With its buzzing atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and even more beautiful women, Rio de Janeiro is the party capital of Brazil and a place that’s on everyone’s bucket list. The 2016 Olympic Games are only reinforcing Rio’s status as one of the best cities in the world to visit, and as well as the fantastic attractions of Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana Beach, the city has plenty of adventure sports and action-packed tours to keep any tourist grinning from ear to ear. Dan Clarke from Leeds, of South America specialists, RealWorld, takes a look at what’s on offer:
Rio is one of the best spots in the world for paragliding, due to the warm air temperatures and fantastic views. You’ll take-off from the stunning Pedra Bonita cliff, high up in the hills of the Tijuca Forest overlooking the whole of Rio and the bay. Flight times vary depending on weather conditions, but on a clear day you can be in the air upwards of twenty minutes, which is plenty of time to get some incredible photos of everything from the tropical jungles to the sun-drenched beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. A shorter seven-minute flight might feel like you’re missing out on the views, but in reality the quicker the descent the more thrilling the ride!
The various bays and coves surrounding Rio make it a great destination for scuba diving, so whether you’re a beginner or a qualified diver there are a range of different sights to choose from. Just a short drive from Rio, both Angra Dos Resi and Arraial do Cabo have some of the best diving in all of Brazil, due to excellent visibility and an abundance of fish. The marine wildlife varies depending on the time of year, but if you’re lucky you can see dolphins and turtles, as well as exploring shipwrecks and reefs. There are also schooner tours that provide snorkelling gear, for those who are not so keen on spending the whole day in the water, and many of these boats take bands with them for all-day live music and caipirinhas!
It’s considered one of the top surfing cities in the world for a reason; with so many amazing beaches and year-round swells, it’s hard to tire of the waves in Rio. Barra is a great spot for a more remote surfing experience, and the coastline has a wilder feel than the city beaches. But Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana can’t be beaten for atmosphere. This is where the young, fun-loving locals gather to spend the day sunbathing and socialising, so it offers a great mix of surfing and partying for tourists looking to experience the real Rio. April to October is the best time to visit for pro-surfers, as the winter season means the beaches are quieter and the swells are bigger.
The mountains and cliffs overlooking Rio are incredible for climbers wanting an adrenaline rush, plus the views are unbeatable. You can even arrange to climb the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain, which is definitely not one for the faint-hearted, as you’ll be suspended against a sheer cliff nearly 400 metres above the sea! The National Park of Tijuca has some great climbing spots, including many overhangs perfect for vertigo-inducing rappels. There are also many waterfall abseils to try, but save these for a hot day because you’re guaranteed to get soaked. Some specialist operators let you combine climbing tours with mountaineering and zip-lining, so you could spend the entire day dangling upside down above the city if you wanted to!
The beautiful setting of Rio is probably best appreciated from the water, so a kayaking trip should be top of your agenda. Praia Vermelha is where many tours start, and it’s also where much of the city’s marine species can be found, including groups of sea turtles. You could easily spend all your time floating in the calm waters wildlife-watching, but just round the bay there are some rocky wave spots that are perfect for ocean kayaking. You could easily cover 3 miles on an afternoon paddle, so it’s a great way to dust off the cobwebs and discover the best beaches in Rio.