Jardim Botanico is another wonderful place of cultivated nature in Rio de Janeiro. Located near Ipanema, it’s a huge botanical garden with an estimated 8000+ different species. It is a beautiful place to spend part of a day and kids can run around in it.
Dom João VI, the eventual king to Brazilian and Portuguese throne, built the Jardim Botanico in 1808 shortly after the Portuguese court moved to Brazil due to Napoleon’s wars in Europe. It was originally built to cultivate spices from the West Indies, like nutmeg. Eventually Dom Pedro I, the king’s son opened to the public in the 1820s.
When you walk in, you find yourself in an avenue of the tallest palm trees. It’s simply stunning to see these trees reach towards the sky in such an orderly fashion. There are many different areas of the park. There is an avenue of redwood trees, where Brazil got its name, in the Amazon section. There is a beautiful Japanese garden. On my first visit, I saw this white colored heron in the Japanese garden that was so still, I actually thought it might have been a statue. It was hunting for fish and insects in the pool and was very careful about its movements.
There are several plants houses. My favorite is the orchid house, which was astonishing. I’ve never seen so many varieties of orchids before. Some were as large as my hand! Also, it’s fun to go to some grocery stores since they also sell orchids (though clearly not as many as in the Botanical garden). There is also a carnivorous plant house with all the different plants and tricky ways they capture prey.
There are several waterways. Near the middle of the park, there is a small pond with large lily pads on it. There is the Monkey River, but I’ve never seen monkeys on it (though they do live in the park). There is even a little waterfall that is neat.
You get a nice view of Corcovado if you find the right opening in the trees.
There is a café, a shop and a children’s playground in the park as well.
I highly recommend the Jardim Botanico. It’s well worth a visit.