Yampu Tours in Brazil: A Conversation with Ketaki Karnik
This month, we’re interviewing women from all over the world who have participated in an organized international tour. We had the privilege of speaking with Ketaki Karnik about her experience traveling through Brazil. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
I am a veterinarian in Los Angeles, specializing in radiology. Work keeps me pretty busy and I often work long hours. When I am not working, I enjoy hiking, running, spending time at the beach, and planning my next vacation!
What kind of tour did you participate in? Where did you go? How did you spend your time?
I planned a custom tour with my brother and parents through Yampu Tours to Brazil. We initially flew into Rio de Janeiro and stayed on the beautiful Copacabana Beach. We had a guided tour of the city and also went to Corcovado and Sugarloaf. From there, we went to the Pantanal and stayed on a houseboat specializing in jaguar sightings. The Pantanal is one of the best places in the world to see these elusive big cats, and we were lucky enough to see one.
Then off we went to explore the Amazon via a cruise down the Rio Negro and Amazon rivers. We spent our days hiking, kayaking, and taking boats out on the river to view wildlife. We saw pink river dolphins, sloths, and caiman. Our last stop was Iguazu Falls and we viewed the falls from both the Brazil and Argentina side. Our hotel was actually inside the national park, so we had the falls to ourselves when the park closed. Such a great experience!
What made you decide to participate in the tour?
I decided to use Yampu Tours because the Brazil vacation I wanted was a little off the beaten path and I wanted to experience as much of Brazil as I could in two weeks. Karolina, the general sales manager, was so helpful. We traveled all over Brazil and she organized the internal flights/hotels and made sure our trip would run smoothly. She quickly put together an itinerary for us and was always available to answer questions.
What were the highlights of the tour? What disappointed you about the tour?
I loved exploring the Pantanal, and looking for jaguars. We were completely isolated; we never even saw another tour in the three nights that we were on the houseboat. All of our guides were very knowledgeable and I could tell they were having as much fun as we were. I also enjoyed kayaking through the Amazon. There was nothing disappointing about the trip! How can you be disappointed when you are exploring a jungle!
What are some of the benefits of participating in a tour? What are some of the downsides? Would you participate in another tour?
I would strongly recommend participating in a tour, especially if you cannot speak the language and if you want to maximize your time in a foreign country. Although I love immersing myself in different cultures, it was nice to have a Yampu representative take us to and from the airport. Otherwise, there would be so much wasted time, just trying to figure out transportation. Also, without guided tours, I would have missed out on so much information. I could certainly walk around on my own and see the sights, but it is great to have a local representative explain the day to day culture and provide historical information.
In addition, the airline lost my luggage when I arrived in Brazil. I didn’t have phone service, so I emailed Yampu’s emergency line. Jessica, the operation coordinator, was great and she kept calling the airline herself to figure out what was going on. Without her help, I would have had no idea where my luggage was or when to expect it. It was a relief to know that they were aware of the situation and doing what they could to help. Also, my own dog was sick in the hospital, and our Yampu guides would give me updates about how he was doing. It was very comforting. They even surprised my parents with a fruit basket on their anniversary which happened to be in Iguazu Falls!