Today we were able to feel like travellers, not tourists. For me, this is distinguishable in a number of ways but notably to be savvy and conscious of expenditure, yet keen on maximising any experience with a personalised sense of accomplishment. Typically that would involve a hike or climb to reach a vantage point offering a spectacular (and free) views.
We’ve already had ten days in Rio so it’s about time we considered some of the city’s main attractions. We still have Sugarloaf, Copacabana and Christ the Redeemer on our to-do list so that’s exciting.
First up: Sugarloaf mountain.
Vivian explored the cost and discovered that it was 20 euros each. That’s nearly £40 and you will have all read in previous posts how much £40 can get us over here. So what does that hefty price tag get you?
Um, not much! That money is actually for a cable-car ride to reach the top. Say whaaat.
What about when you reach the summit? Well, research tells me there’s a restaurant (obviously) and that’s well over-priced (obviously) and well, that’s it. If there’s one thing Rio is not short of it’s mountainous areas allowing the same, if not better, view point.
So back to the computer we went in search of our options; thankfully it didn’t take us long to discover that the second rock next to Sugarloaf (Morro da Urca) is actually trekkable.
First up, a quick image to show you what I mean.
From the above viewpoint it’s hard to believe an ascent is possible, even to the smaller of the two rocks, but it is. To get to the start of the trail, you’ll need to reach close to where the first of the cable cars start is. From there, it’s only five minutes and before you know it you’re away capturing images as you ascend.
The route is understandably popular and is considered “easy”. Clearly that’s subjective and for us non-fit people who haven’t “hiked” in a long time, we weren’t sure of our limits but we said we would give it a try whatever and so we did.
Having now accomplished it we can agree it was on the whole easy enough but we did require one short stop. For fit people, it would be easy peasy, even in 30 degrees.
Last time I was this knackered and sweaty was, strangely, on Christmas Day 2017 backpacking in Thailand.
So on the trail you’ll do a few things: You’ll give and receive the standard trekking ‘Good Morning’ pleasantries of ‘Bom Dia’ to your fellow walkers, you’ll worry (or not) about the occasional sign that warns of venomous snakes being present and you’ll enjoy (or again not) the jungle-like sounds all around you.
After a rustle of some trees we managed to identify the cheeky little monkey responsible (quite literally). Unfortunately this is as good as my phone’s digital zoom could get but decent all the same considering they were some meters away.
However check out how close this lizard let me get. I think that’s only cos digestion was taking place and he was feeling fat to move. Look closely and you’ll see the wing of an insect in the jaws of its mouth. Grooossss man.
One of the first sights you come across when you reach the top is this re-used cable car. A cool little eatery I thought. Perhaps a burger joint or something? No, a tattoo parlour. Go figure…
For tourists who are able to ‘splash the cash’, grab yourself a 13 minute helicopter ride of the Rio bay. There can’t be that many more picturesque cities to enjoy a chopper ride so one for you guys to remember should you venture to Rio in the next few years! It’ll set you back a modest £250 for two of you.
We were so pleased our research paid off and paid off it did as you’ll see from the pictures of the views. Then consider the entire experience was zero cost. A great move for us, saving up to 40 euros.
We can report that from the official start point it took us 30 minutes to reach the top. In a couple of areas it’s a steep flight of steps and for someone with little legs (her) and for someone with bad knees (me), well that 30 minutes includes one 5 minute rest and catch of breath.
Back down, gravity helped us nail it in 20 minutes. Fairly easy compared to the asc nt and whilst still in 30 degree heat, thankfully shaded by the forest.
After a much needed nap at the hostel and a bucket load of water to rehydrate, late afternoon was soon upon us so we searched where to eat for the evening.
Viv found us something that offered views of the mountain backdrop and the sea; it looked spectacular and weird to think that we had walked up there only hours ago!
Late afternoon soon became twilight and we captured this image from behind the glass where we sat.
And the best part was that eating in a location offering this backdrop did not blow our day’s budget. In fact in a way it was free! Yes, you’re buying food but not in an over-priced way. You see, we’re in a large shopping centre that has positioned its many eateries on the top floor. Just gotta be lucky with grabbing one of the few window tables currently available due to Covid. There’s even a subway outlet here so it’s not luxury dining at all.
Speaking of luxury, did I mention previously that it was Vivian’s birthday a couple of weeks back? I wanted to take her to a hotel in Manaus but the intermittent tropical storms prevented it. That’s not a bad thing though as a good thing will come to her who has waited. Let’s see what I can bonjour up for the weekend.