Explore: Rio De Janeiro

Explore: Rio De Janeiro

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"RIO, IS UNLIKE ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD."

With more natural beauty per square inch, and more flip-flops per capita than any other major city, its urban setting - tucked dramatically between and amid mountains and sea - is itself a World Heritage site.

Episode 1: Explore: Whistler, Canada saw Gymshark hike through the ice-capped mountains of British Columbia. 

Rio, from the perspective of two avid explorers allows you to walk at your own pace through the raucous yet relaxed city...

Introducing: the exploration of Rio, Brazil.

CHRIST THE REDEEMER

A CULTURAL ICON | TOP TIP: AVOID THE CLOUD AND GO AT SUNSET

Recently named as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, you'd think that understanding how to visit the cultural icon would be a relatively simple process...

In reality, it's confusing and chaotic.
To reach the top of Corcovado, you have 3 options:

OPTION 1: VAN (our option)

The most accessible and convenient method of transport...

Vans depart from two locations: Largo do Machado and Copacabana. You'll find that the majority of vans take you directly to the top however, others - dependant on your booking/tour group - will require you to change vehicle halfway.

OPTION 2: TRAIN

Said to be the most scenic out of the three, the Cog Train climbs slowly up the Corcovado mountainside through the lush forests of Tijuca National Park. 

One word of advice: ignore the staff when they tell you that you don't need to queue yet. The etiquette that is British queueing doesn't seem to apply in Rio, so when you see the train, get on it.

OPTION 3: HIKE

Hiking through a lush rainforest for 2-3 hours sounds idyllic, right? But, proceed with caution - there have been robberies on the trail over the years - so, if you do happen to chance the route, don't hike alone and a top tip: don't take any valuables.

LEFT: COPACABANA BEACH | RIGHT: ESCADARIA SELARÓN

MOSAIC, UPON MOSIAC, UPON MOSIAC

COPACABANA BEACH

Now, Copacabana is not the most peaceful beach in Rio...but, it is one of the most iconic. Surrounding the vicinity of the beach are a variety of mosaics just waiting to be captured...

With endless caipirinha's to hand, we can ensure you that the day will absolutely fly by. 

ESCADARIA SELARÓN | SOUTH AMERICA'S MOST COLOURFUL STEPS

The Escadaria Selarón, or Selarón Steps, are an incredible piece of artwork in their own right. But, when the tragic story of their creator is thrown into the mix, a visit to the stairs takes on extra poignancy.

Artist Jorge Selarón started his project in 1990, partly to redevelop the run-down neighbourhood in which he stayed. Over 2,000 tiles later and countless hours of work - the majority of it done by him personally - a colourful mosaic across 215 steps was created. 

Selarón originally sourced many of the tiles on his own, but as the work grew in popularity fans would send or bring him tiles. That's why such an eclectic mix of emblems and logos: from the Scottish Tennent's Lager logo to family crests and Argentina football team logos...

The site is always busy but most people only hang around the first few flights, so you can appreciate the artwork (and get a picture with no crowds) if you make the extra effort to walk further up to the top.

THE FAVELAS

A CULTURE SHOCK

If you've heard anything about the Favelas, I guarantee you - it's probably not been the most optimistic given the recent news...

What you're in for is a complete culture shock, and truth be told - you visit at your own risk.

Hidden beneath the shadows of Christ the Redeemer and various other locations throughout Brazil are mud tracks and mountains that are covered in rough brick, breeze-block, wooden houses, crime and so much more... Rio: It's a heckuva fun place to visit, but major social issues lie just below the surface.

If we had to give you any advice on visiting a favela, it would be to go with a tour guide who lives within the area. They'll be accepted by local people and unlike most 'tourist groups' they're unlikely to gloss over any issues that the favela faces.

ACCOMMODATION

MAMA SHELTER

LOCATION: SANTA TERESA

IT'S NOT GOING TO BE FOR EVERYONE...

Situated in Santa Teresa, one of Rio's more 'laid back' neighbourhoods, the hotel fits naturally with the colourful charms of the hillside's bohemian vibes.

It is however, rather far from any of the staple attractions - but as we said, Santa Teresa isn't going to be for everybody.

Taxis battle with trams and an occasional bus on the cobbled street, and getting out and about can test the patience, but if you're up for a bit of a gander, you'll come across a variety of lively treats, restaurants, bars, art workshops and even a small indie cinema.

We'll admit - this is in no way your average hotel. Art murals can be found, pretty much everywhere, bands are strutting their stuff during weekend jams and screens dangle high up in the hangar above a collection of multicoloured beanbags, for an occasional film night...

The bar continues the eccentricity, replete with dozens of straw hats overhead and traditional Portuguese tiles. It's something a little unique but we loved it.

OUR RATING: 4/5

"Please do exercise caution whilst you're in Rio and be sensible about where your wanderlust brings you. The city does have a myriad of problems and social justice is something which will take generations to deliver; for travellers this can mean a number of people viewing you as an opportunity to raise cash quickly, rather than a visitor to welcome."

Credit to: Brittany Rhodes and Stephen Taylor.

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