Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf in one day

The two most iconic landmarks of Rio de Janeiro are the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain, and on Monday I set out to see them both.

Christ the Redeemer on its own. This is a non-selfie stick trip.
The journey to Christ the Redeemer began just outside the Largo do Mochado Metro station, where I paid R$61 (about $24 Canadian) for a shuttle up Corcovado Mountain, skip-the-lineup admission and a return shuttle. The ride took about 15 minutes, most of it up a steep, winding road. I got out at the Pineiras level and got into another vehicle that took me up for another winding five-minute drive until reaching the parking lot of the 710-metre-tall Corcovado.

It was a short climb up some stairs to the base of the 38-metre tall Christ the Redeemer, which took five years to build and was completed in 1931. It’s listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 

I’d seen the statue from a distance on my way into Rio from the airport the day before and it looked small. Even standing in front of it, amidst a sea of selfie-takers, it wasn’t as large as I had envisioned.

It was still impressive, but not as impressive as the panoramic views offered from all sides of the statue. I could see all of the areas I walked the previous day, and much, much more. It was definitely worth the price. I spent an hour taking in all of the vistas while enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.

After taking the first shuttle down to Paneiras, I spent another half-hour in a former hotel that’s been converted into an interpretive centre that tells the story and emphasizes the importance of the Tijuca Forest, which Corcovado is part of. Tijuca National Park encompasses 3,953 hectares and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I returned back to Largo do Mochado and travelled another two stops on the Metro to Botafogo, where I caught the 513 bus to Urca. There’s a cable car that goes from ground level up to Morro da Urca and another one that takes you to the 396-metre summit of Sugarloaf. The return trip cost is R$60. There’s another way up to Morro da Urca, however, and I opted to use it since it was free and better for me.

Urca Beach
After passing the small but lovely Urca Beach, a trail through Atlantic forest winds its way 900 metres to the 220-metre summit of Morro da Urca. I made it up in just over half the recommended 40-minute time, but I was sweating, puffing and questioning my fitness on a few of the steeper parts. There were supposed to be marmosets (which are an invasive species in Rio) in the forest, but I didn’t see any until I spotted three on the Morro da Urca observation level.

A rogue marmoset.
There were lovely views to be had from that level but, since I was here, I figured I had to pony up the R$40 (about $16 Canadian) for the return cable car ride up to the peak of Sugarloaf and back. But within a minute of buying my ticket, a fog bank rolled in and I couldn’t even see Sugarloaf — even though it was just 735 metres away.

The cable car holds 65 people, can travel at a speed of up to 36 kilometres per hour, and takes three minutes to complete its journey. The views were pretty much non-existent by this point, so that wasn’t money well spent. And by the time I took the cable car down to Morro da Urca, the fog had settled lower and spoiled the sightseeing from there as well. So I apologize for the lack of breathtaking photos.

At least I didn’t spring for a helicopter ride, which ranged in price from R$230 (about $92 Canadian) for five minutes to R$1,860 (about $744 Canadian) for an hour per person.

A view of Sugarloaf from Botafogo Beach after the fog lifted and the sun was starting to go down.
I hiked back down the hill and returned the way I came back to Botafogo. I walked around the neighbourhood and its beach for a while and then continued on to another neighbourhood called Flamengo. I had a burrito on a sidewalk table at a small Mexican restaurant called La Calaco for R$25 (about $10 Canadian). I’ve had better, but it was filling and again kept my daily food spend at $10.

I don't know the purpose of this building in Flamengo, but I liked the architecture and the lighting.
I returned to Discovery Hostel, had three beers and called it a relatively early night at 1:15 a.m.

No comments: