Peggy’s one big wish for Rio was to go to the top of the mountain and see the Cristo Redentor. We also wanted to go to the top of Sugarloaf (Well, some of us did. I find the prospect of riding the cablecar terrifying in the extreme, but whatever), so we decided to start in the morning, go to the Cristo, then Sugarloaf. As it turns out, it’s a very long trip from Arpoador neighborhood to the Cristo — altogether it takes two city buses and two vans to get to the top, and by the time we’d stood in various lines, etc. we were pretty beat. So we had a beer at the feet of Jesus (there are two different cafes on the way up), and then climbed the steps to walk around the statue and join the crowds of people taking pictures of each other holding their arms out.
The view from up there is spectacular. In the panoramic shot above, you can see Copacabana beach (on Peggy’s side), then Ipanema beach (with Arpoador in between — that’s where our hotel is), then Leblon beach. The big lake is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, where we saw Cocoi herons, common gallinules, neotropical cormorants, a Ringed Kingfisher, and the Southern and Yellow-headed Caracaras. The Jockey Club racetrack is visible to the right of the Lagoa, and the big green area to the right of that is the Jardim Botanico, where we also went the day before.
Today was not much of a birding day, but while drinking a beer near the top of the mountain, I saw a black bird in the trees. It turned out on closer inspection to have a pale blue bill, a slight crest, and white flashes in its wings when it flew; it was a Velvety Black-Tyrant, and my one lifer for the day.
We reversed the whole process getting home, though I was able to find a way to use only one city bus instead of two. After collapsing for a while, we wandered out and found a restaurant where we all had grilled salmon and salad for like $15 each — a great deal and more food than we could eat.
Back to Belo Horizonte tomorrow!