Without a doubt, Rio’s number one attraction is its view.
But it doesn’t come from Christ the Redeemer.
And it doesn’t even come from Sugarloaf Mountain.
Two Brothers (Morro Dous Irmaos) calls itself home to two of Rio’s most famous favelas – Vidigal and Rocinha.
It sits on the border of Rio’s most affluent suburb, Leblon, separating it from Sao Concrado to the west.
Now, I know what you’re thinking,
And I can understand the basis of your reservations.
But the thing is, for years now, a large number of Rio’s favelas are considered ‘pacified’. To put it another way, the violence has stopped.
A large deal of this has been attributed to the permanent presence of Rio’s ‘peace police’ since the awarding of the world cup in 2010.
But I like to believe it has more to do with the power of the people governing their own and pushing to be seen as legitimate tourist destinations for when such world events as the World Cup, World Youth Day, and the Olympics grace Rio’ shores.
So although the favelas may still look similar, the trouble makers have moved on, and now what’s left are vibrant and ambitious communities happy to see tourists injecting cash into their blossoming businesses.
Everyone will say ‘bom dia’ (hello), and be happy to offer directional advice if you get a little confused.
So, please, although you should be careful not to flash valuable around (like anywhere in Rio), treat the people of these pacified favelas around the tourist areas the same you would anyone on the street.
After all, most of the people serving you on the main streets live in the favelas.
How to Get To Rio’s Best Sunrise View
Although it may seem a little confusing at first (especially since google maps doesn’t help much when it comes to directional advice in favelas), it’s actually quite straight forward to get to the top of the mountain.
First, you’ll want to get an uber (at least 50% cheaper than a taxi), to the corner of Av. Neimeyar and Av. President Joao Goulart.
It’s a bit of a piazza, and is the main entrance to Vidigal.
Second, waiting on Av. President Joao Goulart will be a number of locals on scooters wearing black shirts with yellow reflective stripes on the front and back.
These guys are called moto-taxis, and for BRL$2, will take you half way up the mountain to the starting point of the hike.
This is the only point where you’ll have to have some faith and find the start.
Most of the moto-taxis will know exactly where to take you.
If your Portuguese isn’t good, tell them the following:
Por favor me levar até a entrada da pista de caminhada para o Morro Dois Irmãos
It means, please take me to the entrance of hiking trail Two Brothers Mountain.
But essentially, this is the go:
If you arrive after 7am (and miss sunset), you can get dropped off at the soccer pitch, walk behind it, and find a rendered wall where you literally walk along the top of it until you find the dirt path up.
If you arrive before 7am, the gate to the soccer pitch will be locked, so your moto-taxi will have to take you another 100m up the street to a point above the soccer pitch where you can access that same wall through a side alley.
I know, sounds a bit dodgy.
Well, to be fair, getting dropped off and told to walk down a dark alley at 5am felt a bit dodgy. But within 10 seconds, I found the wall, walked along it, found the dirt track into the jungle, and all nerves were allayed.
The trek up the dirt track will take you approximately 40 minutes.
It isn’t challenging, but it isn’t a Sunday stroll either.
By the time you get your first view of Rocinha on the north face, your shirt will be drenched with sweat, and your heart will be pumping.
Never question the trail here. There really is only one way. And although it winds up, down, left and right, just keep walking and you will eventually get to the top.
The sun usually rises just before 6am, so you want to be arriving to the bottom of Vidigal at 5am.
Once you make it up, you’ll realize why this is the best view in Rio.
Not only do you get the best view of the sunrise over Copacabana, but your vista also includes Christ The Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, the distant hills to the east, and all of the city.
Just like in Manhattan where you’d rather be on Rockerfeller looking at the Empire State building than the other way round, you’ll want to be on Two Brothers looking at the rest.
Not only is it shared with 1% of the amount of tourists, but it’s also totally free.
Getting down isn’t an easy stroll.
You’ll want to make sure you wear some good hiking shoes, because there are areas where slipping on your behind are very possible outcomes.
As always, the descent will seem much quicker than the ascent, but you’ll be feeling it in your quadriceps by then.
This time, there will be no moto-taxi down, so you’ll have to walk down the street they drove up.
Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, take a ‘residential footpath’. They all lead down, however confusing it seems at first.
And if you get stuck, ask a local!
There is no better way to see Rio and enjoy it’s nature than to trek Two Brothers at sunrise.
It may not be on the tourist trail, but one day it will be.
Don’t pay a tour company to take you, it’s totally doable without one.
But if you’re still unsure, there are a few available; some that even offer an abseil on the way down.
- Arrive by uber at the bottom of Vidigal at 5am.
- Take a moto-taxi to the entrance of the trek for BRL$2
- Don’t be scared when taking your first steps on the wall
- Keep walking for 40mins
- Enjoy Rio’s best secret view.
- Have you climbed Two Brothers before?
- Are you heading to Rio soon and want the best view and adventure possible?