1. What is a favela and why do they exist?
2. Where is Rocinha? What does the name mean?
3. Why visit a favela?
4. Is it safe?
5. How long are the tours/visits?
6. What knowledge do the tour guides have?
7. What makes your company different from the others?
8. What kind of food exists inside of Rocinha?
9. What about transportation inside the favela?
10. What languages do the guides speak?
11. Are there opportunities to volunteer?
12. What if I want to come and stay inside the favela for an extended period of time, is this possible?
13. Why do I need a guide?
14. What do the residents think of the tours?
15. How many people are in the tour groups?
16. What should I wear or bring with me?
17. How do we get around the community?
18. Can I take photographs or film?
19. Will we get to interact with the residents?
20. What do the people do for a living?
21. What do people do for fun?
22.) What about schools, are there some?
23.) What about the stories I hear about favelas being dangerous?
24.) What is the purpose of this company and why are they doing tours?
A “favela” is a squatter settlement or shantytown most often known by its name given by the populous Northeastern plant that grew in the hills of Rio de Janeiro. They exist because of the unequal distribution of wealth in the urban areas. The majority of people who live in these areas are of the working class. Approximately 30% of the people in Rio de Janeiro live in a favela.
Rocinha is located in Rio de Janeiro, situated between the two noble neighborhoods of Gavea and Sao Conrado. Rocinha means “Little farm” because when the area was first settled in the late 1920’s, there were little farms there where the people sold vegetables and fruits. Rocinha is no longer a “little farm”, but a large urban community of over 250,000 people.
If you take a good look at Brazilian identity, the culture is full of favela references. The two most prominent being Carnival and Samba. These two famous images have deep roots and origins in the favelas. Everybody has their own ideas due to the media reference of what favelas are. But as we all know, these reports are not always an accurate portrayal of these neighborhoods. To visit a favela is to experience the roots of the “real Brazil”. The favela has everything, friendly people, home cooked food, workers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, artists and sportmen!
Rocinha is different from other favelas. Rocinha receives about 200 tourists a day and is very safe to visit. People come to visit mostly because of the awesome views high up on the hill, where you can see the Christ statue, Sugar Loaf, and many other sites Rio is famous for. The community welcomes you to come see the commerce, the art, culture and the ingenuity of the people who reside there. Rocinha also has many non profit organizations that have volunteers from all over the world, who live/stay in the community while providing much needed services to the residents.
The visits vary anywhere between 3 hours and one tour that has no time limit. Please see the “tour section” of this website. We also invite people to stay longer if they have time, without an extra charge. If there is a specific visit you would like to see here, please email us your ideas!
ALL Favela Adventures guides are from Rocinha, born and raised and still reside here. Living here, they are experts of the culture and terrain of the favela. They will provide informative tours while at the same time making sure your visit is enjoyable. Please prepare questions before your visit so you can gain the information you want about Rocinha.
First, we are the FIRST and ONLY company owned and operated by people who live in the favela of Rocinha. We do not want you to come just to see a few things, take some fotos and then leave. Our real purpose is to educate but also have fun. When you come to Rocinha and are with one of our guides, you will get top notch service at a fair price.
But, you will learn the truth about Rocinha from people who live here day to day, know and understand how the community operates. When you leave you will have a better understanding of how favelas fit into the landscape of Rio.
There are some companies who sensationalize the violence and tell lies about the community. Our goal is to dispel myths about our community. When you use our service, you help to employ people and help stimulate the favela economy. We at Favela Adventures want you to see for yourself by interacting with residents in the neighborhood. You will be coming for a visit not a standard tour. Our visits are all at a leisurely pace.
The majority of the other companies have designated routes that they take because their tour guides do not live in the community. Our tour guides can take you deep in the favela and you will see areas in the community that the other tours do not go.
See the “Testimonials” page for guests who have visited Rocinha with us!
Rocinha is very lucky to have over 2.500+ commercial enterprises within the favela. Over 300 are restaurants or lanchonettes (snack bar type places). Rocinha has many types of food including two Sushi bars. Your guides will know the best places to go for both price and great food and drink. There are places where you can eat a full meal for under $6R. Our guides know all the best places to eat in the community.
