Private excursions by car to the two iconic sights of Rio: the Sugar Loaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain. You climb aboard a cog railway to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, where you can survey the city. The ride up the steep hill is worth the trip in itself: you are enveloped in dripping vegetation laden with tropical flowers and exotic fruits. But the panoramas at the peak on a clear day are stupendous: the whole of the city is laid out before you, with the beaches, Sugar Loaf and Niteroi Bridge easily spotted.
Climbing down from the mountain peak there are various routes. One finds you entering the arty district of Santa Teresa, the colonial heart of the city which sits on a hill close to the Cathedral in the busy centre. This is a popular residential area for artists and TV personalities who occupy the stately shaded houses lining its cobbled streets. There are plenty of old-fashioned bars, or bodegas. The streets are lined by high walls sheltering museums, parks, art centres, smart restaurants (you may lunch here) and one or two luxury hotels.
Another scenic route takes you down through the forest to the broad beach at Barra de Tijuca, a modern US-style commercial and residential district with kilometres of golden sand. In this case, you’ll lunch at a traditional Brazilian churrascaria (barbecue restaurant).
You’ll also visit Sugar Loaf mountain, ascending by cable car: from the summit you can survey Copacabana beach, Botafogo Bay with its bobbing sailboats and yachts, and at sunset watch the city prepare for nightfall as twinkling lights penetrate the purple haze as dusk falls. First thing in the morning is a good time too.