Hiking the Corcovado

After spending two long days inside to recover from being hit by that motorcycle, I decided to go visit the Christ the Redeemer statue — maybe Rio de Janeiro’s most iconic structure would help heal me faster.  The official guide that the city put out for the World Cup didn’t mention anything about a hike.  It listed the available options as train, van, or car, each of which varied in price from 30 to 50 reais per person.  I’m was certain that, since it is on top of a mountain, there had to be a way to climb up and sure enough there is…

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This is the way to go trekking through the rainforest without going to Amazonas, but unless you figure out a way to sneak in, the hike doesn’t get you up to the statue for free.  Regardless, if you like hiking and are in decent shape, I think it’s one of the best excursions you can take in Rio and it’ll make your visit to the statue a bit more unique and memorable.

The trailhead is located in Parque Lage behind the old mansion that currently serves as a visual arts school and was, apparently, the backdrop for a Snoop Dogg video.  Botafogo, the terminus station of Rio’s line 2, is the closest metro station and from there you can either walk 3 km or take any bus heading towards the Botanic Gardens.  If you have time, I’d suggest exploring this park even if you don’t want to climb up to the statue as there’s plenty of other trails winding through the majestic trees, little bridges, and even a small cavern.

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Once you are in the park and behind the mansion, you’ll quickly spot signs for the trilha to the Corcovado.    Don’t be fooled by the leisurely stroll along the brick road that the path begins with, it soon turns off into a more rigorous trail.  There’s a little hut where some guards will ask you to register before you attempt the trek and we actually met a few guards along the path as well.  We clambered up through the jungle, past water cascading down rocks and trickling off into little rivers, and even spotted some monkeys.

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All told the hike took about an hour and a half, the first part being fairly normal, leisurely hiking and the second half getting increasingly steeper.   Towards the end there’s a small section you have to climb using a chain, but it was really simple even though it sounds sketchy.

The trail comes to an end when it hits the road that people take in vans to get up to the state.  If you continue to walk up to the statue, you’ll have to come down again.  For some reason you can’t buy a ticket up at the actual statue, there’s a station about 2 kms down the road.  Why? I think anyone of my Brazilian friends would say, “Don’t try to understand Brazil.”  Of course, we didn’t know we had to buy the tickets so we walked straight up to the statue thinking we could get in without paying.  I ended up talking to one of the people shuttling vans up and down and they let me go down to the ticket booth and back up with them for free.  If you don’t speak Portuguese you should probably acquire the ticket before hand.  But then we finally got in wasn’t even too crowded because Brazil and Colombia were getting ready to play in their World Cup match.

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Lastly and most importantly, you have to pick the clear sunny days to go up to the statue because Rio is really smoggy and if you go up on a cloudy day, your perfect photo of Jesus will be little more than his trunk and you’ll miss out on the spectacular 360 degree view of the city.

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And I could beat Stephen Colbert at LOTR trivia.

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