Rio is full of amazing treks to do, but here we've just listed 5 of the best that are of a relatively easy level, and a fifth that is more challenging. I highly recommend to everyone that comes to Rio to do at least one of these if possible... the rewards are spectacular! Give yourself a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city, get trekking in Rio by chosing one of our 5 awesome treks! Between December and March the weather will be very humid and hot, no matter when you go - be sure to take plenty of water.
Interested in hang-gliding? Then Pedra Bonita is the place for you. Everyday (weather permitting) dozens of adventure seekers in Rio de Janeiro head to Pedra Bonita to launch themselves off of the mountain and rapidly descend, gliding over the various mansions and green, until making a fast landing on the beach. It's from the point where all this happens that the Pedra Bonita trail begins.
Doing the Pedra Bonita trek itself isn't too challenging, as long as you are quite fit and healthy. Once you get to the top, you will have privileged views of the Tijuca forest, Rocinha (the biggest favela in South America), The beach of São Conrado (where the hang-gliders land, Christ the Redeemer, Barra da Tijuca, Pão de Açucar and Pedra da Gávea (See hike below!)
How to get to the Pedra Bonita Trek
From Ipanema or Copacabana - It isn't the easiest point to get up to as it's up the steep mountain - a car is ideal, a taxi might take you if you ask nice! By bus, the most scenic route is to take bus 177 that will take you all the way to Av. Niemeyer. From there, you will have to get off the bus and wait for bus 144 which takes you up the steep hills to the hang-gliding / pedra bonita entrance point - a steep kilometre or so walk away from the start of the trail. Bus 144 is the only bus that goes up there and only goes every 30 minutes, sometimes even 45-60 mins. Be prepared to wait
Once you've finished the trail and got back to the start... why not get down the quickest way possible... try out the hang-gliding! Not something for you? It's still good just to go and watch people take off, go and check it out!
The Dois Irmãos trek is our personal favourite. There are the two iconic peaks at the western end of the Ipanema/Leblon beaches. From start to finish it's an adventure. Once you've taken the interesting journey in a minivan or motorbike up the twisting, winding roads of the favela Vidigal, your trek will begin. Anyone of good health could complete this trek and the rewards are truely spectacular. You'll see some viewpoints on the way up but once you reach the top... wow. The views are breathtaking, simple amazing 360 degree stunning views of the city. It's a great way to spend half a day, pick a nice sunny day to get the best views of course.
From Ipanema or Copacabana - By bus - First of all you need to get to the bottom of Vidigal, a pasified favela you'll pass as you head from Leblon towards Barra. Take bus 177, you'll pass Leblon and follow it round the coast, Vidigal is the first favela on your right that you'll come to, it's got a big blue sign with it's name on. Once you get there, you can either jump on a mototaxi (Around 5R each and good fun!) or get in one of the waiting old school taxi mini-vans. All you need to tell them is "Dois Irmãos" or "Trilha" (trail) in your best Portuguese accent and they'll know where you want to go - lots of tourists head up there daily. You'll twist and turn the steep, windy roads of the favela as you make your way towards the trails start point. Once there, the driver will point you in the right direction and off you go! (You should come round a corner, see a football pitch and get off around there) It might seem a bit strange at first as you have to literally go round the back of someones house but it soon becomes apparent it's the trail everyone takes.
Once you're done huffing and puffing and reach the top, you'll be blown away by the view. It truely is stunning. All around the world, we'd never seen views like it. As you stand on the rocks peak you can 360 degree views around the Marvellous city. Breathtaking.
When you get back to where you started the trek, you'll be more than ready for a refreshment. You should see a hostel/bar nearby that has been built with a terrace boasting more spectacular views. Stop in and treat yourself, you deserve it.
As you follow normal precautions and are of good health and fitness, we don't feel a guide is necesscary.
