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.
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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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