I am doing something completely out of the ordinary today – I am letting someone else speak on my blog! It was not an easy decision, but I really wanted to share with you our experience of having a local guide during our stay in Rio de Janeiro, and seeing as hubby Mo was the one who sorted it all – I figured he should be the one to tell the tale…
“I really wanted to book Rio as a surprise birthday present for the Mrs, but she ended up finding out after one of those excruciating accidental text message moments. What was meant to be a text for her sister, I accidentally sent to her! EPIC. FAIL.
However, since she now knew where she was going, I had to up the anti. It meant that I had to make the trip as memorable and as special for her possible. Now I’m not gonna lie. Since we’ve been married, I have become lazy. Asma tends to plan our holidays, but I wanted to show her once and for all that when I put my thinking cap on, and when it becomes a labour of love (as this trip was), then I can pull off something pretty spectacular – even if I do say so myself.
As we were limited time wise, I knew I had to plan every single day to ensure that we got the most out of Rio. I made a daily plan and ensured that morning, afternoon and evening were all taken care of.
Rio, as you may have heard, is not the safest of cities in the world. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most exciting I have ever been to and thinking about it even now fills me with an indescribable urge to go back. (I won’t go into the details as my better half already has on here).
But because of the safety aspect and because I knew that Asma and I would be limited if we were to attempt to do it alone, the only option was for me to hire a local. Somebody who has grown up or lived in Rio and knows exactly where to go and where to avoid.
And so began my research. A lot of my research was based around TripAdvisor. I googled ‘private tour guide in Rio’ and out came a beautiful list of many private tour guides based in and around Rio. I, of course, gravitated towards people at the top of the list. Good ratings, some with their own websites – they were the natural option.
The first person I emailed, was already booked. He did however recommend a man called Ederson Oliveira. I did my research and contacted probably about half a dozen guides to see what they could offer and how much they would charge. Bear in mind my days were already planned and I knew what we wanted to see with a tour guide, or in our case, with 2 different tour guides.
My top tips when you’re searching:
- Look at your guides personal profile, are you compatible? Do you share the same interests? (I.e. family man, party animal, etc.)
- Be sure to negotiate a good price
- Make sure you’re able to include everything you want to see (within reason)
I took the plunge and chose Ederson for our trip to the neighbouring City of Niteroi, across the water from Rio de Janiero.
What do I say about Ederson?! He was simply incredible. He is young, dynamic and very thoughtful. He pulled up outside of our hotel on time and drove us through the city to the bridge that connects Rio to Niteroi. Along the way, he stopped once or twice to point out local areas of interest and explained in amazing detail, elements of Brazilian history and politics. It was utterly fascinating (you can read all about our day here).
Asma and I go against what we learn as kids. We absolutely love to talk to strangers, especially when we are away. And we both bonded with him pretty much straight away. The conversation flowed and we got on like a house on fire. Ederson instinctively knew when to come over and explain things to us, and when to give us our time alone – to wonder around, to contemplate life, to simply absorb the ephemeral beauty of the Brazilian coastline.
He also knew what roads to avoid and the best places to take the most incredible photographs. The views of Rio from some points of Niteroi are indescribably beautiful. At several points, I was rendered utterly speechless.
Towards the end of our time sightseeing around Niteroi, Ederson said he would take us to a local eatery. A restaurant by the water serving fish caught that very afternoon. He said, ‘I will drop you off that this time and come pick you up later.’ Although this was a holiday dedicated entirely to my beautiful wife, we invited him to join us for dinner. And it was great because he knew the best local dishes and it just meant that we could talk to him more and find out about Brazilian life and culture. He made us laugh, showed us pictures and videos of his family. There was never a moment of clock-watching where we felt rushed. It was as though we were dining with an old friend.
Ederson is a highly principled man with a lot of integrity. He was unfortunately booked up for the rest of the trip and it was a real shame as there was another trip we would very much have wanted to do with him, but it wasn’t meant to be.
A couple of days later, whilst we were on top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, I heard a voice shout ‘Patel!’ (my surname). It was Ederson. He had spotted me amongst the masses whilst out on a trip with another family and he came over to say hi and ask how we were doing. The fact that he even remembered my name shows that this is a genuine guy.
Asma and I are LONGING to return to Rio. And if we do, you can bet your bottom dollar that we will be booking our trip around this man’s availability. I cannot recommend him highly enough. What he added to our trip of a lifetime was simply amazing.
My advice: BOOK HIM NOW. ”
Click here to visit Ederson’s good looking website
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Have you booked a tour with a local guide? What are your top tips?