By Teresa Geer, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Vista Chinesa is a charming little Chinese structure placed 380 meters high in Tijuca National Forest, one of the world’s largest urban forests, and offers one of the most impressive views in Rio. The lookout point provides visitors an inspiring scene which could almost transport them to the foothills of the Himalayas until they are reminded where they are by the tropical climate and breathtaking views of plush green jungle and bay.
Vista Chinesa dates back to 1903 when Chinese immigrants were brought to the city to power the tea farming industry in Brazil. The efforts to create a lucrative tea trade with Europe however were unfruitful due to several contributing factors, including the industry’s dependence on slave labor which was abolished around this time.
Another factor was the flavor of the tea, which didn’t help the popularity due to the lower altitude of Brazilian tea farms which produce a less flavorful cha (tea) in comparison to the high altitude teas found in Asia.
The century old structure has retained its original beauty, undergoing a facelift renovation project last year which included stripping the existing paint, recovering damaged sections and finishing with lime-based paint. The shiny, new-look Vista Chinesa can be reached either by taxi or tour bus or the feature point for an adventure by hikers or cyclists at the finale of a steep 6km climb.
At the ascent of the Alto da Boa Vista, this lesser known slice of Asia in Brazil provides a stunning opportunity to look down on Guanabara Bay from an alternate angle while soaking up the authentic oriental heritage of a traditionally built bamboo gazebo.
Offering a panorama of Lagoa and Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) the view is enjoyed by a diversity of visitors including tourists, young and old romantics, artists as well as those looking to add an extreme edge to the vista for mountain bike or event downhill skateboarder wheels.
The bamboo construction which played a principle role in the Pixar blockbuster ‘Rio’ allows a unique spot for enthusiastic landscape photographers to capture spectacular perspectives of the most beautiful section of Rio de Janeiro including a parallel view of the Christ the Redeemer statue looking upon the golden beaches of Corcovado, Ipanema and Copacabana.
The 32 square-kilometer Floresta da Tijuca (Tijuca Forest) is a reclamation of land once cleared for sugar and coffee, which in the mid-19th Century was successfully replanted to protect Rio’s water supply. Vista Chinesa sits in a clearing of the hand planted faunas which also features other natural attractions such as waterfalls and mountaintops as well as the man-made tourist haunts Mayrink Chapel and Christ the Redeemer.
This amazing lesser-known mountaintop view is a must-see for visitors and Cariocas alike, however policing has been upped recently in light of a recent rape of a woman in the area, and it is advisable to visit in a group during daylight hours only.