When visiting or living in Rio de Janeiro, you have to see the Sugarloaf! But did you know that you can hike up the first mountain known as Morro da Urca? It’s an easy hike that will show you the beautiful jungle of Rio de Janeiro with its huge trees and roots and you’ll be seeing many monkeys on your way up.
|Duration: 1-1,5 hour up and down
Distance: 1,6 km
When to hike: All year, except if it has been raining the previous days.
What to bring: Hiking boots / Trainers, mosquito repellent, sunscreen and water.
How to get to the Morro da Urca
The hike starts at Praia Vermelha (Portuguese for Red Beach), next to the ticket office of the Sugarloaf.
Address: Av. Pasteur, 520 – Urca, Sugarloaf
Bus: Take the bus number 511 from Leblon, Ipanema or Copacabana.
There is parking available, so you can also drive yourself. But it’s very difficult to get a parking lot during the week. See the map below for further directions.
The hike is well marked and easy to find. When you get to the cable-car station, you will see the beach Praia Vermelha at the end of the parking lot. Go to the left side of the beach (towards the hill) and you will reach the Pista Claudio Coutinho. Follow this path for about 500 meters until you see a sign saying “Trilha da Urca” to your left. That’s the start of the hike.
The hike is a bit steep in the beginning, but only for a short time and there are several places to stop and catch your breath. The hike is very easy to follow, there is only one point where could be possible to go wrong. After about 20 minutes walking, you will reach a mini plateau which gives you a nice view over Botafogo bay and Flamengo, here you have to turn to the left. Then just follow the trek for about another 20 minutes until you reach the cable car station.
From Morro da Urca you have a spectacular view over Botafogo, Flamengo, Centro, the long bridge joining Niteroi and Rio de Janeiro, other big peaks like Dois Irmãos, Pedra da Gavea, Corcovado, Bico do Papagaio, Pico da Tijuca and many more. There are also several restaurants, shops, toilets and places to fill up your watter bottle. It’s a nice spot to sit down for a lunch or a drink to enjoy the lovely view over Rio. Do plan a lot of time for this trip, it’s easy to spend a full afternoon on Morro da Urca.
Tip: If you want to get great pictures, go in the afternoon and wait for the sunset. This way you get pictures during daytime and of the sunset.
Important: It used to be possible to buy tickets on the top of Morro da Urca to continue with the cable car to the Sugarloaf and/or get down again. Unfortunately, that’s not possible anymore, now you have to buy the tickets at the bottom with all the other people that are taking the cable car to Morro da Urca.
If you think Morro da Urca is for beginners and prefer to climb the Sugarloaf, be sure to book a guide!