6 Tips for Visiting Christ the Redeemer in Brazil

Christ the Redeemer is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

 

Towering at the top of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Christ the Redeemer was completed in 1931 and, today is one of the seven modern wonders of the world. At nearly 100 feet tall, the soapstone and concrete statue welcomes every visitor with arms wide open. It’s impossible not to stare in awe at this inspirational sight, but perhaps even more extraordinary is the view from the top of the mountain. It’s truly phenomenal.

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Check the Weather

Just because the sun is shining on Copacabana Beach doesn’t mean it will be at the top of Mount Corcovado. In fact, even if the weather seems fine when you start your trek to the top of the mountain, you might be in for a surprise at the top. The truth is that the weather in Rio is somewhat unpredictable, and low-hanging clouds often cover Christ the Redeemer, obscuring your view of the statue and the city below. If you’ve got a few days to spare in Rio, keep your eye on Corcovado, literally. If you see can’t see Christ through the clouds from the ground, it’s not the best time to visit.

Prepare for Crowds

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Even in the offseason, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself amid a large crowd at Christ the Redeemer. Whether it’s waiting in line for tickets or to get a glimpse of the city from above, there are always plenty of people vying for a position at the front of the line. In the peak season, you can expect to wait for hours to reach the top of the mountain.

Take the Train

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Sure, you can take a van or a bus or a taxi to the stop of Corcovado, but you’ll be missing out on the full experience if you don’t take the train. Built in 1884, the two-car train wends its way through the lush Tijuca Forest toward the top of Mount Corcovado. Each year, more than half-a-million people climb aboard to look for monkeys and other rainforest animals on their way to Christ the Redeemer. When you buy your ticket at the base of the mountain, you’ll be given a time to return for your ten-minute train ride to the top. It’s well worth the wait.

Partway up the mountain, you’ll stop for a few minutes so that men waiting along the tracks can sell ice cold bottles of water to guests for a fraction of what it costs at the top. But beware—the train will start rolling again without warning. You may have only a few seconds to get in on the action. If you can, try to sit on the right side of the train going up (the left going down). You’ll be treated to an extraordinary—if fleeting—view just before the end of the ride.

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Expect the Steps

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No matter what mode of transportation you take to the top of Corcovado, you’ll still need to climb the stairs to Christ the Redeemer. The train—and all other vehicles—can only take you so far up Corcovado. You can wait for an elevator to the top, but if you’re able, opt for the 200 or so stairs. There are plenty of lookout points where you can rest and take pictures along the way, and before you know it, you’ll be at the top. Trust me…the moment you see Christ, you’re bound to be inspired.

Beautiful Views

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the clouds? Well, you just might find out. It’s not uncommon for the clouds to surround the mountain, creating an ethereal sensation. Whether you’re a believer or not, standing amid the clouds looking into Christs’s face is breathtaking, as are the views from the overlook surrounding the statue. You won’t soon forget the moment. Take some snaps, but then also take a few minutes just to drink it all in. Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries in the world—truly.

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Shopping and More

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On your way back down the stairs to the train, stop in some of the gift shops, and pick up a trinket to commemorate the moment. You can also grab a snack if you’re feeling a little peckish after climbing up—and down—all those stairs. You’ll also find a selection of souvenir shops at the base of the mountain, so don’t worry if you forgot to get that special someone a gift at the top of Christ the Redeemer.

Have you been to Christ the Redeemer? Do you have questions about the experience or an anecdote of your own to share? Drop us a line—we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

What’s it Really Like to Ride the Sugarloaf Cable Car in Rio de Janeiro?

Riding the Sugarloaf cable car is an experience you won’t soon forget.

 

Sugarloaf Mountain is a popular tourist attraction in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And it’s on every must-see list for good reason. You’d be truly remiss not to take in this star attraction. But if you’re scared of heights like I am, you’re probably wondering how you’ll survive the ride up. Well, this is a comprehensive overview of what you can expect.

