By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Dutch-Brazilian couple Anne Dorst and Leonardo Wetzl are the founders of a new tour company, ‘Rio Kombi Tours,’ who are currently offering authentic day trips around the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ in historic Volkswagen Kombi vans.
Although they offer tailor-made tours to suit any requirement, Rio Kombi Tours are currently offering four pre-planned package tours that can be booked straight away, with pick-up and drop-off included.
“All our tours are available in English, Portuguese or Spanish,” co-founder Leonardo Wetzl explains, “And we always take into consideration our clients’ particular demands and needs, even if they’ve booked a set tour.”
The first tour is a ride to the surfer beaches of Rio’s ‘Zona Oeste’ (West Zone) including the famous Prainha and Grumari beaches. Another tour is a trip to the famous landmarks of ‘Pão de Açúcar’ (Sugarloaf Mountain), including a visit to Urca‘s ‘Praia Vermelha,’ (Red Beach) and then a visit to ‘Cristo Redentor’ (Christ the Redeemer) one of the seven modern wonders of the world.
There is also another tour to the beautiful ‘Floresta da Tijuca’ (Tijuca Forest) which encompasses many wonderful viewpoints, hikes, waterfalls and encounters with the diverse flora and fauna of the forest.
Finally, there is a ‘Rio Classic Tour,’ that touches upon many of the most famous landmarks and beaches which make Rio such a unique and beautiful place to visit. These tours start at R$150 per person, with discounts available for group bookings.
Anne Dorst, Dutch co-founder of Rio Kombi Tours explains where the idea for such a tour came from, “We had seen a similar thing while traveling through California called Vintage Surfari Wagons. Also, I had started to notice a trend from my Dutch, German and British friends, renting old VW camper vans to go to festivals and travel through Europe with.”
She adds, “But it was during the Olympics when we put all the pieces together. We were both working freelance for one of the sponsors of the Dutch 2016 Olympics team, the Volkswagen distributor of the Netherlands called Pon. And the founder of this company, Ben Pon, happened to be the designer of the very first VW bus!” She explains.
“So Leo got to take his grandson on a tour through Rio in a Kombi and that’s when it all clicked. We bought our first Kombi, Leo did all the work of making it look awesome, and there, Rio Kombi Tours was born!”
Wetzl adds. “We also thought about the Kombi’s long association with Brazil, and how Rio is a hot spot for surfing, so it just seemed like a perfect combination.” These vehicles are famous for their close association with sixties ‘hippie’ counterculture and surfers. However, what many tourists may not know is that they are also a Brazilian icon.
The legendary VW Bus is famous all over the world, but it is arguably Brazil that loves this van the most. Production of the van, which started in the fifties, only just stopped in 2013. And it’s still very common to see the VW Bus used as a leisure vehicle or as a working vehicle on the streets of Rio.
Dorst also adds, “Most of the tours that Leo does are specifically put together to what the group that is renting the Kombi wants. This can be just Rio’s highlights, but the best thing about taking the Kombi is getting to places that are otherwise not so easy to get to! Certain trails, or beaches just outside of Rio.”
These tours are perfect for anyone looking to experience Rio in a unique and authentic way, as well as surfers, families, and those who like to immerse themselves in a bit of living history while encountering all the new experiences that Rio has to offer.