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Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca National Park: best trails for visitors

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Tijuca’s beauty prompted Dom Pedro II to initiate an expropriation process in mid-19th century, in order to promote reforestation and enable the vegetation’s natural regeneration.

Now, the almost 40 km² that comprise the Tijuca National Park make it the largest urban forest replanted by man. Three of the city’s most important tourist attractions are found in this area: Christ the Redeemer, Vista Chinesa and Pedra Bonita.

There are trails of varying difficulty levels for anyone who wants to get to know Tijuca National Park more closely. (Photo internet reproduction)

Over 200 bird species and other animals inhabit the park, representing the entire diversity of Brazilian fauna. In the week of the 60th anniversary of this magnificent Rio postcard, on July 6, biologists celebrated the return of howler monkeys to the park, after disappearing for more than 200 years.

After it was closed for 3 months last year due to pandemic restrictions, the park began to receive even more visits from people who now prefer open-air activities. One can see that the trip is worthwhile.

Environmental monitor Dirlei Silva listed trails of varying difficulty levels for anyone who wants to get to know this place of fresh air and history more closely, or to exercise in a beautiful setting.


Trilha dos Estudantes x Visitors Center

Where: Floresta sector, at Alto da Boa Vista.
Length: 1.2 km.
Duration: average of 60 minutes.

A living laboratory, approximately 70 research projects have been authorized in the park in 2021. Despite being the smallest in its category, it is among the 10 most researched federal conservation units in the whole of Brazil. Hence, the trail takes its name in honor of the many students who visit it. Among the attractions are the Taunay waterfall with its 30 meter drop and the trail of the benches built during Castro Maya’s administration, with remnants of tiles from old farms from Brazil’s imperial period.

Caminho dos Artistas

Where: Floresta sector, in Alto da Boa Vista.
Length: 3.1 km.
Duration: average of 90 minutes.

Starting at the Visitors Center, the trail passes by the Mayrink Chapel built in 1850 as part of the Fazenda Bela Vista. From there one reaches the Morro do Visconde hill and it is possible to follow up to the Cascatinha Belvedere – which is currently closed for structural renovations. The walk ends at the Recanto dos Pintores (Painters’ Corner), which gets its name from the many painters who have drawn inspiration for their watercolors.


Circuito das Grutas (Cave Circuit)

Where: Floresta sector, at Alto da Boa Vista.
Length: 2.4 km.
Duration: average of 3 hours.

This trail can be initiated through an access near A Floresta restaurant. The path leads to a set of 4 caves within the park, the highlight being the Gruta dos Morcegos, believed to be the second largest gneiss rock cave in Brazil: it is almost 20 m high, 8 m wide, and 100 m long. The Gruta do Belmiro is also a fun place to visit, as visitors can enter through one side and exit through another.

Pico da Tijuca

Where: Floresta sector, at Alto da Boa Vista.
Length: 2.4 km.
Duration: average of 5 hours.

From there one reaches the second highest point in the city of Rio de Janeiro: Pico da Tijuca, with its 1,021 m and a 360° view of the capital. At the end of the trail there is a famous staircase, with 117 steps carved in the rock itself, dating back to the 1920s. The beginning is in the Bom Retiro square, which is also the starting point for several other trails in this section of the park.


Pedra da Gávea

Where: Pedra Bonita and Gávea sectors.
Length: 3,7 km.
Duration: average of 6 hours.

The most famous, it is also one of the most challenging trails. From the entrance gate, located in the Itanhangá region, to the summit, it is almost a 4 km hike, with several very steep sections. Visitors who take on this challenge will get to know the world’s largest seaside monolith, 844 m high. Some stretches are virtually a rock climb, so safety equipment should be worn and visitors should be accompanied by someone who is familiar with the path.

Parque Lage x Corcovado

Where: Serra da Carioca sector.
Length: 4,8 km.
Duration: average of 5 hours.

This trail starts at Parque Lage, in Jardim Botânico, and visitors should expect steep and tiring stretches. Halfway along the trail visitors can stop at the Paineiras Visitor Center, to visit the restrooms, have a snack and visit the Floresta Protetora exhibit, a giant model of the entire Tijuca National Park. On the way back through the forest, visitors will reach the ticket office of the train atop Corcovado and will have access to the Christ the Redeemer monument.

Business hours: daily, from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Source: Veja Rio

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