Most people would agree that Rio de Janeiro is a famous hub of excitement and entertainment in the South-East of Brazil, but if you haven’t visited this magnificent city, you probably wouldn’t have noticed that it’s actually an urban jungle, dotted with mountain peaks. Rio has a unique face, a landscape where ocean, beach, city and jungle meets. From early hours after dawn, scenes around the city fills with energetic locals and we therefore started our sightseeing day early, heading out to Corcovado Mountain first, home of Christ the Redeemer.

It only takes you 20 minutes by tram to reach the top of the 700m high Corcovado mountain where Christ the Redeemer takes centre stage on the Rio skyline. The statue is 30 metres tall and its arms stretch 28 metres wide. The statue is also two-thirds the height of the Statue of Liberty’s height and weighs about 635 metric tons. What we never realised was that the entire statue is soapstone mosaic. It was an incredible experience to stand at the feet of this world famous landmark. With arms stretched out wide, as a gesture of peace, this massive statue of Jesus gazes down on all of Rio.

Next stop was Rio’s most icon peak, Sugarloaf Mountain.

Sugarloaf Mountain rises 396 meters high and its name is said to refer to its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated, refined loaf sugar. The only way you can access the top of Sugarloaf is by cable car, an absolute must-see when in Rio. The original cable was built in 1912 – let’s put that into perspective, that was the same year the Titanic sank in the Atlantic.  From the top of Sugarloaf, you look back over the city, the harbour, the beaches and the jungle. On a clear day you can even see Rio’s neighbouring city and the airport. The view is truly spectacular!

After lunch we drove past the Leblon and Ipanema beaches to get to Rio’s most talked about beach – the Copacabana.

The Copacabana is 4 km long and is, without any doubt, one of the most famous in the world. Year-round she draws sun worshippers to the Brazilian shores and this is truly a spot in Rio where the energy never stops. The friendly locals play soccer and volleyball on the beach while most of the tourists work on their tan.

Today was not just a fantastic day to play tourist in Rio, it was also our own celebration. Today, 5 years ago, Elaine and I started dating. A relationship that started in a pizza restaurant in Hatfield Pretoria, was today celebrated on the Copacabana beach in Brazil. Life is truly great!

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