One thing that I didn't have the opportunity to do in Rio de Janeiro during my previous visits was go to the botanical garden.
When I was last in Rio it was December, which is when the summer in Brazil really starts to kick into high gear. This mean that it was just far too hot to head to the amazing botanical garden. As you can see in the photos there isn't much in the way of shelter or cover from the sun so unless you want to sweat out every bit of moisture in your body, then I'd recommend heading here when it's cooler in the mornings or late afternoons.
In the first week of my holiday I had one week with just my mum and my dad, my brother's half term fell one week after my arrival. I think for him it was a blessing for him that he didn't end up having to 'endure' the garden with us. It's been on my bucket list for ages so I was glad that mum and me made the time to go. Mum is a keen gardener so it was fun to experience this with her.
The Jardim Botânico was founded in 1808 (old by Brazilian standards but possibly not so much by European ones). There are around 6,500 species of flora throughout this massive park and the park is surrounded by the stunning natural landscape that just simply is Rio de Janeiro. From certain parts of the park you can see the famous Christ The Redeemer statue.
The park contains more than than 6,000 different species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees, including 900 varieties of palm trees. The palm trees have grown here for hundreds of years, when you stand underneath them it's almost overwhelming.
It's really worthwhile to make the effort and get up early to go to the park. Even though there is a cost to get into the grounds it gets very busy as it is one of the biggest attractions in Rio.
Getting there early means that at least for a little while you end up having the park all to yourself. After a while it does get a little busier and people will inevitably end up walking into your beautiful photos.
The park is also a very popular place for photoshoots. I've noticed that Brazilian people love to have their photos taken, especially couples. We saw several couples who had a professional photographer with them to commemorate their relationship in photos. I really enjoyed seeing the couples have their photos taken, a lot of them even had a suitcase with them for their outfit changes.
The garden is partially kept in order but many parts of it are allowed to grow as they please, this means it really feels organic and real. The plants climb up the mountain side and into the Atlantic Forest rising up the slopes of Corcovado. You end up feeling as if you're exploring the jungle.
The botanical garden is not only beautiful but you completely forget that you're in the middle of a city that is home to more than 6 million people. Yet despite all of the hustle and bustle outside of the park, inside it's a clam and peaceful place.
We spent a good few hours exploring but I feel as if there were large parts of it I missed out, so if I'm feeling brave then there's a chance I'll end up asking mum to take me back again.
Highly recommend you add this place to your list if you're planning to head to Rio!