Have Rio De Janeiro At Your Feet At The Pico Da Tijuca

Guest Post: Hiking in Brazil

The “pico da Tijuca” (alt. 1021 m) is the highest point of the Floresta da Tijuca (Tijuca Forest) and one of the highest points in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hiking In Rio De Janeiro

From the top, you have a marvelous view over most of Rio’s “Zona Norte”, “Zona Sul”, with the famous beaches of Ipanema and Leblon, as well as the city center.

"Praça Afonso Viseu in Rio de Jaeiro starting point for hiking Pico da Tijuca"

Praça Afonso Viseu: Starting point for hiking different peaks of the Tijuca park

The hike

Right from the beginning, the trail starts climbing, and will keep doing so until the top.

There is about 700 m of elevation that needs to be overcome in 5 km, with an average incline of around 14%.

Apart from being fairly steep, the trail is sometimes rocky and uneven, and at times you need to climb under or over fallen trees.

"Stairway carved in the stone for Belgian King Albert 1 for his hiking ascent of Pico da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro"

Stairway carved in the stone for Belgian King Albert 1 for his ascent of Mt Tijuca in 1920

This stairway was especially made for the Belgian King Albert 1, an avid mountaineer who visited Rio de Janeiro in 1920.

The story has it that King Albert never used the stairway, but preferred to go natural, despite the bad weather conditions at the time. (Albert 1 fell to his death while rock climbing in Marche-les-Dames in Belgium).

Once on the top of the pico da Tijuca, the entire city of Rio de Janeiro seems to unfold beneath you in all its marvel.

"View of hikers of the city of Rio de Janeiro from summit of Tijuca mountain"

A rewarding view from the summit of Tijuca after two hours of uphill: the city of Rio de Janeiro, “Rio – Niterói bridge and the Maracanã stadium

From this spot, you have a privileged view of Christ the Redeemer, Maracanã stadion, Sugar loaf mountain, the 16 km long bridge over Guanabara Bay to Niterói, Ipanema Beach, Lagoa, Pedra da Gávea… amongst other things.

It is a good idea to bring some food and enough water for the hike.

Despite the fact that most of the time, you’re protected by the canapé of the trees, temperatures can be pretty high in this part of Brazil, even in the winter months, and dehydration is a real danger.

"Pedra da Gávea in Rio de Janeiro seen by hikers from the Pico da Tijuca in Brazil"

Another famous landmark and great hiking spot in Rio de Janeiro: Pedra da Gávea, seen from the Pico da Tijuca. The climb to the top is more challenging than the Pico da Tijuca.

A few facts and history

On many websites, you will read that the Tijuca Forest is the biggest urban forest in the world. But during the 10 month guide course I took in Rio, I learned something different.

The Tijuca forest HAD BEEN the biggest urban forest in the world for a long time. But when the city of Rio de Janeiro expanded westward, the “Pedra Branca massive” was included in the metropolitan area.

At that moment, the “maçiço da Pedra Branca” became the biggest urban forest.

Tijuca still has the title of the biggest replanted urban forest in the world though.

After years of intense deforestation to make room for coffee plantations, the emperor Dom Pedro II ordered that the forest be replanted.

In the second half of the 19th century, with the help of slaves, about 100.000 trees were planted, resulting in the lush forest you can visit today.

Getting there

The entrance of the Tijuca park is located in the “Alta da Boa Vista” Bairro, which is about a 45 minutes drive from the zona sul of the city.

Once inside the park, follow the road until you get to the “Praça Afonso Viseu”. This is the central point from where the hiking to the various peaks in the park are initiated.

"A map of the Tijuca park painted on tiles at the praça Afonso Viseu"

A map of the Tijuca park painted on tiles at the praça Afonso Viseu

Other possibilities inside the Tijuca park

There are around 15 different peaks in the Tijuca park, and all the hiking trails to get to them start from the Praça Afonso Ribeira.

Some of the better known are:

  •  Pico do papagaio
  •  Pico da serrinha
  •  Pico do Anhanguera
  • Alto da Bandeira
  • Morro das Pedras

Are you up to hiking to the Pico da Tijuca next time you are in Rio de Janeiro?

 

"Raf Mirantes hikig to the Pico da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro" Raf Kiss aka @MotoToursBrazil is a Belgian expat, living in Brazil since 2009. He’s a motorcycle and outdoors enthusiast, tour guide, seeker of adventure. At age 17, he started working in a saw mill, then in a car body shop and a few restaurant kitchen. With an accountancy degree earned from evening school, worked 15 years in the Venture Capital industry administrating venture capital funds. After arriving in Brazil and buying a Yamaha XT660R dual sports bike, he started exploring Rio de Janeiro state and then most regions of Brazil. He hopes to inspire people to visit Brazil through his stories.

 

18 comments to Have Rio De Janeiro At Your Feet At The Pico Da Tijuca

  • Gregory

    Thank you Raf and Michael.

  • Hey Gregory,
    Yes, you can drive your car into the park all the way up to the parking space… Pass the guards at the entrance (they only write down your license plate and that’s it). if you want to take pictures at the cascatinha waterfall right after entering the park, do it when entering because you will exit the park via another gate. Follow indications to “Bom Retiro”. this is the parking space from where the trail starts. Tip: Be there early to avoid the crowds, especially on good weather weekend days. The trail is quite narrow and usually one group needs to wait and give way to people going the other way. Enjoy the views.
    Raf

  • Gregory

    Very useful info. look forward to going in 2 weeks time. Can I leave my own car in the park whilst I hike?…I have use of a car here in Rio and would drive from Vidigal, saving on taxi fares…so Raf / anyone, do you know if it is allowed / safe to leave my car within the park , say near the start of the trail, whilst we hike for a few hours?

