KITESURFING HOLIDAY - RIO
As Brazil makes its final preparations for the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later, Rio de Janeiro is going to be buzzing more than ever. It's already one of the world's most visited destinations with stunning beaches, mountain views, Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf mountain, but with the added appeal of fantastic kitesurfing conditions just 20 minutes away, this incredible city experience just gets better and better for us!
CAPTION | Barra da Tijuca / PHOTO | Maxim Rio
The beach suburb of Barra da Tijuca is the main kitesurfing area. Roughly 20 minutes from Ipanema, there are three kitesurfing kiosks located at Praia Pepe. You can store your gear at the kiosks, making getting to and from the city much easier (if that's where you decide to stay), there are showers, board racks, air compressors and refreshments, making this a very hospitable spot. The only obstacles? The beautiful people! Once the stronger winds (predominantly from the left - although you can get it from the right) and bigger waves hit, the beach empties out and offers up an incredible nine kilometre downwinder. Catch a bus back to your launch for just US$3 where a cold beer or acaii will be waiting. Barra da Tijuca can get a bit technical, especially on the inside and most guys ride wave boards as the waves can range from half a metre to over two metres, but often it's totally fine for just freeriding and you'll regularly see PKRA rider Reno Romeu riding here as it's his home spot.
If you prefer freestyle then MaximRio run guided excursions to Araruama Lake, a waist deep, salt water lagoon. Two-and-a-half hours away from Rio, it's worth every second of the trip as there are usually only a handful of kiters out. Local knowledge is required to navigate the last 20 miles on the small, unmarked roads through the salt fields. Other insane spots to check out are Cabo Frio, 150 kilometres from Rio. There are nine beaches in this area, among them Praia do Forte which can produce two metre faces, sending you left like Barra da Tijuca, however it's not as crowded, cleaner and with stronger winds. Buzios, 180 kilometres from Rio, is a small fishing village on a peninsula made up of 43 beaches. It's beautiful, and once again the kitesurfing is tremendous.
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER
The season in Rio de Janeiro is from October to March and you can expect constant 18 to 25 knot winds. Basically if the direction is correct on Windguru, the thermals will accelerate the wind, often making the statistics and readings difficult, but there's plenty of wind! Ideal kite sizes for Rio are your nines or 12 metres and smaller for Cabo Frio, Buzios or Araruama where the thermals are stronger, getting up to 30+ knots.
The Rio summers are from October to March with temperatures ranging from 27°C / 80°F to 38°C / 100°F. The water temperatures range from 18°C / 65°F to about 24°C / 75°F, so no wetsuits are needed in and around Rio for the majority of the year! Bringing a lycra or a shorty can be a good idea since the water temperature can change day to day depending on the currents. (Note: we visited for fives days at the end of July - tagging a Rio trip at end of our northern adventure) and still got two days kiting in, so you can score it out of season).
CAPTION | Waves at Barra da Tijuca / PHOTO | Maxim Rio
We can personally recommend Martin from MaximRio as the host with the most, he's been running kitesurfing tours here for years, now runs an accommodation business, has hook ups at clubs and will definitely keep you on the right track and making the most out of your Rio experience. You probably wouldn't want to drive in the city. Taxis are best and there is a nice charter bus heading to Buzios from Copacabana and Leblon areas.
Currency: Brazilian Real (R$): £1 = R$3.6 / €1 = R$3.2 / $1 = $R2.3 ATMs work fine in Rio and at the airport.
Hotel charges in the city are astronomical, however www.riomanagement.com offer apartments at a fraction of the cost, starting at US$95 per night for a one bed in Ipanema, rising from there. A three bed can cost around US$300 per night, with prices increasing substantially around NYE and carnival (26th Feb - 5th March). Rio however is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you won't regret any time spent here.
For school and all kitesurfing information, contact Maxim Rio: www.maximrio.com
FOOD AND DRINK
Rio is insanely good for eating out and drinking, day or night, but again, it's not cheap. The city centre is much safer than you may have read about years ago, the favellas (we are led to believe) have been cleaned up to a huge degree and are away from the centre, and with the focus from the World Cup and the Olympics coming to town, there is a lot of pressure on Rio to have reduced the threat there once was to tourists. That's not to say it's like wondering around at home, but be sensible and just soak up the atmosphere. If you visit Buzios, you won't be let down for food, drink or nightlife, and attracts visitors from around the world for its laid back lifestyle.
Spectacular hang gliding, surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, SUPing off Copacabana, stunning beaches, Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf mountain, the Macarena stadium, museums, galleries and a host of cultural tours. There is no end to the activities here.
The international airport is Galeão - Antonio Carlos Jobim (GIG) and is 45 - 60 minutes from Leblon / Ipanema / Copacabana. The domestic and South American airport is Santos Dumont (SDU) and is 75 minutes away from the city centre.