South America Travel News

Hike up Rio's Corcovado

Arms spread, gazing across the city of Rio, is Brazil's Cristo Redentor, perhaps one of the world's most famous monuments. This towering, 124-foot-tall statue is a must-see attraction for anyone heading to the capital city. For travelers, however, the mountain on which it stands is part of what makes the journey so intriguing.

Statue on a hill
The Christ the Redeemer statue was built in 1931, and remains apparently visible from nearly everywhere in the city, according to Lonely Planet. Trams, roads and walkways all lead up to the statue so that visitors may stand in its shadow, or get a view of the city as the Redeemer does daily. Yet, part of what gives the statue its majestic appearance is the height of the hilltop on which it sits. Corcovado, which means humpback in Portuguese, has long been a destination for travelers looking to survey the land below.

Contrary to what one might expect, the train that takes visitors to the top was built long before the statue, having been constructed in 1884 by Dom Pedro II. According to The Rio Times, the hilltop lookout was a popular destination from the beginning of the train's inauguration. While the train switched from steam to electric in 1910, and the views have morphed to include a bustling metropolis, the awe for visitors seems not to have diminished.

Getting there
There are a few ways to reach the top of the mountain. For people looking to get a bit of exercise, there's always the option of hiking up the hill, which will submerse them in the surrounding Tijuca forest. Travelers looking for a speedier ascent can shell out some money for one of the taxis or vans constantly shuttling people up and down the slopes. The train, however, is probably the most popular way to get there. It is also one of the best ways to experience Corcovado.

The tram shuttles approximately 345 passengers an hour, but at a leisurely pace of around 10 mph. While passengers will miss out on the exercise afforded by a steep hike, they will still be able to enjoy the beauty of the Tijuca forest as the tram winds its way to the top.

No matter which way travelers choose, The Rio Times suggested that people bring a sweater and scope out the weather conditions before making the climb. The hilltop can often be covered by clouds. While that doesn't affect the experience of the climb, it can limit the view from the top.

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