Be Free Tours - Rio de Janeiro
I am in love with the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings, but as a solo traveler from the United States, I am also aware of my own limitations when navigating a city like Rio on my own. At the same time, I prefer to avoid tour groups, and like to have the flexibility to explore the city at my own pace and in my own way rather than follow the schedule and plan of a larger group.
I have done a number of custom designed tours with Marcelo and his team in September 2018 and July 2019, and have already scheduled another couple of tours for July 2021.
Touring the city with Rio natives Marcelo and Rafael is like having local friends proudly show me around their hometown. In addition to the usual tourist hotspots like Corcovado and Sugarloaf, it is fantastic to experience the local scene at the Feira de Sao Cristovao, and take in the beauty of the city from relatively secluded vantage points like Morro Dona Marta and parts of the Tijuca rainforest.
On my most recent trip, the tour was expanded to include the historic towns of Petropolis and Teresopolis, named after the last emperor and empress of Brazil. My next trip will definitely include a return to Teresopolis for some hiking in the Serra dos Orgaos!
Africa Moja Tours & Transfers
My cousin and I took a two-week trip to South Africa in November 2019. While we had planned on spending most of our time in and around Cape Town, we did want to take a quick trip to the northeastern part of the country to see the wildlife. I booked a 3-day safari tour of Kruger National Park with Africa Moja.
David from Africa Moja was extremely proactive and efficient in assisting with the formulation and execution of our plan. He booked our flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back, the drive from Johannesburg to Kruger and back, and hotel in the Hazyview area near Kruger National Park (this area is at a higher elevation, and identified as low risk for malaria). David also arranged for our transportation from our hotel in Cape Town to the airport and back. He really took care of all the essential elements of the tour, and made it worry-free for us.
The safari itself was like a dream I did not want to wake up from. We saw lots of wild life in its native habitat (see the photos I have uploaded), including a leopard that had killed an impala and dragged it up a tree. It was a private tour (just my cousin and I with the driver), so we had the flexibility to explore at our own pace.
One thing I noticed was that the guide had a sort of mental checklist of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, cape buffalo, and elephant), and focused primarily on showing us those animals. While we did see all of the Big 5, that was not our primary interest. I, for example, was much more interested in cheetahs, giraffes, kudus, and additional leopard sightings than in buffaloes or rhinoceroses. The tour guides seem to assume that the Big 5 are what everyone visits the park for.
Overall, this was an absolutely fantastic tour, which I will continue to recommend to anyone who will listen to me.