Morro do Corcovado

GPS recording available here:

Elevation Gain: 965m
Distance: 9.87km
Total Time: 3 hours 47 minutes
Date: February 24th, 2022

Morro do Corcovado is probably the most famous mountain around Rio de Janiero alongside Sugarloaf Mountain. That’s thanks to the Christ the Redeemer monument erected on the summit and giving Rio it’s moniker of City of God. Most tourists reach the summit via a tram system that takes you within 20m of the top. For me, the preference is to take the self-propelled method wherever possible. Thankfully, Corcovado has a hiking trail that runs top to bottom and sees only a small portion of the total tourists that reach the summit.

During one of my hostel stays I had become acquainted with a friend named Max who was keen to get on some hikes in the area. Neither of us had climbed Corcovado, so we figured why not. We opted to set out the following day after we met. An uber out there was around 26 reals, so we took that to the trail head around 12:30 and got underway. The first part of the route wanders through a small park and historical building area before reaching a ranger’s station. We had to fill in a few details and then proceeded onwards.

First part of the route through a nice park
Looking up towards the summit
Monkeys on the trail
The ranger station

The trail beyond the ranger station was in good condition and we killed off elevation with ease. In fact there was hardly anything to speak of until around 450m in elevation. There one small section of bed rock warranted some via ferrata style ladder steps, but these were easily ascended. There was more steep sections immediately after the ladder steps, but it only took another 40m and the trail mellowed out again.

On the trail past the ranger station
Max following up
The ladder step section, a little wet but otherwise easy to ascend
Views of Rio from a little break in the trees

A bit more walking and we reached a crossing for the tramway tracks and then continued on up to the road. The last 100m or so to the top was along a narrow paved road. There was no trail from this point and so we walked along the road. Unfortunately, even on the two lane road, van drivers taking passengers to the top felt it absolutely necessary to force us off the road each time they came up. Luckily for us the road portion is short lived and we reached the main facilities near the summit. To my surprise, there was a gate that ran the entire the permiter of the summit area. In order to pass through there was 23.50 reals fee to reach the actual top (double that on weekends). It’s a shame that even hikers have to pay such a fee, but we had made it this far, so might as well pay the small sum.

Crossing the tramway
On the road
The final steps up to the paid entrance
23.50 to get in and double on weekends

Once we paid it was a short walk up a series of stairs and we reached the summit. There was an abundance of patrons lining up for selfies with Christ the Redeemer and it was a bit difficult to navigate around, but we made do. That’s no complaint though. I feel everyone is free to enjoy the mountain how they please (so long as it’s not harming others/the mountain) and one can’t be disappointed with a big crowd when hiking to one of the most popular attractions in Brazil. We grabbed our own panoramas from the top and then headed down a cafe nearby for a quick drink.

At the summit, below Christ the Redeemer
Summit panorama

Now that we were hydrated and rested we descended down the road and back onto the trail. Downclimbing the ladder step section was uneventful and then it was an easy peasy plod back to the trail head.

Max scrambling down a steep section above the ladder steps
Max down climbing the ladder steps

Even though the summit area was teeming to the brim with people and helicopters buzzed the monument with no repreive, it’s still one of those must do hikes if you’re in the area. Christ the Redeemer is indeed quite impressive up front and the hike itself is pleasant, albeit a little bland.

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