The Complete Guide to Hiking Morro Dois Irmãos
The captivating beauty of Rio's iconic mountains, beaches, and landmarks are best viewed from up high. We hiked Trilhas de Morro Dois Irmãos, which is a rock formation located in the Vidigal. Here's a complete guide to hiking your way up to one of the most incredible views of the city:
Before you Go
There are a few important things to know before you begin the hike:
Vidigal is one of Rio's favelas (Brazilian shantytown), where a lot of people (mainly those who watched City of God) would be hesitant to go. Since 2008, Rio's government started to implement the Pacifying Police Unit (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora) or UPP, a law enforcement and social services program aimed at reclaiming favelas that were commonly controlled by gang members and drug dealers. Since implementing the program, violence has lessened in these communities. We went alone and felt safe while there. From what I saw, Vidigal was a vibrant community filled with children playing, adults working out, people listening to music, and residents simply enjoying their lives. Some people opt to go with a tour guide, although it's totally manageable to do without one. Acknowledge your comfortability, and do what suits you.
I consider this hike moderate to difficult. For reference, I consider myself an advanced novice hiker. It is not a long trail (1.6 km), and you don't need hiking equipment, but there are many steep, slippery paths to get through. My friend Phenesse and I had a few, "what in the world?!" moments where we had to figure out the best way to climb. Also, there is no signage on the trail, and a lot of other random trails leading off into the bush. However, the main path is recognizable and easy to follow.
It took us about an hour each way, including our viewpoint rest stops.
I recommend carrying the following things with you:
- Backpack or fanny pack
- Water bottle
- Light snack
- Insect repellent
- Any life-saving medications where it would suck if you needed it but you were stuck at the top of a mountain (for me it's my benedryl, albuterol inhaler, and epi-pen)
- Sneakers with good grip or hiking shoes
- Headlamp (if you plan on doing a sunrise or sunset hike)
Do not bring any valuables with you on the trail.
How to Get There?
The official trailhead begins at the northwest corner of Campo do Vidigal, a gated soccer field. You can also take a public bus to Vidigal, and then a moto-taxi (motorcycle taxi) or walk from the main road through Vidigal to get to up to the trailhead. At the moment, we weren't feeling bold enough to take a moto-taxi up and we decided walking to the trailhead was doing the most and would take significantly take longer. We ultimately decided to take our Uber directly to this location. Make sure you tell your driver “Dois Irmãos” or “a trilha” (“the trail” in Portuguese), and they will be able to figure out what you're talking about.
As soon as we walked through the gates and onto the trail, we were greeted by loud cicada and beautiful foliage. The trail started out flat and gradually inclined.
There are about 3-4 really beautiful viewpoints of Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio.
After about 20-30 minutes of relatively easily hiking, ish got real! The trail got steeper and slipperier. We had to crawl our way through a number of parts. At this point we were definitely sweaty, and our hearts were pumping with full force. The good news is that there are a good number of flat parts of the trail to provide a decent break after climbing the semi-steep parts.
Alas, we made it! And the struggle was so worth it!
The view was breathtaking! The weather quickly changes in Rio -- after about 25 minutes at the summit, clouds started to emerged.
Getting Back Down
Since we became slightly familiar with the trail, going back down was a little easier than going up. We decided to live life on the edge and take a moto-taxi back down to the entrance of Vidigal.
My moto-taxi ride was definitely an adrenaline rush. We zoomed through Vidigal's narrow streets, around tight turns, and through vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The whole time I was praying so hard and also thinking how my mom would go crazy if she knew I was doing this! The ride shouldn't be more than 2.5 BRL, so make sure you establish the price before you get on the moto-taxi. The best part about my ride was that my driver was a woman, which isn't common to see. Yesss to bold women working in predominantly male spaces! It was an empowering way to end the hike!
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