The beautiful nature of Rio
The natural beauties of the Marvelous City are a invite for musing
According to “Pais Tropical” song, by Jorge Ben Jor, Brazil is blessed by God and naturally beautiful. E lucky for us, Rio de Janeiro must be particularly blessed. It’s difficult to choose which of the city’s amazing sites should be its symbol. From Sugar Loaf Mountain to the Arpoador sunset, from the Botanical Gardens to Vista Chinesa belvedere, there are many beauties that fill the dreams of tourists coming to the city and keep the locals interested. To celebrate the 450th anniversary of Rio, we have selected four places where you can enjoy pleasant moments in tune with nature, while making the best of the beautiful Carioca landscape.
Tijuca National Park
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to come in touch with nature in its purest form. Tijuca National Park is one of the most visited sites in the country. With over two million visitors a year. Formed by huge mountains, caves, waterfalls and nature trails that lead to beautiful landscapes, the park is an example of nature coexisting in harmony with the city.
Several tourist spots are congregated in its almost ten thousand acres, made up of the Tijuca Forest, Corcovado and Vista Chinese Vista, to name only a few. This is the third largest park in the country, divided into four sectors: Tijuca Forest, Serra da Carioca, Pedra Bonita/Pedra da Gávea and Pretos Forros/Covanca. Check out the differences between these four spaces, loved by locals and tourists looking to spend their free time in the wild.
This sector features Pico da Tijuca, Pico do Papagaio, Cascatinha Taunay and Tijuca Forest, the largest reforested urban area in the world. This preserved area of Atlantic Forest is visited by Cariocas and tourists for the practice of sports, strolls and walking. Birds, native plants and fruitful trees compose the flora and the fauna of the Forest of the Tijuca.
The highest part of the park is Pico da Tijuca, a 4000-feet-high peak that can be reached via a trail that starts at Cascatinha Road, in Alto da Boavista. Although it seems difficult to reach the top of the highest peak in the city, the small trail is not steep and is a pleasant stroll even for those who are not used to hiking. From the top of Pico da Tijuca, visitors can admire a panoramic view of the city, from the North to the South Zone, including Baixada Fluminense, the West Zone, Rio’s Centro and Rio-Niteroi Bridge.
Serra da Carioca
With access to the neighborhoods of Cosme Velho, Jardim Botanico and Alto da Boa Vista, this sector features three tourist hot spots: Lage Park, Vista Chinesa and Corcovado Hill. Vista Chinesa is located in the middle of the trail that goes from Mesa do Imperador to the Botanical Garden. The oriental style belvedere showcases a privileged view of the city and amazing architecture details. Corcovado Hill houses the largest Art Deco monument in the world, Christ the Redeemer. Visitors in peak physical form can use this chance to go into the wild through the trail starting at Cosme Velho e leading to the statue. Known not only for its refined architecture and wilderness, Lage Park is the ideal place for a pleasant afternoon of relaxation or for a great breakfast in one of the establishments of the area.
Pedra Bonita / Pedra da Gávea Sector
Pedra da Gavea is 2700 feet above sea-level, and can be reached through São Conrado or Barra da Tijuca. The second of these trails is the most commonly used by hikers. From atop Pedra da Gavea, you can see most of Tijuca National Park, including Corcovado and the beaches of Sao Conrado, Ipanema and Leblon, as well as Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Barra da Tijuca. Those less experienced on physical activities should go for Pedra Bonita, since the trail is much easier to tackle than the one leading to Pedra da Gavea. You can reach the top of the peak in a half-an-hour-hike up Estrada das Canoas, checking out the West and South Zone and Tijuca Forest on the way there. It’s breathtaking!
Serra da Covanca / Pretos Forros Sector
This sector includes areas in the West and North Zone, featuring a reforesting area that is not open to visitation.
Aterro do Flamengo
This privileged sector at the banks of Guanabara Bay includes Flamengo Park, also known as Aterro do Flamengo, and it attracts hundreds of visitors every day. Native and exotic trees divide the space with long carpets of grass in a landscaping project idealized by Robert Burle Marx. The gardens are made up of plants from different parts of the world, creating a harmonious landscape with the bay.
Created in 1965, the 4.3-mile-park is an open-spaced area with several entertainment options, such as sports courts, skate lanes, bike lanes and rides for children. The Museum of Modern Art situated in Flamengo Park, next to Rio’s Centro neighborhood. Other building included in the park are the monuments to Estacio de Sá and the Fallen People of World War II, as well as a Modernist gazebo. From Santos Dumont Airport to Enseada de Botafogo, Flamengo Park is an area commonly used for public events, shows and races, as well as the perfect spot for a Sunday outing with the family.
Established in 1808 by King Dom João VI, the Botanical Garden is an important tourist spot in the city, and is widely visited by researchers who study the hundreds of species that inhabit it. With a total area of 338 acres, 133 of which are plated, the Botanical Garden houses rare collections of bromeliads and orchids, as well as centennial trees and exotic plants.
The garden also features pieces from early XVI century, with a rich historic and cultural side to it . Among the monuments are the statues of Echo and Narcissus by Mestre Valentim, the Vestibule of the Academy of Fine Arts, projected by Grandjean de Montigny, and the Japanese Garden, created in 1935 from the donation of 65 species of typical plants from Japan. The park also is an excellent place for bird watching, since it has more than one hundred different species in the trees.
Rio’s seaside boasts much more than just Copacabana and Ipanema. The city’s West Zone, particularly Barra de Guaratiba, features almost untouched beaches, preserved with the support and respect of locals and protected by its difficult access. Inferno, Funda, Meio, Periogoso and Búzios are wild beaches, accessible just off the main street of Barra de Guaratiba, through a moderate trail that lasts one hour and a half. Pedra da Tartaruga is the hill that separates the small strips of sand that form these beautiful beaches. This hidden spot in town is easily accessible, but it is recommended that you only take the trails alongside trained guides.
Author: Hellen Silva