SICILIAN VOLCANOES

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Undoubtedly, the climb to the top of Stromboli for sunset, and the subsequent volcanic eruptions were my favourite part of the trip.  The climb up was the most difficult (and enjoyable) of the week with superb views from the top.  The sight of Stromboli erupting every 10-15 minutes was spectacular, and could arguably be included in a list of '100 things to see/do before you die'.  The walk back down in the dark (lit by headtorches) was great fun too.  I rather liked the bar we stopped in on the way back to the hotel - open air terrace, laid back jazz, cold Italian beer and complimentary bar snacks are an excellent combination. Mt Etna deciding to erupt on the day before we came home (and were due to climb it!) was a welcome, and unexpected bonus!

What did you think of your group leader?

Salvatore was a good group leader.  He came across as a genuinely nice chap, and throughout the week he was consistently cheerful and enthusiastic.  All elements of our trip took place as expected in the trip notes, and he also ensured all of our logistics (private transfers, ferries, local buses, accommodation, etc) went smoothly too.  He also went beyond what was expected of him by taking us for an extra walk on the free day (which I think was greatly appreciated by all concerned), and emailing us photographs he'd taken once we'd arrived home. Although Salvatore's English was fine, I found him to be quite softly spoken, meaning he was sometimes quite difficult to make out while briefing us as a group.  I felt this sometimes resulted in a little bit of confusion / concern within our group as to what was happening and what we were doing next.  Or possibly people weren't listening carefully enough.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Our trip took place at the end of October (20th - 27th) and the temperatures were still very high (no rain all week, and temperature estimated between 25 - 30 degrees  most days).  Even though much of the walking isn't particularly strenuous, the heat does play quite a big part -so think carefully before considering this trip during peak season, and prepare accordingly (especially plenty of water).

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Overall, I'd rate this as a good trip, but not an exceptional one. The walking was pretty good (with the volcano walks on Vulcano, Stromboli and Etna being the highlights), I was with a genuinely nice group of people, our leader did a fine job of showing us around, and everything on the trip went smoothly. I did feel however that for a 1 week trip there was quite a lot of queuing / waiting about for public transport (local buses, ferries, etc).  Although all the accommodation we stayed in was clean, provided excellent breakfasts and had friendly staff, it was quite basic - which I think made the price of the trip seem quite expensive (particularly as Stromboli and Etna incur additional cost).  I don't think this is particular to just Exodus - other operators price their equivalent Sicily trips at similar levels. Finally, and I'm not sure if it was because we were at the end of season, but I felt that the service in some of the local restaurants we ate in was below par.  There's a fine line between being very relaxed and unhurried (local culture), and not looking after your customers properly, and IMO quite a few of the places crossed it.  The food was generally very good though.