Any trip to Rio de Janeiro is not complete without visiting the slums of Rio. Yes, that’s right. Over the years, the slums, also known as favelas, have become so famous that a visit to one of them is often included in tourist itineraries. Previously, these places were off limits as they were regarded too dangerous, but now they are open and visitors can visit the favelas and experience their fascinating and vibrant communities.
Favela is the name for a shantytown or a slum in Brazil and it is usually located on the outskirts of the larger cities. Especially in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro you can find a large number of favela dwellers. In most cases, these favelas are constructed of stolen materials at the edge of a city or on vacant land. In Rio, favelas are popular for their musical talent, but their cultural input is hardly acknowledged. However, as a matter of fact, most of the carnivals in Rio would not exist without these favelas because most of the samba schools are either named after or come from one of them.
You can find favelas in all major Brazilian cities, but the ones in Rio de Janeiro are the most visible. They basically emerged as a result of the expansion of the city when property prices increased, making it impossible for poor families to afford a reasonable house in the center. Since most of the jobs were available downtown and it became too expensive for poor people to travel long distances to work, the favelas grew. Around the 1900s, people started to build homes illegally on the hillsides of Rio.
Today, Rio has an estimated 800 favelas which are inhabited by more than 3 million people. On a positive note, people habitating the slums nowadays have improved their living conditions and most of them have running water and electricity. Although their living standard is quite harsh, most also have large screen colour television, mobile phones and stereo systems. Rich favelados have given rise to a property business where those who can afford it can always move out to better properties and sell their shacks to the poor or newcomers in the area. With the opening of hostels and bars, it is likely that more and more tourists will now visit these favelas for an adventurous experience.
When it comes to visiting a favela, it must be done only through a reputable operator. We are offering a guided and safe tour through some favelas in Rio. It is good to know that some of the agencies work with charitable organizations and put some of their profits into social projects which can be beneficial for the people living in these favelas since their situation is still suboptimal, despite the positive development.
A visit to the Favelas may not be the first thing on your mind when staying in Rio de Janeiro, but if you are looking for a completely new experience, then it is a must that you visit at least one favela as a part of your trip. Interest in these tours has never been higher because there is a different world hidden in the streets of a favela. Today, these areas welcome tourists to take a glimpse of the socioeconomic realities of the city and visit the slums that have been surrounding Rio for years now.
As mentioned before, a trip to Rio is not complete without paying a visit to a Rio slum because it is through these slums that tourists can get a fuller and complete picture of the city. It can provide an interesting insight into the least affluent neighbourhoods of Rio which are different from most other slums in the world because they give the best views of the city. Since many of the favelas were built on the hillsides, it is possible for tourists to get views of popular tourist attractions such as the Christ the Redeemer statue and the Sugarloaf Mountain from there. Locals even produce souvenirs and handicrafts that can be bought. By visiting these favelas, it is easy to learn about the way these people spend their lives. When on a favela trip, you are safe from crime and robbery because expert tour guides know the area well and even locals encourage tourism in their areas.