As soon as we see that, against the weather forecast, it is dry, and even some sun is coming through holes in the clouds, we call the agency, and arrange a helicopter flight above the city. The airport is in Barra, and getting there turns out to be a little more difficult than expected. After some technical problems, we lift off, and head towards the west. Once we see the city below us, and the spectacular mountains ahead of us, we are thrilled. Always watching left and right, and looking straight ahead of us, we take full advantage of the flight. The pilot continues to climb, and we see a thick, green carpet covering the steep mountain slopes below us: Tijuca National Park, supposedly the largest urban forst in the world. A road snakes up the mountain, there are houses here and there, but otherwise, the forest dominates the mountains.
We fly through a gap between the mountains, and then, suddenly, the mountains before us open up, we see Guanabara Bay ahead of us, the long bridge linking Rio de Janeiro with Niterói, and a sea of white houses stretching from below us to the bay. And then, to our right, we see the Corcovado and the unmistakeable Cristo Redentor statue on top of it. The rest of Rio quickly follows: the Sugarloaf mountain, the bays, beaches, Lagoa, the hippodrome. All three of us are excited, while the piliot quietly points out landmarks in the city below us. A cemetery, a favela sprawling over one of the mountain slopes. He takes the time to circle over the city, hovering close to the Cristo Redentor statue: we actually come so close that we can see the people standing right under it.
We then fly out to the ocean: it is time to have a look at the famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro. It is not a sunny day, so there are no crowds on the stretches of white sand below us. We see the enormous waves crashing on the shore, laying a ring of white around the coastline of this beautiful city. We fly over Pedra do Arpoador, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, along Copacabana towards the Sugarloaf mountain, and back, with views of the city, Corcovado, and Gavea mountain further west. Always flying just off the coast, we make our way back towards Barra da Tijuca, sometimes wishing we could slow down the chopper and to have more time to enjoy the views of the mountains, beaches, lake, bays, houses - but after passing São Conrado and flying past the mountains that separate Rio proper from Barra, we are left with a feeling of excitement that will stay with us.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Rio from the sky (Brazil). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Rio from the sky. Read more about this site.