Brazil self travelling for adventurous tourists

Referring to Brazil, people will immediately think of the beautiful country of sizzling, flexible samba dances, top-notch matches and impressive tourist attractions. With coastline up to 7500km. Tourist destinations in Brazil are abound with majestic waterfalls, wild and pristine wetlands of the Amazon rain forest, where some isolated tribes still live without any contact
In today’s article, please follow the handbook of travel experiences to discover unique tourist destinations in Brazil that bring a sprawling color on the half of South America continent.

Statue of Christ the Redeemer Cristo Redentor – Symbol of Brazilian religion


The first tourist destination in Brazil is the symbol of the ancient capital of Rio de Janeiro, the statue of Christ the Redeemer Cristo Redentor on the mountain “humpback” Corcovado of the Tijuca Forest National Park. And this is also one of the top famous tourist destinations that cannot be missed once when traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The statue, 30 meters high and built on top of Corcovado Mountain, is 700 meters above sea level, so when you go to this special tourist destination in Brazil, whether you stand anywhere in Rio City, whether at night or during the day you can also see God.

Salvador Beach


If you have a Brazilian tour, you should definitely not miss this beach – Salvador Beach is a beautiful and vibrant town in the Brazilian state of Bahia. There are countless beaches that are not only beautiful but also extremely quiet suitable for swimming, sailing, diving or windsurfing activities. There is an interesting point in this tour to the location in Brazil that there are beautiful little beaches made up of surrounding coral reefs that are very suitable for children to bathe.

Iguazu waterfalls

The tourist destination in Brazil followed by Iguazu waterfall located on the Iguazu River, the border of the state of Parana, Brazil and the Misiones province of Argentina. The Iguazu Falls is arranged like a reversed “J” with a length of 23 km made up of more than 270 smaller individual waterfalls and most of which are on the Argentine side.

Travel Rio de Janeiro – the ancient capital of Brazil

From the airport to the city center you can use a taxi or subway. For convenience, you should use the subway. Because traffic jams in Rio de Janeiro are very serious, taxi prices are expensive, while the subway system is very safe, clean and fast. Especially, the fare for a round trip is very cheap, about 3.2 reais (about 2$).

In addition, when traveling to tourist attractions and famous places in Rio de Janeiro, you can use buses, bicycles, motorbikes, long-distance taxis or kombi (a small truck). And best of all, for a destination near the city center, you should ride a bicycle, in Rio de Janeiro there are more than 60 bike rental stations so you don’t have to worry about where to rent a bike. As for remote destinations, it is recommended to use kombi, because of the bus, because the kombi move faster but cost as the same bus.

Experience booking and renting hotel rooms when traveling to Rio de Janeiro

One of Rio de Janeiro’s travel experiences, cheap, economical and safe Brazil is to book a hotel as soon as possible. Also, if you first travel to Rio de Janeiro, you should book online or contact a travel agent to ask them to book a room for you.
Depending on the needs, financial conditions and travel schedules you choose for yourself a hotel, motel as you like. If you have a lot of luxury, you can choose from 4 – 5 star luxury hotels such as Novotel Rio De Janeiro Santos Dumont, Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro, Belmond Copacabana Palace … It has beautiful architecture, also near the beach, high-class swimming pool, modern facilities, attractive resort services, … will definitely help you have a relaxing moment and interesting experiences when traveling.

If you have a moderate budget, then mid-range 2 – 3 star hotels are a great suggestion for you. These hotels usually cost between 100-200$ / night. All are fully equipped and th resort services, serving free breakfast, including single, double and collective rooms for you to choose from. In particular, there are a number of hotels near the sea and primeval forests, … suitable for you to experience both forest and sea tourism in Rio de Janeiro. Some of the high rated mid-range hotels: Arpoador Inn Hotel, Angrense Hotel, Hotel Fazenda Sitio Nosso Paraíso ….

Above are the experiences and advice on travel, sightseeing, exploring Rio de Janeiro, cheap, self-sufficient, convenient and fun in Brazil.

What should you buy when visiting Brazil?

