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Pedra do Telégrafo in Rio offers the ultimate vacation photo opportunity – a stunningly beautiful mountaintop location that, when photographed at the right angle, produces a thrilling optical illusion, with none of the risks associated with clambering up rock faces.
Many people take risks as par for the course when it comes to documenting their travels, and the selfie phenomenon has driven people to challenge themselves even further.
Extreme selfie-taking has sparked a craze in travel photography. No longer satisfied with a poolside snap or generic landscape, many adventurers today strive to achieve perfection, and to gain optimum ‘likes,’ they will bend over backwards – sometimes literally – to get the best photo.
There’s no shortage of evidence demonstrating the impressive lengths people will go to for the perfect Instagram shot. Simply check out the famous #boyfriendsofinstagram hashtag for examples of the things people endure in order to capture the perfect Instagram-worthy picture. A carefully curated image or selfie is widely considered proof that you are here, and having fun.
However, there’s a side to these pictures that belie the veneer of cool. Seemingly relaxing baths often involve cold, naked dashes from phone to tub before the timer goes. So-called ‘roofers’ risk life and limb scrambling onto high-rise buildings exclusively to get an epic shot from the top. Boyfriends are pictured sprawled on the ground, in the middle of busy traffic crossings, to snap their girlfriends at the perfect angle.
Numerous selfie-related accidents, some tragically ending in deaths, have sparked campaigns warning of the dangers of selfie-taking. “A cool selfie could cost you your life,” warned Russia’s interior ministry in a leaflet aiming to raise awareness about the risks of posing and posting without thinking. That’s not the case at Pedra do Telégrafo, though.
At Pedra do Telégrafo, what looks like a death-defying stunt involving a jutting rock and heart-stopping drop actually amounts to nothing more than an illusion.
From clinging on to the cliff for dear life to toppling a loved one over the edge, clever positioning and witty art direction enable a multitude of scenarios guaranteed to shock and awe – and at a mere 9.8 feet (three meters) from the ground, you’re not putting your neck on the line. The results are eye-catching and sure to cause a few smiles (plus a few hundred ‘likes’ if you’re savvy).
People are often surprised at the effort it takes to reach Pedra do Telégrafo; a 90-minute drive from Copacabana is just the beginning. Many opt to take a taxi or hire a guide rather than work out the local bus timetables themselves. For non-Portuguese speakers, public transport might be more hassle than it’s worth and could end up taking twice as long.
The trail up to the spot is 0.6 miles (one kilometer) and clearly signposted, but you have to complete a hike double that length before you even reach this point.
About an hour’s walk up a steep slope, it would be wise not to attempt the journey in flip-flops, but it is easily managed by both adults and kids. The views of wild beaches and Brazilian greenery along the route make this an enjoyable hike, with plenty of shade on the Telégrafo stretch too – although, come prepared for the heat.
Views from Pedra do Telégrafo are awesome, and it’s worth the schlep just to see them. However, check the weather forecast before heading up – if it’s foggy, the photo simply won’t work.
Be prepared to queue for pictures. On sunny days, you can easily spend hours in the heat waiting to take your turn. Considering the whole point is to capture this one shot, it’s a small price to pay if you’re committed.
And finally, do a little bit of research and check out other people’s photos before arriving, which will ensure you make the most of your time and get the all-important ‘money shot.’