Morro Dois Irmãos
Several locals and travelers have told me that climbing to the top of Morro Dois Irmãos (two brothers hill) for sunrise is a must-do. This morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get it done.
To get there from Ipanema, I had to take a city bus into Vidigal, the favela that's built into the side of the hill at end of Ipanema beach. Once at the bus stop in Vidigal, I walked over to a motorcycle taxi and said one word to the driver: "trilha." He knew that meant I wanted to go to trail that leads to the lookout at top of the hill.
The driver handed me a helmut and motioned for me to get on. My natural instinct was to hold on to his waist, but he shook his head and asked me (several times, in Portuguese) to grab on to the handles behind my seat instead. As he accelerated up the first hill, it occurred to me that this was my first time on a motorcycle.
As you can imagine, the streets that run through a favela are narrow and winding and go up very steep hills. We rounded hairpin turns and weaved between other vehicles and people for a good 10 minutes until we finally arrived at the trailhead. By this point, my adrenaline was pumping; I felt a nice sense of relief as I got off the bike and handed the driver $R5.
It took me 30 minutes of hiking to get to the top. When I finally looked out over Rio, it was 7 a.m. and the sun had been up for about 40 minutes. (Getting to the top for the actual sunrise would have required me to ride the motorcycle taxi and hike the trail in the dark, which is more than I was willing to do.) Still, the sun was low in the sky, and the view was incredible.
This was my third, and likely final, hike during my time in Rio. My first was up the Corcovado trail to see Christ the Redeemer, and my second was to Lopes Mendes beach in Ilha Grande. Physically, it was the easiest hike, but it wins out as the most quintessentially Carioca.