hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Undoubtedly, one of my favourite things about Rio is that when city life becomes too much, a quick retreat into a stunning natural environment is just minutes away. Hiking in Rio de Janeiro provides that getaway. Growing up in a small village in South Wales with a childhood defined by making dens in woods, climbing hay-bales in fields, and carving out hideouts in the ferns, being around nature always makes me feel calm, relaxed, and happy. While I can’t quite imagine leaving the city life anytime soon, having mountains to explore and secret beaches to find on the weekends is one of the main reasons I love living in Rio.

The Transcarioca Hike: Trecho One

This weekend I did the first ‘trecho’ (stretch) of the Transcarioca Hike, a 180-kilometre route that begins in Barra de Guaratiba and finishes at Morro da Urca. The whole path follows Rio’s rugged coastline and spoils hikers with dense forests, untouched beaches, and breathtaking scenery. The first part is Barra de Guaratiba to Grumari and is 8.8 kilometres in total. The whole path is very well signposted – follow the yellow footsteps printed on black to walk in the direction of Grumari; and follow the black footsteps printed on yellow to return. Despite this, we did somehow take a wrong turning and ended up going up and over the mountain to arrive in Grumari. There was nothing wrong in this though; we got to explore a totally different path and return to Barra de Guaratiba following the path we ought to have followed so, in the end, none of the hike was repeated. You can see the map below where we took the path.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Starting at Barra de Guaratiba

We started at Barra de Guaratiba. To get to Barra de Guaratiba, my friend and I took an Uber from Jardim Botanico to the hike entrance in Barra de Guaratiba. It’s a long way there but the Uber cost around R$70 in total, which is not bad split between two people. To find the entrance, look for a small flight of concrete steps with a little white-framed window on the front. Once you find that, the path is signposted with the yellow footsteps on a black background. I loved the fact the hike felt a little bit hidden with clues of its whereabouts. The views are incredible – snapshots through the trees of the long coastline called Marambai beach and the network of mangroves to the west of Rio. It’s possible to do paddling boarding in these mangroves which is definitely now on my bucket list.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro
hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Pedra do Telégrafo

After walking through the little local village, we reached a signpost – right to Pedra do Telégrafo and left to the beaches. We decided to go up and see Pedra do Telégrafo first before continuing with the rest of the hike. If the name of this peak rings a bell, it’s probably because it has become one of the most famous spots among the hiking in Rio de Janeiro scene for selfies. The tip of the platform on top juts out over a lower ledge, yet if you stand with your camera at the right angle, you can get photos of your friends seemingly dangling off a sheer edge. While the selfies do have that reckless appeal, the reality is you will need to queue for about one or two hours along with all the other eager people wanting to capture this highly anticipated moment. This time, I left my selfie-taking for another day and simply admired the stunning view. And what a view. Miles upon miles of rugged coastline, row after row of rounded hills covered in forest and topped off with an endless deep blue ocean. It seems another world from the complex urban life that is Rio de Janeiro yet amazingly, a metropolis of 6 million people is just a few kilometres away. It’s breathtaking.

Hiking in Rio de Janeiro

The queue to get the much sought-after selfie. It stretches further back and has guys selling açai and drinks to the impatient queuers.

Hiking in Rio de Janeiro

From Pedra do Telégrafo to Grumari beach

After Pedra do Telegrafo, we went back down and followed the path towards the beaches before veering right up the mountain. To follow the path correctly down to the Praia Perigoso beach, we should have turned left just before the beginning of the entrance to the Pedra do Telegrafo hike. This would have kept Pedra do Telegrafo on our left and meant we were heading to Grumari along the coast. Instead, we kept Pedra do Telegrafo to our right and went up and over the mountain. This meant we could enjoy the coastline as the day was breaking but I’ll come to that in a bit.

If you do this hike and take the same turning as we did, you can still follow the yellow footsteps on black, although you’ll notice many have been scratched out. It crossed my mind that perhaps this was an old path and that they had been partially removed as the newer correct path was the one near the Pedra do Telégrafo entrance, but I never found out in the end and it didn’t really matter anyway. The walk up is steep in places but neither of us had any difficulty going up or needed to stop for a break. We eventually reached a relatively large open space with two different paths. We took the one to the right that led us down to the main road and eventually to the Grumari beach where we stopped for a spot of sunbathing and some food. If you haven’t been already, you must. Grumari made me think why had I always thought that busy, crowded and sometimes polluted Copacabana or Ipanema were Rio’s best beaches. For a tropical beach haven, they fade into comparison against the white, clean sands of Grumari and its clean, powerful waters. It seems a great spot for surfing with large waves and nice, clean breaks. The beach was really windy when we were there so it was actually a bit cold to lie in just a bikini but don’t let that deceive you – I still got burnt and got home later that day with an incredibly red nose and bum.

