Update by user Jun 24, 2016
My review has errors. I did like: the service helping me to leave early.
Also the wonderful birds.
Location is also wrong. Trip started in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Original review posted by user Jun 24, 2016
Worst Trip EVER.. I will NEVER travel with Holbrook again! I am an avid birder, so I was really looking forward to this week’s (June 18-29, 2016) trip to Ecuador. I studied the birds in my books for weeks beforehand, as well as the maps. That is why I am so sad, angry, disappointed that I had to leave the trip and fly home after only a few days, on June 22. I knew this would be a rough trip, but no one told me before I left I needed to prepare myself for a marathon physically, and a camping-style trip. For a cost of $4000!! For that amount I could have stayed in luxury lodges and hired a private guide. No one told me that I needed to be EXTREMELY physically fit to go on this so-called “vacation.” I am 65, and not unfit, but this was extreme. I walk, hike or swim every day. But the others in the group were runners and bikers and play tennis. If I’d known the trip was going to be so physically demanding I would not have gone. It was like a macho birdathon. For example, breakfast would be at 0530, and we needed to be packed up and on the bus at 6. Then, we would be out birding all morning until noon, with no restroom facilities, and we would be given a box lunch. Peeing is one thing; pooping in the field was horrible. Especially with the runs. THAT was certainly not in the brochure! You need to add toilet paper to your list of what to pack. This was typical of every day. 6 morning hours in the field, in the heat and humidity, standing or hiking. Then, after lunch off birding again until 6 PM. Ten to 12 hours!! Sometimes standing and waiting for 30 minutes to find a single bird. The only alternative was to stay by myself at the lodge or stay in the hot bus. The public facilities we did use were at gas stations, filthy and some without toilet paper or even WATER! At night my legs cramped horribly. The last night, I tried everything to relieve the pain, and again got very little sleep. I am not used to crying and falling apart on my trips. Birding should be a joy, but instead it was a painful, horrible experience. The water in the our sink and shower was brown. The towel I had was torn. The bed and pillow smelled strongly of mildew. The food was just OK, and breakfast had to be gulped down so fast I could not enjoy it. Our guide, Andres, was a good bird guide, but terrible at telling us what to expect or asking about our comfort. At least he helped me get to the airport and leave, so I was grateful for that. And the birds, especially the hummers, were wonderful to see. I just wish I could have seen more. It’s hard to have fun when one feels so miserable. I had no choice but to leave and go home. Now that I am at home, I am still very sick at both ends. Probably from the food. I tried my best to avoid the filthy water. I have traveled extensively, and gone on birding and eco-trips with International Expeditions, Naturalist Journeys, and others. It was never like this. We were out 2 or 3 hours at most. We often had lunch at nice restaurants with clean, good restrooms. We even stopped for coffee or afternoon refreshment. They really cared about our comfort. This was nothing like that. It was by far the worst, most uncomfortable trip of my life. I will NEVER recommend Holbrook.