Although some people may try to tell you otherwise, there are still many amazing things you can do for free when traveling. One of the famous tourist attractions in Rio de Janeiro is Pão de Açúcar, or as it’s called in English, Sugarloaf, is one you can do almost for free. You can at least see it pretty close up by hiking up the hill next to it, Morro da Urca. I personally refused to go up to the Sugarloaf because of my fear of heights. So as you may imagine, cable cars aren’t my idea of fun. So either if your excuse is like mine, or if it’s simply that you don’t want to pay R$53 to go all the way up, you can do the “short, easy hike that lots of children do”, as I read somewhere online. Ha. I’m never trusting anything I read on the Internet ever again.
The hike starts on the left side of Praia Vermelha.
Hey! They were right! This IS easy! The road is paved and… wait a second… Shouldn’t it start going up soon?
Um, yes… You almost immediately need to take off the paved road to the left where there is a tiny trail and a warning sign about cobras. 45 minutes later, wet of sweat, almost dehydrated and muddy all over, I realized that either of these had to be correct:
- I’m in extremely bad shape, or
- Someone lied in the article I read online, or
- The weather might have been bad the days before and made the ground slippery and muddy.
I’m guessing a combination of the last two.
However, when you finally arrive, you are rewarded with a beautiful 360º view of Rio de Janeiro, and seeing the Sugarloaf up close. There are several crazy expensive cafeterias, souvenir- and jewelry (!) shops up here, as well as bathrooms in perfect conditions. From here you can either hike down again, take the cable car up to the Sugarloaf (it’s supposedly cheaper from here since it’s the first stop), or take the cable car directly down.
Despite my surprise over how not-easy the hike was (I won’t exactly classify it as hard either, so don’t get me wrong), it was a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of the city, to breathe fresh air and feel a bit of nature, so I highly recommend this hike.
Just remember: bring water, wear good shoes (sneakers would be fine), and be sure to calculate the timing so that you get down again before the sun sets; the cobras come out at night. (I’ve been told. Never trust anything you read on the Internet.)