If you the ‘adventure’ type that enjoys spending time outdoors, discovering waterfalls and hiking in the woods then you should definitely find a way to experience hiking in the Tijuca forest. Home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, found only in the Atlantic Rainforest, the Tijuca Forest is the world’s largest urban forest, covering some 3,200 hectares. Various trails invite hikers (ie regular people like you and me) and the serious hikers can climb up to the Pico da Tijuca which is 1012 meters high.
When you arrive you will see a beautiful waterfall at the entrance (above), FYI it is just for admiration, too shallow to swim in! After the waterfall you will see a map with different trails marked and the entrance. We started on the yellow trail because we wanted to see the waterfalls (see map at top)….. The trail is easy with stairs natural roots and most of the path is well-defined and open. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see that the trail was marked with colored arrows (based on your trail) so you can’t get lost (other places I have hiked in Brazil have not been so easily mapped out). There are certain points where the trail becomes steep, for your assistance there are chains attached to some of the rocks to help pull you up. The only real ‘obstacles’ ( if you can call it that) are created by the roots of a trees so get ready for some ‘climbing’. If you ever played on a jungle gym when you were a kid you will enjoy that part:) and then you will arrive at the famous Cachoeira das Almas (waterfall of the souls) below. At this waterfall you can take a refreshing shower, FYI it’s also a popular spot for couples, as you can see we were clearly interrupting, oops!
Since it started to pour we ended up doing both the Red and Yellow trails (we got a little turned around because of the rain and decided to just go for it). Along the way, we happily stumbled upon the Taunay Waterfall, Mayrink Playground and Chapel, Tijuca National Park Museum (Visitor Center), Sensorial trail (designed for blind and wheelchair) and The Manacás Garden. We were having such a nice time by the time we were finished 5 hours had gone by and we had managed to cover a lot of ground!
What to bring: Sneakers/ boots you don’t mind getting dirty/ muddy, water, snacks, bug spray, sun screen
If you like hiking. check out these trekks
If you don’t want to go at it alone there are lots of tour options