Proving that Rio de Janeiro’s outdoor fun is not just about the beaches.
HIKE 1 – MORRO DA URCA
Most visitors are familiar with Rio’s iconic Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), but may not realize it has a shorter pal, Morro da Urca, that has a fun trail (steep, but doable for kids elementary age and up). At the summit of Urca you can grab lunch and soak in the beautiful views.
Pão de Açúcar is so named because of its resemblance to the sugar molds used in colonial times.
A cable car connects from base level at Praia Vermelha to the top of Morro da Urca; where visitors must change to another set of cable cars for the final accent to the summit of Pão de Açúcar. My guidebook and a website I consulted both said that we could hike to the top of Morro da Urca and then purchase tickets to the summit of Pão de Açúcar. Sounded perfect!
Note: You MUST buy tickets at the bottom cable car station in Praia Vermelha. You CAN’T hike the trail and then buy them at the top of Urca. Selling tickets is a practice they have suspended and the sign telling you so is not at the bottom of the Urca trail but (ever so frustratingly) at the top!
We enjoyed our hike and the views, but had to come back a different day to ride the cable car to Pão de Açúcar.
First we walked along the paved path.
Ready to climb!
Be on the lookout for marmosets.
The sign at the top that informs you that you must buy cable car tickets at the bottom.
The day was a bit hazy but the views were still awesome!
HIKE 2 – PICO DE TIJUCA (Rainforest, Waterfalls and History)
This trail is one of many in Rio’s Tijuca National Park, but Pico de Tijuca is the highest peak in the park. The mountains and hills around Rio de Janeiro were once clear-cut for growing coffee. Due to issues with erosion and worries about water availability for the city, replanting of the forest began in the 1860’s. Initially only 6 slaves were working on the endeavor; later 22 paid workers were hired. It took 13 years to plant 100,000 seedlings. Amazing! Today these lush mountains are the oxygen lungs for Rio. The clouds and mist stayed with us throughout the day and obscured many views, but the cooler temperature was very welcomed.
Mayrink Chapel built 1850 and a statue at the Visitor Center – remembering the 6 slaves who toiled, replanting the mountains.
A not so itsy bitsy – We were told that the ones who spin webs aren’t poisonous, it’s the ground spiders you have to worry about.
My son wants people to know that he and I are standing in a hole and are not as short as we appear.
HIKE 3 – PEDRA BONITA (Beautiful Rock)
This trailhead is just up from the hang gliding launch platform.
Pedra Bonita is a flat top mountain and the trail from the parking lot to the summit takes 30-40 minutes to hike. Once at the top people hang out, enjoy the view (on clear days), have a picnic, or propose to their girlfriends 🙂 we saw a guy whip some flowers out of his backpack and drop down on one knee. Very sweet!
HIKE 4 – CORCOVADO
This hike begins at Parque Lage and climbs up Corcovado mountain to the Cristo Redentor (Christ) statue, taking approximately 2 hours (give or take depending on fitness level). The hike starts off fairly easy and then becomes quite steep. You have to use your hands to help scramble up and over tree roots and rocks. A short section of the trail has a chain staked into the rock that you use to pull yourself up. This hike is not for small children or those who do not regularly exercise. If you want to visit the Christ statue once you reach the top, make sure you purchase your tickets ahead of time. Tickets are not sold at the summit. Also, if you do not plan to hike back down the trail (it’s more treacherous going down), you must walk down the paved road to where the tourist vans and taxis pick up and drop off. The mini-buses that you see at the top are roundtrip tickets and cannot be purchased at the summit.
More hikes coming soon!