A Travellerspoint blog

The Lajter alternative guide to Rio

Rio de Janeiro in a week - "Must see" places and more

View our round the world itinerary on shiriandre's travel map.

Us in Maracana - See day 6

To all of you who are planning a week stay in Rio - here is a recommended plan which was tested on E-ma Masset and Pessah on their stay here. It took us some time, but we think that by the end of the week they finally stopped talking about Porto Alegre (or Porto Alegrrroo) and realized that they were in the hottest city in Brazil :)

Day 1 - Culture
As our first day was the last Saturday before carnaval, we started our journey with a cool samba show and a feijoada lunch.

"Andre da Geografia" playing a real samba roots...

Our next stop was supposed to be the Simpatia bloco in Ipanema, but we were too late. Instead we had a beautiful sunset on the Ipanema boardwalk (and a quick toilet break at the hotel where Madonna and Beyonce are currently staying).

No words needed to describe it

First important rule of a successful alternative guide - When you try to learn about the Carioca culture, you have to respect the disrespect for schedule...

Day 2 - See where it all started
On our second day we took a great boat trip all around the Guanabara bay - from Gloria to Niteroi and back. Sun, beaches, Pão de Açúcar and a little bit of Niemeyer.

Pão de Açúcar from the boat. A different angle

Niemeyer´s Moden Art musuem. A must to see on E-ma Masset's list

Petrol station being repared on Guanabara Bay

The Rio Niterói bridge, almost 14Km. One of the 3 biggest in the world

To complete the bay area day we took the cable car up to the Pão de Açúcar (ok, some things are a "must" - even on alternative guides).

View from Pão de Açúcar

View of Copacabana beach from Pão de Açúcar

To compensate for our uncompleted bloco adventure from yesterday, we followed the sounds from the street and were lucky to join a parade of a small Escola de Samba, only to find ourselves few meters later joining the big and famous Mangueira samba school. We were thinking of catching a samba school rehearsal but found the real thing on the street, a bloc away from home.

E-ma and Pessach having fun during Mangueira

Second important rule of a successful alternative guide - location, location, location!

Day 3 - They wont let you out of Rio without visiting Jesus and asking which view is better - from Corcovado or from the Pão de Açúcar ...
Our second big "V" was accomplished on our 3rd day - a visit to the corcovado. I'm (Shiri) proud to say that after visiting this place for the 3rd time in less than 2 years (and explaining all the view to my guests), and after negotiating the taxi price to the top in Portuguese and getting a discount (!), I'm officially applying for a Carioca citizenship :)

Almost there....

The day was completed with a visit to the famous Copacabana Palace (needless to say we didn't enter much beyond the small lobby and swimming pool...) and some souvenir shopping.

Third important rule of a successful alternative guide - choose your tourist traps carefully. A 2 hours wait for the train to Corcovado is not worth it!

Day 4 - The empire strikes back
Not many people find the time to visit the old imperial buildings of Rio's downtown, but some are really worth it - from an elegant breakfast at Colombo through old libraries and imperial buildings - a true jump back on the time tunnel!

The Real Gabinete - a beautifull old library in downtown Rio

Fourth important rule of a successful alternative guide - If you are planning to drag yourself out in the sun all day, try to visit some places with great Air-conditioning. We highly recommend the RJ state parliament!

Day 5 - Follow the sun
Rio is famous for its beaches, but only few make it beyond Leblon. Shame!!
We drove all the way to Grumari beach, with many viewpoint breaks, including an impressive stop at Pedra bonita, to watch the tandem flights take of.

View from Pedra Bonita

Fifth important rule of a successful alternative guide - local knowledge and your own car are a must at a certain point. Respeito ao guia Jacob!

Well, Maracana is better visited on a match day, but since it is about to be closed for few years for renovations for the 2014 world cup, try at least to see the museum and stadium and imagine what goes around when your favorite team (lets say Vasco da Gama for example...) strikes a GOOOOOOOOOOOL...
Sixth important rule of a successful alternative guide - Save at least one evening for a peaceful sunset watching in your favorite spot. Arpoador....

Family dinner - From left - Jacob, Fany, Benjamin, Vivi, Andre, Shiri, Masset, Pessah

Posted by shiriandre 14:56 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Water! Lots of water everywhere

Family reunion - This time on the Katz side

View our round the world itinerary on shiriandre's travel map.


Foz do Iguaçú, and its Argentinean sister Puerto Iguazu


After trekking on ice in Patagonia and melting down in Buenos Aires, it took us several hours by bus to reach one of the most amazing tropical sites possible: The Iguaçú falls.