Havaianas


Havaianas is the brand name of the world famous flip-flops and Brazil is their father. Inspired by ancient Egyptian sandals, Japanese and Greeks, the Alpagatas group brought this simple design to the Brazilian market from 1962 and immediately received the affection of many people thanks to simplicity and convenience.

Since then Havaianas has become a unique Brazilian souvenir that everyone wants to bring back. Visitors can buy sandals Havaianas from Brazilian shop systems, with many eye-catching decorations.

Gemstone


As an expensive gift and surely everyone likes it, Brazil is really an ideal place if tourists intend to buy gems as a gift. Great beautiful gems with good quality can be found all over Brazil, but Rio is still the best suggestion with gems like Esperssartita, Tourmaline, Ametist, Greengold, quartz, Topaz and diamonds.

Cachaça


Cachaca is also a gift you should bring from Brazil, this is a very popular cocktail in Brazil, made from cachaca rum, lemon and sugar. Previously Cachaca was only used in restaurants or bars but now it is available in most Brazilian families. You can also buy Brazilian travel as a gift. However, the taste will not be equal to the directly prepared cocktail glasses.
Granado Pharmácias Soap


Especially loved by girls, Granado Pharmacias soap is a very famous product with eye-catching appearance. They are put in small bags with a mild scent. Granado Pharmácias also produces girls’ soap with sparkling, attractive soap bars, remember to buy it in your trip!
Moqueca Pot
A unique gift for you to bring back- Moqueca Pot is the name of a popular clay pot in Brazil, made from clay and ingredients of a special plant. The clay after being dried is then applied with external resin to increase water holding capacity. Moqueca Pot is often used to store fish or cook seafood. The reason this pot became famous and was included in the list of souvenirs you can buy in Brazil is because the cooked food with this pot has a better taste than other cooking methods.

Everything about Brazilian culture you haven’t known

– Cultural communication

Despite the strong influence of European culture, the Brazilians have a more warm and sincere behavior. When meeting each other apart from handshakes, people can easily touch their shoulders, hug and kiss each other’s cheeks. However, when they were strangers, they only rewarded and shook hands lightly.

– Vocative

People often use the name to call. For older people with high power, “Senhor” will be added to the name. They always appreciate friendliness, fun and rarely express different opinions when disagreeing, and rarely argue.
– Going out eating

Brazilians can invite to eat when they first meet, the owners and guests will sit facing each other and toasts. The expression of unrestrained drinking when new to meals is often not appreciated.

The Brazilian style also has a common characteristic of Westerners, when they meet each other, always make sure they are on time. Despite being invited, equal money sharing is the best when going out together, avoiding paying money for the meal will make Brazilian friends have a wrong view of you.

If you meet on the street, you should not call out loud, but just wave your hand. The gestures like “OK” by hand are considered rude in Brazil, while the gesture of holding hands and giving thumbs up between the point finger and the ring finger is said to be good luck. This is a strange thing and it should be noted when done in Brazil if you don’t want to be considered rude.

– Costume culture

Brazilian national costumes are quite colorful and usually only present during festivals. In everyday life Brazilians dress in casual clothes, sometimes quite cool because the weather here is very hot. But in the work clothes are very discreet, upholding politeness.

– Giving gifts

When you meet for the first time, you should not give gifts, then, if you want them to do something for you, you can give gifts. The gifts just need to express the intention, the desire to please will be more appropriate.

AWESOME TOURIST SITES IN BRAZIL

Museu do Amanhã, Rio de Janiero

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed Museu by Amanhã (also known as the Future Museum) as part of Rio de Janeiro’s port modernization effort for the 2016 Olympic Games. In addition to impressive design Outside, take the time to explore inside, you won’t be disappointed with this unique museum.
Paraty, Costa Verde


Located between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Costa Verde, a small coastal town of Paraty is known for its colonial beauty. The gravel roads here are closed, avoiding the bustle of traffic making it an idyllic place of Brazil.

