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Rio’s tropical rainforest

Rio de Janeiro is the only city in the world that has a rainforest inside its city limits: the Tijuca National Park. This 'urban rain forest' is a tropical oasis of calm and vast space, gentle murmuring waterfalls and cheerfully chirping birds. Snakes, iguanas, ocelots, sloths, agoutis and howler monkeys – they all live right outside the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Explore the park’s 100 square kilometres by (rental) car, accompanied by a guide or on your own initiative. For those on foot, there is also plenty to be seen in the area just behind the entrance gate. Floresta da Tijuca offers many walking trails, picnic areas and waterfalls – small rivers and streams flow up and down the park and the crystal clear waters emerge from springs among the rocks.

Urban rainforest Tijuca National Park
Urban rainforest Tijuca National Park

Rio de Janeiro

Out for a walk in the rainforest

Upon entering the park, one of the main attractions is only a few hundred metres away: the 30-metre-high Cascatinha Taunay waterfall. Just a bit further down one can find a picturesque 19th-century chapel with a triptych by neorealist painter Cândido Portinari, another one of the park’s many highlights. Beyond this point there are many different trails to take; follow the signposts that mark the various routes or buy a map from the kiosk at the visitor’s centre.
Winding trails lead over to mountain streams and small ponds where you can cool off under a splashing waterfall. Climb to the top of the hills for a view of Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain. Sloths and howler monkeys dangle in the trees, capybaras and agoutis rustle in the bushes, and, if you’re very lucky, you may even spot an ocelot or a coati. It was with good reason that in 1991 the park was awarded a UNESCO biosphere reserve status, say the Mother Nature equivalent of a world heritage site.

“Sloths dangle in the trees and with luck you may even spot a coati”

Waterfall in Floresta da Tijuca

Enjoy a solo hike or an organised tour

To reach the Entrada da Floresta, which is the entrance gate to the pedestrian-friendly part of Tijuca National Park, take bus 221 from Praça XV de Novembro, bus 233 or 234 from the bus station (Rodoviária) or bus 133 from Rua Jardim Botânico, all in the direction of Alto da Boa Vista (disembark at Praça Alfonso Viseu). As there are 200 walking routes through the park, the best way to explore these is with a guide from Aventuras Rio (aventurasrio.com.br) or Rio Hiking (riohiking.com.br). You can also visit the park by jeep accompanied by a guide: Rio by Jeep (riobyjeep.com) or Jeep Tour (jeeptour.com.br).
Tropical oasis in the heart of the city