Let’s start with the basics. To get to the top of Sugarloaf, you need to take a cable car. In fact, you’ll need to take two. The first one takes you to Morro da Urca. Here, you’ll board a second cable car to reach the summit of Sugarloaf. From a distance, the voyage looks daunting, to say the least. For someone like me who thinks climbing up the first rung of a ladder is a death-defying feat, the Sugarloaf cable car seems like an impossible adventure. But it’s not. I promise. You can do this.

I feel I can say with some authority, such fears are completely unfounded—you’re just making a mountain out of a molehill (see what I did there?). And this is coming from the person who shook with fear riding the glass elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

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So, what’s it really like, you ask? Here’s a comprehensive overview of what it’s like to ride the Sugarloaf cable car.

The Cars

Each glass-walled car holds 65 people. It’s supported by two cables, and in it’s entire history, not a single car has ever fallen from the sky. You are safe. If you’re unsure about staring out the window on the ride up, simply stand in the center of the car, and you’ll barely notice you’re even moving.

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Getting On Board

You know how Ferris wheels and ski lifts keep on moving while you’re trying to get on? It’s a constant race against time. Well, the Sugarloaf cable car is nothing like that. The massive unit firmly stops alongside the loading dock, and you have plenty of time to step inside. There is a small gap between the dock and the ground, but nothing too crazy. I even saw someone push a stroller across it.

Riding Up

As I mentioned before, you need to take two cable cars to get to the top of Sugarloaf. Each one takes only three minutes, for a total of six minutes to the top. Honestly, it goes by so fast that if you blink, you’ll miss it. There is no movement in the cars, even if people are walking around inside. They are completely stable and akin to an elevator ride. It  doesn’t even feel like you’re moving at all, and the next thing you know, the doors are opening, and it’s time to get off.

When I got in the first car leading to Morro da Urca, I immediately walked to the back, where I got a spot right next to the window. Sounds great, right? Not so much…the only thing I could see for the whole ride up was the rock face of Morro da Urca. If you want to get a good view of the landscape below, stay near the front or sides of the car. For the ride to Sugarloaf, I got a spot at the very front of the car, and the view was amazing. To my great surprise, I wasn’t the least bit anxious.

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Food and Shopping

There are quite a few places to eat and shop at the top of both Morro da Urca and Sugarloaf. Everyone is always in a rush to get to the top, but before boarding the second cable car, take a look around Morro da Urca. There is a lovely garden walk—in fact, if you really wanted, you could walk all the way back down the mountain from here. There is also a cafe, a few shops, and a few fast-food joints.

You’ll have another chance to grab a bit to eat overlooking the world at the top of Sugarloaf, as well as take in some souvenir shopping. There is a lovely boutique featuring locally crafted goods, as well as Sugarloaf logo merchandise. But this is not your average kitschy souvenir shop. It’s got some really beautiful artwork and unique gifts. Be sure to check it out.

View From the Top

Let’s talk about he real reason you rode up the Sugarloaf cable car—the views. Oh my goodness, the views. They’re truly stunning from both Morro da Urca and Sugarloaf. Be sure to take time to soak it all in. I happened to be there at sunset, and the sun was hanging low in the sky over Corcovado, surrounding Christ the Redeemer in a golden halo.

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Time to Explore

You’ve likely heard stories of people waiting in line for hours just to get on the first cable car. And this may be the case in peak season. I happened to be there just slightly off-season, and my tour group basically walked right on. We spent about 45 minutes to an hour total at Sugarloaf, including the 12-minute return trip on the cable car. I felt like I had plenty of time to take it all in and could have even enjoyed a quick coffee if I’d wanted. Instead, I decided to do a Facebook Live update since I was able to get a solid wi-fi connection at the top.

If you’re worried about time, you can also purchase a skip-the-line pass, but it will only guarantee entry onto the first cable car. There are also plenty of tour options to help you manage your time on Sugarloaf—highly recommended to ensure you maximize your time and fun.