You’ve been wanderlusting after Brazil for quite some time now, long before your timeline became flooded with incredible photos from last year’s World Cup. Brazil, however, confronts you with this burning question. You can’t visit Brazil without wanting to make the most out of the South American continent, so where would one begin? Answering that question, and then some, is Tamer Emam, Founder and Head of Concierge at the dedicated boutique travel company, Brazilis Traveler.
Why Tamer? Well, he is a multi-talented quintessential traveler and adrenaline junkie who fluently speaks Brazilian Portuguese, English and his native mother tongue, Arabic. A truly global citizen, a Business Administration graduate and has 10 years of work and travel experience under his belt. Upon visiting Brazil for a vacation in 2009, he made the big move across the pond to settle in Brazil in November of 2010. He said, “I was mesmerized by Brazilian culture, the friendliness and the embracing attitude of the people, the weather, the marvelous breathtaking natural environment, and above all the fast growing economy. The abundance of its natural resources for exporting raw materials, the shortage of experienced talents and the skyrocketing demand of its medium class on goods and services made it an ideal place to start a business.” Indeed, he did start a business. One that showcases his love and his Brazilian experiences, perfectly tailored for people from all walks of life in need of guidance when it comes to planning what would easily be the trip of a lifetime. Read on to learn about how you can make your upcoming trip to Brazil an unforgettable experience!
What do you aim to achieve through Brazilis Traveler and what do you wish for visitors to experience?
I would like to spread the notion that traveling in general, and especially to Brazil and South America, is the only chance you have to see an unfiltered, unbiased view of the beauty of this planet. With the help of Brazilis Traveler as the unparalleled choice in travel planning, to discover wonders like the Amazon rain forest, spectacular beaches, the Carnival in Brazil, the lost Incan civilization in Machu Picchu, the biodiversity of Ecuador’s Galapagos islands, the mighty Andes mountains and glaciers in Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia, and coffee farms in Colombia. As the French writer Gustave Flaubert once said “it is these wonders that turn us to modest people once we see what a tiny place we occupy in this world.”
Since you are based in Brazil, tell us about your favorite Brazilian experience so far.
Before visiting Brazil I had no expectations at all as I did not know much about the country, aside from its struggle with high crime rates, the mighty Amazon forest and the world-class football, Jiu-Jitsu and UFC champions. I intentionally decided not to read any reviews on the Internet in order to avoid any type of preset opinions, yet I was very much anxious to know the secret behind Brazil’s exoticness. Being raised in an urban atmosphere and a small country like Kuwait, I never understood or felt that immense effect of nature on one’s state of mind or emotions.
My best 72 hours included the following: It started at night where we went to see some old school live Samba performance and taste the delicious Brazilian BBQ, then at midnight I was surprised with a ticket to watch The Scorpions perform live! The next day at 8:00 am I was introduced to the Head of Sao Paulo’s tactical Special Forces. Imagine someone like The Rock from Fast and Furious V, but who spoke Portuguese. A professional cyclist who participated in several Iron-man triathlons, he was leading the way with other 100 cycling enthusiasts from his unit and with 3 police armed vehicles surrounding us, we visited all of the major police training units as well the downtown highlights, a 50 KM trip that kept me and my wife on our tiptoes.
At night, we packed our bags to visit an island called lha Bela (The beautiful island) the following day. All I knew then is that we are going to an island close to Sao Paulo where we will hike for 3.5 hours, stop at one of the island’s peaks and enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean. While all of this seemed normal to me, once I reached the peak of that mountain I found myself breaking into tears. It was the first time in my entire life to see such beauty and experience such serenity. That puts everything back into perspective. All these anxieties and irritations of everyday life and those to-do lists tend to be extremely small and irrelevant when you’re at the top of this 1300 meter green mountain overlooking the ocean. It was right then and there I decided to stay and help people experience what I was witnessing at that moment.
How are journeys personalized with Brazilis Traveler?
A passionate and experienced traveler is the one that pays keen attention to the small details that turns their trip into a real personal experience, and an excellent dinner story, not just a typical vacation and this is where “personalizing the journey” plays a big role.
When you have a continental-sized country like Brazil, that is larger than all countries in Europe combined, and where a single flight from the north to the south could take 7 hours, attention to detail is a must. Brazil and South America have a lot to offer, from rugged and adventurous 5-day hikes and camping on the Incan trail in Peru Macho Picchu, or a week in the Amazon rainforest with the native Indigenous tribes from Brazil, to participating in Carnival display in Rio de Janeiro and urban and ultra-sophisticated journeys, or even the combination of both.
We carefully plan every single aspect of the trip, from the basics like accommodation, transportation, guided tours, and internal flights, to the smallest detail, like putting your names on the list of the most in-demand restaurants, venues and events in South America’s capitals like Buenos Aires, Rio and Sao Paulo. Our concierge team has the contacts to make the impossible possible.
Can you share with us some examples of how trips are customized?
For art and nature enthusiasts, we once received an interesting brief from an Emirati family… They wanted to visit the most scenic places in Brazil but wanted to really get under the skin of some of Brazil’s major cities. They had a special interest in contemporary art, Afro Brazilian art and the Brazilian culinary scene. We designed a trip for them that included Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Paraty and Fernando de Noronha island. In Rio, the guide was an Arts history Professor at the local university and they ventured into Rio’s favelas. Throughout the trip, we introduced them to art collectors and they indulged in hidden gems of Brazilian cuisine and capoeira in Brazilian Salvador. The trip ended by swimming with dolphins and turtles in the reserve island of Fernando de Noronha.
Another brief allowed us to organize a VIP Experience Extravaganza, where we were approached by a top Mexican business leader who was referred to Brazilis Traveler by a friend and gave us the most exciting travel brief possible. We were asked to design the most unforgettable Brazil experience one could imagine for his family of 10 people who were travelling in their private jet into the country. The trip started off with the charter of the best private yacht available in the Amazon, with one of Brazil’s top chefs on board as well as superb Naturalist guides. From there, we headed for a day trip to Iguaçu falls, and then a private farm in the Pantanal where we arranged a special air safari. In Rio de Janeiro, the family closed off an entire floor of one of Rio’s top hotels, before finishing the trip in one of the most iconic savage coastline of Rio de Janeiro’s Angra dos Reis private villas. A week before the trip, the client called us up and asked us if he could bring an extra 10 people.
Are you personally involved in the planning process for interested visitors?
Yes, from A to Z. It’s my wealth of local knowledge and perfectionist suppliers that gives me the competitive edge.
What’s the recommended time that one should spend in Brazil?
Generally you need a minimum of 15 to 20 days, keeping in mind that there are seasons. For instance if you are visiting the Amazon, there is a wet heavy rain season (December to March and low rain season April to October) While in Rio de Janeiro it is high season all-year-round and the peak is from December to end of February due to New Year’s, summer break and Carnival.
Where do you see your business going?
I see it growing to the point where we would have our own charter flights and our own hip beach hotel!