Thursday, 31 July 2008

Rio de Janeiro Sports Travel

Hang Gliding in Rio

Hang Gliding was one of the reasons I visited Rio and I contacted Paulo Celani a week before I arrived in Rio to make sure that I don't miss the opportunity.

The conditions for flying depended on the weather and we had to call it off for few times. According to Paulo, cloudy days can be even better than very sunny, clear and hot days.

On my third day in Rio, we flew from Pedra Bonita Ramp, located at the Tijuca Forest National Park, at a height of 1700 feet (520 meters) and landed on Sao Conrado "Pepino" Beach.

The flight lasted about 20 minutes. According to Paulo, the flight time depends on the wind and the weight of the passanger. Weight limit was 220 pounds (100 KG).

The whole trip took approximately about 2 hours to be back at my hotel. They picked me up from my hotel at 10am and gave me a ride back around noon. According to Paulo, the best time is between 9am and 2pm when we have the chance to get better wind and stay longer in the air.

Paulo and his hang gliding instructors were all certified instructors by the Brazilian Hang Gliding Association and they were all insured instructors.

Previous experience was not required to go on a tandem hang gliding flight. On the ramp, right before the flight, they gave me all the explanation necessary for the take-off, flight and landing. All very simple and easy. It was not cold during the flight and I was fine with a t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. According to Paulo, you can also wear sandals that can be tied to your feet.

You can make your reservation in advance by email ( or you can call Paulo at 9985-7540, 9798-1804 and at night to 2268-0565.

The cost for the hang gliding was R$240 (US$100) and this included the transportation from and back to my hotel. The optional fee for photo was R$60 and for DVD was R$150, which included the photo.
• Theme: Extreme Sports
• Phone: 9985-7540
• Website:
• Other Contact:

See a futebol (soccer) game at Maracana

Seeing a game at this famous stadium, built for the 1950 World Cup, was one of the highlights of our trip, you don't really even need to be a sports fan to get caught up in the excitement of the matches. At one time this stadium held 200,000 people (and that number may have been reached a couple of times in its history), seats have been removed and the capacity is around 100,000, still a heck of a lot of people!

We had heard so many cautionary tales about traveling to Rio that we decided to go on one of the guided excursions to Maracana with the same guide we did a day tour with the previous day. The cost is 50 reals ($25 US), most of which is for transportation as the face value of the tickets were 5 reals ($2.50 US). For me it was worth the extra cost of having guaranteed transportation, a local to explain some of the customs and a group of people to sit with.

The day we went, there were 2 semi-final matches, our guide said the more popular teams were already eliminated which might have partially explained the low attendance. But we sat for the first match with one teams group of fans and then moved for the 2nd game to another section that came complete with the own flags, plastic flags for the fans and a drum section. It would be impossible not to get caught up in their enthusiasm!!!! The 2nd match was tied at the end so it went to a penalty shootout and our team won-YEAH!

Vendors bring around drinks and snacks during the matches so no worries about going thirsty or hungry. But I wouldn't recommend the Globos, they taste like cardboard-blech!

Bicycling along the beach

Bicycling along the beach would definitely be on my to do list when I visit Rio again next time. The beach was very long and it took me several hours to do a round trip but it was definitely worth the trip. Not only you get to observe the spectacular views but it was also a great way to burn calories from having all the Brazilian BBQs.

I recommend renting bicycles from Andre (contact # below). Although Andre doesn't speak English well, he brought a bicycle to my hotel exactly at the time he promised.
• Theme: Biking
• Phone: 2511-5168/2511-5093
• Other Contact: 9195-3760/9155-8270 cell

Thrillseekers' delight

An optional part of our tour was to go hang gliding from one of the peaks in Tijuca National Park down to the beach, one of our group of 4 opted to do this so we went up and watched as fearless person after fearless person jumped off the cliff. I thought the vultures circling around were an ominous sign but our fearless guy went ahead, got himself strapped into his gear and jumped off the cliff for the short ride down to the beach (the heavier you are the faster it will go). I think he paid $120US for the pleasure of flinging himself off the side of that cliff, it might be less if you booked separately without being on a tour but hang gliding is not an activity where you want to go with the cheapest guy!!!!

We passed on this, me because I had already tried parapunting in New Zealand and while the ride itself isn't that scary, the hour sitting around waiting for your turn was absolutely nerve wracking!

There's also an option to go via tandem parachute but as we were climbing up to get to the ramp where they launch there was an ambulance that went by, our guide said there were more accidents from using the parachutes than the hang gliders.

He reported back that the only scary part was running down the ramp, once he was in the air he said you really didn't have the sensation of being that high up, kind of how I felt when we went hot air ballooning.


There are 2 main types of Capoeria: Angola and Regional. I have just started practicing Angola (a more controlled and slow moving version while Regional is faster and more aggressive). It is an amazing sport and fun to do. The movements aren't like anything I have ever done before. I highly recommend either watching a practice or Roda or joining in on a practice.

