In paradise. Photo: Nader Couri
January/February, July/August, March/April, May/June, November/December, September/October, South America, Travel Guide

City slickers: Rio de Janeiro

Thursday 11 January, 2018

Justifiably famous, the ramp at Pedra Bonita, Rio de Janeiro sees 200 tandem hang glider launches a day in high season.

Paragliders prepare and take off below the ramp. A marshal controls the traffic. Whatever you fly, it’s a committing launch, but then everything is in this city of 6.5 million people.

Once up, you’ll first fly over forest-covered slopes before transitioning towards the city. Thermalling above Rocinha you look down upon the largest favela in South America, a dense network of brick buildings clinging seemingly precariously to the slopes. Home to 250,000 people it’s a world away from the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.

If the Christ flight isn’t on (it works once a month, on average) then landing is back on the beach out front, avoiding the high-rise beachfront apartment blocks and their jagged rotor. City living never seemed so sweet.

Originally published in the 2017 Travel Guide, as part of an article called City Slickers. You can find the other urban getaways in the series, here.

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