With a dramatic landscape that sees mammoth mountains jutting right out of the ocean, crashing waves beating against endless beaches and thick Atlantic rainforest edging right into the city center, Rio de Janeiro can be seen as something of a giant playground for those with a taste for adrenaline-pumping pursuits.
Rio de Janeiro’s mountains frame almost every neighborhood in the city, and their unusual formations make for some challenging climbing opportunities Rio de Janeiro unarguably offers the best urban climbing to be found anywhere in the world, and it is even possible to scale the sides of the legendary Sugar Loaf mountain. You don’t have to be an expert to have a go, either. Climb in Rio offers guided climbs for everybody from absolute beginners to expert climbers, and with so many mountains to climb in the city, there’s no chance of getting bored whatever your level of expertise.
For those with a head for heights, soaring over Rio de Janeiro on a tandem hang gliding flight is an unforgettable way to see the city. Expert instructors will ensure you are in safe hands, as you take a running jump of the flat summit of Pedra da Gavea, joining the condors in their flight over Rio, and taking in what is possibly the world’s most beautiful cityscape before making a soft landing on the sands of Sao Conrado beach.
Rio de Janeiro is also home to the largest area of urban rainforest anywhere on the planet, the Parque Nacional de Tijuca and hikes through this thick jungle are not for the faint of heart. Head off in the early morning, bring insect repellent, plenty of water and some energy-giving snacks, and always go with a guide – the park’s sheer size makes it all too easy to get lost, and spending the night stranded in the forest is not the kind of adrenaline rush that anybody needs. Bring swimming gear, too, as natural pools and waterfalls make great places to cool off mid-hike.
There are many companies offering outdoor adventures in Rio, of which the aptly-named Rio Adventures is one of the best, running hikes, climbs and other excursions in the city and out towards the peaks of the nearby Serra dos Orgaos mountain range.
Photo: Lucy Bryson