By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In addition to the beach, the music and the food, the Cidade Maravilhosa is a hikers paradise as well, with towering peaks overlooking the coast in all directions. Getting up to the peak of Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers), which overlooks Leblon and Ipanema beach, is a relatively short hike but full of breathtaking views.
Anyone who has spent time on the beaches below has wondered what the view looks like from the Dois Irmãos, as an unmissable landmark on countless postcards and selfies. The best part about the hike is how accessible it is, as a 2-3 hour excursion for the motivated adventurer.
It starts with a visit to Vidigal, one of Rio’s most tourist-friendly and safest favela communities. A bus will get hikers to the entrance of Vidigal from the Zona Sul (South Zone) beaches in roughly ten minutes and R$3.40, and a taxi even faster (for around R$10), or it is even possible to walk there from Leblon in fifteen minutes.
Visiting a favela community is not for everyone, travelers have to exercise street-smarts and respect for the people that live there, as one should in any underprivileged neighborhood in any city around the world. However once there and with minimal Portuguese, one can get a mototaxi up to the base of the trail in another ten minutes (paying between R$3-5, but make sure to confirm before taking the ride).
After an entertaining and adrenaline-filled ride on the back of a motorcycle up the winding streets of Vidigal, hikers can finally get to hiking. Sneakers laced tight and water bottle in-hand, the path starts with a mild incline but quickly reaches 45 degrees and steeper.
At a brisk pace it is possible to make the climb in under an hour, with a few look-out points along the way with views stretching west towards the massive sprawling Rocinha favela with São Conrado below. Once at the top, the trees and tropical foliage open up to a peak overlooking the entire Zona Sul and Guanabara Bay, and is worth an hour rest and gaze upon the wonders of the world.
The hike down is fast and steep, and most will want to walk down through the favela streets to the bottom of Vidigal, where one can get a bus or taxi back to the beach neighborhoods. It is highly recommended to make this trip with someone who has done it before, either a local or professional guide.