A Walking Tour of Rio's Favelas
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Vila Canoas: It's one of Rio's smaller favelas, which makes it the perfect place to start this educational tour. The winding alleyways are numerous, but your guide will lead you through them as you learn about this vibrant community.
- Rocinha: By contrast, Rocinha is huge, home to some 70,000 people – 90 percent who work in the city's service industries. This "pacified" favela is a colorful neighborhood with modern basic services.
- What you'll come away with: There are many sides to Brazilian culture, and even that of Rio de Janeiro. The best way to get the full picture is to veer off the typical tourist path.
About this Rio de Janeiro tour
Favelas get a bad rap in the media, often portrayed as gang-run slums prone to violence. But far from the "no-go" areas they're reputed to be, many of Rio's favelas are vibrant communities living with their poverty. Rio alone is home to about 1,000 favelas housing some 600,000 favelados (or residents), and this tour takes you to two of them: Vila Canoas and Rocinha.
Vila Canoas is a neighborhood of 2,500 people, all of who will welcome you to their community. As you're led through the winding alleyways, you'll learn about the variety of social initiatives in Vila Canoas. There are schools, marketplaces, and murals – it's far from the dirty shantytown some have been led to believe.
Rocinha is Brazil's largest favela, built on a steep hillside overlooking Rio. Roughly 70,000 people call Rocinha home, and unlike the fixed borders of Vila Canoas, Rocinha continues to expand. Nearly all the houses here are built of concrete and brick; nearly all have basic sanitation, plumbing, and electricity. There are banks, pharmacies, and shops – everything you'd expect in a community. And while the government does provide services, it's the NGOs (non-government organizations) that provide a bulk of the social services in Rocinha.
So why travel into Rio's poorest neighborhoods? Sure, it's not your typical tourist attraction, but for those seeking a true understanding of everyday life in Rio, there's no better education. You'll interact with the locals, get a true sense of their culture, and come away with a fuller picture of what it means to be a Brazilian.
A slum by any other name is still a slum
In the late 1800s, 20,000 veteran soldiers were brought to Rio from the Eastern province of Bahia, but had no place to live. So they built their own settlements, originally called bairros africanos. But in Bahia, the soldiers had known a hill covered with a tree called the favela, which irritated the skin. They gave their new home the nickname Favela hill … a name that's stuck throughout the years.
Please proceed pier side to meet your guide. Please look for our GoBe Representative with the displayed logo sign. Staying at a hotel? Be sure to advise the GoBe Crew so we can meet you in the lobby.
As in many cities, keep your wallet or purse secured and leave the bling behind. Due to ongoing construction, itinerary alterations and routes may change based on traffic situations and regulations in Rio. This is out of the control of the tour operator; however, they will endeavor to operate as described with minimal changes.
Tour is not wheelchair accessible.
Scenic, Walking Tour, Cultural
12-seat Vans with air conditioning; very tight seating.
English, Spanish, Portuguese
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for traverlers 12 years of age and older.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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