When people hear the word Rio most envision the infamous Samba-infused festival that is Carnival. But Rio also brings to mind long stretches of glistening white sands of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches packed with scantily-clad sun worshippers and a diverse Latin nightlife that lasts into the wee hours of the morning. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and majestic mountain ranges it is no wonder that Brazil’s “marvelous city” also offers plenty of exhilarating activities that go beyond the beautiful beaches and music pumping bars and nightclubs.
Tijuca Forest is an 8,000-acre urban jungle that sits in the middle of Rio. It is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World (Christ the Redeemer statue), has 30 waterfalls and a multitude of outdoor thrills to entice the novice as well as the expert. Besides being amongst 100 different species of animals, there are plentiful opportunities to go spelunking in limestone caves like Caverna dos Morcegos, Luis Fernandes or Bernardo de Oliveira. For those who prefer to have their feet high off the ground, Pedra Bonita Mountain has a launching ramp at 1,700 ft making it the ideal spot to start a scenic hang gliding or paragliding experience.
A different twist to seeing this lush rainforest is with a bird’s eye view while zip-lining from the tops of the trees. Lagoa Aventuras circuit is a 393 ft long zip-line that is 246 ft across, 19 ft off the ground.
The summits of Tijuca Peak (3,353 ft), Pedra Bonita (2,283 ft) and Sugarloaf (1,299 ft) reward ambitious hikers with breathtaking views of Rio with the challenging Pedra da Gavea offering the most experienced hikers the best never-ending views from its 2,763 ft summit. For rock climbers, impressive mountains like Sugarloaf, Urca, Corcovado, Pedra da Gávea and Serra dos Orgäos collectively have over 400 routes with difficulty ratings from 5.4 to 5.13a making Rio a dream destination for climbers.
The ocean around Rio is inviting with its brilliant turquoise hue and average temperature hovering around the mid 70s. For thrill-seekers who are happiest when wet, Rio has every type of water sport from surfing and sailing to paddleboarding. An abundant marine life reserve is only a 2 hour drive away in Arraial do Cabo where scuba divers go to swim with turtles and moray eels or explore the Dona Paula shipwreck. Kayaking the coast gives one a different perspective of the city, but kayaking on Macaé River steps up the excitement with rapids ranging from Class 1 to Class 5. Kayakers share the 15 rapids of Macaé River with white water rafters, but rafting can also be done on the 25 rapids of Paraibuna River.
With so much going on in this exotic location it is easy to have an exciting land, water or air experience by day and engage in the city’s culture by night. Rio de Janeiro is definitely an adventurers playground.