Secret Urban Forest Near Ipanema!
Parque Catacumba is a gorgeous sculpture park and tropical forest nature hike, located just slightly off the "beaten path", in the Lagoa neighborhood. It's very easy to get to, as the entrance is about a 20 minute walk from Ipanema. It's a wonderful respite from the often noisy and hot city, as the lush forest canopy provides constant shade and slightly cooler temperatures.
Parque Catacumba was developed on the site of a former favela (shanty town). It starts at the bottom, with easy paved stone paths that quickly wind back up into a hillside tropical forest. The noise of the car and bus traffic that constantly circles the Lagoa, quickly dies away, leaving you in a lovely, tranquil section of the "Mata Atlantica" (Atlantic coastal forest).
To say that it's "green" inside this park is a big understatement. Diffuse rays of sunlight trickle though the tall trees and bounce off the dense foliage that covers the forest floor. This gives the place a magical feeling and creates a wide range of greenish hues and color tones.
After viewing the sculptures at the lower section of the park, you begin the ascent to the summit of the small mountain that stands next to the much taller Morro dos Cabritos (Goats Mountain). The moderate hike takes about 20 minutes to reach the top, and the trail changes from paving stones to woodland path. It's a bit steep in places but is easily hiked in tennis shoes, as we saw Cariocas (Rio locals) making the trek up and back wearing Havaianas (rubber sandals)!
At the top of the trail, you will be afforded beautiful views of the Lagoa, and beyond to the mountains of Dois Irmaos and Pedra da Gavea. You will also see Christ the Redeemer Statue that stands atop Corcovado Mountain. Encircling the Lagoa, are the neighborhoods of Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, and Gavea.
The park is open daily from about 9am - 5pm and is considered to be a safe place to visit. We visited on a Sunday afternoon, took our camera along, and we saw perhaps 25 other people while we were there. Admission to the park is free, and there are security guards posted at the entrance. Please visit our camera and photo tips page.
To reach Parque Catacumba, simply head to the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (salt water lagoon) from Ipanema. Then go "right" along the paved sidewalk that encircles the Lagoa. Walk a short way around the right side of the Lagoa until you reach the outdoor Kiosks and restaurants. Then walk across a playground and over the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Avenida Epitacio Pessoa. Then take a left and continue a few hundred yards, and the entrance to the park will be on your right.
Insider's Tip - On your return walk from the park, stop at one of the Kiosks by the Lagoa for a refreshment and a snack. Also, the famous Bar Lagoa will be along your walk back to Ipanema. Their Brahma Chopp (draft beer) is icy cold and is some of the best in Rio.
Enjoy the photos of Parque Catacumba!
Begin your adventure...
Mother and child sculpture
Fisher boy sculpture
Winding paved woodland walkway
Steps leading up into the enchanted forest....
The woodland trail begins... Oi Cara!
Bring your camera!
Samurai Warrior sculpture
A picture window into the Lagoa neighborhood
Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer Statue) atop Corcovado Mountain
View from the top. Dois Irmaos and Pedra da Gavea. A hot and hazy day.
Map of Catacumba Park
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