Rio may not spring to mind as a particularly eco-friendly destination at first, but as the home to the largest urban forest on the planet, it soon becomes clear that this is not your ordinary world city.
Rent your 4x4 vehicle to be picked up from the terminal and avoid the touristy traps of Copacabana and Ipanema, ironically the best way to escape Rio's chaotic traffic jams is driving.
Tuakaza Lodge in São Conrado is an oasis of tranquility nestled up the hills of Tijuca Forest overlooking the Guanabara Bay below with spectacular views and far enough from the crowds.The private waterfall in the garden adds to rainforest experience, with unforgettable breakfasts served on the balcony.
The café located in the old mansion within the park might prove ideal for a last minute snack before the long walk ahead. Cobbled paths, stream crossings, steep rock climbing, a little rappelling, a lot of reaching up and stretching including jumping over a train track are just some of the obstacles in this two hour walk to the statue on the top of the mountain, the unmistakable Christ the Redeemer.
At 704 meters above sea level, the thick jungle is replete with wildlife including monkeys, marmosets, birds and toucans. Walking back down is possible as long as groups set off two hours before sunset since there is no artificial lighting along the path. It is also worth carrying a little money as the entrance to the Christ's statue costs around U$10 and must be paid in cash only. And there is always the option of jumping on the train or one of the van services back down if necessary, but who in their right mind would miss the opportunity to dive back into this fascinating forest?