Grumari beach to Praia Funda (my favourite beach of the whole hike)

After the beach, we went back the way we came. The walk up is steep and may be challenging for some people. We followed the same route but this time, we turned left towards Praia Funda. Now, if I talk highly of Grumari then I will wax lyrical about Praia Funda. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful and wild beaches I’ve seen in Brazil. The only way of getting there is by hiking and the forest path leads out into a thicket before opening up to white sands and a fierce ocean. Walk down onto the sands and all around you are giant hills of untamed forest that seems totally untouched. It’s just wonderful to be that disconnected and to sit and stare out over the ocean, sharing the beach with just a very small handful of people. Hidden amongst the vegetation were several tents which I initially thought were very keen campers, but after a while it dawned on me that these people lived there. They kept themselves to themselves and seemed content. Obviously I am way out of my depth in understanding the story that brought those families to that beach, but it seemed a better life than one on the city’s streets.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Praia Funda to Praia do Meio

The final stretch back to where we started was my favourite part. We went down to the end of Praia Funda before scaling up some rocks and following the coastline line along to Praia do Meio. The sea was just metres away, crashing over the rocks next to us. As my friend said, it was like being a kid again climbing over rocks and jumping over little crevices. After reaching Praia do Meio, we went up over the rock face and along the coast towards Pedra da Tartaruga. It’s worth mentioning that the climb up the rocks at the end of Praia do Meio is challenging and may be tiring for some people. The first part involves ropes to go up but it’s not that hard – if you let go of the rope and you have really bad grip on your shoes, the worst case scenario is you’ll slip a few metres onto the sand. It’s not like you will fall or plummet to your death, it’s nothing dramatic like that! After the rope part, there is a steep climb up which is tiring and physically challenging but the views are sensational and the constant sea breeze keeps you cool.

hiking in Rio de Janeiro

Pedra da Tartruga back to Barra de Guaratiba

Before heading back to Barra de Guaratiba, we decided to check out Pedra da Tartaruga and go to the viewpoint at the top. Unlike the rest of the hike which was all through the forest, Pedra da Tartaruga is covered in long, dry grass and actually reminds me of the Scottish Highlands.  The walk up is steep but short. This rock is popular for training to climb with several groups there practicing climbing up and down the sheer face. We watched in alarm as one woman dangled head first over a crop of rocks below thinking she must be in serious trouble. Yet she was smiling and laughing so we assumed she must have been in training. That or she had a hysterical level of pure fear and panic. 

Our walk down was the final stretch before we re-entered the forest and back to the village of Barra de Guaratiba. It was getting dark already and we must have got the Uber back around 7 pm. The whole hike took about 10 hours and was the best hike I’d ever done in Rio.


Pedra do Telégrafo: relatively easy hike. Not too steep and takes about 30 minutes to get to the top. The views going up are gorgeous with the immense coastline of Marambai and the west side’s mangroves. The views from the top are of untouched shorelines, vast oceans and fluffy hills of forest. Just be prepared to wait for up to two hours if you want that famous Telégrafo photo. 

Grumari beach: relatively untouched with white sand and clean seas. There are a couple of kiosks there to buy water, beers, caipirinhas, and food. The waves are big and not ideal for swimming, yet are perfect for surfing. It’s a great beach for those looking to escape the commercial hustle and bustle of Rio’s south zone beaches yet are looking for something that has car parking spots and a place to eat and drink.

Praia Funda: my favourite beach. Wild, untouched, no crowds, no signs of urban life. It’s perfect. I also love the fact it can only be accessed by hiking; it just makes it feel that bit more exclusive and unknown.

Praia do Meio: another beach only accessible by hiking. I loved it. It’s so clean – the white sand squeaks as you walk over it and the ocean seemed pristine but it was hard to tell as the waves were creating a lot of swell. Whereas Praia Funda is enclosed and secluded by the huge hills, Praia do Meio is a bit more open.

Pedra da Tartaruga: a relatively easy climb up, it took about 20 minutes to reach the top. Some parts were a bit steep but it wasn’t too hard. The views from the top stretch out over the ocean and are perfect for simply chilling and being.

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hiking in Rio de Janeiro


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