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Pedra de Gavea – Just How Difficult Is Rio’s Highest Hike?

October 26, 2017

Just how challenging is the hike to the summit of Pedra de Gavea? On a humid summers day in Rio de Janeiro, we found out firsthand.

By now you’d think we were slowly adjusting to all the hiking – we’ve certainly done our fair share of challenging walks in South America. Between making it through the majority of the W-Trek and up the Fitz Roy, our hiking boots and hiking poles have well and truly been broken in.

Trekking in such chilly conditions didn’t prepare us for what was waiting in Brazil’s most vibrant and misunderstood city though – the world’s biggest monolith, standing tall amid the tropical low-laying clouds was to provide an entirely different challenge for us.

Dressed only in t-shirts and shorts/sports leggings, this hike instantly felt different from our Patagonian treks.

For a start, we caught the metro to the base of the walk (such an easy access point to the trails in Torres del Paine would be unimaginable) and the many, many layers of warm clothes were suddenly a distant memory.   When once we stood shivering as we caught our breath, we now wiped sweat from our brows and guzzled water in a bid to reintroduce some much-needed fluids into our systems.

How Difficult is the Hike to Rio’s Tallest Vantage Point?

I can’t lie – it’s not an easy hike.

The weather makes it a challenge.  The gradient and never-ending trudge upwards makes it difficult.  And that’s not even to mention the free-climbing!

After hiking uphill for a solid few hours, travellers are greeted with what feels like an almost-vertical rock wall.  Let’s face it, it probably wasn’t that extreme but that’s certainly how it felt at the time!  Ropes and ladder rungs help hikers navigate further upwards and before long, they’re greeted by a boulder scramble, edging ever closer to the summit.

Nearing the summit, hikers are rewarded with the most amazing views out over Rio de Janeiro – views that are so good that the hard work and suffering is very quickly forgotten!

From there, there’s one last bout of free-climbing – approximately 35 metres, followed by the final hike to the top.

With aching legs and gusty winds (not to mention, a thunderstorm brewing in the distance), Nathan and I decided to set up camp on the lookout and let our friend Becky continue without us.  It was a decision we’d later come to regret but with clouds descending, we thought she’d have more luck making it to the top without us and of course, we were more than happy with the views we’d been left with.

Understandably, our regret set in the moment we saw Becky’s photos – seriously, look at that view!!

What goes up must come down again and so we began our slow, boulder-climbing, ladder-grabbing descent back to Rio.

What to Take on a Hike up Pedra de Gavea

  • Hiking poles for the trip back down (if you have dodgy knees like me or just need an extra boost)
  • Plenty of water – three litres was the recommendation and I drank most of it easily
  • Good quality food – both lunch and snacks to keep you going
  • Shoes with good grip – hiking boots if possible which also offer ankle support
  • Layers – during the hike itself we didn’t need much in the way of clothes but sitting up the top, the wind picked up and the rain started to fall so our fleeces were put to good use.

We had an amazing time hiking up Pedra de Gavea and though it was a challenge, it was well worth it.  The views were amazing, the jungle was beautiful and we even spotted a group of monkeys!

Though this hike wasn’t originally on our radar, I’m so pleased we added it into the equation and would certainly encourage others travelling to Brazil to do the same.


If you’d like to book an organised tour up to the summit of Pedra de Gavea, we recommend joining Alexis at Discovery Hostel.  He was an amazing guide, taking care of us every step of the way. 

Though hikers are able to summit alone, it’s not recommended unless you have a fair amount of climbing experience.


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Rio de Janeiro is home to an amazing hike with incredible views. It's challenging, including free-climbing but worth every step. One for your bucket list next time you're in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is home to an amazing hike with incredible views. It's challenging, including free-climbing but worth every step. One for your bucket list next time you're in Brazil.

Thank you to the lovely Becky for supplying her photo at the summit of Pedra de Gavea and for being such fabulous company throughout the hike.

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