June 7, 2013 Update:
Sugarloaf ticket purchases are changing in a period associated with World Youth Day. If you're visiting Sugarloaf between July 17 and Aug.1, 2013, your tickets must be purchased exclusively online via Ingresso Rápido.
As of this update, the English version of the official Sugarloaf website doesn't open with a pop-up linking the viewer to the ticket purchase website. And if you enter Ingresso Rápido through the its English version, it requests a CPF, the Brazilian equivalent of a Social Security number, for the purchase. I spoke today with a press representative for the Bondinho who said international viewers should be able to use their passport number instead.
Sugarloaf will operate in extended hours during World Youth Day, but in order to guarantee access, independent travelers visiting Rio during that period might want to buy tickets through a tour operator, if unable to purchase the tickets online.
The Sugarloaf cable car in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the world's best known attractions, has received over 37 million visitors since its opening in 1912.
The ride is divided into two stages, each lasting 3 minutes. The first stage goes from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) to Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), at an altitude of 220 meters. The second stage goes from Morro da Urca to Sugarloaf Mountain, at an altitude of 528 meters. Cable car speed varies from 21 to 31 kilometers per hour. Each car has a capacity for 65 passengers.
Designed by Brazilian engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos, one of the founders of Companhia Caminho Aéreo Pão de Açúcar, the cable car system was completely renewed in 1972. The most recent change of cables took place in 2002, and the electronic operation system was renewed in May 2009.
New cable cars with an upgraded ventilation system and tinted, anti-glare glass were installed in 2008 for the ride between Praia Vermelha and Urca.In the second phase of the renovations, the Morro da Urca-Sugarloaf stretch got four new cars, imported from Switzerland for about 3 million euros.
The Sugarloaf cable car system is considered one of the safest in the world.
The 360-degree views you'll enjoy along the ride and from the top of Morro da Urca and Sugarloaf Mountain encompass Rio beaches – Flamengo, Botafogo, Leme, Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon – the Corcovado, Guanabara Bay, downtown Rio, the Santos Dumont Airport, the Rio-Niterói Bridge and Dedo de Deus (God's Finger), a peak which rises from Brazil's coastal range (Serra do Mar) in Teresópolis, RJ, about 50 miles from Rio.