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Two Brothers Hill, Rio de Janeiro | © Rodrigo Soldon / Flickr
Two Brothers Hill, Rio de Janeiro | © Rodrigo Soldon / Flickr

Visit Rio de Janeiro Without Leaving the Sofa

Picture of Alex Jordan
Travel Editor
Updated: 31 January 2017

Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana beach and the sprawling favelas of Rio de Janeiro can now be explored from the comfort of the living room thanks to a board game celebrating Brazil’s most famous city.

‘Desafio Carioca’ is a guide book with a twist and fun way to understand what gives the city its unique charm, just in time for Carnival. The game’s creator Luis André Alzer wanted to give locals, or ‘Cariocas’, a fun way to test their knowledge, while also giving tourists a unique taste of life in the city. Desafio Carioca, or ‘The Carioca Challenge’ was born and released in 2015 to mark the city’s 450th anniversary.

The goal is to travel from one side of the city to another, while visiting at least three tourist attractions and a beach along the way. The first person to do so wins, but the game is not as simple as it seems. Players must answer questions testing their knowledge of the city to progress. They might get stuck in one of Rio’s infamous traffic jams, stop for a beer, or ride the metro to reach their destination a little quicker.

The game – played by up to six people – is an ode to Rio de Janeiro from its design to its destinations. Alzer has included 20 tourist attractions, 10 beaches and six neighbourhoods like Tijuca and Barra. During the game players answer questions on six different themes: Samba; Favelas; Sport and Health; Amusement and Art; Places; and Historic Facts.

The idea for the game came when Alzer realized there were no board games focused entirely on cities. ‘You can find London and New York versions of Monopoly, but there are no games where all of the content is just about a city’, he explains.

The game is not just for Cariocas but anyone who wants an alternative and entertaining way of learning about Rio’s culture and lesser known destinations like Prainha beach, a secluded stretch of coast popular with surfers. Now in its second edition, Alzer is considering updating the game to include last year’s Olympic Games and the legacy it left behind.

To feel like a true local try playing Desafio Carioca while listening to some Bossa Nova, a combination of samba and jazz born on the streets of Brazil in the 1950s. Caipirinhas optional.