My name is Luiz and welcome to my article on the best hiking spots in Rio! I have lived in Rio since birth. I was born into a big family of six siblings. We are from the Guaratiba neighborhood. When I was young this area was poor and my family faced hardship growing up. Later on in life, I managed to build a career as a tour guide which I have been doing for about eight or nine years now. The company I work for today is called Desbravando Rio and it has been in existence for about five years. This business continues to grow each year as I learn more about entrepreneurship.
In my opinion, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most unique cities in the world. Here we have beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls at places like Parque Nacional da Tijuca and Parque Estadual da Pedra Branca, and very friendly local people. The adventures surrounding the city are endless and there is nothing better than hiking around our ecological parks dotted on the coastline. What makes Rio magical is that wherever you go, you can find a postcard-like view. You definitely can’t come all the way to Rio and stay still!
5 Incredible Hiking Spots in Rio de Janeiro
1. Parque Nacional da Tijuca
Parque Nacional da Tijuca should certainly be at the top of your hiking list. In addition to its waterfalls, viewpoints, peaks and caves – the park also boasts a rich history. The Pedra Bonita Trail is one iconic hike in Parque Nacional da Tijuca not to miss while visiting “Cidade Maravilhosa”. The sweeping vistas from this granite monolith are breathtaking and if you don’t fancy a walk you can always go paragliding/hang-gliding. It’s a quick trail that can be completed in one-hour-and-a-half (roundtrip).
2. Pedra da Gavea
The hiking opportunities on this huge monolithic block are thrilling, and they promise epic views and challenging ascents. As you climb up, the panoramic vistas of Rio de Janeiro and the Atlantic Ocean unfold before your very eyes. There are a couple of different routes you can take on Pedra da Gavea – one of which involves tackling a steep section of rock, lined with steel cables that require ropes. With this in mind, it’s best to book this hike with an experienced guide (like myself) to ensure your safety.
3. Morro Dois Irmaos
No list of the best hikes in Rio is complete without Morro Dois Irmaos. This green rock formation presents you with views just as impressive as Pedra da Gavea, however there is less hiking involved and you get the chance to pass through one of the most well-known favelas in the city called Vidigal (don’t worry, it’s safe these days). The walk up through the forest to the main viewpoint takes 40 minutes, but it might be longer depending on your fitness levels (some sections are steep) and how many stops you take.
4. Barra de Guaratiba
Fourth on my list would have to be Barra de Guaratiba (my hometown). A handful of wild beaches surround this neighborhood and there are some popular hiking trails too like the famous Stone Telegraph. If you have ever seen photos of people hanging off the edge of a rock in the Rio area, it was probably at Stone Telegraph. Although the pictures show an illusion of how high the drop off is, it’s still a fantastic little hike to embark on nonetheless.
5. Cachoeira do Mendanha
My final recommendation is Cachoeira do Mendanha – a waterfall located on the western outskirts of the city in Campo Grande. It’s further away than the other destinations on this list but it’s absolutely worth visiting. The trail has a duration of about an hour one way, and is bursting with unique flora and fauna. For those traveling to Rio for the first time, it’s a good idea to hire a guide for this particular hike because it’s not well sign-posted.
Do You Need a Guide for Hiking Around Rio?
The great thing about the hiking trails surrounding Rio is that you can pretty much do them all by yourself. That being said, a guide will take your experience to the next level – not just in terms of directions and safety, but also enriching you with information about the destination and where to find the best photography spots. The best guides can even incorporate a bit of cultural immersion into your tour, which is the cherry on top.
Important Tips & Tricks for Hiking in Rio
Always bring: a camera or smartphone to take photos, decent shoes or hiking boots, lightweight and breathable clothing, and a hat and insect repellent. If you can, try to visit Rio in “winter” since it’s not too hot and the days are always more beautiful. Another key piece of advice is to organize tours and transport for the weekdays, as there are less bookings. And that is everything. Thanks for reading. I hope it has been valuable for you!
I would like to leave you with my best hiking memory of Rio. When I visited Parque Nacional da Tijuca in the summer of 2018, I entered one of the main caves in the park called Gruta dos Morcegos. During this moment, a beam of sunlight streamed down into the cave and it honestly looked like a path to paradise. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that stay with you forever. Without doubt, you will create memories like this in Rio!