It was one of those really early morning alarms. The flat was quiet and the world was still really dark outside as we left the apartment block. We drove towards our meeting point for that morning and I had those butterflies in my tummy that I always associate with early morning flights. Except we weren’t heading for the airport, we were heading for the top of a mountain. I knew then this was going to be an exciting morning.
As we drove up towards the mountain, through a small favela and along the twisty road we saw a Rio I have never seen before. A Rio that is dark and sleepy, a Rio that filled me with excitement despite being slightly terrified at the steep and windy roads we were ascending up. It didn’t take long to reach the car park from the main road in São Conrado.
As we got out of the car to begin the hike, it was still pitch black. At this point I was so grateful we had a local with us, to guide us and remember the flash lights! We began the hike through the forest towards the top of Pedra Bonita. The hike started easy, as the path winds along the hill side of the mountain. At points it can be steep and we were certainly grateful of the water and lack of heat at a mere 5.20am. We admired the giant bamboo trees, we saw the stars through the gaps in the trees and we listen to the wind as it blew at the treetops. It felt like a real adventure.
Before we knew it, the earth began to level out and we were ‘wowing’ before we even saw the full view. It was 5.40am as we reached the top and dawn was only just beginning. We couldn’t have timed our climb better as we got to watch the sky change from night to day. Those that arrived for the exact time of sunrise really missed out on that experience.
Watching Sunrise from Pedra Bonita
As we watched the sun rise over Rio, I was filled with joy at where I was. This whole experience was free and as I struggled to get my head around that, I realised that sometimes the best experience you can have in a city, is when you get above it and leave the chaos behind. That morning on top of Pedra Bonita I saw Rio from a view I had never seen it before. Sure I’ve watched sunrise many times before in Rio but never have I experienced it with so few people and noise. Rio is known for its mountains and they should be made the most of during any visit to Rio.
How to climb Pedra Bonita
To climb Pedra Bonita, you don’t need a guide or a local. You just need a car or willing taxi to drive around the twisty roads to get you to the start of the climb. You will need some water, especially during the summer months, a pair of proper shoes and a snack would be useful too. The climb takes around 30 minutes and is of an easy level. If you plan to start in the dark then some prior planning and a torch would be useful if you’ve never been before. If you would like to experience this moment with fewer people then head up during a weekday but be sure to check the weather beforehand. This is an experience you want perfectly clear skies for.
The entrance for the climb is located on Estrada das Canoas which you can access from AutoEstrada Lagoa-Barra not far from the Fashion Mall – the exact turning you need is next to the Nissan Garage.