In the midst of the Tijuca Forest, the Cachoeira do Horto Hike is a short but fun hike to enjoy the jungle feeling of Rio de Janeiro. Hiking the Cachoeira do Horto, which means the Horto Waterfall in English, you will see up to three different small waterfalls. The last waterfall is only for advanced hikers but no worries, the hike is perfect also for those who are looking for an easy to moderately difficult hike.
|Duration: 20 minutes one way
When to hike: All year, except if it has been raining the previous days.
What to bring: Hiking boots / trainers, comfortable clothing, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, canga, bikini/trunks, water.
How to get to Cachoeira do Horto
As the name suggests, the starting point of the Cachoeira do Horto Hike is located in the neighbourhood Horto, behind the Botanical Garden.
By bus: 124 from Copacabana or Ipanema. The final bus stop leaves you more or less at Estrada Dona Castorina 10.
By car: Type in “Estrada Dona Castorina” into your GPS, this street takes you into the Tijuca Forest. You’ll easily recognize the starting point of the hike as there’s a picnic area with a parking lot for 2 cars on the right side of the street.
By cab: Just be prepared to walk back down to the neighbourhood of Horto to find a cab for your way back.
See map below for further information
If you come with the bus you’ll have to follow the Estrada Dona Castorina for 5-10 minutes. It’s a paved road that leads you into the Tijuca Forest. You’ll pass a gate that welcomes you to the Parque Nacional da Tijuca and shortly after that you’ll see a picnic area with a small parking lot to your right.
At the end of this picnic area there’s already the first waterfall, so the hike begins and ends with a waterfall. An information board at the entrance of the picnic area marks the starting point of the hike and shows you the track. Actually you could follow the whole hike until Vista Chinesa but this article is only about the short version up to Cachoeira do Horto.
The trail itself is very short and easy there are only two exceptions which is why we’re rating the hike as easy-medium. The first exception is right at the beginning, as you have to climb up a small rock. If you’re comfortable with this, you don’t have to worry about the rest of the Cachoeira do Horto hike.
The path itself is also very easy to follow, it just goes straight up. There’s no way to go wrong, that’s a very nice add-on for this hike. After a while following the track, you’ll get to another rock. This time you have to climb down but there are ropes attached to the stone so it’s easy.
Another few minutes of hiking and you’ll get to the second mildly challenging part which is also a lot of fun: You have to climb up the roots of a gigantic tree! Looking up the tree from below is amazing! And once you’ve climbed the roots you’re just a couple of steps away from the second waterfall, the Cachoeira do Horto. The waterfall is not big but big enough to take a refreshing shower and there’s a big basin before the waterfall to wade around and cool your feet. In front of the basin there are several rocks that you can rest on an have a picnic.
The third waterfall
For advanced hikers/climbers there’s also a third waterfall to discover. To reach this waterfall you have to cross the small creek, turn your back to the Cachoeira do Horto and climb down the rocks on the right side of the creek. You will get your feet wet so you might want to take your shoes off. This might also be a good idea as you’ll reach a rock that is cracked and you have to climb down the crack. This is why this part of the hike is only recommended for experienced climbers or at least brave, adventurous people. But once you’ve managed the crack, you’re rewarded with the most beautiful waterfall of the whole hike, more beautiful than the Cachoeira do Horto. There’s not a lot of space at the third waterfall. If you’re in a big group only 2-3 people at a time should go down here.
As the Cachoeira do Horto hike is in the heart of the Tijuca Forest, with waterfalls at its beginning and end it’s very shady and a perfect choice for a hot day. The hike is also a good option for cloudy days as you don’t depend on the weather for the view. The jungle is always lovely to look at.