Rio – Parque National Tijuca

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Christ the Redeemer between cloud banks.  The statue faces east.  In the Pedestal there is a church for people to pray.

An early start to the Parque Nacional da Tijuca on Corcovado Mountain to see Christ the Redeemer was paramount.  Of the varied ways to get there (bus, hike, train, and taxi) we chose to take Uber to Paineiras Visitors’ Center.  From there we took the van to the top.  We were the first in line for the Van, but not first to arrive at Christ the Redeemer.  By the time we got there at 8:30, there were already a trainload of people and people who walked or biked up.

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Early in the morning before chaos began.

Christ the Redeemer is the tallest Art Deco statue in the world.  Built between 1922 and 1931 by Brazilian Engineer, French, and Romanian Sculptors.

But the statue itself is not what makes this location one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The view of the Rio de Janiero harbor was magnificent!

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A view North. (Photocredit: Alyssa)

Good weather at the top makes all the difference in the visit.  Even though we were there on a forecast day as clear, the humidity from the rainforest below created clouds before our eyes.  The gentle winds would blow the mist off as new clouds formed.  The effect was amazing. “Kylie, remember you once asked me what it was like to be in clouds, this is it.”

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A view east.  I watch some of these clouds form right before my eyes.

By 9:30 it was chaotic.  Hundreds of people were crammed in a small space all looking to have their Christ the Redeemer moment memorialized in pictures.

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Hordes of people pose and try to take shots of the statue.

Back at the visitor center it was still early.  I asked for directions and was told to turn right at the fork.  At the fork in the road we decided to take the Bruce Trail.  We started down the forested path and after a short way came to a fork.  The sign said “Parque Lage” to the left and “Vale do Rio Cabeca” to the right.  This confused me because I had asked for directions to Parque Lage, but the sign said go to the right.  Right was down and left was up.   I went back to confirm the directions.  I was told again to go to the right.  Down we went, zig zagging down the steep path through the forest.  At times the path was more creek bed than path.

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Kylie, not quite feeling the walk.

The road forked again.  Go down or go back up.  I knew by now that we should have gone left at the original fork.  We were in new territory going away from our destination.  We went down a little ways and the path became too overgrown, we went back up and went straight.  The path went up.  Sharleen’s feet were aching, Kylie was no longer cheerful, and inside I was not looking forward to more up.

The path opened to some tremendous views at Mirante da Lagoa and then we came across a beautiful waterfall.  We stopped to play with tadpoles and frogs for a much needed break.  We came across a few hikers who said 30 minutes to the end of the trail.

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Tadpole catch and release
Small baby frogs
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Our exit from the dense rain forest. Alyssa traces our route to see how lost we got.

A wrong turn mean two more kilometers of hiking through the rainforest and one more hours.  However the girls didn’t hold it against me.  After all, how can you go wrong with frogs and tadpoles.

The trail we took was the Cachoeira dos Primatas trail.  In all 5-6KM of downhill with some uphill.

History of the park

By 1861, the government of Rio made a connection between the diminishing water supply and the coffee and sugar plantations that dominated the area.  Reforestation started in the late 1800s and by 1961 Tijuca Forest was declared Parque Nacional da Tijuca.  (Source)  Tijuca is in the elite club of cities (Singapore’s Botantical Gardens and Johannesburg’s Trees) that have recreated an urban forest for the betterment of their community.  The vegetation has dropped the temperature of Rio by 9 degrees, helped protect the water supply, and provided a habitat for animals and endangered plants.

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