5 Must-See Sights in Brazil
Featured destinations: Iguazu, Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu, Rio de Janeiro
Published 30 March 2016
A sight is something that must captivate, inspire and transcend the generations. Whether you are young or old, viewing the marvel from above or below, it will always garner attention from passers-by. In no particular order, Rob Bradley takes us through five sights of Brazil that for him, did just that.
Of all the hilly outcrops and jagged peaks that encircle Rio de Janeiro, Sugarloaf Mountain stands out with its own unique personality. Like the kid at school who wore fluorescent socks, it stands alone, daring to be different from its peers. Similarly to ‘The Pitons’ on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia it protrudes from the exotic undergrowth that hugs the Brazilian coastline. Vegetation clings lovingly to its rock face as it ascends ever higher.
To reach Sugarloaf’s pinnacle you take a cable car up along a 1400 metre route. This wouldn’t seem like much to the seasoned skier but to a city slicker like me this was a challenge in itself. With this in mind, I chose to stand mid-centre of the cable car clutching the aluminium pole rather possessively. Thankfully, the cable car ride was quite smooth and relatively short and upon reaching the spacious plateau at the top of Sugarloaf, I was greeted by a panoramic view of the surrounding bay, beaches and aromatic shrubbery. On my descent, I bravely stood a little nearer the window’s edge and was rewarded with some terrific photos.
Christ the Redeemer
Look up in Rio and you are bound to find him. He is, as I’m sure you know, the ever-present being keeping a watchful eye on the city. A symbol of hope for many, he is also architecturally a magnificent spectacle. With arms outstretched he could almost be beckoning tourists to him and you’d think this was the case considering the number of people who pay homage to this colossus every day. Be sure to get there early or risk having your beloved photos spoiled by unknowing photo-bombers, as steps leading towards the statue are prized real estate and everyone wants the money shot. When capturing this unforgettable experience remember the other view, the one you’ll get from Christ the Redeemer, of the tremendous landscape you have just come from. However, like any lookout point it can get quite windy up there so leave the frilly skirt or kilt at the hotel as most people will only want one abiding memory of this iconic landmark.
Waterfront on Copacabana Beach
On occasions, rather than rush from one place to another, ticking off each location on your itinerary, it is better to just stop and appreciate. As you meander slowly along the waterfront of Copacabana Beach, stride for stride with the locals, give yourself an hour or two to take in the surroundings. Whether it's the swimmers beyond the breaking waves, the swimsuit-clad guys and girls playing a game of ‘keepy-uppy’ or the surfers leaping from the nearby seawall to greet an oncoming joyride, all will delight your senses as you sip serenely on your coconut water. Prop-up your bicycle upon the golden sands and rejoice in the many activities that keep this beach buzzing, or take a stroll onto the seawall and admire the whole seafront. Apparently, Fidel Castro once owned a roof-top apartment on this waterfront - now there’s a man with taste (if not ethics)!
Is it the majestic beauty or raw power that entices most people to a good waterfall? I’ve seen many waterfalls but this was a truly awe-inspiring sight. From ground level, it’s impressive enough. We’re not just talking about one waterfall but hundreds of them; in fact it’s the largest collection of waterfalls in one place in the whole world. Wooden bridges spurt out in a variety of directions to give you different perspectives to choose from and ‘the Devil’s Throat’ waterfall will give you an up close and personal (wet) view, where you get (vertigo permitting) the chance to peer down into the chasm of the fall. If you’re not drenched enough from this, you can take a boat ride under a waterfall (waterproofs provided) which will give you great photos, right up until the moment you are engulfed in fresh water. All good fun, but be wary of the fact that the water will inevitably run down the back of your plastic seat and give you an awfully soggy bottom for the remainder of the day. Not enough photos? Then try a helicopter flight over the falls, great for anyone seeking yet another thrilling photo opportunity.
Hangliding over Rio
Every so often I feel the need to do something I’ve never done before; something to get the heart pumping and adrenaline flowing. In short, something to make me feel alive! Take hangliding for instance, an activity involving dizzying heights and stomach churning manoeuvres.
‘Be brave’, I silently whispered to myself as I watched people far younger than me hurtle themselves down a ramp into the nothingness of mountain air, ‘If they can do it - you can’.
“Now, when I say ‘go’”, the pilot began as we stood at the top of the ramp, “you need to run as quickly as you can.” At this point I was strapped into the glider with nowhere to go, so I had no choice but to agree meekly. Maybe he could sense my impending cowardliness as within the next breath he shouted “go!” Before I could even mutter the words, stop’, ‘wait’ or some other profanity we were running down the ramp at breakneck speed, and then…whoosh!
image: Rob Bradley
After an unnerving dip upon leaving the platform we caught the wind and calmly floated like a bird. ‘Don’t look down’ had been the advice dispensed but given the serene feeling I now had, I chose to ignore it and gladly admired the tree tops and skyscrapers beneath us, enjoying a spiral or two before landing abruptly on the beach below. Now there’s a perspective you don’t get every day.