The Ultimate Guide to Hiking in Rio de Janeiro

30 Nov 2019

Arthur Steele

Arthur Steele

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking in Rio 

Rio de Janeiro is known for it’s beaches and carnival, but it’s so much more than that. The city happens to be the home to the Tijuca Forest, the world’s largest urban forest. It became a national park in the 60`s, and nowadays is popular for its hiking trails and breathtaking views. So if you have made up your mind and are coming to Rio, you cannot miss its hikes and trails.

There’s always a hike for a certain type of person. Whether you are an experienced hiker looking for a challenge, or a casual one, it does not matter. Rio has all kinds of hikes you can ask for. Next, two of the most popular hikes in Rio, one easy and one hard. So based on the following descriptions, check which of the hikes below were made for you.

Morro Dois Irmãos - Two Brothers Hill

The “Two Brothers” hill is unique from the bottom to the top . If you are in Leblon Beach, you can see a rock formation on the right, that looks like a shark with its jaws wide open. That is the Two Brothers Hill, or Dois Irmãos, as cariocas call it. Down the hillside facing the sea, you can see hundreds of tinny homes. That is the favela do Vidigal, one of the largest slums in Rio.

The views from the top, at 539 meters, are absolutely amazing. Ipanema Beach, Leblon beach, Lagoa, Christ statue, Sugar Loaf mountain, and more...

  • Hiking time: 45 min + 25 min return

  • Length: 1.5 km one way

  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate (depends on the person`s physical shape)

What to bring with you:

Water – it gets hot as you go up, especially if you are hiking during summer, from december to march. Bring a 1.5 liter plastic bottle with you. You can find cold ones at any market or convenience store at gas stations.

Snacks – Take some powerbars, chocolate bars, bananas or small sandwiches with you. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit and about 35 to go back down. These snacks are enough to get by.

Mosquito repellent – Mosquitos appear mostly during summer and hot days. So if you are alergic or if it is 30 degrees celsius or higher, bring it with you just in case.

Sunscreen – Once at the top, you will be exposed to the heat and sun. So, if you do not want to look like a shrimp after the hike, wear a factor 30 at least.

A hat or a cap – Along with the sunscreen, it will give you a good protection against the heat.

Camera – All smartphones have it so..........

Cash – for the van or motor taxi going up the hills in Vidigal

Dress code

Cargo shorts and t-shirts for guys and strap tops for girls are good enough. We recommend anything loose and comfortable. Wear sneakers (trainers) for the hike. It’s an easy to moderate hike so hiking shoes aren’t really needed.

How to get there

There are many ways to get there. You need to find the way that suits you. If you have money to spend, we suggest you hire a local tour operator. They will either meet you at the bottom of Vidigal, or pick you up from your hotel. Hiking Tour operators have experienced bilingual guides. So with a tour operator, it is faster and safer, but it will cost you from $40 to $60 USD.

If you are traveling with a low budget, you need to find the cheapest ways to get to Vidigal. And the chapest ways will always be by bus, metro, or if you share an uber with friends (even better). You can take a bus from Ipanema or Copacabana, or take the metro. If you take a bus, the available lines are: 177, 360, 382, 521, 522 and 557. The Niemeyer avenue, is where the Vidigal entrance is located. It can be accessed via Leblon only after 10:30 am, as traffic in the morning goes towards copacabana . So if you take a bus that passes by Av. San Martin(San Martin Avenue), you get off on the corner of Rua Rita Ludof (rua means street in portuguese). Then you walk towards the beach and then go right on Niemeyer avenue. In 10 minutes you will arrive at Vidigal slum. If you take the metro, get off at Antero de Quental station. It is on the corner of Ataulfo de Paiva and Bartolomeu Mitre avenues, in Leblon. From there you will walk for 15 minutes until you reach Vidigal.

  Entrance to Vidigal slum

How to get to the start of the trail

Once you get to Vidigal, you can take a mototaxi or a van by the main square, and go all the way up to Alto Vidigal. The price is about 5,00 reais, for either one. The fastest and most fun way is by moto taxi. Bikers seem to know what they are doing while driving through the hills of the slum, weaving to anyone they know. When you get on the bike, watch out for the exhaust pipe. It is made of metal and is quite hot, so make sure you don`t touch it.

So is it safe to go through the whole favela by motorcycle? In general yes. And how about when i reach the top? Well, we have had cases in past tours where our groups saw "drug soldiers" with big guns, showing off. They were approaching the start of the trail on foot when that happenned. The soldiers did not do anything against our group, and had no reason to. So keep in mind there is a small chance you may bump into a few when you go there. And if you do, how should you react? Just smile and don`t say anything.

No need to be concerned. The hike is a chance to get to know a unique and cultured community in Rio.

So once you reach the top, you will see the gates that lead to a football court (soccer field). You will need to walk straight on towards the trees until you see a small entrance into the forest. That is the beginning of the trail.

How to get to the summit from the trail start

From that point to the top , it is just a matter of following the trail. There are no routes or signs telling you where to go. Keep going up until you reach the summit.

Within the trail.

