- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- S 22° 57.060′ W 043° 09.820′
If something is gneiss, don’t take it for granite.
560 million years ago, Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf in English) busted through Earth’s crust, protruding out of the Atlantic ocean to a monolithic height of 1,299 feet (396 meters) above sea level. Its location and prominence provided a natural landmark that lent way to the creation of Rio de Janeiro in 1565, serving as a tactical defense point in Guanabara Bay.
Sugarloaf was named in the 16th century when Brazil was in its heydey as the epicenter for sugarcane trade. Blocks of sugar were placed in conical molds made of clay that were then transported on ships to their destinations abroad. The shape is similar to the famous peak, hence the name.
It wasn’t until 1912 that this granite-derived mountain, became a tourist landmark and iconic feature of Rio de Janeiro’s skyline. In that year, the original cable car was built to the summit of Pão de Açúcar. Since then, the cable car has been rebuilt in 1972 and then again in 2008. Although the most accessible way to reach the top, the cable car is not the only mode of transportation to this awe inspiring EarthCache.
Befriend some local Cariocas who may point you in the right direction to either hike/scramble to the top or rope up and climb one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world. This way, you can get hands on contact with the salt and pepper look of the metamorphic rock gneiss — created by a segregation of light and dark minerals.
To answer the EarthCache questions, you will visit five different waypoints that will take you back almost 600 million years in geologic time, long before the almost 1,300 passengers per hour (!) that now visit the park. Not only will you learn about the formation of this impressive rock structure, but you may also pick up some Carioca slang.
Pão de Açúcar is an iconic Brazilian natural monument is perhaps the most perfect place to observe the magnificence of nature, perfect for a more than Earthcache! TFTC! — Danger_Danger
What a great place for a cache! We enjoyed looking for the answers and were most surprised by the climbers! Yikes! Thank you so much, EarthCacheSeeker! Answers have been sent. Certainly a favourite for us! — Skoki
Thank you for this great earth cache! I love learning about how great this planet of ours is made up. Before geocaching, rock was a rock, but not anymore! Thanks for bringing us here and greetings from California! — jadzea
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