Rio de Janeiro is blessed with over 80 kilometres of sandy coastline and 15 in-bay and oceanic beaches. Two of them are so world famous that they’ve been immortalized in the public consciousness in music (Barry Manilow’s Copacabana), and films (starring Groucho Marx). And who doesn’t know about The Girl from Ipanema?
In fact, I’d heard “The Girl from Ipanema,” long before I understood that Ipanema was a real place (and what a place it is!) 🙂
Imagine my surprise when the skies opened up and it started to rain. In Rio! Of all places!! I couldn’t believe it. Ridiculous, I know, but my imagination had so associated Brazil with beaches, sunshine and sexy boys and girls in swimwear, that it was actually quite a shock to see the drops hitting the ground.
It turns out that Rio has a tropical savanna climate and is characterized by long periods of heavy rain from December to March. And with an average yearly precipitation of 1,080 millimetres, Rio sure isn’t the Sahara. Who would’ve thunk it?
We certainly weren’t prepared for THIS turn of events. Our plans for Rio had basically included beach, beach and more beach. This definitely put a damper on our plans, never mind our mood. I have to say that when it rains in Rio, it’s downright depressing. 🙁
All that rain does have it’s benefits though, in the form of the beautiful Jardim Botânico.
Founded in 1808 by John VI of Portugal, the Garden was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1992. It covers 141 hectares and has more than 7,000 different species of Brazilian and foreign flora. There are also numerous greenhouses, a herbarium, a striking avenue of royal palms measuring more than 30 metres high and an orchid house.
There are also 140 species of birds and it’s even possible to see monkeys and marmosets wandering around.
A long walk or short mini-bus ride from the Zona Sul beaches, it’s a perfect way to spend a misty, rainy day in Rio. Dare I say, it’s even kind of romantic walking through all of those majestic trees.
How to Visit the Jardim Botânico
The Garden is located at the foot of Corcovado Mountain, under the right arm of the Cristo Redentor statue, on the west side of the Lagoa. We chose to walk from Vidigal all the way to The Garden and it took us approximately 30 minutes. However, if you’re not keen on the walk, you can jump on any city bus that goes to “Jardim Botânico,” or hop in one of the ubiquitous mini-buses.
The Jardim Botânico is open 7 days a week from 8AM -5PM, and entrance is just R$5 per person. Kids under 7, and adults over 60 get in for free.
We didn’t even know the Jardim existed until it started raining, but we’re glad it did. It’s well worth an afternoon of strolling around. Just be sure to bring some insect repellant. With all those wonderful plants and trees around, the critters are out in force!
If you can read Portuguese, the Jardim’s website can be found here.