A Visit to Rio De Janeiro's Botanical Gardens // Brazil
Whatever country, whatever city, if they have a botanical garden - go to them. When done well, botanical gardens can provide a glimpse into the diversity of a whole country or continents plant life. They can be places of outrageous colour and creativity and, if you're on a city break, botanical gardens can be a pocket of calm among the hustle and bustle. As someone looking to make my travels as eco-friendly as possible and connect with the natural environment in every place I visit, a trip to a city's botanical gardens is one way to do it and, as they go, Rio De Janeiro's was a good one...
Extending over 140 hectares, Rio's botanical garden sits at the foot of the city's famous Corcovado Mountain. More specifically, if you are looking at the Christ the Redeemer statue, the gardens can be found among the greenery far below the right arm. It is, of course, what's in the gardens that make it so visit-worthy though, not just where it is.
Most spectacularly, and photographed, are the garden's famous palm-lined paths that signal the entrance to the gardens, named the 'Avenue of Royal Palms.' These are no average palm trees though - oh no - this 750m line of palms reach over 30m in height and are said to have descended from one single tree who has since been destroyed by lightning. Once you've stood in awe of the sheer scale of these palms, there is so much more to see. The gardens are brimming with more than 6,000 different species of tropical and subtropical plants and trees which can be discovered beside pergolas and colourful architecture (some immaculately preserved and others ruin), behind walled gardens and in glasshouses and greenhouses. Some highlights for us included the mega cacti collection as well as a walled garden that displayed the medicinal value of some of the plants that could be found within the garden's boundaries.
Of course, this abundance of plants and trees attracts some incredible wildlife - from insects to birds and mammals. We saw a number of colourful birds and turtles and were mesmerised by some various bee species they had created homes for too. Although we didn't spot any, if you're lucky, you could find sloths, marmosets, porcupines and racoons among the greenery of the garden too.
In a nutshell: go. A visit will help you have a much deeper understanding of the colourful, rich and diverse nature, literally, of this incredible country, and isn't that, in part, what travel is about?