Pão de Açúcar -- Sugarloaf Mountain
Hike time: 30 minutes (one-way)
Location - Urca
Morro da Urca is the smaller peak located by the iconic Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), or you can hike up (it is actually more of a pleasurable uphill stroll). The top of Pão de Açúcar can be reached via a reduced price cable car from the top of Morro da Urca, so combining the activities may be a wise investment of your time. You can find the trailhead by following a path between Praia Vermelha and Sugarloaf until you see the trail entrance plunging into the forest on your left.
Rather hike than get the tram or van up to see Christ the Redeemer? The Corcovado Mountain trek is the one for you! Located in the Botanic Garden neighbourhood, the hike up Corcovado starts in the beautiful Parque Lage (near the pond in the back/middle of the park). It's important to take cash with you if you plan to go and see the statue, they don't accept card payment from the top. When you decide to get started, look for a small sign reading “Corcovado” that's affixed to a tree at the beginning of the trailhead. The beginning of the trail can sometimes be hard to find even though there are some of these signs. From the main house you need to walk around the right side (as you look at it) and you will see a path. At the end of this path to the right there will be some steps that lead up to a cobbled road. Turn right and follow it up and round to the left until you see the little guardhouse that marks the start of the trail where as with most treks in Rio, you will need to sign-in so that the park wardens can keep a track of who is on the trail. Due to the opening times of Christ the Redeemer to make sure it's finished in daylight, the latest you can start the hike is 3.30pm.
The beginning of the hike starts off with a steady uphill incline for about 30 minutes. You will cross a couple of small streams as the path leads towards the base of the mountain. You will come across some dark rocks stacked in an almost wall like structure. Climb up to the higher level and you'll start the ascent. Follow the signs and yellow arrows on the trees and just keep heading up! Note that even though you don’t get many good views along the way, once you reach the top you'll reap the rewards of your trek!
Soon after the viewpoint you will reach the train tracks - be careful when crossing. The track is on a gentle curve so you can see the train approaching from both sides. It doesn’t travel very fast either but keep you eyes and ears open.
To finish the trek, follow the road up to the entrance of the statue. Beware of the vans ferrying the flocks of tourists up and down the mountain. By that point hopefully you would of seen plenty of wildlife, at least a monkey or two and maybe even a toucan if you're lucky! Check out our wildlife to find out more about the animals of Rio.
Entering to see the Christ statue
Once at the top you can buy tickets to gain entry to the statue but you can only pay in cash. Just ask any of the staff manning the turnstiles. Check our Christ the Redeemer page for more info and how to find the latest price and discounts.
Some people may find that they are too tired to hike back down or it might be late. Do not start the hike down less than two hours before sunset as the trail is not illuminated. Also remember that Parque Lage closes at 6pm so you will not be able to exit after this time.
Your entry ticket includes a van ride down to Paineiras, about a quarter of the way down the mountain. From there you will need to take a taxi down to the bottom.
There is the option to buy a ticket for a van that takes you all the way down to Largo do Machado from where you can take the metro, taxi, or a public bus. This costs R$17 and you will be given a separate green ticket.
By far the most challenging (and rewarding!) hike of this list. The Pedra da Gávea trek includes over 2,700 feet (842 meters) of vertical gain and some of the best views the city has to offer. About an hour from the top there is a section where you need to scale a 20m rock face which may be difficult for some - bare this in mind before you start. Located in the Tijuca Forest,you will often spot local wildlife on your journey. This hike may look hard, but it is actually perfectly safe and most hikers who don't mind putting in an effort manage to complete the trail.
Option 1: You can do the hike yourself (best in a group), which will involve finding the trailhead first of all (which isn't as simple as you may think!) and then of course making your own way up.
Option 2: Or your other option is to get a guide and go with a company. We've heard many people say for this trip that it's a great option to take, much more convenient, safe and you will also get given local knowlege about the area and wildlife as you scale the peak. You can find a great intuitive article full with images, by someone else who did this with a guide Here
Check out this amazing time lapse video of sunrise from the top. How can any hardcore trekker miss this?!