Pedra da Gavea was named in 1502 by the same Portuguese sailors who entered Guanabara Bay in January 1st 1502. They believed the bay to be the mouth of a large river and named the place Rio de Janeiro - literally January River. The rocky flat top of the mountain looked like a "gavea", or topsail, where there would always be a sailor watching out towards the horizon. The trails date back from the early 1800s and were opened by the local farm owners. The mountain is part of Tijuca National Park and its trails have never before been so well kept and signed - thanks to the Park's present administration.
Pedra da Gávea (Rock of Gavea) is one of the highest granite domes in Rio de Janeiro, higher than the Corcovado, where the Christ statue stands. Pedra da Gávea's rock face looks like a human face; some have suggested that the facial features were carved by prehistoric Indians. From the top is a fabulous view of the Atlantic Ocean, wide beaches, lagoons, the forested coastal mountains, as well as the many morros (granite domes) separating Rio neighborhoods. You can even see the vertical spires of Serra dos Orgãos (Organs Range) 70 km away in Petrópolis.
The easiest route up Pedra da Gávea contains a short section of class 4 rock. There are long class 5 routes up its east face, made up of very smooth granite walls. Nearby the more famous Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf), Corcovado, and a few others contain fun rock routes. The area near Pedra da Gávea is also popular for paragliding.
The trailhead to Pedra da Gávea is in a mountain village (I can't recall the name) not far NW of São Conrado, a neighborhood on the SW side of Rio. You can get to the trailhead by bus from Leblon. Contact Montcamp, a camping store that connects you with guides from Visão Vertical (Vertical Vision).
Starting from the trailhead, you hike through dense tropical forest for about 2 hours, passing a few places with steep smooth granite slabs (class 2-3). When you get to the foot of the dome, there is about 50 feet of class 4 crack climbing. The easiest route then traverses to the back of the dome where you can get to the top through a class 1-2 trail.
No fees or permits are required. There is a security guard station at the trail head, therefore it is advisable to go with a local guide.
When To Climb
Southern hemisphere winter (May to September) is the best season for hiking in Rio de Janeiro. Summer time can be extremely hot.
At the final level of the Gavea's trail, Carrasqueira is the hardest difficult pass until the summit. Without security, is an exposed pass at the west side of the granite peak, offering risks to the inattentive people who wants to climb Pedra da Gavea. Just be calm, rises the pass with tranquility and, get the summit of the most beautiful mountain in Tijuca National Park.
Stay in Rio de Janeiro or one of the nearby villages. Camping in the hills is not recommended for the risk of crime.
The Fenician Ancient Face
This is the fomous "face" that people said about Pedra da Gavea.
Pico do Quatro
Pico do Quatro is the south side of Pedra da Gávea. Inaccessible by trail, is a challenger peak to climb. The view is fantastic because it is the nearest peak of Atlantic Ocean.
Rio de Janeiro Coastline
Rio de Janeiro is well-known about the beautiful beaches at the 30 km of coastline. Pedra da Gavea is the best place to look all this paradises. With 360° of view, Gavea is rewards, because it is in the junction of the land with the Ocean.
Portal da Gávea
Portal da Gávea ( Gavea's Gate ) is an impressive rock formation after Carrasqueira Pass. It is a junction of two types of rocks: Gnaisse and Granite. It's an important geological observation point and has difficult routes to climb. Look the big roof that climbers practice their habilities.