From Ipanema Beach to the Amazon River to South American Swells—and Beyond

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro travel
Rio de Janeiro: Gateway to Ipanema, adventure, and mojitos (PhotoDisc)
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At some point, nearly every adventurer in Brazil must visit the country's most famous city, Rio de Janeiro. In fact most international travelers make this vibrant, colorful city their gateway to the country. More than 17,700 Cariocas—as the residents of Rio, the "marvelous city," are called—live in each square mile of Rio, making it one of the most densely populated cities on the planet. (By comparison, New York City has about the same number of residents—eight million—but New York is slightly smaller in area and therefore slightly denser). The temperatures don't change too much thanks to the proximity of the sea, with average highs hovering in the high 70s. Fall is classic shoulder-season weather, with 11 to 13 days each month marked by showers.

As for adventure, Rio de Janeiro has plenty to offer within the city limits as well as immediately outside in the surrounding state. Brazilians blaze with passion, be it dancing or scaling the side of Rio's famous rocky peaks, and a trip here would not be complete without signing up for an adventure tour to take in some of that fire.

For starters Rio Adventures (011.55.21.2705.5747; www.rioadventures.com) offers two-day/one-night expeditions to places like the Serra da Bocaina National Park about 160 miles west of the city. This 247,000-acre park includes some of the last remaining Atlantic old-growth forests and runs cool with numerous waterfalls. Guides at Rio Adventures take guests on hikes through this park to places like the summit of Pico do Gavião to overlook Angra dos Reis Bay and Ilha Grande, or the Big Island, just offshore. Be sure to check out the remnants of the Gold Path, a route forged by slaves in the early 1700s during Brazil's colonial days as a Portuguese protectorate, when the European demand for gold brought numerous mines to life in this part of the country. When it gets hot, you can hike to Cachoeira dos Veados and Santa Izidro Falls before spending the night at the Fazenda Barreirinha Lodge. For those itching for a longer hike, Rio Adventures also runs 7.5-mile round-trip hikes up to 6,800-foot Pedra do Sino in Serra dos Órgãos National Park.

For more information about things to do in Rio, including tips on places to stay, check with the Rio Convention and Visitors Bureau (212.259.6165; www.rcvb.com.br).


Published: 26 Aug 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Rio de Janeiro

$643-$678
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#1
Belmond Copacabana Palace
$285
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#2
Windsor Atlantica
$272
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#3
Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel
$161-$193
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#4
Promenade Princess Copacabana

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