Rio de Janeiro at 360 degrees
Three hours stand between you and the finest views of the capital of the Brazilian Carnival. That’s how long it takes to climb Pedra da Gávea.
The large mountain known as Pedra da Gávea standing in Tijuca National Park is famous for its special location: you can see Rio from all angles. It got its name from the Portuguese explorers who reached its slopes in 1502. Gávea, which means “crow’s nest” is the name in Portuguese of the lookout point at the highest point of the main mast of a ship.
To climb to this “crow’s nest” you don’t need to know how to fly… but almost. It stands 842 metres above sea level, almost three times the height of the Eiffel Tower. The difficulty in reaching the top of this monolith made of gneiss and granite is not just a question of height. The ascent includes steep paths and slippery boulders. Some stretches, such as the Carrasqueira even require mountain climbing equipment. This is the greatest challenge of the ascent: an almost vertical 30-metre-high wall where it is essential, as well as to have ropes and be wearing specialised footwear, to also be accompanied by an experienced guide. Not just lovers of hiking and trekking find themselves seduced by the largest seaside mountain in the world. Archaeologists and the curious have also succumbed to the enigmatic charm of Pedra da Gávea. The erosion caused by its sea-front location and exposure to the wind have formed sinuous shapes that are reminiscent of a human face known as Cabeça do Imperador, “the Emperor’s head”. A halo of mystery surrounds this stone emperor. Legend says that it was the work of the ancient Phoenician civilisation, specifically that of King Bazdir. That’s why it’s known as “the Sphinx of Brazil”. It has also been said that it has extra-terrestrial origins and even that there is a gateway to another dimension among its crevices.
Views of Rio de Janeiro from Pedra da Gávea
Whether due to curiosity about the natural or the supernatural, climbing to the top of Pedra da Gávea attracts visitors from all over the world. Once you reach the summit you are free to enjoy the beauty that surrounds Rio de Janeiro: Corcovado Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain and Tijuca Forest are at your feet, and on the other side is the Atlantic Ocean. Then, perhaps it’s time to think about the descent.
The Emperor’s Head
The Bondinho or Sugarloaf Cable Car