Crossing the border was a pain in the ass (you would think that Brazil and Argentina could collaborate better on such a crowded touristic site!) but on the other side of the border waited E-ma Masset after not seeing Shiri for 11 months, so all was forgotten quickly and the excitment was high.

In family style: with us in the picture - Masset, Pessah, Enio and Lu

We started our trip in the Parque das Aves, a park, or better saying zoo with birds from mainly Brazil and some from Africa and other parts of South America.
The impressive amount of parrots, macaws (araras), flamingos and lots of other colorful birds which we don´t even know their names, were a nice start for the day trip.


Hummingbird and butterfly drinking sweet water

Our first sight from the waterfalls themselves was from a boat trip, that starts very easy and slow while approaching the waterfalls.
Approaching the falls from the boat

As soon as people got used to the proximity of the falls, the boat crew gets crazy and gets really close to them, so close that you can´t see anything due to the amount of water falling on your head.

Attention to the boat in the middle of the picture - getting close to the water falls

During the boat trip we were told that the level of the Iguaçú River now is so high (20m above the regular) that we were able to get closer than usual to the "Garganta do Diabo", the biggest waterfall of the park.

Several high-speed turns later and completely wet, we finished our boat trip with a huge smile on our faces :)


It is possible to get really close to the waterfalls!

View from the highest point in the Brazilian side

People watching the falls in the Argentinean side. In the background is possible to see almost all the range

In our last day we went to visit Itaipu dam on the Paraná River. Itaipu is the biggest hydroelectric power plant in the world, producing up to 14.000 MW and providing 20% of the Brazilian use of energy and 90% of Paraguay´s!

Detail from the dam and the water pipes that will bring water to the turbines. The huge amount of water in this picture is just the extra water that will not be used for producing electricity. In Israel we could have light up half the country just with this extra...

Details from inside the dam

Arial view from the Iguaçú falls

Posted by shiriandre 16:28 Archived in Brazil Comments (3)

From El Chalten to Buenos Aires

From the cold end of the world back to civilization

View our round the world itinerary on shiriandre's travel map.


El Chalten


The tiny town of El Chalten - one street of hostels, restaurants and other trekking oriented shops - is a wierd gateway to some great trekking in the glaciers park.
We started with a short afternoon walk to a little waterfall, just one hour of calm walk from the hostel, and already loved the panoramic view of the mountains and snow from every direction.

The view from just outside the "town"

The second day started with some (heavy) rain, continued with more rain and ended with us believing that the rain is over and getting completely wet at the top of a hill on the way to a viewpoint not far from the hostel. It is a bit disappointing to get in the viewpoint, and not be able to view anything, due to the bad weather.
On the third day we decided to be brave and start trekking despite the strong winds.


Fitz Roy from the way to Cerro Torre

The way to Cerro Torre was beautiful, but the highlight was supposed to be a great view point in front of the mountain and the laguna Torre under it. Well.... It turned out that no-one has seen the mountain for months, due to clouds and the strong wind that welcomed us at the lagoon could make little (probably even not too little) children fly in the air (and unfortunately - little stones as well).
The waves at the small lagoon were as high as in an ocean, and the viewpoint was too dangerous to reach :)

The glacier under Cerro Torre. Imagine a tall and narrow tower-like mountain in the clouds on the right....

On the next day we trekked to Cerro Fitz-Roy, another major attraction of the park, surrounded by glaciers, lagoons and unfortunately clouds as well. We were optimistic about the weather, but by the time we finished the last steep ascend and faced the mountain we were freezing and snow actually started falling.


View at the top, freezing and watching some professional climbers from a distance

A woodpecker, one of a group of four we saw along the way


Did you know that 40% of all tourists that go to El Chalten are Israelis? That´s why we deserve special treatment (or in other words, we hope that the fact that you see Hebrew as a third language on this sign is not because we are the first to throw garbage around....)

Flamingos at El Calafate

Buenos Aires

After 11 months on the road we can clearly say that big cities is not "our thing" on this trip.
Outdoor mountain view will always be better than city parks and little towns with a small and friendly center will always be better than crowded shopping streets of big cities.
So we decided to take it easy with the touristic "must see" sites and enjoy what a big city has to offer - bars, cinemas, shows etc.

La Boca neighborhood. Well, you can´t miss all the tourist traps....

Tourist trap "light" - Tango show


Posted by shiriandre 10:19 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

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