Iguazu waterfalls


Stretching along the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu waterfall possesses the world’s largest waterfall system. While most of the falls are within Argentina, you will still get the best view from Brazil.
Unique hotel, São Paulo

Ruy Ohtake’s futuristic works are very easily confused with Oscar Niemeyer. But the Unique hotel in São Paulo is one of Ohtake’s best designs. This hotel is one of the most admirable places with flexible curved walls and a red pool on the rooftop. All of them create an excellent image on Instagram just like a crescent moon, the inspiration that created this awesome design.
Ibirapuera theater, São Paulo


Although the theater is a fairly new addition to São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park, the fact that the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer drew designs for it in 1954, made the design extremely modern. Its grandiose is now even more impressive.
Unique Garden Hotel & Spa, Mairiporã

Ruy Ohtake has also designed a number of modern-day century-inspired villas located on 18 stunning acres in the countryside outside São Paulo.
Pelourinho, Salvador de Bahia


Pelouriho, the historic center of Salvador de Bahia is also the source of beautiful colonial architecture with pastel colors in Brazil.
And lastly, after reading this article we hope that you enjoy your most beautiful time in Brazil

Top 3 tourist destinations in Brazil

As the fifth largest country in the world with the most vibrant colors of the South American continent, Brazil has truly become an ideal tourist destination for international travelers. With its beautiful landscape Brazil can make you admire.

1. Ouro Preto

Founded in the late 17th century and is called the “black gold” city of Brazil, Ouro Preto town is best preserved here. The town has a unique architectural style of Portuguese colonial architecture with lavishly decorated gold churches and the well-preserved Aleijadinho sculptures that make it so carefully preserved.
2. Statue of Jesus Christ

Located at an altitude of over 700m at the top of Mount Corcovado, the statue of the Savior has become the most impressive tourist destination in Brazil, attracting the attention of tourists. The statue of the Savior has a height of 39.6m with a pedestal higher than 9.5m and becomes a symbol not only of Rio but also of Brazil.
3. Amazon Theater


This Theater is located in the heart of the Amazon forest, which is a masterpiece of the golden age of rubber trade. It was built with materials and communal furniture such as marble imported from Italy, British steel and furniture completely from the “light capital” Paris. What makes the Amazon theater truly stand out and is noticeable is that the roof of the building is completely paved with over 36,000 ceramic tiles to make the color of the Brazilian flag. And making the Amazon theater the most attractive tourist destination in Brazil.

Things that you should remember when being in Brazil

1. There are no shy people in Brazil

If talking about the most prominent things in the Brazilian people, it is their active and passionate character. Here you should adapt yourself in the vibrant society of Brazil to get the most exciting moments of your life in this beautiful land.

Brazilians love to express themselves without thinking too much about other people’s opinions
2. English is not a common language

Because most of Brazil’s culture is based on Portuguese culture, languages ​​like Portuguese and Spanish are the most popular. This country is a multiracial country with many cultures. It is because Brazil is influenced by many different peoples in the world (Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Middle East …).
However, in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, people still speak English, but in the suburbs of these two places, you will have difficulty if you only know English. Brazilian people also like American movies and listen to songs by singer Adele.

Brazilians are very hospitable, if you know some of their common phrases, they will be more sympathetic when communicating with you. Todo bomb? (How are you? Is everything good?), Eunhyuk entendo (I don’t understand). Or: futebol (You should know this).

3. Bars serve delicious fruit juice


Perhaps this tropical land is surrounded by big green forests, the climate and nature are extremely favorable, so Brazil has many kinds of good fruit trees. May be you’ve never heard of fruits and drinks named caju, camu-camu and pitanga. Brazilians are experts in making excellent drinks from fruits that dialects still call sucos.
Every street in the city of Rio de Janeiro has juice bars.

There are bananas in this country, although bananas can be grown everywhere, but only Brazil is the best. It is even better if you can enjoy the banana juice with friends

5. There is a big gap between the rich and the poor

Every country in the world has a rich and poor division. In the list of countries with the most discrimination, Brazil ranks 11th, after the poor countries in Africa.
Even so, the standard of living for Brazilians has increased significantly in the middle class.

