Should you visit a favela?
Favelas are a prickly subject in Brazil. Many visitors to the city ask themselves (and others) whether favela tours are a good idea and there will be no shortage of people offering up their own views. The subject is too wide-ranging to discuss at length here but let me say a couple of things:
Firstly, not all favela tours are the same. Residents of Rio regularly see what look like safari jeeps taking tourists into favelas – the imagery alone is deeply troubling. But some tours, like the one recommended here, can be extremely positive, ploughing money and other resources into these communities which have been neglected for decades.
Secondly, if you decide to take a tour of a favela, please go for the right reasons and be respectful of the residents. These tours will help dispel many of the myths about favelas – you will learn that the vast majority of favela residents are hard-working, honest people who are trying to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
Who runs it?
Zezinho describes himself as a ‘Brazingo’ (half Brazilian, half Gringo). He has been a proud resident of Rocinha (Rio’s largest single favela) for many years, and is heavily involved in a variety of projects to improve the lives of other residents of Rocinha (including running a DJ School and fund-raising for a community centre). Zezinho and his team of guides have taken thousands of visitors on tours of Rocinha over the years – they offer a range of different experiences to suit your available time and budget.
The tour profits go towards supporting local development projects within the community. The tour company is also a member of Pack for a Purpose.
More details and how to book
Go to Zezinho’s Favela Adventures website to get full details of what tours are available, pricing and how to make a booking.