Nope, it’s not Christ the Redeemer.
Okay, so it’s tough to beat the views from the world famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio. You can see the entire city from there and the sheer size of the Jesus statue is remarkable. So even though it’s super touristy, you’d be remiss in not making it there while in Rio. And if you’re sneaky you can also take a crack at sneaking up on top of Jesus’ shoulders for the best view of them all.
Psst…the best view in Rio de Janeiro is actually from the Two Brothers Hike
If you easily get claustrophobic at the sight of swarming crowds or don’t appreciate the art of “stealing” pictures, we’ve got another option for you to get an incredible view of the city from above, the Two Brothers peak hike (Dois Irmaos).
As we’ve learned during our travels, one of several advantages of staying in hostels are the “hidden gems” shared by fellow travelers and hostel workers/ owners. For some reason hostel people just find cool (albeit sometimes really weird) stuff to do that you won’t find in your Lonely Planet guide.
Suggested to us by our hostel owner, we set off for the Two Brothers hike armed with very little (but apparently sufficient) info about where we were going or what we were doing. But we heard the views were going to be awesome.
The adventure started after taking a local bus to Vidigal, where we hired a couple of motorbikes to taxi us to the trailhead (or what we hoped was the trailhead). We had our fair share of motorbike stories and near hospital visits in Asia, but this 10 minute ride was by far the craziest of our travels, with our motor taxi characters zooming in and out of cars and dogs on rough, narrow streets up a 15 degree incline while Alison and I hung on for dear life. We were thoroughly relieved when we arrived safely at the trailhead and swore up and down never to take another motor taxi in Rio.
The hike takes you up the western end of the two brothers peak and provides excellent views of the favelas below. After an hour and a half of moderate hiking in Rio’s surprisingly hot winter climate, we were rewarded with this:
We saw maybe a half dozen other people during our 3 hours up and down the peak, probably less than 1% of those at the redeemer. So if that’s what you’re looking for, do the Two Brothers hike, but maybe try to skip the motorbike taxi.
How to do the Two Brothers hike
Just take one of the local buses to Vidigal (you could also walk from Ipanema Beach/ Leblon area). There are a bunch of motor taxis at the bus stop readily willing to accept a small fare (R$ 5-10) to the trail head, but you could also just walk up (would probably take 45 minutes or so to get up the hill). The trail is fairly well marked and you’ll know when you get to the top, which will take somewhere between one and two hours (and another hour or so back down). Bring some water and a few snacks (there is a small store right at the trailhead) and enjoy the views.