I’m Brazilian. So, first of all, sorry for my poor English…
It’s almost impossible not thinking nature when thinking Rio de Janeiro. The city that has one of the largest urban parks in the world, the Tijuca National Park, is rich in beautiful green places to walk on by – and even better: most of them with free admission. Points that have been critical on the past, as Paineiras and Vista Chinesa, are improving security thanks to the presence of the Military Police and the City Guard. On Vista Chinesa, with its gazebo in oriental style, the view is spectacular. You can contemplate the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.
The Lage Park has a mansion occupied by the School of Visual Arts, built around a pool that has hosted videoclips of artists like Snoopy Dog and Black Eyed Peas. Lage Park also has many trails, including the one to the Corcovado Hill, which can be covered in about two and a half hours. There are many trails in the Tijuca Forest too, a piece of the Tijuca National Park that can be accessed at Alto da Boa Vista neighborhood. The Tijuca Forest is the result of reforestation promoted during the empire age, when it became clear that the deforestation caused by coffee farms was affecting the water supply of Rio de Janeiro. The work begun by Major Archer and was continued with Baron D’Escragnolle, responsible for transforming the area into a beautiful public park. Nowadays, the Baron’s former residence is the restaurant Os Esquilos (The Chipmunks).
On Sundays, the highways of the Flamengo Park are closed to vehicles, with plenty of space for running, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading or just walking between the gardens designed by the famous landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Taking the way to Urca neighborhood you will find Cláudio Coutinho Trail, besides the Urca Hill. For 1.25 kilometer you have the rock on one hand and the sea on another. Silence reigns, broken only by birdsongs and the hiss of the monkeys, such as it is in the 800 meters trail leading to the top of Leme Hill, where is settled the Vigia Fort, from 1776. In the west zone of Rio, the Barra Woods has lined boulevards and a variety of fauna that makes the place a unique space for observing birds, butterflies, sloths, capybaras and the caimans found in the lakes.
Barra Woods – (55 21) 3151-3428 – Avenida das Américas, 6.000, Barra da Tijuca. Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Tijuca National Park – (55 21) 2492-2252 / 2492-2253; www.parquedatijuca.com.br – To Tijuca Forest the access is by Praça Afonso Viseu, Alto da Boa Vista. Daily, 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Free.
Vigia Fort and Leme Hill – (55 21) 3233-5076 – Praça Almirante Júlio de Noronha, Leme. Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 4 reais (2 dollars) adults. Free for children up to ten years old.
Lage Park – (55 21) 3257-1800; www.eavparquelage.rj.gov.br – Rua Jardim Botânico, 414, Jardim Botânico. Daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Cláudio Coutinho Trail. In Praia Vermelha (Red Beach), Urca. Daily, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.