Whether it be the white sand beaches of Ipanema, the mighty Sugarloaf Mountain or Christ the Redeemer peering down from above – Rio de Janeiro was always going to be one of my favourite cities. What I didn’t expect however, was for the absolute highlight of my time in Rio being the Pedra de Gavea hike. This challenging trek rewards you with an unimaginably beautiful view. It is a photographers paradise, an adrenaline junkies dream and in my opinion, an absolute must do during your time in Rio.

No optical illusions, no ledges beneath the shot. This is a 844m drop – and yes, I was petrified 😛

Things to know

I did the Pedra da Gavea hike with Nattrip as a full day guided tour. It is a 8 hour hike (there and back) and some sections require scaling equipment to climb the vertical the rock face sections.

It is 5.2km round trip with an elevation of 844m and took me 8 hours to complete (including time at the summit for photos). Do not let the short distance fool you, I found this trek more strenuous than the multi-day treks through Patagonia and Phong Nha! There are a couple of opportunities to re-fill your water on the trial. We brought 3L per person and I easily got through this amount.

This is the Pedra da Gavea mountain peak. As you can see, once you emerge from the forest there is still a substantial way to go. (That involves scaling a vertical rock face!).

How to get there

The hike begins at Praça Desembargador Araújo Jorge, Barra da Tijuca. There is public transport to this location from central Rio but it takes about 1.5 hours. As the day begun at 7:30am we decided to split an Uber pool. This meant it only took 30 mins to drive there directly and when split between two of us, it cost £5 (well worth the time saved!).

There is an option to have the company Nattrip pick you up at the beginning of the day. Depending on the size of your party, this may be preferable.

The view you see when approaching the summit

What to expect

I was quite nervous before attempting this hike. I had heard of the casualties and was also worried about my own personal physical strength.Our amazing guide Lucas made me feel extremely confident and safe before we set off.

Fitness requirements to complete Pedra da Gavea

At this point in my travels I had been based in Africa for two months and had been in South America for 1 month. I am a very active traveler so while I did not prepare for this hike, I was fitter than my average physical capacity. Our guide reassured us we could go at our own pace, I never felt rushed and we took regular water breaks.

The fog during the ascent up was so thick I could barely see two metres in front of me. By this stage I was prepared for the worst. But then the clouds cleared…

Safety and a fear of heights – conquering the Carrasqueira

There is a section of the hike called Carrasqueira. It is 35 metres of smooth vertical rock that requires scaling. To overcome the Carrasqueira it is not necessary to have previous experience with rock climbing. The tour guide assisted us individually using the certified rock climbing equipment and his experienced techniques to get us to the top safely.

The descent down Carrasqueira is done with the use of a technique similar to rappelling, where the guide controls the equipment. It was quite scary at first but I was comfortable with it within a metre of the decent. It was actually so fun I wish I had the chance to scale down longer!

Don’t look down!

The view from Pedra da Gavea summit

The exhaustion, sore legs and fear of falling were all worth it for the view. Despite it being cloudy almost the entire hike up, as we got to the summit the clouds cleared. It was absolutely stunning and worth every second of the hike.

My absolute highlight of Rio. So much love for this city!

How to book the Pedra da Gavea in Rio

To book this tour (which I would 100% do again) visit Nattrip.

The Nattrip Pedra da Gavea Hike costs £36 per person (not including snacks or transport to the starting point). There is the option for pick up at an additional price. The tour guarentees:

  • An Adventure Tourism Guide specialised in Vertical Techniques, Trails and Hiking.
  • Certified climbing equipment for local use.
  • Personal accident insurance.

Overall…

Put simply, I could not have done this hike without a guide. I would also not advise attempting this hike without a guide unless you are an experienced rock climber. If you are, I would still advise bringing equipment along with you.

A special shoutout to my guide Lucas. He completes this hike 2 times a week so is amazingly experienced. Lucas was extremely patient and helpful, especially in the sections I had trouble with. I felt really safe at all times. Lucas helped find the best photography points to get some amazing shots. He was extremely knowledgable about the area and had a ton of interesting facts about the hiking region. He also gave us great insights into Brazilian history and politics which made the strenuous hike so much more enjoyable 🙂

Pedra da Gavea was an unforgettable day and I hope that you get the chance to experience it during your time in Rio!

Suitcase And I was not commissioned to write this article. As always, the opinions in this review are my own.