© istock/dabldy
© istock/dabldy

Close to Rio's sky: Pedra da Gávea & Pedra Bonita

4 minutes to read

If you follow my articles about the wonderful city of Rio, you probably remember the amazing adventures settled in these lines. Some of those exotic places are destined to the braves ones, requesting you to take a boat trip, like the paradisical beaches in Ilha Grande. Others, though, make you get onto a nice road trip to Arraial do Cabo. There are even articles about the foot trails, where you can find the city centre's cultural treasures or the green hotspots. But in this article, we will go close to the sky. We will go all the way to the top of two iconic mountains at the southern litoral of Rio - Pedra da Gávia, with the amazing trail all the way to the top, and Pedra Bonita, where you can discover the sky in a euphoric hang gliding flight.

Pedra da Gávea, Rio de Janeiro
Pedra da Gávea, Rio de Janeiro
Pedra da Gávea - Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22611, Brasil
Pedra Bonita, Rio de Janeiro
Pedra Bonita, Rio de Janeiro
Pedra Bonita - São Conrado, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20535, Brasil

Be advised that this adventure is indicated to fearless people that want to enjoy the most out of life. So, if you are one of them, let's discover this journey together in the next lines.

Historical context 

The name of the Gávea mountain dates back to the beginning of the Brazilian colonization by the Portuguese, more specifically to the expedition of Captain Gaspar de Lemos in 1501. Back then, the sailors recognized in its silhouette the shape of the top part of a boat where a sailor stays to have a better vision of the land and other ships. In Portuguese, the name of this boat part is "Cesto da Gávea". Currently, this name is also given to the Gávea neighborhood in Rio. Pedra da Gávia is located in the mountain range of Tijuca, having a total of 842 meters in height, which makes it one of the highest mountains in the world along the ocean shores. Also, the mountain's flat top is the perfect viewpoint of the south region of Rio's city.

© iStock / dabldy
© iStock / dabldy

Pedra Bonita (in Portuguese - "a beautiful rock") is perhaps not as stunning as the neighboring Pedra da Gávea, but it has immense importance for local tourism. The 696 meters of altitude makes it the best spot for hang gliding flights. You can also take a short trail from the car parking location to the lookout point, where you can enjoy the view of the "Emperor's Head", which is the western part of Pedra da Gávea and it resembles a human face.

Trail at Pedra da Gávea

If you want to see the best of  Pedra da Gávea, you have to do the trail all the way to the top, but keep in mind that the total distance is 1670 meters. Normally, it will take around 3 to 4 hours to go all the way up, depending on your condition. But do not be so confident about the short distance as it is considered a trail of great difficulty because of the path and its many obstacles. 

© iStock / Brunomartinsimagens
© iStock / Brunomartinsimagens

At the beginning of the trail, you can bathe in a waterfall and get some natural water source. Also, this is the only hydration point on the way, so do not forget your water bottle, snacks and sweets, in case you need to recover your energy. The trail is very nice, and you can hike it mostly under the shadows of the trees. However, most of the way goes through steep stretches, often climbing with existing chains and ropes. Also, keep in mind that the most dangerous part of the route is called "Carrasqueira", and it is the point where many people crash and have accidents, so take extra care. But if you follow the procedures during the hike, should be all fine.

After Carrasqueira, you are almost there, lasting not more than 30 minutes of ascent to reach the top. It is a very tough way, but the rewarding view from up there is absolutely splendid.

© iStock / Brunomartinsimagens
© iStock / Brunomartinsimagens

Hang gliding from Pedra Bonita

If you are not in good shape for a 4-hour hike to Pedra da Gávea, you can also enjoy a nice and calm trail to Pedra Bonita. The average time to climb to its top is approximately 1 hour, starting near the free jump ramp. This trail is recommended to all ages and does not require much physical preparation. At the end of the path, you can also enjoy one of the most beautiful views in Rio de Janeiro, where you can see São Conrado Beach, Morro Dois Irmãos, South Zone beaches, and of course, Pedra da Gávea.

© iStock / dabldy
© iStock / dabldy

If you are an adventure seeker, hang gliding flights are not to be missed. This is one of the most sought tourist attractions in Rio. Every day dozens of people jump from a ramp located at the top of the mountain, so do not be scared if you wish to do so. Keep in mind that before taking off, the guides offer the security equipment, and they also do the basic training that includes the run test -  important for the landing at the beach.

If your idea is indeed to do the jump, the best tip is to schedule it with the guide some days before. Normally, the specialized guides take you directly from the hotel in the morning and drive you to Pedra Bonita, where you have to do the basic training and wait for the best wind. Remember to book the jump early in the morning to avoid lines and enjoy the whole day, because it may take a few hours before you jump. Of course, do not forget the camera, as it is not every day that you can live such an amazing experience. 

The natural park is open from 8 am to 5 pm, and it has an extended hour until 6 pm in summer. By the way, the admission is free, but please bring some cash in case you need to buy water or food on the way. We never know when it could be needed.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and that the adventure feeling has sparked on you. If your objective is to come close to Rio's sky, Pedra da Gávea and Pedra Bonita are the best two spots. Whether you opt for a hike to Pedra da Gávea or hang gliding flight from Pedra Bonita, one thing is sure - you will have one of the finest adventures in Rio. Enjoy it!


The author

Fabio Jardelino

Fabio Jardelino

I was born in a big city back in Brazil, called Recife, but I realized that it was not big enough for me. I lived around in Brazil, then abroad and currently, I'm in Europe, but always when I have a chance, I go back to Brazil to enjoy my wonderful country. Also, I want to give a little of this Brazilian Experience to you, through my articles and pictures.

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