Horto Waterfall and Vista Chinesa in Rio de Janeiro: where it is and how to get there

Horto Waterfall and Vista Chinesa in Rio de Janeiro: where it is and how to get there

See the best times and how to enjoy the waterfall of the garden, its trails and even pass the Vista Chinesa on the same tour.

This is another option for fast and affordable walking. The trail to Cachoeira do Horto is just a few minutes from the Botanical Garden and you can easily get there by bus or car. Stay tuned until the end of the post and I'll talk about the best times to get to the cache.

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  • Average Trail Time: 15 minutes

  • Distance: 350m

  • Height: 380m

  • Route: Cachoeira do Quebra to Cachoeira do Chuveiro

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

How to get

If you want to go on the trail to the waterfall of Horto there is not much mystery, just respect the time of entry into the Tijuca National Park, which is from 8 am to 5 pm (or 6 pm during summer time). You will have to go through this guardhouse if you are arriving at the Botanical Garden.

It is true that there are not always people supervising or preventing the passage, but to ensure the happiness of the weekend without stress, I recommend that you pay attention to this time. There are two main ways to get there:

  • Bus: take 409 (Saens Pena - Horto) and get off at the final stop. From there, soon you are at the entrance to the National Park guardhouse and from there it is another 700 meters to the entrance to the Horto Waterfall trail

  • Car: Going through the South Zone, just take Rua Jardim Botânico, go up on Lopes Quintas, take Pacheco Leão and go towards Horto. Entering the National Park, just climb up to the trail entrance. The only problem is that there is only one spot in front of the garden trail.

Be careful that it is possible to stop on the side of that spot, but I have seen city guards fining whoever was out of that one available spot more than once. In my opinion, if you don't get the spot, it's worth stopping at Horto and walking up to the entrance to the Trail. Another option is to stop at Vista Chinesa and get off on foot (this path is a little longer, but you already guarantee your stop at the viewpoint of Chinese view).

Chinese Vista before Starting the Trail

As I was saying, if you are driving, regardless of where you end up, it is worth climbing the trail a little further to Vista Chinesa. The view is amazing from up there and you don't need to walk at all, right next to the lookout there is already parking for you to stop your car. It is an excellent choice and I highly recommend it.

This is the view you will have from up there: Corcovado, Lagoa, South Zone Beaches, 2 Brothers, in short, it is a panoramic view of the city and if you are lucky to be there on a sunny day, with you will surely have one of the most privileged views of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Downhill at Vista Chinesa

Taking advantage of the space, for Downhill lovers, right up here, at the height of Vista Chinesa you have very steep parts of the road that can guarantee a good dose of adrenaline and emotion for those who enjoy taking the long (or skatinho) and going down.

An important detail here is that if you are a beginner, this is not your place, because this road has no shoulder. It is just an uphill and narrow alley, which cars, motorcycles, bikes and racers share. That is, if you still don't have total control of what you're doing when you go down a slope, it's good to practice more.

Horto Waterfall Trail

Going to what matters, you start the trail from Cachoeira do Horto at Cachoeira do Quebra (a small dam), which forms a first shallow pool and is usually more frequented by families with young children. It is very pleasant, but it is almost always full for easy access.

Just to the right of the entrance you have the beginning of the trail, which is a little steep, but very easy to follow. Along the trail there will be some small obstacles (and none too complicated to pass). The first of these is a slightly more inclined stone that has a chain attached to aid in the crossing.

It is worth saying that many people pass without even needing the help of the current. Continuing with the hike on the trail that is well signposted and has no bifurcation point or doubt of which path to follow, you will arrive at the only part of the trail that can be considered of moderate level of difficulty, because it requires you to “climb” a wall of stones and roots.

It is not tall (2.5m) or difficult to climb, but it is also not a straight line, so it is worth taking some care and is not suitable for the elderly and people with mobility problems:

Right after climbing this part you are very close to Cachoeira do Chuveiro (high point of the trail of the waterfall of the garden). Although the pool here is also very shallow, so you can't dive anywhere, it's a good time for you to sit and relax. Taking advantage of the suggestive name, you can take a good shower under the "shower" of approximately 5 meters.

Rafa's tricks

Try to get to the Horto waterfall trail between 11 am and 1 pm, as there is a lot of forest in the place of the shower waterfall, this is the best time to enjoy the sun. Another tip is that if you are in the gas and want to see a little more of the Horto waterfalls, on the left side the trail continues and takes you to another pool (which is not a big deal, but it is more an option if the waterfall from the shower is too full).

I know I already talked up there, but I know people who didn't go to Vista Chinesa out of laziness, because I needed to walk a bit more. Don't let go up there. It is undoubtedly one of the best views in Rio de Janeiro.

A little of the history of Horto and Vista Chinesa

Starting a little with the history of Vista Chinesa, this Chinese-style lookout was built in 1903 by Mayor Pereira Passos. The story goes that the tribute occurred by the various Chinese workers who came to work in the tea and rice fields that were not very successful and who, after a while, even worked on the construction of the road called today as the Chinese view road.

Another curiosity is that, despite looking like bamboo, the construction in the shape of a Chinese pagoda is made of reinforced concrete and painted to imitate the bamboo so typical of China.

Horto Waterfall and Vista Chinesa in Rio de Janeiro: where it is and how to get there : Chinese View - Chinese Pagoda
Chinese View - Chinese Pagoda

Now, just to contextualize and bring a little history of a place little known until today by many Cariocas. What I call Horto throughout the post, is actually Horto Florestal, a very old community, formed mostly by low-income families that dates back to the colonization of Rio de Janeiro in the 16th century.

In 1596, what we now call Horto was included within Engenho Del Rey. After coming and going and changing hands a few times, Engenho even passed on to Rodrigo de Freitas (de Mello e Castro) until 1808, when D. João VI expropriated the land to build a gunpowder factory (which is still found inside the Botanical Garden, see the image below) and, a few months later, founded Horto Real (which today is the Botanical Garden).

Horto Waterfall and Vista Chinesa in Rio de Janeiro: where it is and how to get there : Gunpowder Plant of the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro
Gunpowder Plant of the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro

As an incentive to bring workers to the new venture in the crown, land in the surroundings (where today is the Horto Florestal) was offered to several workers, who took care of the space over the generations. It may not seem like much, but understanding a little more about our history and each corner of RJ is good for the soul and for the adventurous spirit. I hope you enjoyed.

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