Out for a walk in the rainforest
Upon entering the park, one of the main attractions is only a few hundred metres away: the 30-metre-high Cascatinha Taunay waterfall. Just a bit further down one can find a picturesque 19th-century chapel with a triptych by neorealist painter Cândido Portinari, another one of the park’s many highlights. Beyond this point there are many different trails to take; follow the signposts that mark the various routes or buy a map from the kiosk at the visitor’s centre. Winding trails lead over to mountain streams and small ponds where you can cool off under a splashing waterfall. Climb to the top of the hills for a view of Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain. Sloths and howler monkeys dangle in the trees, capybaras and agoutis rustle in the bushes, and, if you’re very lucky, you may even spot an ocelot or a coati. It was with good reason that in 1991 the park was awarded a UNESCO biosphere reserve status, say the Mother Nature equivalent of a world heritage site.
Enjoy a solo hike or an organised tour
To reach the Entrada da Floresta, which is the entrance gate to the pedestrian-friendly part of Tijuca National Park, take bus 221 from Praça XV de Novembro, bus 233 or 234 from the bus station (Rodoviária) or bus 133 from Rua Jardim Botânico, all in the direction of Alto da Boa Vista (disembark at Praça Alfonso Viseu). As there are 200 walking routes through the park, the best way to explore these is with a guide from Aventuras Rio (aventurasrio.com.br) or Rio Hiking (riohiking.com.br). You can also visit the park by jeep accompanied by a guide: Rio by Jeep (riobyjeep.com) or Jeep Tour (jeeptour.com.br).