoilt us rotten - with all their tips and sensational meals . Thanks to all involved in a memorable week. JR

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walks each day were quite varied - different views and landscapes - and always a spectacular spot near the top for a lunch break.... and a delicious lunch each day it was...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Being able to walk with Mike was a highlight of my week.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Andrew Thomas

    You'll view steps differently...

    This is a well planned walking week on a beautiful (and steep) part of the Italian coast. Centred in Bomerano, a small town ideally situated - several of the walks start from the hotel - be warned they nearly all involve some steps (mostly downwards). The paths go through beautiful countryside with lemon groves, vineyards and spectacular views down to the sea. A day trip to walk the rim of Vesuvius and visit Pompei was very memorable. The hotel Due Torri was very comfortable and the staff all very friendly and helpful - very sensitive to some of the groups food intolerances or allergies.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I particularly like the visit to Ravello (Villa Cimbrone a must having been there 25 years ago) and the following walk down to Amalfi through lemon groves and a lovely wooded valley with waterfalls and streams (useful for cooling your feet) past old iron works and the site of the first paper mill in Europe. The ice creams and beers at the end were very welcome.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Martina was an exceptional group leader - funny, caring and full of local knowledge and a great ambassador for Italy and all things Italian - she introduced us the the word 'undulating' - some of those steps are uphill!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There are lots of steps - read the trip notes. Take walking pole(s) if you have them - the hotel do have some if you don't and there are a couple of well equipped outdoors shops in the village. I wore boots and was pleased to have them although others wore good walking shoes - you need something with good a grip (especially on Vesuvius). You can select your packed lunch each day - provided by the hotel - they were good.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great walking week in a beautiful part of Italy - just book and enjoy.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Rusne J.

    Highly recommend this trip

    Best holiday ever!!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The companions, the guide, the chalet with the hosts and the itinerary - I liked everything.
  • Reviewed July 2019

    Fantastic Finland

    For me its was a amazing trip. Although my staying arrangements was not that good as expected but other things made my trip awesome. I enjoyed range of outdoor activities such as snowshoeing,downhill skiing and dog sledding.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Riisitunturi National Park
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Richard Ponting

    A very enjoyable trip

    We thoroughly enjoyed our trip "Discover the Baltics". Our Exodus Guide was excellent and each of the specialist guides we had in the various cities and castles were also good. Transport was reliable and comfortable without being luxurious. We noted some members of our group were critical of some of the hotel accomodation, but most of the hotels offered an optional upgrade at very reasonable extra cost and we took advantage of this on one two occasions as my wife is a very light sleeper. We were also recommended some excellent restaurants for evening meals which took the risk out of looking for one ourselves. Lunch venues were organised by a guide in advance and were generally good value and carried the local foods and snacks. Overall we thought the trip was very good value for money and would recommend it to friends.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Gaining an understanding of the turbulent history of three counties which have all been occupied by and over-run by foreign forces on many occasions over the last 1000 years. We fully understood why the the locals Celebrated 100yr Indépendance Day in Cesis with traditional music, songs and dancing on Sat 21st June. Joining in the Midsummer celebrations on the river front in Riga on Sunday 22nd June. One big street party with local entertainment, foods and beverages. Brilliant! Sense of awe when visiting some Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches. Magnificent!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mindaygus Jucius is an excellent guide, he is very knowledgable about the countries we visited and has excellent language skills including English. He has a good sense of humour and is also is very patient.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Check with the hotels you are going to be staying in if you are concerned about the facilities that will be available to you. If upgrades are available you may want to consider it. Bear in mind that you will not be spending a lot of time in the rooms as the programme is fairly comprehensive and what free time you will have will probably be spent walking around the towns and cities you are staying in. You will be undertaking city tours of 3 hrs or so and much of the time you will be walking on cobbled streets. Appropriate comfortable footwear is essential. A reasonable level of mobility will be required as some of the old cities are built on hills and you will encounter stairs in some cases.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Dealing with the Exodus office staff when booking and adding an extra day's accomodation at the beginning and end of our tour was handled very well.
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