  • Barry Whyte

    This guide is fantastic – thank you! Here are some more tips for English speakers. I put this together for tripadvisor but thought I’d cross post here as these tips might be useful in conjunction with the above:

    This park is absolutely magnificent and definitely recommended! However we found it really difficult looking online to work out how to get there and what to do. We didn’t want to take a guided tour and only wanted to spend an afternoon taking a short and easy hike.

    Here’s the guide! Get a taxi to take you to ‘Praça Afonso Viseu’, which is a short road on ‘Alto da Boa Vista’. You might need to show a map to the driver. It took us around 40 minutes in traffic and cost R$60 from Ipanema. You could get the metro part of the way and do it for cheaper. You’ll see brown road signs with directions for ‘Tijuca’ along the way.

    The entrance to the national park is on ‘Alto da Boa Vista’ and it’s a big gate. Whatever you do – don’t get out of your cab here! Get the driver to drive through the gates and up the road. There is a road for cars that runs through much of the park and you can be dropped off at various points.

    Shortly after driving into the park you’ll see an amazing waterfall on your right hand side. If you want to get out and take a look, get your driver to wait for you, as there isn’t much else immediately around this and everything is a very long walk from here.

    Get the driver to continue driving along the road to the very end to a drop off point called ‘Bom Retiro’ (if you don’t drive, this is approximately a 2 hour walk from the park gates, all uphill along a road)

    From there, you can walk along ‘Trilha do Pico da Tijuca’ which is a 1 hour trail (6km) through rainforest to the lookout points at the top of the mountain (‘Pico do Tijuca Mirim’ and ‘Pico do Tijuca’). This is the highest point in the national park.

    There’s also a visitor centre along the road (signposted) that you can stop off at and get info about other trails and a (not very good) map. Again, get your cab to wait for you.

    Coming back, you should be able to flag a cab returning on the road although it might be a few minutes.

    Few tips: if it looks like it might rain during the day, don’t come to the park as the trails could be dangerous. Make sure you leave enough time – there’s no lighting after sunset. Wear proper shoes rather than flip-flops.

    There are lots of other bits of the park you can go to as well (it’s split up into four zones), but this bit seems to be the easiest for a self-guided short trip.

    Hope this is helpful! I really wish we had a guide like this – Lonely Planet and other guidebooks were very vague and it was near impossible to find this online. It’s a fantastic day out and much cooler weather than the beach – highly recommended!!

  • Thanks for dropping by, Erik. I’m sure the author of this guest post could help you. Why not contact him via Twitter @MotoToursBrazil?

  • Erik

    Hello,
    Me and my girlfriend are in Rio now and plan to go to Tijuca this w.e. Can you recommend a good trekking guide please (English speaking)? Seems most guided tours from Rio center are around 4-5h of which only 2h is trekking in the park… Would prefer to do a longer trekk, and would also enjoy having a guide who can explain info on plants and animals rather than going by ourselves. Thanks for a good blogg! Grts, Erik

  • Love Rio! What a great city for walking… and hiking too :)

  • Hi Elena,
    Glad you enjoyed it.
    Another great place nearby is the Hanggliding ramp and the +/- 1.5km hike to Pedra Bonita. Also, Pedra da Gávea is a great hike, although a little heavier. I would recommend hiring a guide for that one.
    Here’s a link to a few more hiking ideas in and around Rio de Janeiro: http://www.mirantesmt.com/category/hiking-2/
    Cheers
    Raf

  • Elena

    Thank you very much for replying! We went today and it was amazing!

  • Thanks for dropping by, Elena. Thought I’d tell you that the author of the Pico da Tijuca post has shared some tips for you.

  • hey Dusan, sorry for that… I guess I kinda assumed that everybody takes the car up to the start of the trail… My mistake, but I think the walk up was also very enjoyable.
    grtz
    Raf

  • This trail has good infrastructure and signalization. Assuming it is not your very first hike, this is perfectly doable without a guide. Call me if you want one though. The guide can tell you a lot about what exactly you’re looking at when you’re on the top :)
    Cheers
    Raf

  • Elena

    Is this trail well marked? We are planning to do this hike this weekend and I’m wondering if will be ok on our own without a guide.
    Thanks!

  • Dusan

    You’re welcome. Amazing nature,really highly recommended.

  • Good on you, Dusan. Hope you enjoyed that hike up Pico da Tijuca. Thanks for your input and for dropping by.

  • Dusan

    I just came back from Pico da Tijuca, it was wonderful. Just one correction: praca Afonso Viseu is before the entrance to Floresta da Tijuca national park, but then there is long way to walk uphill until you actually come to the beginning of trails. It took me 1.5 hours of fast walking uphill on the paved road to get to the beginning of the trail. It was still fine, green ambient and fresh air, I guess it just a matter of fitness if you want to walk all the way or rather take a taxi ride all the way where asphalt road stops.

  • Rio is on my list and this hike sounds very nice. The view from the top looks exceptional!

  • Wow! This is a fabulous post Raf. Thanks to Michael for posting.

    I seriously want to go, although I’ll admit I’m a fitness freak and the Pedra da Gavea really piques my interest. Was chatting to a friend last night about hiking in South America, so my little mind is ticking over…

    Thanks for sharing!

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