Eventually you will be able to see 3 viewpoints. These places are ideal for resting, for taking pictures and hidrating your body. Some people go early to see the sunrise and others go late to see the sunset. The walk back down takes about 40 minutes and since it is little steep, you need to be careful as you hike down. Overall, it is an easy to moderate hike with great views of Rio city.

View from the summit

Once you’re back to the start of the trail, you can either get a moto taxi back down, or walk down. We recommend you walk down, to have a closer look to the community and its amazing views of the sea. And if you feel like relaxing a little, there are a couple of bars you can stop in for a drink. We recommend you have a caipirinha shot , either at Alto Vidigal or Bar da Laje. If you can manage to walk down the hills after a few shots, you can cross the road to get the bus on the other side of the square. You can take any bus that says Copacabana on the front. Or , if you want a bit of comfort, take an Uber. It will cost you around R$ 15,00 to ipanema and R$ 20,00 to copacabana. These estimations are based on the current prices in january of 2020.

 

 Pedra da Gavea

Pedra da Gávea is the ideal hike, for those seeking for a good challenge. The mountain is one of the world’s highest monotiths that ends directly in the ocean. It stands 842 meters high and offers the most rewarding views or Rio city.

It is the thoughest trail of all the hikes in Rio. It requires a great deal of stamina, so its 2.5 hours hike is not for everyone. A lot of hikers give up in the first 30 to 45 minutes of hiking. Walking through the tree roots can quickly exhaust the hikers. If you are able to face all these challenges, then this hike is for you.

Gavea is one of ( if not the) most famous hiking destinations of Rio de Janeiro city. From the top, you can see quite a good part of Rio`s mountains and neighborhoods such as Ipanema, Leblon and Barra.

When you are inside Gavea`s trail, it means you are in the Tijuca National Park . There will be plenty of opportunities to see wild animals during the hike.

Hiking time: 02 hours in average

  • Length: 1.6 km - one way

  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

 

What to bring with you:

Water – it gets hot as you go up, especially if you are hiking during summer, from december to march. Bring at least 2 litters of water with you. You can find cold ones at any market or convenience store at gas stations.

Snacks – Take some powerbars, chocolate bars, bananas or small sandwiches with you. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit and about 35 to go back down. These snacks are enough to get by.

Mosquito repellent – Mosquitos appear mostly during summer and hot days. So if you are alergic or if it is 30 degrees celsius or higher, bring it with you just in case.

Sunscreen – Once at the top, you will be exposed to the heat and sun. So, if you do not want to look like a shrimp after the hike, wear a factor 30 at least.

A hat or a cap – Along with the sunscreen, it will give you a good protection against the heat.

Camera – All smartphones have it so..........

Cash – Bring cash for buses or uber.

 

Dress code

Cargo shorts and t-shirts for guys and strap tops for girls are good enough. We recommend anything loose and comfortable. You can wear sneakers (trainers) for the hike but hiking shoes are the best choice.

 

How to get to the start of the trail

There are quite a few ways to get to see Gavea´s summit. You can hire a hiking tour operator and join a group, but for this option you will pay between 50 and 60 USD. It is indeed a good choice for those looking for safety and comfort. The other option is to go by yourself, taking an uber or a bus.

If you decide to go by yourself, take the bus line number 557 to Rio das Pedras. It starts from Siqueira Campos street in Copacabana. You can also take it on Vieira Souto avenue in ipanema ( ipanema beach), that becomes Avenida Delfim Moreira in Leblon. You will get off in front of Orla Rio, on 3336 - Estrada do Joá road. After you get off the bus, take the estrada do Sorimã road until you see a round square called Praça Professor Velho da Silva. Make the first right after the square and keep going up. At the end of that street, there is a smaller square where cars are parked. The walk begins at the end of that street, on the right side of a gate, with the number 936 on it.

 

How to get to the summit from the trail start

Google maps link t of the trail: https://goo.gl/maps/WVe6hcspWdGZCE5PA

The start of the trail is quite easy as you walk on a cobblestone street. But suddenly the path disappears and there are no signs, and no clear way to follow. Don`t worry, just keep going forward and you will see a trail ahead of you, full of roots and trees.

During the first hour of the hike, its is quite comfortable for regular hikers. There is enough shade and a little waterfall on the way where you can refresh yourself. The trail starts to unveil its rewards as we pass by Praça da Bandeira (Flag’s Square). There is a breathtaking view of Pedra Bonita mountain, where hang gliders take off from. The view here is filled with lush vegetation and a blue sky as background.

After almost 2.5 hours of intensive hike, we reach a 30 meters (90 feet) technical wall called Carrasqueira. The hike here is steep and presents some natural obstacles that you must overcome. The use of climbing gear here is ideal for your safety. But if you are an experienced hiker, then you will probably take it very easy.

 Carrasqueira. The technical part of the hike.

Once the hardest part has been conquered , there is little left to go. As you reach the top, you are rewarded with the most amazing views of Rio de Janeiro. 

Gavea is, for most experienced hikers, the ultimate hike in Rio de Janeiro city.

 

 

 


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