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“An awesome Guy-ide”

Rafael Torres Lopes Tour Guide
Ranked #7 of 548 Tours in Rio de Janeiro
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 1 July 2012

I looked into getting a tour guide since I wasn't sure how "safe" Rio was and also because I don't speak a lick of Portuguese or Spanish so figured I'd need a translator. I was also travelling on my own and wanted to do my research before-hand instead of just finding someone when I got there. I found Rafa with rave reviews on Trip Advisor and shot him an email. He emailed back by the next day with a long and enthusiastic email. He sounded fun enough and seemed to have a genuine interest in showing me his hometown so I booked him and off I went. Rio was a passing city for me so I had to catch everything in a day. We started the trip at Christo Redentor where he sent me up on my own since it costs about $22 to take the only (and slowest ever) trolley up the hill so I suggest doing this on your own because it's a two hour cut into your day which can be easily done without a guide. When I was done, Rafa took me to the Santa Teresa neighborhood where he showed me all of his hangout bars and restaurants. It was a fun bumpy ride (cobble stones everywhere) with a little bit of history talk and an exchange of life stories. Just the kind of relaxing ride I needed. Since we were there, we checked out the Selarón steps which was really cool. Many a fun jumping pictures off the steps later, he thought my adventurous side could use a trip into one of the favelas. He had a friend there that could serve us up a home cooked meal and man was my stomach wanting some good down home grubbing. We had a joy ride up to the favela on a couple of motorbikes which was awesome fun. Our chef friend at "Favela point" (her mini restaurant) made us some good ol rice, beans, and chicken, Brazilian style with sides to boot and then became our guide for her neighborhood. What an eye-opener. She was so sweet and Rafa helped translate between us. Best part of the trip was coming off the hill in what we thought would have been a safer van but our driver was speed hungry and flew down the mountain in a very bouncy ride. We had a blast laughing the whole way down!! Since I had to hit the airport by the end of the day, we city toured right up until my flight time and Rafa graciously drove me to the airport. All in all, I would recommend Rafa to anyone looking for a trust worthy guide that has your best interests in mind and speaks pretty good English. He has a friend everywhere he goes and is well received in the neighborhoods we were at. I had to put a lot of trust into him since I was travelling alone and my suitcase and backpack were left in his car throughout the day. He's an awesome guy with genuine interest in being the best tour guide not only for you but for the reputation of his company which is how business should be done. Pick him!! =D

1  Thank spunkymonkay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (566)
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"highly recommend rafa"
in 25 reviews
"parque da cidade"
in 12 reviews
"friend for life"
in 14 reviews
"across the bridge"
in 6 reviews
"locals know"
in 9 reviews
"plan b"
in 6 reviews
"visited rio"
in 20 reviews
"dear friend"
in 6 reviews
"santa teresa"
in 27 reviews
"his knowledge"
in 19 reviews
"south america"
in 15 reviews
"real rio"
in 13 reviews
"hidden gems"
in 8 reviews
"sugar loaf"
in 28 reviews
"cruise ship"
in 11 reviews
"his passion"
in 7 reviews
"speaks perfect english"
in 9 reviews

276 - 280 of 566 reviews

Reviewed 27 June 2012

My husband and I are avid travelers and have never required a tour guide. But because we have never traveled to South America, knew little to no Portuguese, and had limited time in Rio (2 full days), we decided to find a guide through tripadvisor. As an avid user of tripadvisor, I have actually never written a review. But because of the wonderful time we had with our new and dear friends Rafa and Marcone, I was compelled to write such a review…

It was truly an opportunity to experience Rio with Rafa and his friend Marcone (also another of Rafa’ guides). You can see they really love their country and take so much pride in it and want to share it with others. Spending time with Rafa and Marcone felt like I was spending time with really great friends. Rafa is so knowledgeable, honest, enthusiastic, passionate, and fun! I think he has a really good sense of people and really adapts to the style of his visitors. Marcone is just as genuine, sweet, charming, and outgoing! They really make you feel comfortable and go out of their way to assist you. They were punctual (very important to us!), spoke excellent English, and were open to any and all ideas!

