A Cidade Marvilhosa - The Marvelous City offers its visitors and inhabitants nearly everything like endless dreamlike beaches; lush, dense and remote jungle with wild animals, stunning trees and beautific flowers; sharp and rocky pinnacles; numberless interesting museums and galleries; huge football stadiums and famous teams; bustling exiting nightlife; and large shopping malls. It is a worldwide unique and spectacular synthesis between ocean, mountains, rain forest and human settlements including a lot of skyscrapers.
We felt not being in a metropolis with more than 7 million people because it has many different centers and quarters with large green oasis in between, even a National Park - Tijuca. Its size is really gigantic, for instance: The beeline is more than 40km from the pristine beaches of Guaratiba to the center of the city.
But the host of the Olympic Games 2016 and final game of the Soccer World Championship 2014 has also some drawbacks like poverty, social inequalities, high crime rate, endless traffic jams and still massive pollution.
It was a sunny day when we traversed the more the 10km long bridge over the bay Baia de Guanabara between Rio de Janeiro and its little sister town Niteroi. The views from the bridge were fantastic. A huge vessel looked very familiar.
Indeed we had crossed with the Italian Grimaldi line the Atlantic Ocean nearly two years ago and we had stopped a full day in Rio. Together with Pedra and Paddy from Switzerland we had visited the top of Sugar Loaf, had swum in the Atlantic Ocean and had taken our first Brazilian beer on the Copacabana beach, see our article South America - Brazil and Argentina.
Thanks to Maria and Hans-Joerg from Switzerland we found easily the campsite from the Camping Clube do Brazil (GPS coordinates S23° 01.928' W43° 29.337'), which is located in Recreio close to the beach Praia do Pontal, more than 30km West of the center of Rio de Janeiro. It is a calm and beautiful site with all needed facilities for an unbelievable good price (Rio!): We payed around 15U$ per day because we got the special discount for members of the Camping Clube do Brazil. The German automotive club card of the ADAC was sufficient.
What a surprise when we arrived at the campsite: Luiza and Luiz from Brasilia were also there, see also our article about Brasilia. We spent several evenings together and had so much fun - Thanks a lot Luiza and Luiz.
Few hundred meters to the campsite is a bus stop for several lines (GPS coordinates: S23° 01.835' W43° 28.794'). Important are: 314 to the center via Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana; 315 to the center via Barra Shopping Mall and Sao Cristavo; 316 to the center via Botanic Garden and Botafago; and 360 also to the center along the beach via Sao Conrado, Vidigal, Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana. It is a very cost effective way to explore the city (1.5 U$ per drive independent of its length) but it needs time (more than two hours to the center). Once we did a mistake in the late evening on Saturday because we were waiting on a wrong bus stop in Copacabana. Just luxury buses with air condition for more than 7U$ came. We took the third one but was so cold inside that we both caught a cold.
On the next major street (opposite of the island with the mountain Morro do Pontal Tim Maia) is a local center with good shops and restaurants with reasonable prices. Once we were cheated by the huge supermarket Supermecado Zona Sul on the close Avenida das Americas, the main road through Barra and Recreio. We collected many articles with significant discounts (some more than 50%!), which were in an acceptable price range. The Lady on the cash-desk refused to give us this discount because it is only for people with a special card. We never went back to Supermecado Zona Sul.
We were more than two weeks in Rio and we had the feeling that we could spend much more. Three times we were in the center. Impressive are the museums Museo do Indio, Museo Historico Nacional and Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil. But we saw many other things, too including wildlife in the center!
Finally we saw the tall pinnacle Dedo do Deus - God's finger on the horizon. Few weeks ago we had been waiting hours in the rain and watch the fog - see the previous article about Teresopolis, Nova Friburgo and Arraial do Cabo.
Rio's beaches are among the best on earth. Most popular are Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, but there are many others in the western part of Rio. The more western the more pristine and remote are the beaches. On one of the very last one - Praia de Grumari, we found a German flag (GPS coordinates: S23° 02.895' W43° 31.544'). It belonged to Lanchonette driven by Franz from Lake Constance. We had so much fun discussing in German after several months and we learnt a lot about life in Brazil - Thank you so much, Franz.
Rio is the climbing center in Brazil, thanks to many rocky mountains in its urban area like Sugar Loaf or Corcovado with its huge Jesus statue. On the area of our campsite starts the trail to the 164 meters high Morro do Rangel (GPS coordinates: S23° 01.796' W43° 29.270'), which provides stunning views to the beaches and suburbans Barra and Recreio. Close is the perfect cone Morro do Pontal Tim Maia, 120 meters sea-level (GPS coordinates: S23° 02.165' W43° 28.195'), which is located on an island. It is accessible without getting wet shoes at low tide. Besides their modest height you have to scramble a little bit on both on fixed ropes. On the most western beach is the marvelous Pedra da Tartaruga - Turtle's Rock (GPS coordinates: S23 04.389 W43 33.053). The wonderful hike to it along the coast starts in Barra da Guaratiba (approximately 2 hours total).
Corcovado (710 meters sea-level) is a must in Rio. There is a beautiful way starting at the School of Visual Arts in the Parque Lage, close to the Botanic Garden (GPS coordinates: S22° 57.661' W43° 12.644'). The bus 316 stops there. It is a peaceful and remote hike (two hours one way) through dense rain forest with one steeper section secured with iron chains. But there were barriers on the parking lot for the taxis few meters under Jesus. They asked for a ticket, which we hadn't. We asked for a ticket counter. There is no ticket counter and the guards sent us to a guide. He offered us tickets for 14 bucks each with the possibility to drive down with his taxi. We refused and started negotiating with the guards. We had the feeling that we were close to a settlement but suddenly an elderly Lady jumped out of her office. She shouted that we must go down to the taxi station, purchase there the tickets for 14 U$ and drive back with the taxi. We refused this ridiculous suggestion and enjoyed the fantastic views to Rio from this point. What would Jesus say if he knows that only rich people are allowed to visit him? 28U$ is hell of money for many, many people in Rio.
Our top highlight was the 533 meters high Morro Dois Irmaos, which we found on the Geocache webpage. These twin towers are located west of the Leblon beach. The starting points is the Favela da Vidigal stop of the 360 bus (GPS coordinates: S22° 59.693' W43° 14.080'). Again it is an outstanding hike: Firstly through the interesting Favela da Vidigal and secondly through lush jungle. There is a very good description (in English) including further waypoints on the page Morro Dois Irmaos, Thanks a lot Sapeca.
Candomble is the most popular cult in Brazil brought from the former slaves. It is an African word denoting a dance in honor of the gods. In the center of this religion are the Orixas, female and male which their own unique characters. Followers of Candomble believe that every person has its own Orixa watching over them - from birth to death. Too keep the Orixas strong and potent followers donate food and other offerings. Every Orixa has its special needs, e.g. Oxala the greatest deity prefers white corn.
For more pictures, please click here For a map of our itineraries, click here
To download the GPS coordinates file of Brazil, click here