December 26th, Rio de Janeiro
Sugar in the morning
Sugar in the evening
Sugar at suppertime
Be my little sugar
And love me all the time
Rio is a city of magnificent views, and the best one is supposedly from the Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar), which is the highest point in Rio above sea level.
The cable car runs from the suburb of Urca to the summit of the Sugar Loaf via Moro da Urca (a lower mountain), making the hills accessible for slow walkers and wheelchair users. I had read on the internet that the wheelchair access on Sugar Loaf Mountain was fairly good. And this was absolutely correct.
We took a taxi from our hotel to Urca (around 30R). To get into the cable car station there are stairs, but they do have a lift for wheelchair users. The lift has to be operated by a guard, and can take one wheelchair user at the time. In the station the access is good. They have a separate counter for disabled people and they let disabled people first in line. After taking a new lift you come to the platform where you enter the cable car, and here they have a separate entrance for wheelchair users. The cable cars leave every 10-20 minutes, and if they are already boarding, they let you come first on board in the next one. This gives you an excellent view through the big panorama windows in the cable car. There is a 10-15cm gap to enter the cable car. With a manual chair it is no problem at all (you receive help) but with a power chair you might need a small ramp/something to close the gap, to be certain to get in. The cable car itself is big and you can fit 3-4 manual wheelchairs at the same time without problems.
When you get out of the first cable car at Morro da Urca you can either choose to go to different viewpoints there (we didn’t check the access there) or you can walk the socalled ”green path” – which is an accessible walkway through a small rain forrest to get to the next cable car. There are no hills, and you are able to wheel yourself without any help. When you leave the second cable car, you are at the summit where there are different levels with 360-degree view out over Rio, Guanbara Bay and the surrounding rain forrest covered mountains. Some of the lookoutpoints have stairs, but you can reach most of them through ramps. There is a lift to get down to the main lookoutpoint, souvenir shop and kiosk.
View of Copacabana
Unfortunately this lift stopped working before we were leaving, but we didn’t bother to wait because of the heat – so we ”tok the stairs”. Surprisingly enough there was hardly no wind at all at the summit, and we later found out that Rio had a heat record that day with 43 degrees celsius! I have rarely sweated that much during my life, but the views were definitely worth it. A hard competitor to Table Mountain in Cape Town. I still cannot decide which one was the best. Problably a tie.
On my way down in the 2 last lifts the guard asked me (in Portguese) where I was from. ”Noruega”, I said, and the answer was: ”Aha! Baccalao!” . The guard was complaining about the heat, and I must say I felt sorry for him with a dark uniform and long black boots. I told him (in Spanglish/signlanguage) that Norway was very cold, and that we did not mind the heat.
Which is true. I am surprised how well I can handle the heat here (much better than in Washington DC). But after a lunch at Deli 43 (comme ci comme ca) it was lovely to jump into the pool at Asbjørn’s place and have a swim & dive contest with Nicolas, who is 5 years old.
Later that night we enjoyed a lovely Mexican dinner at the restaurant Si Senor (in Leblon). Noisy but nice. And they had a nice and clean accessible toilet.
Sugar in the morning, salsa in the evening. A perfect way to end a day of sightseeing and swimming in Rio.