By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After the year of Rio’s 450th anniversary had been rang in at Reveillon (New Year’s) with a flaming character during the fireworks, the next attraction is already up and running. Riotur, Rio’s tourism agency, offers six guided walking tours to explore the city’s attractions, all of them for free.
The tours are offered from Tuesday to Sunday in varying intervals from every 2 to 5 days from now on until March 1st, the official anniversary of Rio and the beginning of the 450 years celebration month. Offered are walking tours to the Morro da Urca hill, the Tijuca National Park, the Horto waterfalls, the historical Centro, the Port Zone and to the churches of Centro.
The Morro da Urca is the smaller hill in front of the Sugarloaf Mountain and an easy thirty minutes’ walk uphill. From there, one has a great view onto the Guanabara Bay, Centro and towards Christ the Redeemer.
The Tijuca National Park tour centers on the Floresta da Tijuca segment of the park, labeled as “part A”, and goes along several waterfalls that offer refreshing baths in the current summer heat.
The third ecotour offers a trip to the lesser known waterfalls of the Horto neighborhood, behind Jardim Botânico. Its attractions are several waterfalls, rivers and small natural pools. For all three nature tours closed shoes are required and the use of flipflops and sandals is explicitly prohibited.
The three city tours are labeled Portzone and little Africa, where you get to know the influence Africans had on the city’s culture, religion and society; Rio 450 years, a tour through the historical heart of Rio de Janeiro; and Rio cultural tour, which focuses on the churches of the Centro region. They allow thirty participants each, while only twenty people can participate in the ecotours at a time.
To participate in one of the walking tours, inscriptions have to be made until 8PM the previous day on the official website here. The meeting point and starting time, usually 10AM, are also given on the site. Weekend slots, especially of the ecotours, are already filling up quickly.