Rio (pt.3) – Hikes

Other than beaches and beautiful people, Rio has killer views from above. “Trilha”(trrrreel-ya) means trail in Portuguese, And we hiked quite a few.


The symbol of Rio is the towering figure of Christ the Redeemer and if you skip out on it, você é louco (you are crazy).

You can either take a train, a van, or hike all the way to the top. Mollie and I decided we could save around 40 reis and trek the most iconic peak in Brazil. The entrance to the trail is through Parque Lage, a low-key but beautiful garden. The hike took us about an hour and 10 minutes and left us soaked in sweat, but I’d still do it again.

You kind of get Disneyworld vibes as you approach because there are lines of people buying tickets, getting tickets scanned, waiting for busses, kids on shoulders, different languages being spoken, and a thousand people trying to take pictures.

I feel like on the day we went, there must have also been an Olympic village field trip, because nearly everyone up there had an Olympics ID badge or Olympic country jacket. Random athletes and media crew were up there, including the mens French basketball team (they’re kind of hard to miss being the tallest things up there after the Christ statue).

A couple things to know before you get to Christ.

  • -No matter what time of day, what time of year, or what day of the week, it will always be busy.
  • -Getting a selfy with the Christ without a random person, arm, or gopro stick in your shot is nearly impossible.
  • -There are mats on the ground for people who wish to have the worm view of the christ
  • -If you hike all the way up, don’t take photos right away. A red, dehydrated face with sweaty hair is not the best look.
  • -The view is stunning, so take in the view for yourself, NOT just for a photo.

The hike down was less scary than I originally thought. For the inclined part of the trail, we decided to run all the way downhill. This sounds like a hospital visit waiting to happen, but it was amazing! It was easier on our legs and running through tunnels of lush greenery, leaping over trunks, and ducking beneath vines felt like being in a video game. Definitely run down a trail next time you get the chance, the adrenaline rush is awesome! And then treat yourself to a feast. And then don’t do anything physical the next day. Your body will hate you.


Dois Irmãos, which are the 2 mountain peaks you’ll see in the backdrop of any Ipanema beach pic is another hike that is definitely worth it. Some people are hesitant because you have to go through a favela in order to get to the start of the trail. The favela is called Vidigal and is nothing like what you see in the movie City of God. It’s known to be a more pacified favela and has frequent contact with tourists.

Say no more, Mollie and I are there.

This is Ipanema beach. The 2 peaks are Dois Irmãos and the community on the left side of the mountain is the Vidigal Favela.

As favelas tend to cling to hill sides, and the trail started at the highest point of the favela, we arrived at the bottom entrance to the favela, and paid 5 reis ($2 at most) to the motorbike “taxis” to take us to the top. I quickly learned that favelas don’t really have any lane/traffic system. As I’ve mentioned before, personal space in Brazil isn’t really a thing, so there were (many) moments where I was riding way less than arms distance away from the other motorbikes. I bet if Mollie and I tried, we could’ve played paddy-cake mid-ride.
As much as I would’ve wanted to record the ride up, I was busy clinging onto the passenger handles to avoid flying off everytime we hit a bump.

A big obrigada (thank you) to my driver Reginalde (pronounced Hedge-ee-nawl-gee). He would totally get his license suspended if he drove in the States, but he got me to my destination in one piece, so all is good. I was even able to snag a pic with him 🙂 I thought it would be funny to send it to my parents. They didn’t think so.

The beginning of the trail is no problem; easy incline, green all around, and pockets of sunshine. It gets increasingly steep with every step, but you are rewarded with some breathtaking views along the way.

This is Sao Conrado (backside of Dois Irmãos)

Just on the other side of the mountain you get an aerial view of Rocinha, the biggest favela in South America. It’s a blanket of tin roofed houses along the backside of a hill that seems to keep expanding outward. It’s recognized as a city within a city and entirely functional. Pretty dope. 

Upward and onward. The trail continues to get steeper and the green canopy above becomes nonexistant so the heat went  from what felt like a level 7 to a level 20.  Once we finally saw the summit, I expected to be among just a few other people or alone even. LOL.

A good 20-30 people were up there, not to mention a local guy just hangin out in his beach chair under an umbrella waiting for sweaty, thirsty tourists desperately needing to buy a waterbottle before they pass out. I not only bought myself a water, but also took it upon myself to collapse into the empty chair next to him. Once I stopped panting like an asthmatic dog, I was able to strike up a conversation. I found out his name was Angelo and that he lives in the favela and hikes up the mountain every morning with a full cooler ready to sell (let me remind you that the hike is about an hour). Nevertheless, he’s a happy guy with a simple life and a beautiful view. Vida boa (good life) is different to every one. I wish I could’ve taken a photo of him!

Now its time for pictures. Like everything in Rio (especially during the olympics), there’s gonna be a wait. At the top, we were outnumbered by people with blonde hair, blue eyes, and red, sweaty cheeks speaking the strangest language I’ve ever heard. They were Dutch people. They all had matching backpacks that said TeamNL and were hogging the entire cliff. While Mollie and I patiently waited, the 2 girls taking pics before us had taken a good 70 photos (each)…and then began to take selfies. Of course what happened afterwards was predictable. One of the girls leaned over too far while taking one, and fell off the cliff.

Just kidding! Her phone instead dismounted from her hand, did a front-tuck round-off backhand spring, bounced about 12 more times and then continued to fly off the cliff. Impressive routine when you forget about the landing.

Everybody on the mountain saw it happen, and Mollie and I had a front row seat. A moment of awkward silence immediately took place and people nervously looked at each other. Thats when everyone slowly started creeping further and further away from the edge. The selfie girls just stood there frozen, still in shock (and still in the way…) After a few minutes of frantic Dutch gibberish, the girls seemed to have come to terms with the score.

Brazil- 1       Netherlands- 0

In any case, Mollie and I were next in line! We got some sick shots but decided not to be too wild with our poses so that we wouldn’t end up like the Dutch girls iPhone. Mission accomplished.

Once we got our shot, we hung around for a little longer before the heat finally got to us. We said bye to Angelo (the water god of Dois Irmãos) and headed back down towards Vidigal for one last motorbike ride through the favela. A short bus ride later we were on the beach we’d just seen from 1,749 ft up!


Another quick and easy trail is Trilha da Catacumba.  It took no more than 20 minutes and I did it in flip flops! The view was STUNNING.

Moral of the story: Always say yes to a hike and always say no to selfies on the edge of a cliff.

Once again, I’ll try my best to catch up with pics and all that jazz.


Laura 🙂

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