Scaling Sugarloaf

First time visitors to Rio de Janeiro undoubtedly head to the famed Sugarloaf Mountain at the end of Copacabana. While the easy way to reach the summit is by cable car, there’s a more adventurous and exciting way to do it: by climbing the mountain with a specialized instructor.

Generally you will be taken to the starting point of the climb at Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) where you will meet your friendly local guide. You will follow the flat Cláudio Coutinho trail around the Urca and Sugarloaf mountains for about 15 minutes, and then begin the ascent of the Costão trail on the side of the Sugarloaf that faces Guanabara bay. Not only do you avoid the crowds on this route, but your view seems to improve with each step.

The trail takes 2-3 hours and is of average intensity. Most of the time you follow a stone pathway, but there is a short section that requires climbing with ropes along the way, so be prepared—it can be quite daunting as birds swoop around you and monkeys look on. It is well worth the effort for the sense of exhilaration and achievement at the apex, however.

At the summit, the breathtaking view of Rio and the Guanabara Bay can be somewhat overwhelming—suddenly there are lots of people around after your near-silent climb, and the crowds combined with the gorgeous view are a little disorienting. My advice is to sit and watch the sunset over Corcovado with a caipirinha. Let the hoards head down by cable car once again and then trot down an easy path to the beach where it’s time for that second cocktail.

Anton attempted to scale the exterior wall of his apartment building with a series of ropes and pulleys, but police pulled him down before he reached the apex. He is currently plotting a second attempt in between trip planning calls.

It is well worth the effort for the sense of exhilaration and achievement at the apex.

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