The Jardim Botanico neighbourhood is in Zona Sul (the south zone) of Rio and its name comes from the main attraction in the area – the Botanical Gardens. The region is mostly residential with large detached houses and cozy, tree-lined avenues, although it is also home to the headquarters of Globo, a famous TV network in Brazil. Lagoa is Jardim Botanico’s closest neighbour and is known for its serene lake that has a 7.5-kilometre cycle path encircling it. Jardim Botânico and Lagoa both have a calming blend of nature and urban life.
WHY WE LOVE JARDIM BOTANICO AND LAGOA?
Jardim Botanico is the city’s answer to a natural retreat within the city – go there and it’s hard to imagine that you’re in a metropolis of 6 million people; rather you feel like you’re in a vibrant yet peaceful village. Traces of the Atlantic forest are found on every corner and street, creating a relaxed and zen-like feel that defies the region’s popularity among the rich and famous. Lagoa is great for running, cycling, and skateboarding, yet the real joy lies in taking a picnic to the water’s edge and enjoying the stress-free atmosphere and the overwhelming natural beauty.
Once the mansion of industrialist Enrique Lage and his Italian singer wife, Gabriella Besanzani, Parque Lage is now a visual arts school with a cafe open to the public. The imposing architecture of the building nestled into the surrounding vegetation creates a striking setting that caught the attention of Snoop Dogg and Pharell Williams – the building was featured in their music video, Beautiful. It is also the base point for the hike up Corcovado mountain to the iconic Christ the Redeemer.
Love wildlife? Then keep your eyes peeled for Lagoa’s wild capybaras. With the appearance of giant guinea pigs, they may look adorable yet mother capybaras can be fiercely protective of their young.
The collection of more than 6,500 different species of plants creates an idyllic setting at the Botanical Gardens. The Avenue of Royal Palms is a striking 750-metre path flanked by 134 palms, all of which descended from a single tree. Other highlights include the sensory garden and the collection of 600 species of orchids.
Walking or cycling around the edge of Lagoa is the most usual option of taking in the surroundings – but why not see it from a different angle and hire a swan boat to paddle across the lake? Swan boats can be rented from 30 minutes upwards.
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