Shama Ko's Travel Guide to Rio De Janierio-A Guide for the Adventurous spirit!

I had looked through a few books about Rio before my travels. I was torn between buying the "Lonely Planet Rio de Janiero" and "Rough Guide Rio de Janiero". Lonely Planet is a good resource and very up to date. However I liked the off the beaten path advice that the Rough Guide provided. They even included Jiu Jitsu academies! I researched various things to do and sites to see from both books. In total I picked out about 20 things that I thought were interesting.

I ended up purchasing a Brazilian Portuguese phrase book for only $8.99. The Romance section was specially amusing. Hee hee hee! I did use this book a few times at the grocery store and pharmacy. I found it helpful to have and easy to use.

In no particular order, here is my TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS TO DO. Some of these came from my original list of 20 and some were just unplanned adventures.

1.Hike Tijuca Forest:

The Tijuca National Forest is the world's largest urban forest. I went on a 2-3 hour hike and reached a peak with the most amazingly beautiful 360 view of the forest and city of Rio de Janiero that borders it. I really wanted to see a monkey on my trip, but unfortunately there were none to be found. On this hike, we cooled off in one of the many waterfalls (watch out for rocky areas and possible water snake dens) along the way. If you're an outdoor enthusiast like myself, you have to check this out! My photos don't even come close to doing this view justice. Only one word comes to mind..."WOW!

2.Train at Gracie Tijuca:

My quest for knowledge in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu led me to Gracie Tijuca. If you are looking for amazing Jiu Jitsu, good people/training partners and traditional yet relaxed atmosphere you have to stop in for a class or two. Train with the best! It's worth every penny!

3.Surf Barra da Tijuca beach:

Barra da Tijuca is the longest beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This beach is ideal for beginners and experienced surfers. It's a left and right beach break breaking over sand. It's shallow for a long ways out so watch your heads! There are lots of places to get a board on the boardwalk. Barra da Tijuca is easy to get to and worth the drive/bus ride!

4. The Lapa steps & Santa Teresa Histroic Tramway:

The tiled stairway in the equally colorful district of Lapa is the brainchild of a Chilean painter called Selaron. He fell in love with Brazil and created the steps as a tribute to his adopted country. The quirky artist Selaron refers to the stairway his "great madness" and claims he will never stop working on it until the day he dies.

The Santa Teresa Historic Tramway is the only remaining metropolitan tram system in Brazil (and South America), and also the oldest in operation, having run continuously since its opening in 1859. For about 1.20 reals ($.90 US) you can take a ride to the top of Santa Teresa and back down. It's a lot of fun and definitely worth the long wait in line.

5.Impanema & Leblon Beach:

In Hawaii the locals will tell you where to most beautiful beaches are. In Brazil, the locals will tell you where the most beautiful people are on the beach. Not only is Impanema beach full of beautiful people, it's also a beautiful span of beach. Impanema is one of Rio's hottest spots to hang out at all year round. Impanema is an ideal spot to spend the day with family, friends and loved ones.

6.Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor):

The O Cristo Redentor is a 130ft tall statue of Jesus Christ located on the peak of the Corcovado mountain. This statue is considered the largest Art Deco statue in the world! It is a magnificent piece of art and the view of Rio is breathtaking from this lookout.

7.Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcaris):

Sugar Loaf is a peak situated at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula. Sugar loaf is 396 metres (1,299 ft) above the harbor. You can catch a tram to the top or hike/rock climb to the peak. No matter how you get there you will not be disappointed by the absolutely unreal view!

8. Down Town/Central:

Down Town Rio is where all the business happens in Rio. Just like any other downtown, you'll find skyscraper office buildings and professional business people on the street. My favorite part of this area was the historical buildings and statues. However, be careful wandering around at night or even during the day by yourself this area can be a little questionable. If you like to look at old architecture and ruins, definitely check out the central area.

9. Favela Tours:

Movies like "City of God", have brought international attention to the druglord slums of Rio de Janiero. At first I was reluctant about taking a tour of the slums since it isn't something that I'd do anywhere else. However, after seeing photographs taken in the favelas and realizing how the tours directly benefit this impoverished community I changed my mind. But be aware these are some of the most dangerous parts of Rio. They tell tourists to keep out of the favelas and even the tour companies cannot guarantee your safety 100%. However, if you are looking for an eye opening experience this is it!

Marcelo Armstrong owner of Favela Tours, created these tours back in 1992. The purpose of the Favela Tours is to give the public a whole new understanding about different aspects of Brazilian society.

Another organization that runs tours is Favela Adventures. Favela Adventures is a small company that is operated completely by residents in the favela of Rocinha. The company consists of five parts of sustainable tourism. Their main purpose is to educate people about the community and the great things that do exist in the favelas.

10.Impanema Hippy Fair (Feira hippie de ipanema):

Rio has one of the best "hippy fairs" in Brazil. In Brazil, hippy fairs have been popular since the 1960's. This open market is perfect to buy unique gifts for yourself or loved ones. You can buy anything from handcrafts, silver jewelery, paintings, furniture and sculptures. The fair is open every Sunday 8am–7:30pm at the Ipanema/General Osório. I highly recommend you check it out. You are bound to find something that you like!


  1. I've been enjoying your posts on Brazil: it isn't somewhere I've been all that eager to visit (my paranoia about crime being one big thing), despite being a keen BJJer, but positive experiences like yours are great food for thought! :)

    I love travelling, and for me, Rough Guide is the best, as they always include a good chunk of history and cultural insight. Lonely Planet is pretty good too, but it seems much less...cerebral, if that's the right word.

  2. Thanks! I've really enjoyed writing it. I am home now so it's a nice way for me to still be on vacation in Rio in my mind. :)

    I know it's a long flight and jet lag sux for you, but it is well worth the trip! Believe me! Rio is an amazing place and it's so much safer than you'd think. Not to mention the amazing BJJ every where! Now if I can do it, so can you!

  3. Strangely enough, I've never suffered from jet lag or minded long flights (I've been to Canada, Ecuador, Chile, New Zealand, Cambodia etc, most of them on a big round the world trip a few years back).

    For me, the crime thing is my main worry. The language is a little worry, though I imagine it isn't that bad with all the travellers heading over to train.

    Also, I find that I'm much, much more excited about the prospect of training in the US rather than Brazil, probably because it would be awesome to get to meet all the other bloggers. :)

  4. Wow, you really are lucky! Wish I never got jet lag! :) The Jiu Jitsu is amazing in the States too! So many places to train and so many legends have moved here to open their own schools. If you ever pass through Texas, let us know!


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