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Top 5 Tips for Visiting Tijuca Park

February 25, 2015

The 32km² Tijuca National Park was previously used to grow sugar and coffee. By late 1800s, the dire state of the land prompted city officials to implement a reforestation effort. Tijuca Park was declared a national park in 1961, and is commonly referred to as the world’s largest urban forest.

Here are our top five tips for first-time visitors to Tijuca.

Tip #1:

Continue past Praça Afonso Viseu

Follow the road from the entrance to Praça Afonso Viseu, a square near the entrance of the park. However, unless you are meeting a group here, don’t get out get. The walk from the entrance to the beginning of the trails can take up to 2 hours. Keep driving — or tell your driver to continue — past Praça Afonso Viseu until you reach Bom Retiro.

Tip #2:

Get out at Bom Retiro

If you are keen to hike the trail to Pico da Tijuca (the highest peak), you can take a private car or taxi to Bom Retiro, the location where the trail starts. Pass the guards at the entrance and follow signs for Bom Retiro.

On the way, you will pass the well-known Cascatinha de Taunay waterfall. If you want to take pictures of the waterfall, do so when entering, because you will exit the park via another gate.

Tip #3:

For a low-level hike with a big payoff, try Pedra Bonita

About a 50 minute walk through Tijuca, the Pedra Bonita express hike cumulates in a magnificent view of Pedra da Gavea, one of the highest mountains in the world, and one that happens to end directly in the ocean.

Tip #4:

Hang-gliders provide lots of entertainment

After a leisurely hike to Pedra Bonita, stay awhile and check out the hang-gliders. Pedra Bonita Mountain is a popular launchpad for hang-gliders in Rio.

Tip #5:

The usual precautions still apply

Check the weather before your hike. While you may not mind hiking in inclement conditions, rain affects the Tijuca marsh and makes the trails especially precarious.

Also, try to stick to the mapped trails. Going into the protected, unmapped areas of the forest means putting yourself at risk of potential falls and unfriendly animals. (Those capuchin monkeys sure looked cute!)

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