Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar) is the second most important place to visit in Rio de Janeiro after the statue of Christ the Redeemer. This is written in all guidebooks, but for me, it is the first! I am ready to climb this mountain at least every day. For a photographer, there are the most beautiful views of Rio de Janeiro.
How to get there
Bus #107 and #513 goes here, get off at Urca stop. Then you need to go about two hundred meters in the direction of the traffic and on the right you will see the ticket office where you can buy a ticket to the cable car for 110 reais up and down. In my opinion, a little expensive. But there is a way out of this situation. You can climb on foot to the top of the mountain Urca and then get with half of price to Sugar Loaf. Climbing there is fun and almost easy.
Metro. The nearest metro station is Botafogo.
You can use applications such as Uber (UberEnglish, Uber for women, 99). Nearby Sugar Loaf there is a parking lot. The cost was about 2 reais (0,5 dollars) for two hours when I was there last time.
How to avoid lines
Buying online is very convenient. Please use the official website where you can buy tickets with a10% discount for 99 reais. http://www.bondinho.com.br/en/home/
Cost and timetable
Opening hours: from 8:00 to 21:00. Ticket offices are open until 19:50. The gates to trekking Urca Mountains close at 18 o’clock (winter time). Price: 110 reais (27,5 $). Half price discount for students (have to show the document) and for people over 60 years old. Children up to 6 years old can go for free, from 6 up to 12 – half price. Remember the start and end time of the cable car: • Praia Vermelha / Mount Urca – 08:10; • First departure Mount Urca / Sugar Loaf – 08:20; • Last Departure Praia Vermelha / Urсa Mountain – 20:00; • Last Departure Urca Mountain / Sugar Loaf – 20:20; • Last departure Sugar Loaf / Mount Urсa – 20:40; • Last departure Mount Urca / Praia Vermelha – 21:00. Departure every 20 minutes or when it is filled with 65 people. There is a helicopter trip on Mount Urca where you can book a flight. various cost and duration: • 6-7 minutes costs 88 euros, • 12-13 minutes – 190 euros, • 15-16 minutes – 220 euros, • 21-22 minutes – 275 euros, • half an hour – 305 euros. (Please double check the price due to low or high seasons).
So, we are leaving from the tickets office and go in the direction to the Sugar Loaf. On the left, we pass a white building and there is an entrance gate with security. This is also the entrance to the trail. Here you can see people jogging. The first ten minutes are very easy, you can hear the sound of the ocean on the Praia Vermelha, where you can swim after the descent, so do not forget to grab a swimsuit with you. Then, having admired the monkeys, which cannot be fed, our road goes up to the left along the forest. It takes 25 minutes to walk. People who do not like sports will have some difficulties. You can stop at viewpoints. The path is divided into 5 stops.
The way to the trekking
As a photographer, I especially planned a trip to shot the sunset. We began our journey at 15 o’clock (it was in July – winter time) and found the most romantic views of Rio. Then we took a cable car for 40 reais to the top of the Sugar Loaf. This journey lasts 2 minutes and 40 seconds. You will be brought back only to Mount Urca. If it will be too late and the trekking back will be closed, you will need to pay 20 reais to return back by cable car. For those who are afraid of heights, my advice is to eat nothing before the trip. Climbing up the equipped path, I could not even imagine how the first photographer Mark Ferrer made this journey, who shot a panorama of Rio from Sugar Loaf in 1890. Rising, he carried about 100 kg of equipment, chemicals, and a photo lab. At that time, the view from the Sugar Loaf was the only place that was not yet captured on film.
From the 16th century, Sugar Loaf attracted travelers by its inaccessible walls surrounded by the emerald waters of Guanabara Bay. But the privilege to admire the view from above was inaccessible until the brave English lady Henrietta Carstairs conquered the 396-meter almost vertical wall. The public access to the Sugar Loaf was received by the people of Rio only in 1913 when the cable car was built and connected Praia Vermelha and Urca Mountain (first level) and then Sugar Loaf. This happened thanks to the idea which came to the Brazilian engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos, during the 1908 exhibition, held in Urca. In addition to the fact that this idea turned the Sugar Loaf into the world’s greatest landmark, it opened up an amazing 360-degree panorama of Rio de Janeiro for hundreds of thousands of visitors. Augusto Ferreira Ramos was a famous engineer with great experience and a dream to build a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain. On June 14, 1911, he set up a company and began looking for investors to create this amazing project aimed at developing the social influence of Rio de Janeiro, which at that time was the capital of Brazil. One dream led to the construction of the first cable car in Latin America and the third in the world after Switzerland and Spain. In 2013, the cable car on the Sugar Loaf celebrated its centenary. The history of Rio and Sugar Loaf is closely related. The name “Sugar Loaf” dates from the 16th century, when Brazil had the peak of sugarcane trade with Europe. The sugar blocks were assembled into canonical forms made of clay for transportation to the ship. The shape of these blocks was similar to the top of the mountain which created the name for the mountain. The second version says that the name comes from the phrase “paunh-acuqua”, which in the language of the native tribe Tupi is translated as “High Hill” or “Guardian of the Gulf.”
A diverse kaleidoscope of events taking place on Urca Hill includes concerts of popular music, samba, classical music, and theater performances. Here you can dine in a chic restaurant and celebrate a romantic anniversary. In 2007, Rio de Janeiro celebrated the 190th anniversary of the first conquest of the top of the Sugar Loaf – the main symbol of “Cidade Maravilhosa ”-“ Marvelous City”. In the past, every weekend from mid-November to February, the Sugar Loaf Festival held the “Cariocas Nights” festival with the participation of the country’s most popular artists.
Sugarloaf, Urca and Babylon stone make up the largest and most popular climbing area in Brazil. There are about 300 routes of different levels of complexity, which offer amazing views of the Guanabara Bay. When I climbed the mountain the second time, I met climbers who told me that there are several paths for both beginners and professionals. Costão is the easiest route. Even without experience, you can hire a trainer to climb and descend for just four hours. To find a specialist, you need to go straight along the asphalt road. Interesting fact: Albert Einstein and President John F. Kennedy admired the view of the bay through the 360º glass booths.