They say Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is the ultimate party…and they aren’t lying! We spent six days in the thick of it all–street parties, grand-stand parades, costume balls, and somehow we even managed a little sightseeing.
For a little culture amongst the madness, we snuck to the stairs of Escadaria Selarón. It’s a project that has been in motion since 1990, where artist Jorge Selarón has gathered tiles from 60 countries around the world to bring them to his multi-flight masterpiece.
When you visit Rio, a trip up Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf) is a must. We hiked the first half called Urubu mountain, which we HIGHLY recommend. Great views, exotic fruit trees, and tons of monkeys…What more could you ask for?
On the hike up Urubu Mountain we came across a slew of massive jack fruit trees. I chased this one down with a stick and here I am enjoying my spoils. (Note: This beast is only 25% of one jack fruit). Sticky. Sweet. Yum.
One of the best parts of the hike is the monkey watching. This cheeky guy was one of a dozen we saw.
After a hike to a funicular (the first in South America), this was our view to Copacabana and Ipanema.
A nice glimpse at Christ the Redeemer can be had from Sugar Loaf. Plus it’s a nice alternative to the hours in line to see “El Señor.
As if the views weren’t enough, the museum at the top of Pao de Asucar had beautiful, interactive displays.
A trip to Rio wouldn’t be the same without a stroll down the chic and mountainous Copacabana beach. Here we are for a tranquil sunset but by nightfall there is music and dancing up and down the shore.
Despite all the sightseeing and the multiple street parties (Blocos, as they are fondly called), we set out at 1am to find tickets to the world-famous Sambadromo parade. After the first scalper asked R$1,000 ($600USD) for a pair, we found a lady selling tickets in the locals section #13 for R$150 ($90USD). Tip: Pack your own snacks and booze. They allow you to bring it in and you’ll need it to survive until the last samba school arrives at 6:30am with the sunrise.
This is one float within a samba school’s arsenal of 10-15. Each takes on a different theme, this one was celebrating Brazilian music.
The floats were so extravagant with thousands of dancers, drummers, and singers in the most outrageous and intricate costumes.
After a Samba school finishes their performance, many people shed their garb in what we deemed the “Costume Graveyard.” It took a bit of schmoozing but we got the guard to let us go back there and look around. We met some Canucks with the same idea and had quite the fashion show.
After the Sambodromo ended at 6:45am we jumped in a cab with our official costumes to make it to a 7am mimosa party to start the day off. That’s Carnaval for you.
Some new Brazilian friends took us to the “Volta Alice Bloco” in full costume. We joined the procession for a three-hour dancing fest/stroll around the neighborhood.
At around 9am we headed over to Laranjeiras for the Volta Alice Bloco/three-hour dancing fest around the neighborhood. At 2pm, we crossed the 32-hour mark and we headed home for a much-needed siesta.
To bid our farewell to Rio, on our last night we headed over to the scenic Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas to relax on the lake. We were hoping for a simple little float with foot pedals for our lake jaunt but over-the-top is the only way Rio rolls.
See our Carnaval video recap from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Have you been to Rio? What was your favorite part?