Last Saturday, we went for a hike in a hill close to the Lake inside a natural park called Parque da Catacumba.
The name of the park comes from a Brazilian native American myth, and it literally translates as Catacomb Park, according to the stories, Brazilian native Americans buried their dear departed in the local before the arrival of the Portuguese to Brazil in 1500.
In 20th century, the place belonged to the Baroness of the Lake Rodrigo de Freitas that ceded in testimony those lands to her former slaves. From 1942 to 1964, the place was occupied by descendants of former slaves and Brazilian northeaster migrants who created a big favela in the area. The favela was tumbled down by the mayor at the time creating other famous favelas, one of them Cidade de Deus, represented in the Oscar winning movie “City of God”.
Since then, the place remained closed until 2008, when they reopened the space for touristic activities, including hiking and tree climbing.
After an introduction of the place, let’s talk about the small trip.
We left from Jucati where the students are hosted at 2p.m. going by bus to the Lake Rodrigo de Freitas. At the lake the students were mesmerized by the amazing view provided by the environment. And after a short break we went to the Park’s entrance when we got some information of the area and made a small break to drink water and go to the toilet.
After everyone was set, we started the short hike to the top of the hill, the hike began very easy with some paved stairs, but once we were in the jungle we had to go through some steep paths that are common in such hikes. The students seemed very excited taking pictures and asking about the animals, including the cute monkeys and the scary snakes. Luckily, we were blessed by nature right in the beginning of the hike, where the students had the opportunity to see the cute monkeys and take some pictures with them. As I’m used to do hiking with the students I reminded them that those monkeys are an invasive species and they do not belong to the Rio’s fauna, so it’s important to not feed them since they are not in balance with the environment yet. Regarding the snakes, thank god, none was found, but they are not something to be concerned. Usually the snakes in these areas close to urban centres are small and non-poisonous, but it’s always good to be cautious.
When we reached the peak, the students were a bit out of breath and hot, but they all seemed amazed by the view of the Lake and the city of Rio, one of my favourite places in the city. We took some pictures and stood there with some Brazilians that were walking by, luckily, we had the chance to take a group picture with everyone. After everyone was done with the pictures we went down to Ipanema where we enjoyed a good “all you can eat” pizza with buffet.