Explore Sugarloaf Mountain – Rio

I can remember the moment I fell in love with Rio de Janeiro. Or more clearly, the moment leading up to it. Where everything fell into place, and I just knew. 

It was on the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, waiting for the sun to set. Smiling as I thought through the day I had already had, my hand was wrapped around my warm mug of coffee as I stared out over the city. Earlier, I’d been laughing with some friends about our hike around the base prior to getting on the cable car. The conversation flowed. Before long, the sun started to set.  

The sky illuminated in a bright orange, and before long, brown rays lit up the mountain. The sun set lasted about 40 minutes before the first hint of night appeared. Slowly, the lights of Rio turned on. As the city illuminated, I officially fell in love with Rio

So it will come as no surprise that if you only do one thing on a trip to Rio, it’s Sugarloaf. If you do like to explore and try a different adventure, you can start with a hike.

There’s a couple of different hiking options, including up to seven miles for the more adventures. The route we opted for is the Pista Claudio Coutinho walking trail, located beneath Sugarloaf Mountain into the neighbourhood of Urca. 

One of the reasons why I wanted to do the trail was to see the small monkeys, Capuchin. Luckily, we were able to spot a few fairly easily. 

And if you are really adventurous, rather than the cable car, do a multi pitch rock climb up to the top (I was not yet a climber, so it’s on my list to come back and do).


Afterwards, we headed up to Sugarloaf using the cable cars. As the maximum capacity for each card is 65 passengers, try and get on first so you can stand right at the front for a better view. The journey up takes three minutes, offering great views of the city, harbour and surrounding islands. You can see the majority of Rio, including Ipanema, Copacabana, the bay area, domestic airport and the large surround islands.

I like viewpoints to put things into perspective. Rio is many things. There are it’s appeals and drawbacks, it’s strengths and opportunities. It can look just like any other city, and then take your breath away when viewed from a peak. 

If you do only one thing, head up to Sugarloaf, and be there for the sunset. 

To be continued….

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About the author: Travis McMullen
I've spent a few years travelling the world, living in different countries. I climb and explore the outdoors. As an outdoor adventurer and expedition instructor, I operate in challenging and remote environments with changing weather conditions, ambiguity in route, and settings with real risk. I have to constantly make decisions and reevaluate situations in a calm, considered and rational manner to ensure safety and success.

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