Yes, I was tentative about the idea of prolonging our transit in Brazil to 3 days. We were planning an Epic (with capital E) to Peru and there were just so many things to see there, then why spending 2 days in Rio de Janeiro during the transit back to Indonesia and spends another bucks on flying from Sao Paolo to Rio de Janeiro back and forth? (note: our flight back to Indonesia transits in Sao Paolo, Brazil). Now looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful for the decision we made to make a detour to Rio de Janeiro (though I’m still wanting to see that Lagoon 69 in Peru) ;)
Rio de Janeiro is such a cool city. It’s upbeat and laid back at the same time. You can climb as high to the mountain and bath your feet on the sand at the same day. And if you ever got bored by the white and blue mix of the beach, you can bask your eyes in the very colorful Favela. It was such an easy, fun, and exciting to stroll around the city.
On that special day, we chose to explore places that may relatively far from each other so that we can go around downtown, Ipanema and Copacabana the next day. We chose to go to Christ the Redeemer in Corcovado Mountain, and then to San Conrado Beach (at first I wanted to go hand gliding but decided to suspend it since i was quite “broke” at that time L ), Rocinha Favela, Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, and Sugarloaf Mountain.
At that time, we were considering to explore by ourselves or using Tour Guide. There are advantages and downside from both side. If we choose to travel by ourselves, we may not get the story and everything and just sightseeing. Although, the cost will be relatively lower. Or, we can get a tour guide and we can enjoy the trip and get the stories about the city. Since we only two days and a lot of places we wanted to see and experience, we finally decided to have a tour guide with us. We chose Rio Roots day tour since Henrique, the owner was able to accommodate our needs with reasonable price.
Henrique pick us up at our Accommodation down in Ipanema, Mango Hostel. The hostel is only 5 minutes from the beautiful beach of Ipanema and the room is pretty clean with complete facilities. We were picked at 7:30 am with his humble car. From there, we went straight to the top of Corcovado Mountain where Christ the Redeemer stood tall.
The drive was quite far from Ipanema. It was around 30 minutes passing the Tijuca National Forest before arriving at the entrance. From the outside entrance where the car is parked, there’s a shuttle that bring us further ascending to the entrance of the Statue. Once we enter the main gate, there were escalators and few stairs before we reached the main level. Since the first entrance the statue of the Christ could actually be seen.
Christ the Redeemer (Christo Redentor)
Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor) statue was built in 1922 to 1931. The statue has been a symbol of Rio de Janeiro if not Brazil. It stand 30 meters tall above 8 meters pedestal and its arm stretches 28 meter wide.
While the statue itself stands so majestic, the surrounding view is just as outstanding. The statue is built on top of Corcovado Mountain, 700 meters above sea level. So from the outlook point on the foot of the status, we can see the Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay. I was just so blown away by the view and the atmosphere.
Although i had seen many photos of people who actually climb onto the had/top of the statue, it's a special case. Not everyone is allowed to climb to the top, and the access to the top was forbidden/closed.
The situation on the area at that time was not that crowded. Henrique took us there quite early and we were able to steal some photos. The trick that Henrique taught us to get a full picture with the statue is to lay your back until you touch the ground and aim your gear up. That way we can get the full picture of the statue. Many people did that, especially when it’s not that crowded. We stayed there for about 1 hour before departed to our next destination.
São Conrado Beach
At first, I thought that by going to the beach directly, I would somehow be persuaded to go hand gliding. Cause it worked with me when I did my first bungee jumping. Unfortunately i ran out of budget before arriving to Rio de Janeiro. So I just enjoyed the beach the view of Sugarloaf, and made a note to myself to play longer on the beach the next day. After all, It was a much-needed relaxation after 12 days in Peru and before we made a 30 hours flight back home and a week of jet lag recovery.
Favela means Slum area in Brazil. At first, Favela was formed by soldiers who had nowhere to live. But in 1970, there were exodus from Rural area to the city, where the poor was forced to stay in Favela due to economic reason. There were efforts to relocate some of the habitants to a better housing but it never worked. Those who live in Favela are free from paying tax and therefore some are still prefer to stay there despite the economy improvement.
We went to Rocinha, one of the Favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Favela in Rocinha has grown in a more modern way than a Shanty town, slum area where most houses are built from metal roof, woods, or plastic. Rocinha is actually more of a packed small housing with three to four stories. It is also the most populous Favela in Rio de Janeiro. The area is somewhat developed as well where you can find a quite fine house, sanitation, and electricity. It wasn't like as i imagined it would be.
To guarantee the best experience in Favela, Henrique park his car quite far from the Rocinha. From where he parked, he took us for a walk to a bus stop where the bus took us to the heart of the Favela. It was actually quite cool to be able to experience living in Favelas. After a long ascending ride inside the Rocinha, we finally stopped to a place where there were local paintings and art were sold by the locals. Those arts and paintings were made by themselves. We then continued our walk to a hostel where it’s located at the one of the highest building in Rocinha. From there we could see the other array of houses in the surrounding area and it was a pretty sight.
On top of the building, Henrique told us a bit story about Favela, and how the gang fights affect the security in Favela.
Different with how he took us up, Henrique lead us through a maze in favela (which I’m pretty much admire him for remembering all those turns and alleys in beautifully sophisticated Rocinha) on our descending walk back where his car was parked. So overall, it was such a great experience where i could feel the uproar and colorful Rocinha. The area has such a great energy than dynamics that pulls you in.
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon
After Rocinha, we had a lunch break and continued our journey to Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. At that time, we were quite beaten and exhausted, so we just exchanged stories and went to Sugarloaf Mountain to have a cable car ride.
When we arrived, it was almost sunset, so everything was so perfectly arranged. Watching the sunset from Sugarloaf was a wonderful experience. The color was just stunning, and the view was outstanding.
At the end of the day, I felt so tired, yet so fulfilled, happy, and contend. Rio had been so friendly, bright, and such a great place to have a sightseeing and relax. We thanked Henrique for showing us the best part of Rio de Janeiro and I couldn’t wait the next day to explore more Rio in Downtown.
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