As a tourist you should be careful and always in safe places for you. Do not bring a lot of money when traveling, keeping valuables in the hotel to prevent being robbed.

Use the hotel taxi, don’t take a taxi outside, and you must always be alert and aware of where you are in the city at night.

Serra da Canastra: Birthplace of the mighty São Francisco River

The wall of the Serra da Canastra plateau. Up there is the higher part of the Serra.

Just type “Serra da Canastra” into Google and click on “Images” and you will quickly see why I had to go and check this amazing place out.

The Serra da Canastra:

Serra da Canastra situation map (Google Earth)

The Serra da Canastra is a mountain range in the south west of the state of Minas Gerais,located about 250 km (in a straight line) west from the state capital Belo Horizonte. The distances to get there by car are 320 km (from Belo Horizonte), 540 km (from São Paulo) and 725 km (from Rio de Janeiro).

The main reason for creating the environmental protection area (APA) in the Serra da Canastra back in 1972, is that it holds the spring of the São Francisco river (also referred to as “Velho Chico”), one of Brazil’s most important rivers .

The São Francisco river is the longest river flowing entirely on Brazil territory. It starts its almost 3000 km trajectory on the plateau of the Serra da Canastra, and from there, it makes its way to the north eastern region of Brazil, where millions of people depend on the water it brings to the region. It empties in the Atlantic ocean on the border between the states of Sergipe and Alagoas.

One of the dirt roads crossing the lower park area

The park consists of a lower part and a higher part, and a full visit of the area takes 4 or 5 days. If you come by car, make sure it is in decent shape, because some roads, especially the ones leading up to the higher part are pretty steep and rocky. I myself didn’t have any problems with my Defender, but I saw several smaller city cars struggling to ride up the precarious road.

The São Francisco river cascading down from the plateau of the Serra da Canastra. The almost 200m high Casca d’Anta waterfall is one of the Serra’s main attractions

The city of São Roque de Minas located east of the park, is considered the gateway to the Serra da Canastra. From there you can take the road leading up to the higher part of the park.

The route from São Roque de Minas to the high part of the Casca d’ Anta waterfall.

The map above shows the route from São Roque de Minas up the high plateau:

  1. Green: São Roque de Minas – Park entrance (+/- 6 km)
  2. Blue: Park Entrance – Source of the São Francisco River (+/- 6 km)
  3. Pink: final part to the upper part of the Casca d’ Anta waterfall (+/- 22 km)

This trip up the plateau and back to São Roque de Minas takes most part of one day (especially when you get lost somewhere) and you can see that it covers only a small part of the park (green area). The dotted lines are the main dirt roads in the park, which are kind of O.K. to do with a city car, but there are also dozens of smaller roads branching off of these main roads, and those are usually only accessible with a 4×4 vehicle.

The ride up to the entrance of the park is about 6 km and as I mentioned earlier, it’s not a walk in the park for a city car. Once you make it to the park’s entrance, the guards there will search your vehicle for alcohol and tools that can be used to cut vegetation. My Defender has an ax and a shovel mounted on top of the fenders and I had to hand them over to the guards. That way I HAD to come back the same way and could forget about doing a tour and ride back to São Roque via a different way.

The visitor’s center – Serra da Canastra

About 1,5 km inside the park you’ll see the visitor’s center, where you can find a wealth of information about the Serra da Canastra’s history, fauna and flora. You’ll be happy to learn that there are Poemas, maned wolves and other endangered species roaming the area.

You could easily spend half a day browsing all the information available at the visitor’s center, but I had more things to explore, so I hit the road and it was not long before I saw the sign, indicating I had arrived at the place where the São Francisco river has it’s spring.

Sign indicating the place where the Rio são Francisco starts its almost 3000 km to the Atlantic ocean.

The spring itself is not that spectacular. It’s merely a small puddle of crystal clear water the seems to appear from under a bush. Small fish can be seen in the water. Spectacular is knowing that this water is going to travel all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, 3000 km further up north.

Following the main dirt road across the flat, windy landscape for another 22 km brings you to the high part of the Casca d’ Anta waterfall, where the São Francisco takes its first 200 m plunge into the valley of the Serra da Canastra.

