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What to really expect when visiting Christ the Redeemer

Over the past few years there have been quite a lot of those articles (you know, the type that don’t require you to do any actual reading, just looking at pretty pictures!) floating around the interweb, all with a heading that goes seomthing along the lines of Travel Expectations vs Reality, and a lot of them featuring the New 7 Wonders of the World.

I’ve always taken these articles with a pinch of salt – they’re obviously going to show the worst case scenarios, right? Is mainstream media even mainstream media if it isn’t trying to terrorise us into thinking the worst of everybody and every place?

I’ll give you an example: the Great Wall of China. Every photo you see, every tale you hear told; it all focuses on the fact that there is an actual sea of people moving along the wall with you. You’re like sardines, all marching forward in uniform because there’s no physical way you could go back against the tide.

Ask almost anybody who’s been to the main parts of the Wall, and they’ll tell you it was overcrowded, it was hot, there were too many people, and that sort of detracted from the overall appeal of what is supposedly one of the world’s most magnificent sites.

EDIT (05/17): Last August, I visited the Great Wall myself, via the Mutianyu entrance. Although a lot less popular than the main point of entry from Beijing (Badaling), it’s still one of the most common routes people opt for, simply due to its accessibility from Beijing. And do you know what? There was hardly anyone there! You can see that from my pictures. Aside from a few stragglers in the very back of each shot, it’s almost deserted – the complete opposite to what the aforementioned articles lead you to believe.

Having been fortunate enough to have visited many places featured in such articles (all 7 Wonders y’all!), I’ve been able to laugh at them, nod in agreeance with some and ridicule others. Macchu Picchu, for example. The Machu Picchu you see in pictures and on postcards? It is the Machu Picchu you get in real life!

Machu Picchu. Photo by 18 year old me, not Google Images.

Irrespective of what the internet says, alpacas do not photobomb every single photo you try to take. I visited during peak holiday season, the same as Petra, the Colosseum, and Taj Mahal, and I promise that whereas there are (obviously) a lot of visitors, none of them were anywhere near as crowded as the Internet makes them seem. They were all as beautiful, magnificent and breath-taking as they are in pictures too, irrespective of the weather forecast. A bit of mist behind the Taj Mahal or fog obscuring the view of Machu Picchu just add to their magnificence.

And then I went to Rio…

This is the Christ the Redeemer we recognise, the one we expect and hope to see:


And this is what I got:


I’d been warned when buying my ticket that day that ‘visibility was quite poor’ – and there was even a little TV screen where you could check the view in live time – but Apple weather said that it would clear up by 3pm, so I bought a ticket for then. Because hey, when is Apple ever wrong?!

As it turns out, the vendors at the ticket office know a lot more about the local weather than Apple does.

Not only did the fog affect the visibility of the Big Guy, but it also made it look and feel like you’re floating on a cloud, meaning the spectacular views of Rio that makes this Wonder so special, were non-existent.

Entry tickets plus transport there and back from Copacabana cost the equivalent of about £10, which wouldn’t exactly break the bank of even the most budget of travellers, and so we just went back the next day when the weather (and more importantly visibility) was a little better…


Second time lucky!

Selfie game is strong at the feet of ole Cristo, though. And it is absolutely impossible to get a photo of yourself and Jesus without either looking like a thumb or having a bunch of people floating in the background. I would say about 60% of people up there didn’t even really glance up at the statue; they were all too busy facing the other way with their selfie sticks out and poses ready. It’s a shame, really.

So yeah, if you ever plan to make your way up to Cristo Redentor, don’t forget to check the weather first.



  1. Lol, true that, including the selfie game at Christ’s feet 😉 the weather is generally wild and unpredictable in Rio, a fact that is often discounted for by popular guides, and the views are way better from the Sugar Loaf.

    • Absolutely! The day after we went the second time the weather was absolutely gorgeous so I can’t begin to imagine how many people were squashed up there! Loved the views from Sugarloaf too, they were absolutely breath-taking.

  2. It’s very true that these places are in the media so much these days that it’s hard not to have pre-conceptions of travel icons. Completely agree with you about Machu Picchu – it was far calmer than I expected! The most hectic place I’ve visited was the Alhambra Palace in Spain – probably most frustrating because it was also one of the most beautiful buildings I’d ever seen!

    • Completely agree with you about Alhambra! I visited twice while I was living in Granada – once in the lead up to Semana Santa (absolutely crazy, SO many people!) and once towards the end of June, when thankfully there was a lot less people so I got to truly appreciate its beauty.

  3. Pingback: New 7 Wonders of the World: Done and Dusted – WALES TO WHEREVER

  4. You are right that we can get jaded by the pictures of popular tourist attractions in the internet. However, some never lose their magic once you make the trip to see them in person. Even though the weather wasn’t great (as you admitted), I am sure you enjoyed both your experiences with Christ the Redeemer. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks, this is actually very helpful as I’d love to visit there one day! I will totally keep the weather in mind and take serious the visibility reports. Although, it is kinda funny…seeing the statue in a cloud like that lol. Sometimes days with some level of fog or cloud can look pretty cool, but if it’s that bad that you see nothing…yeah, I’d be disappointed too. But at least like you said, it’s not that expensive 🙂

  6. Lesson learned!! Time and again, it has proven that weather is such a big factor when it comes to travel and for photography. Thank you for sharing your experience and the important lesson you’ve learned about checking the weather before hitting up this attraction!

  7. I can totally relate to this as the day I went to Taj Mahal the thick fog made it almost impossible for a good photograph. I really want to head to Christ the Redeemer and will remember to check the weather to ensure I get a great photo without the fog!

  8. Good advice – I never thought about the clouds getting in the way of this magnificent statue! Glad you were able to go back the next day and get a proper view, must have felt incredible to be there and looking up! Weather is so important for travel photography.

  9. I’ve always been worried about high season and the number of tourists visiting these famous landmarks, so its great to know that the google images are not the reality! However, I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to see Christ the Redeemer in all its glory, on the first day at least it was fairly cheap!
    From now on I am definitely checking the weather for all the famous landmarks, as it can pretty much make or break your trip and photos!

  10. I’ve actually seen a couple of people say this! It’s so hard to know what it will be like when we visit these amazing places, but I agree most of the time it doesn’t matter. I would definitely have paid to go again too! Also, good to know Macchu Picchu is as beautiful as it looks!

  11. That’s too bad about the fog and the lack of visibility! Luckily you had the opportunity to go back on a second day and get a much better view. 🙂 Also, super jealous of your Machu Picchu photo- that is also another place I am hoping to visit in the next year or so! It must have been so unreal to see it in person.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh Machu Picchu is amazing! One of those places that really lives up to expectations!

  12. It’s so gloomy!! Is visibility always quite poor or was it just that day they were talking about? Funny info about people taking selfies and not actually enjoying the moment… Isn’t it crazy that that is what the world has become? Everyone is trying to get an Instagram pic!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Just this day! If you get there at the right time it’s just INCREDIBLE! But apparently the off days are a lot more frequent than the good ones haha. I know, it’s totally bizarre!

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