Who said Rio couldn’t be tranquil?

River in Paraty





Beneath the symbolic embrace of Cristo Redentor atop Corcovado mountain lies one of Rio de Janeiro’s principal attractions, a weekend getaway of sorts for cariocas.

Jardim Botânico, in the neighbourhood of the same name in the south zone of Rio, is world famous, and people flock here on weekends to escape the oppressive heat and maddening crowds synonymous with this city of 7 million people.

This exotic 137-hectare garden, with over 8000 plant species, offers meandering cariocas and tourists alike the opportunity to spot howler monkeys and marmosets, as well as 140 species of birds, if bird-watching is your inclination.

Founded in 1808 by King João VI of Portugal in typical European style, Jardim Botânico was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1992. It is truly a place of serenity, which has eschewed the traffic jams, smog and hustle-bustle of Latin America’s fourth biggest city.

As well as a camera, insect repellent is mandatory for a trip to Jardim Botânico. Gringoes are often on the receiving end of the park’s notorious insect population; blotches and boils a shade of red to match their sunburnt faces pervade their pale skin.

The neighbourhood Jardim Botânico got its name as it grew around the botanical gardens. It is a middle to upper class neighbourhood home to many Brazilian celebrities.

And that’s not all.

Arguably the social scene of the whole of Brazil is ran from the neighbourhood. The headquarters of the national television network Rede Globo – who commission and screen many of the nightly telenovelas (soap operas) around which Brazilian society operates (even football mad Brazil schedules its matches after the telenovelas) – and many of its studios are in Jardim Botânico.

There are many charming – albeit – expensive restaurants in the area, and it is home to many of the most expensive caipirinhas in Rio de Janeiro.

Inhabitants of Jardim Botânico won’t care one iota. Who else in the city has a five minute walk to the beauty and tranquillity of the botanical gardens, with intermittent views of the wonderful Cristo Redentor above?

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