Along the way you might get lucky and spot some wildlife, like a deer one of the maned wolves, but don’t get your hopes up too much. I did see this Carcará eagle on top of a termite hill, that was kind enough to sit still and pose for a picture.

A solitary Carcará eagle in the higher part of the Serra da Canastra

By the time the São Francisco reaches the edge of the plateau, it has grown from a small puddle into a full blown river, picking up water along the way. After a short, sometimes difficult hike, you can reach a ledge about 10 m away from the waterfall, from where you have a great view over the lower southern part of of the park. I must say that I hadn’t been very lucky with the weather. It had been overcast or raining most of the time.

Serra da Canastra – View from the top of Casca d’ Anta

And to wrap this post up: here is my VIDEO DEBUT… A far from professional report of the visit of the higher part of the Serra da Canastra National park. Enjoy

Rio de Janeiro to Buzios and back – Motorcycle weekend

Nearly deserted place between Arraial do Cabo and Ponta Negra where we had a Guara-Viton

 

Buzios, Cabo Frio , Saquarema, Arraial do Cabo… places where people from Rio de Janeiro like to go to spend weekends or holidays. My friend Osman, a British/Turkish expat and fellow motorcyclist had been waiting for a long time to try out his Husqvarna 610 and we decided to head out on a weekend trip.Our goal for this trip would be the area east of Rio de Janeiro, also known as “Região dos Lagos” (Region of the lakes). Osman is also an avid diver and wanted to check out some of the diving shops in Arraial do Cabo.

Day 1: Rio de Janeiro – Búzios – Arraial do Cabo

We met on a sunny Saturday morning around 7 am at “posto 9” in Ipanema and since there was almost no traffic we decided to take a small city tour and stop at a few famous spots in Rio de Janeiro before leaving the city.

First stop: Cinelândia with the Teatro Municipal

Second stop: Praia Vermelha and Sugar Loaf

After a brief moment and taking pictures at Cinelândia and Praia Vermelha we set course for the Rio – Niterói bridge, the 13 km long bridge over Guanabara bay, connecting Rio de Janeiro with its sister city Niterói.

In Niterói we took the coastal road because I wanted to take Osman to one of the forts that used to guard the entrance of the bay. I also knew from an earlier trip in 2009 that there was a connection from the fort to the Piratininga lagoon, but when we arrived at the army base, the guard told us that it was no longer possible to get permission to drive through the barracks to Piratininga because the whole area was now only accessible for military personnel.

On the way to the fort we passed the famous MAC museum (museum of contemporary arts), one of Oscar Niemeyer’s creations in Niterói.

The MAC museum in Niterói

We could not take the coastal road to Piratininga so we headed for the “old” main road leading east (the RJ-106) and actually found ourselves a decent section of dirt road before reaching it. Before continuing the long asphalt section to the região dos Lagos, we stopped at an Açaí place and had breakfast.

Most people heading for the Região dos  lagos out of Rio de Janeiro would opt for the BR-101, which is a national highway following the Brazilian coast from the north to the south, but the RJ-106 (a state road), whis is a two-lane road, has less heavy traffic, better scenery and NO pedagio (toll). Ok, here and there the tar could be in better  condition, but for the kind of trip we were on, this was definitely the better choice.

Osman – probably as happy as a pig in shit – on his Husqvarna 610 heading east. The mountains of Rio Bonito already in sight.

After about 2 hours we reached Araruama, and its big lagoon. The lagoon stretches 30 km from east to west and is 12 km wide at its widest point.

Brief photo stop at the Araruama lagoon

From Araruama it was another 60 km to Buzios, where we had lunch at the Buda Beach restaurant, which has great reviews on Tripadvisor.

A great view over the water while having lunch is always a bonus. I think the restaurant included that in their prices 🙂

After lunch we went for a tour around the peninsula. Búzios, also known as “Gringo Paradise, has over 20 different beaches and some awesome viewpoints. We stopped at a few beaches and even did some off-roading to reach one of the more remote viewpoints.

One of the many beaches in Búzios.

 

Off road in Búzios: on the way down from an elevated view point. The rain creates some tricky ruts here and there.

Day 2: Arraial do Cabo – Rio de JaneiroAfter circling the peninsula, we needed to get a move on if we wanted to make it to Arraial do Cabo before dark. The sun sets early in this part of the world. Osman had the name and address of one of the diving shops (PL-divers) and after some looking we found the place. The same people also run a pousada connected to the diving shop, and it had a closed parking for the bikes, so we felt very lucky. The pousada (pousada Suia) was very clean, had good beds and a decent breakfast. Good price – quality.

After a good night’s rest and a tasty breakfast, it was time to load up the bikes and head back to Rio de Janeiro. We were planning on checking out some 4×4 trails that I had never ridden before, and there was a real risk that the road would end somewhere in the middle of nowhere or hit a deep river, forcing us to trackback several kilometers. We wanted to be in Rio before dark so there was no time to loose.

A few km outside of Arraial do Cabo we entered the dunes. This road was familiar to me, but after about 4 km, we took a sidetrack that would take us straight on the beach and that would be the unknown part.

The sidetrack started out pretty firm, but it didn’t take long before the bike started to float from left to right and before long we were looking at a 200m wide white beach. This was what we came here for, so we hit the sand and sure enough the bikes (the riders too) had to work hard to even ride through the loose sand. It was a matter of keep going or get stuck.

Both of us made it through, and once we got closer to the water, the sand was a lot better to ride and for a moment we had a little piece of heaven on earth…


Osman and his Husqvarna on the beach. It doesn’t get a lot better than this.

This beach goes on for 40 km, but we didn’t do the whole distance because riding in this sand, the bikes use a  lot of gas and we weren’t planning on running dry before reaching a gas station.  This meant that at one point we had to get OFF of the beach, which was harder than getting on it, because now we had to ride up through the sand instead of down…

Me on the beach… perfect weather conditions and awesome scenery. What more can a person ask for?

Here’s me trying to get off the beach… riding up… got a lot of sand in my shoes here 🙂

We got off the beach without too much trouble, and circled around, taking a small aspalt road that took us into Saquarema, where we took gas. From there, it was another 60 km, which was about 50/50 asphalt and dirt of the good kind. At Ponta Negra we rode up to the lighthouse, which was another great viewpoint.

The closer we came to Niterói, the beaches gradually became more crowded, until we had to make our way between cars, bikes, bicycles, quads, buggies and pedestrians who were enjoying their Sunday afternoon on the beach.

The dirt road leading from Marica to Itaipuaçú… here we could still open the throttle.

Military police patrolling and keeping a watchful eye. Note the barrel sticking out of the window…

One more section of loose sand before getting back on the asphalt. This is hard labor people 🙂

This concludes the last dirt section of the trip. From here it’s all asphalt back into Rio de Janeiro. But first we had to get over that hill in the background.

In conclusion, here’s our route.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Note: This route can also be done with a normal car, except for the beach part in Arraial do Cabo (you can do the 6 km through the dunes though) and the last section of loose sand in Itaipuaçu. even with a 4×4 vehicle, you would have to get on the asphalt sooner than we did because at the end of the beach road in Itaipuaçú there’s only a small bridge over the canal, and cars cannot go there… notice there are no cars in the last picture. that would be your hint that you’re too far. (that is if you would make it through the soft sand :))

Cheers

Day Tripping at Tijuca Forest – Rio de Janeiro: another day at the office

On the top of Pico da tijuca - Rio de Janeiro

On the top of Pico da Tijuca. Sweating like a horse in almost 40°c temperatures, but no complaining from any of us 🙂

Rio de Janeiro was basking under a perfect summer day and although this time of the year most people come to the Cidade Maravilhosa to enjoy the Carnaval, two Dutch girls asked me to take them for a walk on the green side of Rio de Janeiro… the Tijuca Forest. No need to say I was more than keen… 

I picked the girls (Monique and Annette) up at Rio Hostel in Santa Teresa around 7.30 in the morning and we started the 20 km ride to the Tijuca Forest. Because of the Carnaval festivities, the police had blocked some of the streets around the Sambódromo, where the garbage left by the last “blocos de carnaval” gave the place a deserted look.