The group I meet with is very relaxed and everyone is entitled to a demo (free) class.
So check out mine or find one near you!

FYI: We have traditional Rodas every Saturday at 3pm. Everyone is welcome to watch

No shoes needed. Wear workout clothes if you do not have Capoeira pants. Be prepared to work your ass off.

• Theme: Other
• Address: Rua Conde de Baependi 71
• Phone: 2265-9099
• Directions: It's located at Victory Academia in Laranjeiras accross from Lojas Americana

Climbing at Urca

Urca (the base of Sugar Loaf) offers more then just a running/walking path. This spot offers numerous types of climbing. For those without ropes or who need to practice more, there are spots where you can do horizontal climbs. This is also a great spot to warm up. For more advanced climbers there is an amazing rock on the water that will challenge even the best. There is also a third spot that is perfect for negative climbing work and mid-level climbing. Just look off the path towards the water and you'll see the climbers.

For all climbs other then the horizontal you're going to need someone to lead and all equipment. There are hooks already in the rock to use.

If doing the horizontal work you need someone to spot you if you are cautious but it isn't high at all.

• Theme: Climbing
• Directions: At the base of Sugar Loaf. It's next to the government buildings and the little little stretch of beach. It's in the far left corner.

Rio Beach Sports

Whether you want to participate or watch, everyone can have fun with beach games. Brazilian Volleyball is a lot of fun, but hard because you can use everything but your hands and arms! Beach football is also extremely popular amongst the Brazilian youth. They have football games in the morning and in the late afternoon (too hot during the day). Both sports are a lot of fun to watch and if you want to participate you can try that too.


All right, you can usually do it if you come to Rio, but you will have two options...Once going to a very touristic hill in rio and paying a fortune to fly...Using paraglyders or handglyders of course!!! the second option is going to Niteroi where many local people have fun jumping from the hill with paraglyders, it is a flying school with very serious and efficient instructors. and they charge very small fees for the visitors!

I went there many times! and this is my face of happiness when I fly like a voiture in the skies of Niteroi with a gorgeous landscape of Rio and Niteroi at the same time!!!;)

Good paraglyder and with an excellent instructor called Luciano!;)

• Theme: Extreme Sports


It is hard to go there by bus, because there is no bus that takes you to Prainha...It is hard to go there walking, you have got to cross some hills to finally reach this gorgeous paradise. So the best way to go there is using a car and also get to know someone who knows the area quite well.

But when you head your way to Barra da Tijuca and follow the coast going west, you will find a Natural Reserve called Grumari...Prainha is the first beach of this Reserve!


• Theme: Surfing
• Directions: In the order..Barra da Tijuca, Recreio, Macumba and finally Prainha!!!

Pumping up in the Zona Sul

Rio is a "body beautiful" city, so it's easy to find a gym (in Brazil they are called Academias) to work out in. Most have reasonable daily/weekly rates. If you don't want to pay to exercise then you can always get a good workout at one of the various exercise stations on the beaches.

I have worked out at more gyms in Rio than I can remember, but my favorite is a gym called Neves Academia which is on N.S. Copacabana just north of Rua Dias de Rocha. It isn´t a fancy gym and it has a lot of rusty weights and old equipment, but it is popular with serious weightlifters and muscleheads. My kind of people.

Another good gym that actually has dumb-bells that go as high as 100lbs (45.5kgs) is a gym called Equip 1 Fitness Center. It's also located on N.S. Copacabana, just north of Rua Santa Clara. This academia is spread across 3 floors, yet despite this fact it can hardly be described as spacious. None-the-less, with rates of R$105/125/ or 145 for a week/15 days/ or 1 month I'd say it's a pretty good deal for a respectable facility. The rates are a bit higher if you also want to take part in their spinning or aerobics classes. Some of the staff members speak English.

A popular gym that is frequented by the well-to-do is called BodyTech. It has two locations I know of: one on N.S. Copacabana directly across from the side street of Rua Dias de Rocha (about 100 meters south of Neves Gym on the other side of the street) and there´s another one in Ipanema on Rua Gomes Carneiro; close to Rua Canning. The daily and monthly rates are steep, but they do have good facilities and a fetching staff of garotas.

In Ipanema there is a gym called Ipanema Sport Club that is open 24 hours a day with good equipment PLUS they have daily, weekly, and rates for two weeks that are quite reasonable. A pretty good option if you happen to stay in this part of Rio. It´s on Rua Visconde de Pirajá; less than a block west of Praça General Osório.

Don't Miss Volleyball Played Soccer-style on Beach

While Brazilians wowed the world by being the ONLY country to win the World Cup five times (Penta Campeao!), their prowess is best demonstrated by watching them play volleyball with their feet. It is truly amazing to watch three people per side play volleyball using only their feet. NO HANDS. They can keep the volley going for great lengths of time.

If you're lucky, you might just stumble across the competitions on the beach during your visit.

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