Keeping to our theme of seeing all of the world wonders, we headed to Christ the Redemeer, or “Cristo Redentor”, in Rio de Janeiro. Constructed in the 1920’s, it is the newest of the New7 Wonders of the World. The statue is made from reinforced concrete with small triangles of soapstone coating the outside. It is 30 meters tall and weights 635 metric tons.
We started our journey to the statue at completely the wrong time of day. After an hour bus ride – on a crammed city bus with the craziest drivers ever – we arrived at the bottom of the mountain around noon. It was over 40 C. We had read that lineups to get tickets could be ridiculously long and had pre-bought ours online. The un-air-conditioned waiting area was packed with people. When we finally boarded some 30 minutes later we discovered the small, jam-packed train was also not air-conditioned. The train struggled with the steep hills and took its time reaching the top. The views from the train were barely worth mentioning and I think we were both concentrating more on the how to stay alive in the heat than on the views.
At the top, it was extremely crowed. Every 20 minutes a train brings up over 100 people. Additionally, vans drive tourists to the top (air-conditioned, comfortable, no-wait-time vans). Needless to say, we completely regretted the train ride once we saw the vans. Struggling in the heat, we climbed the steps to the statue. It was so packed with people it was hard to get a decent photo. The views of the city and the beaches were beautiful; however, it was quite hazy and humid.
In our opinion, this ‘world wonder’ doesn’t qualify as anything overly note-worthy and there are many places in the world that deserve to be on that list more than Christ the Redeemer. Not worth the 80$ it cost us to go up there…
On the contrary, Sugarloaf Mountain – Pão de Açúcar, was fantastic. To get there you take two cable cars (one to the first peak and another to the second which is Sugarloaf Mountain). The first cable cars were built in 1912 (before Christ the Redeemer!) and have been upgraded twice since. The current cable cars are very similar to the Grouse Mountain gondola.
Sugarloaf Mountain is the number one attraction in Rio de Janeiro on TripAdvisor and deserves its place. We wanted to be at the top for sunset which would also mean slightly cooler temperatures. While it got a little crowded at sunset along the railings with best views, overall, it didn’t feel crowded. There was plenty of open space at the top of both peaks and it was very relaxing. The panoramic views were stunning and we got to take our first city night shots of the trip (see the featured photo).
From the top of Sugarloaf you also get to see Rio’s other world wonder, the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, also known as Guanabara Bay. It is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Guanabara Bay is the largest bay in the world by volume of water and is surrounded by unique mountains and formations. From the top of Sugarloaf you can only see a fraction of the entire bay, but you get a beautiful view of Rio’s enormous yacht club, which we visited and had lunch at a couple days ago.
More to come on our adventures in Rio de Janeiro later… we are currently enjoying the insanity of Carnival.