Before reaching the parking space from where the hiking trail to the Pico da Tijuca starts, we made a brief stop at the Cascatinha waterfall, considered the most beautiful one of the park.

First stop in the Tijuca Park: The Cascatinha Waterfall

Our first hike for the day was the Pico da Tijuca, a 2,5 km walk to the 1.012m high summit of the highest mountain in the Tijuca Forest. The trail winds through sometimes dense forest, but is very well indicated and maintained. The Pico da Tijuca offers an awesome view of the center and north zones of Rio. On a clear day, like yesterday, it’s possible to see the Serra dos Órgãos with the “Dedo de Deus” (Finger of God) located 50km north of Rio.

Monique and Annette climbing up to the Pico da Tijuca. Jungle trail in the middle of the city.

Almost on the top of Pico da Tijuca, climbing the 117 steps that were carved out of the rock-face to accommodate the Belgian king Albert on his visit in 1921

Next stop before lunch, was the “Vista Chinesa”, which derives its name from the chinese style pavilion where tourists can find some shade while enjoying another privileged view of the marvelous city.

The Chinese “pagoda” style pavilion at the Vista Chinesa viewpoint

The view over Rio de Janeiro from Vista Chinesa with Christ the Redeemer to the left, overlooking the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas and the morro do Cantagálo in the middle and the Sugar Loaf in the background.

The Vista Chinesa is only one of several viewpoints scattered all across the Tijuca Forest, each one offering another breathtaking view of Rio de Janeiro from a different angle, showcasing some of the city’s most famous attractions like Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf, Lagoa, Dois Irmãos, Pedra da Gávea and Rocinha.

Continuing our tour of the Tijuca Forest, we went on in the direction of the coast, heading for the hanggliding ramp of Sáo Conrado, where you can watch people of all walks of life take the plunge into the lush green scenery of the forest.

Always special to see hang-gliders take off. This is must definitely be the closest thing to being a bird…

Watching the hanggliders do their stuff is something I could do for hours, but we had another hike on our list. The Pedra Bonita trail is only 1.2 km long, considered “medium difficulty” and is one of my favorite spots in Rio.

To our disappointment, the guard at the entrance said that we couldn’t go up because of a kidnapping that had occurred at the Pedra da Gávea. The police were still searching for the kidnappers, who were supposedly armed and hiding somewhere in the forest between Pedra da Gávea and Pedra Bonita.

More people arrived at the entrance who wanted to do the trail. They had heard that the search party had ended and Pedra Bonita would be safe, after which the guard allowed us to go ahead.

Monique and Annette on top of Pedra Bonita. In the background the silhouette of the Pedra Branca massive. Rio’s other (and biggest) Urban forest.

Catching the last rays of a perfect summer’s day on top of pedra bonita with the lagoas of Barra de Tijuca and the sheer endless beach of Recreio das Bandeirantes in the backdrop.

Pedra Bonita was the perfect end to a fantastic day (especially because there was no sign of any kidnappers). As the sun was slowly setting in the west, we sat down for a while on the granite mountain surface, which was still hot from a day of Brazilian sun, and tried to take it all in.

Another Brazilian-Dutch couple joined us and we talked about how Rio de Janeiro was definitely a unique place, which would at least take a year to fully discover.

Giving the Brazilian-Dutch couple a ride to Copacabana, I returned Monique and Annette to their hostel after an 11 hour tour of the Tijuca Forest. I’m sure they will remember this day, at least until the pain in their legs and other body parts has worn off :).

I still had another 120 km ahead of me to get back home, where I arrived around 9 pm but for a day like this I would get out of bed at 4.30 am any day, even on a Sunday. I guess you could say that for me, this was just another day at the office, but people, WHAT an amazing office it is.

Give me a call next time you’re in Rio and I’ll show you around so you can see for yourself.