Rafa took us to all of the not-to-be missed tourists places (i.e. Christ The Redeemer, Tijuca Forest, Selaron stairs), as can any guide. But what makes Rafa’s trips so special is that he brings you to the real and undiscovered places of Rio – places that even the locals don’t know about! We saw the true beauty of Rio – meeting natives, eating at local places, and even going to a free cultural museum. I could write a whole novel on our experience but instead, I’ll just highlight a few of my favorite adventures with Rafa:

Marapendi wetlands: It is a wetland composed of lagoons and exotic birds and animals. It is accessible only by boat. Within the wetlands lays a small community that we got to explore on foot with Rafa. We saw more exotic foliage and fruit trees, met with a local woman who was known for her homemade fruit popsicles (yes we had a couple popsicles!), and then ate lunch at a floating restaurant that served excellent feijodas and nice strong caiparinas.

Niteroi: After seeing the well-known MAC museum, Rafa took us to the most beautiful panoramic view Rio has to offer. The place is so breathtaking that it even serves as the paragliding school. Afterwards, we got to visit a small and quiet fishing village where local fisherman were hauling their days worth of catch. The beautiful beach was speckled with colorful boats and exotic fish that were washed ashore. We ended our evening with a dinner at a local churrascaria that beat any of the chain ones I’ve been to and with a very good price tag!

Santa Teresa: We got to meet the famous Selaron himself! I enjoyed seeing beautiful graffiti turned into art along the walls of Santa Teresa. We also had a chance opportunity to watch local kids practice caipoeria at the community center.

Local beaches west of Rio: unspoilt natural beaches, some accessed only by locals. We sipped coconuts and shared hot dogs while watching the sunset

Nightlife in Santa Teresa, Lapa, and Copacabana: I was compelled to purchase and wear a shirt that said “Dance Until Dawn” because that is what we did in Lapa! :D The night life in Rio is vibrant, colorful, and alive! It is not to be missed. Rafa and Marcone brought us to amazing zamba places and fantastic restaurants where we chomped on delicious local seafood, meats, and veggies.

The car rides: Okay, Rafa has a great car and it will and can take you anywhere! I mention Rafa’s car for two reasons. First because the car rides were fun! I can still hear Bette Midler’s “Fever” playing soulfully in the background and remember looking out the window at Rio’s beautiful beaches that served as a backdrop. Second, it was the last memory I had of Rafa bringing us to the airport. I remember feeling very sad as I reminisced in the car as to what a wonderful time we had with Rafa and Marcone. I remember giving Rafa a big hug and feeling a lump in my throat…It felt like we were leaving family…

With that sentiment, I would highly encourage you to see Brasil through the eyes of our lovely new friends Rafa and Marcone. They are amazing people and genuinely care about their visitors. It is with their help and guidance that I can honestly and confidently say that through all my travels, this has been the trip of a lifetime!

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 June 2012

While I have used the advice posted on tripadvisor for years, our experience with Rafa compelled me to finally write something here. My wife and I took our first trip south of the equator and visited Brasil and Rio, in particular. While we had heard some issues about safety and because we spoke not a lick of Portuguese we thought it would be best if we got a guide to take us around. Never would we have expected a guide as well versed, friendly, fun-loving, spontaneous, enthusiastic and genuine as Rafa. We also had the chance to spend time with one of Rafa's other guides, Marcone who was sweet, funny, easy-going, and knowledgable. We spent a couple of days with these two wonderful people.

Sure, they took us to the standard tourist places, but Rafa showed us Rio in a way I bet most locals haven't even experienced. We spent time in the Marapendi wetlands, Niteroi, Tijuica National Forest, and at many beautiful uncrowded beaches. We even had the opportunity to meet and chat up Selaron himself when we went to the Selaron steps!!!! It seems like Rafa knows all of the locals and they all help take care of his guests!!! He also knows where some of the most spectacular views in Rio are and he loves to share it with his guests.

Rafa really went out of his way to help us with some of the tourist necessities as well, which I am not sure we could have done by ourselves, including buying bus tickets, going to the bank, and giving us advice with our other travel plans.

They really made it feel like we were spending time with a couple of great friends, we never knew we had, and that experience made the trip more comfortable, fun, and interesting!! They really did become our friends as they had dinner with us on a number of occasions and also took us out one night for an awesome night of dancing at Rio Scenarium!


1  Thank Alex415617
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 June 2012

My husband and I were in Rio in May as part of our 7 week honeymoon to Brazil. We booked two days with Rafa to visit the best parts of Rio. He suggested that we do the tour at the start of our trip so that he can give us an overview of the city. He picked us up at the airport and drove us to our apartment on our arrival and this helped us get to know him before the trip. When we arrived in Rio it was raining badly so he suggested that we shift our tour because the weather had to improve further on in the week and we would enjoy ourselves much more in good weather. So he found us another day and advised us on how we could spend our first day in Rio with rainy weather. On the second day of our stay in Rio Rafa picked us up and took us straight to see Christ the Redeemer since the weather was perfect. We had already discussed by email the main spots we would have visited and Rafa took us around explaining and entertaining us with his shiny character. He was not just a guide but also a friend and made his best to please us and make this trip memorable. We visited many beautiful places such as Niteroi, which are difficult to visit alone. He also took us to cheap, excellent restaurants for lunch which also gave us the opportunity to mingle with the locals. I strongly suggest Rafa since he is not only a guide but also a friend who takes interest in his guests and loves his job. During all our holiday we corresponded through emails and Facebook because he took interest in our Brazilian adventure and mostly he made sure that we were fine all through our trip. Before leaving for home we spent another 2 days in Rio and 2 weeks before we decided to do a Favela tour. We went with Sonia Chagas, a tour guide who works with Rafa and had a great day visiting the Rocinha Favela. She continually made sure that we were safe and she took us to a great market with cheap prices. Both Rafa and Sonia speak fluently in English and for us it was of great help since we do not speak any Portugese and few people speak English in Brazil.

1  Thank dan777mtl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 June 2012

My husband and I booked a day tour with Rafa Torres and his friend, Sonia Chagas, for our first day in Rio in April. We are pretty demanding travelers, and before our trip we communicated with Rafa and Sonia about what we wanted to see and do during our tour. We got a lot of ideas from other reviewers here on TripAdvisor, plus some of our own from our research of Rio, and both Sonia and Rafa were extremely helpful and flexible in developing our itinerary. Rafa does have a usual set of highlights he likes to take his friends to, in case you're not into researching on your own, and all of them are fantastic, but I highly recommend reading through other posts here to see how they spent their time with Rafa.

We had planned to start our day at Cristo Redentor, but it was a cloudy, rainy morning, so we skipped that and went back to it a later day (Rafa gave us perfect instructions on how to get there on our own using the bus and metro system, which was a fun adventure on its own). We spent an unforgettable morning with Selaron at his famed staircase, and even got to venture into his workshop inside his home and buy an original painted tile from him. I understand that some days he's sociable and other days would rather be left alone, but if you're lucky, you'll catch him on a chatty day. After spending the morning with him, my husband joked to Rafa and Sonia that there was no way to top that experience and we may as well just spend the rest of the day on the beach drinking cervejas! Because of the weather, some of the overlooks and viewpoints that people normally get to enjoy were a bit overcast for us, but the views were still amazing. We had a fantastic lunch in Niteroi and then spent the afternoon with the Guarani tribe. When we made it back to Copacabana (where we were staying), Rafa and Sonia even joined us for drinks and great conversation on the beach.

It was truly an unforgettable day, and I cannot recommend Rafa and/or Sonia highly enough. We still keep in touch even after being home for six weeks, they really are our new friends! We also thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our stay in Rio. It's a beautiful, welcoming city full of personality and wonderful people. We explored quite a bit on our own and never once felt uncomfortable or unsafe. Just like with any big city, you just have to be smart about your belongings and your surroundings. We cannot wait to go back with our kids! Feel free to email me if you want any suggestions or any more info about Sonia and Rafa. Enjoy your trip, and CALL THEM!

Thank cmbrood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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