Sugarloaf arguably provides some of the best views in Rio de Janeiro. A cable car can take you to the top at 396 m/1,299 ft. Sugarloaf consists of two mountains. The smaller is named Morro da Urca, while the larger is Pão de Açúcar. To get to the top of Sugarloaf you need to take a cable car, but if you wanted to get some exercise it is possible to hike Morro da Urca and see those amazing views.
There are a few buses that go to Sugarloaf. You can get the 511, 512, 107 or X which will drop you off near the base of Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf consists for two peaks with a cable car to each peak. However, this being a hiking guide, you can hike to the first peak for free. As for May 2014 there is no way to get from the first peak to the second peak without starting from the bottom. The views from the first peak are just as good so don’t feel like you are missing out. If anything you are saving R$62 for the cable car ride!
If you are facing directly in front of the cable car entrance do a complete 180 and head to the back right corner by the military post. Here will be a gated entrance, likely with a guard or two near by, that you can take. Soon after entering you will see a dirt path heading up the mountain. This is the path you will need to take to get to the top of the first mountain, Morro da Urca.
Short Detour: If you skip the dirt path and stay on the paved path you will reach a dead end after 1-2km. However, there are some small monkeys on this path so it might be worth taking a short detour for a picture or two.
The height of Morro da Urca is 220m and the path is somewhat steep. Its also not very well laid out so expect it to be slippery after heavy rain fall. Once you reach the top of the path continue left to get to the lookout point at the top. Here there are free toilets, water fountains, food stands and the other cable car to the higher Pão de Açúcar. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to take this without a ticket from the bottom.
Note: The path closes at 6pm so to get back down you will have to use the cable car. It is free though after 7pm, so time your hike appropriately. It does provide amazing views of the sunset, so it is worth staying at the top and waiting for the free ride down!
Up in the mountains of Ecuador lies the Cuicocha Crater Lagoon at the base of the extinct volcano Cotocahci. The lagoon reaches a peak of 3240m and provides amazing views of Otavalo and the mountainous region. In the center of the lagoon lies two lava domes populated with wildlife and covered in vegetation. A 4-5 trail leads around the lagoon and provides some of the most amazing views of the crystal like lava water. Take your time and use our guide to enjoy your trip to Laguna Cuicocha.
There are no buses up to the Laguna so you will need to take a bus and then a taxi to get to the crater. Starting at the Otavalo bus terminal take a bus to Quiroga (.25 cents). From here you will need to take a taxi to Laguna Cuicocha. It should be about $5 to take a taxi, so make sure you try and bargain with the taxi driver.
Hiking around the crater takes 5 hours at the most, so unless you want to take the boat ride to one of the islands you should ask the taxi driver to come pick you up in 5 hours. Otherwise you can ask the lodge to call you one so you can get back down.
Hiking Laguna Cuicocha can be done either clockwise or counter clockwise. We have done both and didn’t feel one was easier then the other, so our guide will be counter clockwise since the beginning of the trail is well marked unlike going clockwise.
From the main lodge head up pass the car park and follow the road to the visitor center. Near the visitor center is the begging of the trial going up and around the crater. You will take this trail and this is the trail you will follow around the crater. The trail is very well marked and provides amazing views of the lagoon. Along the way there will be two coverings where you can take a few minutes to rest, enjoy lunch or a snack, and provide shelter from the sun or rain. Plus the picture opportunities are amazing!
After the last covering the trail leads down and around the crater and the views of the lagoon start to disappear. Continue following though until you reach the (now) paved road. Follow this road down the hill until you reach a restaurant on your left hand side. The restaurant will advertise a “mirador”, food and other services. However, we need to go up here as its the way back to the lagoon! Hike up the short road to the restaurant and right in the back is a path leading down to the main lodge where we started.
Once back at the lodge you can get some coffee while waiting for a taxi to come and pick you up. Or if you have time you can catch a boat ride to the center islands and enjoy the lagoon even more!
Within the Andes of Ecuador likes the Quilotoa loop. Trails and dirt roads lead you between the various villages of Ecuador all while providing some of the most amazing views.
A short trip from Salento, Colombia lies a beautiful valley filled with native wax palm trees and picturesque views. Hiking the Valle de Cocora isn’t particularly challenging but there are a things to know before you start on your adventure.