But, I’m here to tell you that multiple day guided trips, done the right way, are the most authentic way for short-term travel.
How is this possible?
It’s simple really. When traveling to a major metropolis like Rio de Janeiro for a few days or even a couple weeks, it is impossible to have a truly authentic experience on your own. You simply do not know the city well enough. It’s not your fault. It’s just not realistic to know about a city what people who have lived for years or their entire lives do. There is no coincidence that touristy places have very few locals. It’s because the locals know of the real cool things to do and avoid the traps.
So, the goal is to travel LIKE a local and the only way to do that when time is limited is to travel WITH a local.
This is where Jinga comes in.
Our guides are dynamic, tri-lingual and know Rio de Janeiro inside and out. They know what to do based on the time of year and that specific weekend you arrive. Rio de Janeiro is a city in constant motion and change and so are our experiences.
Listen, if you are backpacking around South America for 6 months and have no timeframe for where you need to be, then perhaps a guided tour isn’t your best option. Unless of course, you only have a short amount of time in a particular city and want to experience its true nature before heading off to another destination.
However, for the rest of us, we have to get back to work, our lives, our families. While spending a few months exploring Brazil may seem like an amazing experience, our present realities don’t allow that as an option.
For those of us with fast-paced lives the lesson is this: multiple day guided trips are the way to go.
To find out more about our travel experiences and see which travel style fits you best, click HERE.
Consider the one real night out with your significant other, where you forget about prices, and just focus on him or her. Your imagining… a fabulous view, outside terrace seating, intimate energy, high class appetizers, a bottle of wine, delicious entrée, classic desert, and maybe even an “digestif” to top it all off. A real treat because he or she deserves it. Well, normally you would have a heart attack when your credit card bill comes at the end of the month. Now, instead of planning the next special dinner a year down the road, you may even be able to squeeze one or two more of these memorable dinners on this Rio de Janeiro trip, and believe me Rio has its fair share of charming dinner spots with spectacular views.
Try hang gliding, an unforgettable, and pricey endeavor. In February of 2013, hang gliding would set you back about 260 U.S. frogskins. Today, you can have the same experience — photos, video, and 30 minutes of flight time — for around $110. And you can do it over some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
More about specific pricing about Rio de Janeiro accommodation, shopping, food, and more, click here!
Relax, you are not going to get robbed!
The most photogenic city in the world is safer than it has ever been. Contrary to what news publications like to say about Rio, City Hall has taken numerous measures to reduce crime and prioritize its residents and visitors safety. New small business regulations have been able to legalize many black market operations, such as street and beach venders and local market vendors. Regular police posts can be found on many street corners and even the beaches of the South Zone (Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon, Lagoa). Transportation infrastructure, including taxis and Ubers, the metro extension, the BRT, and the LVT, has improved all over the city and is accessible at all hours of the night, which decreases your chances of walking down the wrong street. Don’t let miss leading international news dissuade you from traveling to Rio de Janeiro now! You won’t believe how pleasant it can be! (Read more about safety, here)
Favelas might not be “Favelas” for too much longer!
Continued pacification and improving infrastructural projects in the “comunidades” (favelas), commonly translated as slums, have encouraged outsiders to see Rio from a new perspective, transforming neglected areas into something known today as “Favela Hype.” These favelas are a special part of the city, where people go for the culture and experience, and stay for the views. In some areas, you can even camp overnight on mountain top by a starlit wine glass.
Local and Federal Governments are putting in the dough!
Government funded initiatives are modernizing Rio de Janeiro as well. Gigantic urban projects are currently in progress, changing the scope of the city, including implementing a light rail downtown (LVT) and revitalization the entire port area (Porto Maravilha). Green parks are being built in much needed neighborhoods. Many new transportation vias, both for vehicles and buses (including the very successful BRT), are improving traffic congestion all over the city. A new Metro line, albeit delayed, will connect the south zone of Rio to the west zone, giving access to some of the most remote beaches and transforming the city into a fully functional, cosmopolitan, tropical paradise.
New state of the art museums have taken the place of rundown buildings. The Museu do Amanhã in Centro just opened its doors in 2016; Museu de Arte do Rio has won international Architecture prizes; Museu da Imagem has change the face of Copacabana Beach. The Museu de Arte Moderna and the Museu de Arte Contemporânia have all undergone renovations and are looking spectacular. Rio de Janeiro now is living up to its rightful position in Brazilian culture.
Many of these changes are consequences of the second global phenomenon in the city in two years, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Unlike the 2014 World Cup which spanned 12 cities, the Olympics will be held entirely in Rio de Janeiro. If there’s something to be said about throwing a banging international party, there’s something else to be said about doing it twice.
Today, sailing teams can be seen looping single file like the tail of a kite in Guanabara bay below Sugar Loaf Mountain. Rowers occupy the lagoon, evidenced by lane lines, and time clocks, and the glassy wakes of their boats. Tickets are on sale for both Olympic and Special Olympic test events. The city is going to be alive. Athletes, international and national tourists, and residents alike, everyone’s going to feel it.
First, replace Fran the office doughnut lady with a quiosque of green coconuts and cold beers on Copacabana or Ipanema Beach. Turn the water tower into a palm tree, the fluorescent lights into fresh air, and make the din of traffic on the highway below waves, licking your sandy toes as you look over the islands just a few kilometers out. It might be a little wet, but the beach is empty and all your’s.
If you need a coffee before all of that, head over to the “Forte de Copacabana” close by. Enjoy the open buffet breakfast and one of the most picturesque views of the city. After filling up on fruit you still can’t pronounce the name of, take a troll around the “forte” and read a little about Rio de Janeiro History.
A walk around Centro just needs an umbrella
After the casual meander head over to the downtown, buy and cheap colorful typical tourist Rio de Janeiro umbrella from one of the street venders and continue the sightseeing.
After wandering the busy streets seek some refuge in one of the Museums in Praça Maua, the new focal point of Rio’s Downtown. If an entrance fee may steer you away try the famous CCBB, always exhibiting fascinating works.
If you can hold off that quick bit until the early afternoon, take the Bonde (trolly) up to the bohemian capital of Rio de Janeiro, Santa Teresa, and enjoy the traditional Feijoada at one of restaurants on the cobble stones streets, its hard to go wrong. Nothing can cap of a cultural rainy day in Rio de Janeiro quite like a warm bean stew. After this meal you will happily curl up in your hotel bed and let the rain splash on the window sill, only to rest up and hit the streets at night, because Samba Tambourines still play loud even when the rain in Rio de Janeiro comes down.
The Botanical Gardens in the rain is pure zen
Maybe the City Center sounds a little to busy for a rainy day… In that case make your way to the Botanical Gardens and just drift through the park with the sound of rain drops hitting palm trees, lily pads, and flower petals.
A beautiful day in Rio should be spent outside, so consider today your chance to get the culture you normally would miss out on. Here are some of our favorite events from last year, imagine what this year will bring: