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“Worst day in Rio - poor favela tour”
Review of Be a Local Tours

Be a Local Tours
Ranked #15 of 481 Tours in Rio de Janeiro
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: We provide City Tours, Favela Tours, Football/Soccer Games, Favela Funk Parties, walking tours and transfers. Since 2003 show the real Rio de Janeiro.
Hong Kong, China
Level 5 Contributor
19 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Worst day in Rio - poor favela tour”
Reviewed November 26, 2013

I rarely give poor review on TripAdvisor but I feel strongly that if you want to visit the favela - find a better company that does it right. If you just want to follow someone who knows the neighborhood for a walk and some opportunities to spend money along the way, this might be for you; but if you are looking for something more, do more research and consider something else.

There were only 4 people on the day I did the tour. I guess it was not enough to justify hiring the driver (but they didn't want to cancel the tour), so we were picked up by the guide's private car. There was thus no one who could drop us off on the top of the hill and walk down with us (normally the driver drops off the people while the guide walks with the group then meet the driver down the hill again).

We first spent some time driving around finding a parking spot, then we were asked to each pay extra for a motortaxi to take us up to the hill. While I don't mind giving some room for flexibility with the transportation arrangement, I find it quite unbelievable that they asked us to pay more at the spot while it should have all been included. Just not the right way of conducting business in my opinion - not to mention that none of us was notified about this at all before the tour.

The real bummer however is the tour itself. I was really hoping to learn more about the favela, about its development, history, people's life there etc. Although our guide seems to know the people well, he doesn't really have the knowledge and enthusiasm to answer our questions. Our questions were often answered with counter-questions, or some general comments that everybody could have made. The tour was more like a walking tour with very limited explanations, with several stops for you to "contribute" to the community there (gallery, music performance by a couple of kids, pastry shop, handcraft vendors). While I am not against a bit of shopping here and there, I thought there should be better and bigger way to contribute other than say buying over-priced water at the specific shop they brought us to?

Overall we had almost no interaction with the people living there (except for the times they wanted us to spend money). It was a huge disappointment and I would rather not do it if I knew it would be a tour like this. I later learned that there is an NGO that helped young people from favela set up a company to run favela tours - in hindsight I wish I've gone with them or with another company that has been running favela tours for longer (heard decent reviews from other travelers afterwards). For me, a favela tour should be done carefully in a way beyond a sightseeing tour, but unfortunately this company just doesn't offer that.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
Thank TravelMontage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark_Iron, Manager at Be a Local Tours, responded to this review, November 28, 2013
Thanks for your review. We apologize the lack of information you might got during the tour and we are working to improve and requalify our guide to get better and not let our clients down on next tours.
About your favela tour, we almost never use a private car on the tour, but sometimes, when people can´t cancel, because are leaving the city, we try to give the service as "private" with 2 or 4 people with one guide. The Be a Local Tours never ask our client to pay extra during the tours, if the guide asked you to pay, he did it wrong and will be suspended of duty.
We have been operating the tours for over 10 years and had satisfied most of the clients. Once again, sorry if you didn´t like it and the guide was rubish.
It is with reviews like your that we can know what´s going on on the backstage and we can work to fix mistakes and get better.
Kind regards,
Marcio Ferro
Be a Local Tours.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Cardiff, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Amazing favela tour and favela funky party”
Reviewed October 21, 2013

I did the favela tour with this company and the sunday night funky favela tour aswell. Both were amazing and really well organised! They gave me a real insight into Rio life and the tour guides were great fun and very knowledgeable!!

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Wesley_C-J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mark_Iron, Manager at Be a Local Tours, responded to this review, October 26, 2013
Thanks for join us, hope to see you again soon.
Be a Local Crew!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dundee, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great tour for first timers”
Reviewed October 14, 2013

We heard about the trip via a hostel notice board, and thought it would be perfect as we only had 3 days in Rio. The pick-up was tedious, as mentioned by others, but mainly because we were the first to be collected, and I was anxious that we weren't getting value for money at that point. The only solution is for everyone to go to a central place, though, which would be less convenient for travellers. Yes, it took us a while in traffic to get to the first stop, Christ the Redeeemer, but that's how it goes! Dan, our guide, was great, gave us lots of information, and clearly knew what he was doing. At every stop he told us information and was open to questions which he tried to answer. The trip to the top of Sugar Loaf was spectacular at sunset, and after as we came down the mountain with the lights of Rio. The previous reviewer complained about it being cold; I feel it's up to the traveller to decide what is appropriate for the conditions. Dan didn't tell us to put on sun cream, either!! We really enjoyed the whole experience, except the pick-up. Well done Dan!

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Deanfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeaLocal021, Manager at Be a Local Tours, responded to this review, October 18, 2013
Thanks for your review.
We know that sometimes traffic get´s crazy in Rio and providing pick ups at most of the hotels/hostels, can cause some delay to reach the attractions. We are working hard to make changes and make it faster and better.
Kind regards,
marcio
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Juan Metro Region, Puerto Rico
Level 6 Contributor
85 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 138 helpful votes
“A total waste of money”
Reviewed September 30, 2013

I was picked up at hotel at 2pm. You have to pay cash or you cannot step in the little bus. "No ticket no laundry."They arrived at the Christ in the city tour at 4pm. The Christ was full of clouds, you couldn't see anything, no city view only clouds. It was cold, the tour guide Fernanda had a coat, she knew it was this way, but said nothing to the participants. The Christ is in the Tijuca Rain Forest. Tour guide only said, "there is the cathedral you have 15 minutes", Ok hello, tell us something about it, year built who designed, but said nothing. It was the same in the Lapa stairs, "there are the stairs you have 10 minutes". They picked participants late, they took a traffic jam to the Christ to see clouds!!!!!!!. I returned the next day by public bus. Paid $5.00 USD round trip and enjoyed the Christ how I wanted. Took me $75.00 for nothing. They took me also to the Sugar Loaf at 7pm, What I was going to see by night? At this moment I was so upset that I took a taxi and returned to my hotel. I did not finish this "tour". I went early next morning by public bus 512 to URCA and I enjoyed it BY DAY!. And I returned by 511 toward Copacabana. This "tour guide" had the guts of asking for tips in advance, "I love tips, they are welcomed" for what? For taking us to a Christ full of clouds, and go late to Sugarloaf to see lights? Are you serious?

The bottom line is, go by yourself study the maps at G o o gle, study the routes from and to by public transportation is very easy. Do not take the city tour they only want your money. They take about two hours picking up other people wasting YOUR TIME. Public transportation is easy and buses are NEW with AC. Just say The Christ or El Cristo very loud to the driver, they will tell you when is time to step out the bus. The same applies to Sugarloaf. But always be early, tourists arrives in Tours by the dozens after 930am. Be early and the Christ is yours, the first train to the Christ departs at 830 am. Bus to Christ is 583 returning is 584, $2.75 Reals each way, about $1.75 USD. A real deal. Do not take this tour.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Galant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeaLocal021, Manager at Be a Local Tours, responded to this review, October 2, 2013
Thanks for your comment, we are working hard to improve our business. Just to clarify some points. Here in Rio must of the attractions are natural one´s like Sugar Loaf, Christ, beaches and forest, so the weather is a big deal when you try to visit it.
We are running tours everyday and people know in advance how the weather will be by the day of the tour and if the weather is bad or cloudy, how can we manage that?
About your comments of lack of information at Lapa Steps and Cathedral, we will call the guide Fernanda to come back for trainning and pass all the information about the sites that we visit.
Wish you all the best, hoping to have you on board next time in Rio.
Marcio
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fantastic favela tour”
Reviewed September 23, 2013

The guide was really good, clearly well-known in Rocinha, showed respect for the locals and provided insight and interesting information. Couldn't have wished for a better tour.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank mabildstrom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BeaLocal021, Owner at Be a Local Tours, responded to this review, January 2, 2014
Thanks for your comment, it was a pleasure to have in on board.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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