Behold. The top of Rio de Janeiro. Pedra da Gávea.
Taller than Cristo Redentor (Giant Stone Jesus) and Pão de Açúcar, it offers arguably the best views in all of Rio. However, getting to the top is no easy task, and the hike requires endurance, a bit of climbing and a spot of chest hair (easily acquired with some cachaça).
As with everything in Rio de Janeiro, the initial finding of the trailhead was far more a hassle than it should have been. After taking a bus, interrogating a dozen of pedestrians, and aimlessly wandering for half an hour through residential neighborhoods we somehow stumbled upon the trailhead (located here). After providing a name and phone number to a small shack at the entrance (presumably so that we could be saved in the event of monkey revolution) we began what would be a three and a half hour hike (read: sweaty orgy of walking and climbing) up the mountain.
Sweaty and exhausted we pressed on into the jungle and soon managed to summit the coastal monolith. Looking down on Rio you can see the entirety of Zona Sul, Barra da Tijuca, Corcovado, Pão de Açúcar, hang gliders circling the beaches, mermaids, and even Niterói if the weather permits. Far removed from whatever problems or pursuits you left down below, you are free to relax and behave as you wish (frolic naked in the brush, recite poetry, pretend you’re a cougar and catch birds) as you bask in the glory that is my favorite place in the city.