Within Rocinha there are various ways to get in and around the community. The easiest and quickest form is the moto-taxis ($2R) which can access most of the community. If you have groceries or heavy things, the Vans or Kombis ($2R) can get you through the main streets. To access downtown, Centro Rio, or the beaches of Copacabana, Leblon, Ipanema and other areas there are city buses ($2.20R). The Vans or Kombis can also take you to designated routes outside of the favela as well.
We have guides who speak Spanish, English, Portuguese and Italian. We will be hiring more people with other language skills soon.
Many people who have come to visit Rocinha have expressed interest in returning to help the community. Favelas like Rocinha always have openings for those people who would like to offer their services. We have contacts with several non profit groups inside Rocinha that welcome volunteers. For more information, please contact us!
This is possible, but before you do this, a tour is always a good thing to do before you come alone not knowing your way around. With a guided tour, you will be able to access almost everything you need. We will help you find housing. It is highly recommended that if you are to stay inside a favela, to stay for one month to really get an idea of what life is like here. Very few people in the community will rent a room for less than a month. Or if they do rent for less time, the cost will be the same as renting for one month. Contact us if you are interested in staying in the community.
Our guides are able to explain everything about these communities, especially a place like Rocinha. If you were not to have a guide, you would get lost. There are only three accessible streets and everything else is a “beco” or small alleyway. It is very easy to get lost as these pathways are like labyrinths or mazes. Remember Rocinha has about 250.000 people all bunched into a 780 square meter area. The community is very dense.
The locals welcome you. They want the outside world to know that their community is not like what you see on the news. That there is much more to the favela than the negative things. As mentioned before, Rocinha receives over 200 visitors a day. Rocinha also has people from other countries living and staying in the community so seeing tourists or foreigners is not a strange thing.
Our tour groups max out at 8 people. We like small interactive groups. We wil allow larger groups, if it is a family or school group or a special occasion that insists on wanting this situation. Otherwise no more than 8. The minimum number is 2 people.
Please wear comfortable shoes, tennis or walking shoes are recommended. Flip Flops or sandals are not advised as you will be walking through uneven terrain. Bring your camera and some water. Depending on the weather, wear sunscreen. A hat is always good to protect from the sun. Please bring pocket money if you are interested in purchasing any souvenirs or food. Part of the tour we will eat at a restaurant and should cost no more than $7R each person. If you drink alcohol, it will cost more.
ALL our tours are walking tours. No jeeps or vans will be used. You will have plenty of time to stop and see everything that you want, all at a leisurely pace.
Yes, you can take photographs or film. There will be areas where the guide will tell you if you are not allowed to film. Please respect the community and the guides’ knowledge regarding this. If you want to take a photo of a person, please ask them first.
Of course, you will meet several people along the route that you will get to interact with. Some of the guides will take you into their homes and you will meet their families and or neighbors. The people are used to visitors and are curious about you as you are about them. People are very friendly. There are many stops which will encourage this. How much interaction is up to you!
Most of the people who live in favelas are taxi drivers, hotel workers, people who sell items on the beach, babysitters etc. Anyone who does unskilled labor most likely lives in a favela.
There are many activities people do. There is much music, art and sports that exist in these communities. Sao Conrado beach is a 10 minute walk from the community. People also like to hang out at their local restaurant or lachonette and catch up on the days happenings.
Rocinha has four municipal or government run schools and several non profit “schools” which help students.
It is true, favelas “can” be dangerous. But, we can assure you are not at risk while inside the favela. These things just do not happen. Social codes within the favela community do not allow crimes to be permitted. You are more likely to be robbed outside of a favela than inside it. Think of it this way, if Rocinha was dangerous, do you really think tours would be allowed? If there is time of police activity in Rocinha, the tour guide will be informed of this. Now just to clarify, that does not mean we recommend that you just go walk into any favela community. Every favela is different and some are more volatile than others. Rocinha has been having tours for over 15 years now, all with the approval of the community, so you being here as a guest, is not a problem.
The main purpose is to employ residents of the favela and for them to show you their neighborhood. We think the best tour experience you can have, is one with a guide who was born, raised and currently lives in the favela! We also want to break down the barriers of discrimination by exposing to people the truths about these communities. A portion of money raised through these tours will be put aside to eventually buy or build a community center for our non profit group RACI inside Rocinha.
If you have further questions, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.