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Rio With Your Heart Open


In mid-February The New York Times Travel section ran a piece about one woman's travels with her daughter to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, called Rio, With Eyes Open. While highlights of the city were mentioned, the over-arching theme of the entire article seemed to focus on the safety of the city and the writer's fears about visiting with her daughter. Here at Wildland Adventures we feel strongly that embarking on a journey while harboring preconceived notions about safety and security is never a good idea; rather, we advocate traveling smartly and 'with your heart open.' So we turned to Gabi Assis, our resident Brazil guru from Sao Paulo who has guided in the Pantanal and Atlantic Raiforest. As a Brazilian that has been working in the tourism industry for more than 10 years, Gabi responds to the question seemingly posed by the NYT journalist of “Would it be possible to experience Rio with maximum pleasure and minimal risk?”

Advice from Gabi - The answer is “yes” if you follow some tips, which actually work for any trip abroad. Before you go, “study” your destination. There is a lot of information about Rio and Brazil on the internet, books, magazines and other sources that you can use to understand how things work over there and what might be different than what you expect at home.

If it is possible, always hire the services of one of the top adventure travel companies. Their experience, itineraries and guides will make your trip more pleasant, safer and you will be less stressed with the planning and while on vacation.

Be careful as you should be in any big city throughout the world. Avoid walking alone at night in the center or poor areas like “favelas”, don’t draw attention wearing expensive-looking jewelry, carry the minimum number of valuables, and plan places to conceal them. Always pay attention to your items, like cameras, purse, backpacks, bags etc. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Do not accept food or drink from strangers.

Be prepared for the unexpected. Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver's license, the credit cards that you plan to bring with you, your itinerary and emergency phones. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends at home; pack the other in a place separate from where you carry the originals. Consider purchasing an insurance policy designed for travelers, and covering short-term health and emergency assistance, as well as medical evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness.

Open your heart to enjoy this life experience to the fullest! Allow yourself to build your own image of Rio, not one already put before you. This happened to Adventure Travel Trade Association president Shannon Stowell after his trip to Rio and Brazil. “City of God was one of the roughest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a drama about teenagers growing up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Before I went to Brazil this was one of the few reference points I had, and though somewhat intrepid as a traveler, I was apprehensive. However, we cannot know a place from one source. It was time to dive in… seeing the Brazil that our guides know and love made the tour an incredible experience”. Check his whole blog about the experience here: "Brazil for the Cultural Adventurer"

To plan your adventure in Brazil, consider joining Wildland's 'Into the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil' and active and cultural exploration of Brazil's Costa Verde. Or contact Program Director Kirsten Gardner to discuss a custom trip!

About Gabi Assis
Gabi grew up in the Atlantic Rainforest of Sao Paulo state, Brazil. Here she fell in love with nature and the outdoors and at the age of 12, joined a NGO that protected and studied the ecology of the Japi Forest in Sao Paulo. She studied ecology in college and subsequently became a guide in the Pantanal while also teaching environmental education. Gabi has guided extensively throughout Brazil, learning firsthand how nature tourism can be a great tool for conservation. She's been a guide, researcher, lodge manager and has assisted with developing sustainability programs in the Pantanal and Atlantic Coast. Her love of the travel industry brought her to Wildland Adventures for a few months where she has helped us launch and develop new programs in Brazil.

keeping it wild,

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