The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro is located in Brazil and was created by erosion from the Atlantic Ocean and is also known as Guanabara Bay. The Harbour is surrounded by gorgeous granite monolith mountains that include the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain at 1,296 feet (395 m), Corcovado Peak at 2,310 feet (704 m), and the hills of Tijuca at 3,350 feet (1021 m). Visitors will also experience numerous islands including Governor’s island, Fundao and Snakes Island.
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The best ways to see the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro are to get above it. Some visitors will seek to discover and view the harbor and surrounding area by taking to the skies. This can be done either through helicopter or for the more adventurous through the use of a hang glider.
The most common means of seeing tthis wonder are to travel to the tops of the surrounding granite peaks that overlook the harbor. Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado both offer panoramic views of the harbor and surrounding landscape. Sugar Loaf Mountain is actually in the harbor and provides views back over the city and into mountains. Additionally, visitors will have great views of the beautiful beaches that line the harbor.
Corcovado peak is much higher and looks east over the harbor and back towards Sugar Loaf Mountain. Corcovado peak also offers visitors with an opportunity to see the famous monument – Christ the Redeemer.
The best way to experience the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro depends on the interest of those visiting this natural wonder. Enjoying the soft white sandy beaches is expected whether participating in one of the many exercise or stretching programs, playing volleyball or other sporting venues, or just lounging around and taking in the sun.
If you are not interested in taking in the beach or you have checked that activity off, visitors are encouraged to explore the harbor from the recommended lookouts of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado. Both peaks offer different and distinctive views of the harbor and surrounding area.
Another way to explore the harbor is through a boat tour that exposes visitors to the islands, the beaches and various views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the other granite monoliths that surround the harbor.
The best times to explore the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro are during the months of September and October. The weather is nice and the humidity has not set in.
Sugar Loaf Mountain can be done in under two hours and should be done during the morning when the sun is coming in from the east. The sun will be rising behind you as you take in the views of the mountains, beaches and surrounding area without causing you to squint. The cable cars open up at 8:00 and that is the best time to start the exploration.
Exploration from Corcovado should be done in the afternoon because the sun is shining back towards Sugar Loaf Mountain and the harbor. A morning visit is less crowded but you will be staring into the rising sun.
Taking pictures from Sugar Loaf mountain should be done in the earliest part of the morning. The cable cars only open up at 8:00am, so that is as early as you can get there. Once you reach the top of the mountain, the sun will be behind you providing the best lighting for taking pictures of the beaches, Corcovado, and the landscapes surrounding the harbor.
Corcovado pictures will be best done in the later afternoon when the sun gets behind you and provides the best lighting for images of Sugar Loaf Mountain and back towards the harbor. Now, if you are interested in taking the best pictures of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado, then you may need to make two trips or spend the day there. Christ the Redeemer faces the rising sun, so early morning shots will have the best lighting.
As you come past the Christ statue, make your way to the left side. A good view/shot of the harbor and Sugar Loaf can be captured just left of the steps before descending down to the lookout. This allows you to bring foliage into the foreground for adding depth of field or additional framing elements. The lookout also provides good views over the harbor and Sugar Loaf as well.
Getting to Rio de Janeiro is easy. The city is one of the largest and most popular cities in Brazil. Many major airlines fly directly into the city providing plenty of options for travel. The city does have public transportation but taxis and even private drivers are reasonably priced.
Check with your hotel about a personal car/driver. You may find the convenience and expertise is worth the small difference from just taking a taxi or renting your own car. As you witness the routes either taxi or personal drivers take, you will be glad you are not trying to navigate the roads yourself.
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People traveling to see the Seven Natural Wonders of the World will have more of a challenge finding the “eco” experience in Rio, a city more known for culture, carnivals, and character than in other “natural wonder” locations. However, the Sheraton Rio Hotel and Resort is an excellent option for a stay in Rio with an intent to explore this natural wonder of the world. The Sheraton is the only hotel that has direct access to the beach. Although, not a significant barrier, all other hotels must cross the street to reach a beach. Additionally, the Sheraton provides fairly easy access to Sugar Loaf, Corcovado and the surrounding harbor area.
The Sheraton Rio Resort & Hotel is Seven Natural Wonders: Recommended