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The Green Heart of Rio – Tijuca Nacional Park

Rio is a beautiful city with many beaches and historical sites, but it also has a big, natural forest called Tijuca. This forest is really special because it’s one of the biggest cities’ forests in the world. We’d like to tell you more about this wonderful place in the middle of the city. There are many different sectors in the forest, and people can enjoy many different recreational and sporting activities there.

The History of Tijuca National Park

The History of Tijuca National Park The Park’s history began well before its creation in 1961. It was a region that was heavily exploited for timber extraction and also for coffee plantation. Thus, in 1861, Dom Pedro II, then emperor of Brazil, recognized this area as a “Protective Forest”, which promoted the reduction of deforestation there. After the explorers were removed, a reforestation process began, led by Major Manuel Gomes Archer. With this, tens of thousands of trees were planted in a decade, mainly of the Atlantic Forest species. In 1961, this forest was transformed into a National Park and had 33 km². In 1967, its name was changed to Tijuca National Park and its boundaries were expanded to 39.51 km², incorporating places such as Parque Lage and Corcovado, for example.

The flora and fauna of Tijuca National Park

The Tijuca National Park has an expressive biodiversity, with 1619 vegetal species, among them cedar, murici, canelos, palm heart, orchids, etc. However, 433 of these species are threatened with extinction. In all, there are 328 species of animals, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, such as snakes, lizards, iguanas, hawks, vultures, marmosets, raccoons, capuchins, armadillos, and opossums, among others. Unfortunately, of the species that exist there 16 are threatened with extinction.

The Attractions present in Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National Park is the largest urban forest in the world and is home to many attractions, including the city’s symbol, Corcovado. It is divided into 4 sectors: Tijuca Forest, Carioca Mountain, Pedra Bonita/Pedra da Gávea and Pretos Forros/Covanca. Next, we will talk about each of the attractions:

Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer

Morro do Corcovado is a 710 meter high mountain that, at its summit, displays the statue of Christ the Redeemer – this monument was even elected in 2007, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Title aside, the beauty of the Christ the Redeemer statue enchants everyone, an icon of Rio de Janeiro that must be visited when arriving in the city.

Dona Marta Viewpoint

From its 360 meters high, this viewpoint provides one of the most magnificent views of the city. Its privileged geographical position allows you to see Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, Maracanã Stadium, Guanabara Bay, and Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

Taunay Cascatinha

A beautiful waterfall with a height of approximately 35 meters. In front of the waterfall is a stone bridge in the shape of a Roman arch. This bridge brings a charm to Cascatinha, and you can admire the waterfall from above on the bridge or below inside the arch. A wonderful place to cool off on a hot day in Rio.

Pico da Tijuca

It is the highest point in the Tijuca National Park, with 1,022 meters of altitude and the second highest in the city of Rio de Janeiro. From the top of the Pico it is possible to have a 360º view of the city. So if you like hiking and climbing, with a beautiful view at the end of the trail, this tour is perfect for you.

Bico do Papagaio

Its name comes from its shape that resembles a parrot’s beak and from its top there is a stunning view of Rio de Janeiro, highlighting the beaches of Barra and Recreio. It is one of the most visited peaks in the Park, and is worth every ounce of energy spent on the trail to admire the view from the top.

Mesa do Imperador

This place was once used by noblemen and bourgeois for countryside lunches and was visited by Dom Pedro II on his walks in the forest. Today it has become an obligatory stop for visitors who like to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the city.

Pedra Bonita

After a medium level trail, you reach the top of the rock to get an incredible view of São Conrado and Pedra da Gávea. In addition, there is one of the most famous hang gliding ramps in the world. In other words, you can also enjoy a hang gliding or paragliding flight there, for those who love adventure!

Chinese View

A Chinese style belvedere located at Alto da Boa Vista and where you have a panoramic view of the city. A must-see spot to take beautiful pictures with a view of the southern zone of Rio de Janeiro and the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon.

  • If you would like to know more about this spot, please take a look on this post.

If you prefer to visit the Tijuca National Forest with the comfort and safety that you deserve, we offer several tours that go through there. For example, have you ever thought of enjoying a morning totally different from anything you have ever seen in Rio de Janeiro? That is our Imperial Morning experience. You will enjoy a tour to Vista Chinesa, Parque Lage, Mirante Dona Marta, and a delicious breakfast at Mesa do Imperador. Simply a fantastic morning! Don’t waste any time and make your reservation now. If you prefer, we have many other experiences that also go through the Mirante Dona Marta, just take a look at our Tour through the main viewpoints of Rio de Janeiro and our 100% Carioca Experience.

So that’s it. We hope you enjoyed our tips. If you have any questions, please leave us a comment, we’d love to help you. If you think this post might help a friend or acquaintance of yours, pleaseshare it. For all of Janeiro Tour & Travel’s news and more travel tips, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Author of the blog Janeiro Tips, content creator and creator of Janeiro Tour & Travel, Tour Guide in Rio. I love sharing different aspects of Brazilian culture, I give tips on tours and trips. I live in Rio de Janeiro but I'm always traveling around Brazil. How can I help you to know a little about Brazil?

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