Rocinha is the largest favela (shantytown) in Rio de Janeiro and South America. There are a lot of organised tours there now so you won’t have problems booking one at the last minute or when you arrive in Rio.
On Valentines Day 2013, we decided to do something completely different and yet, memorable. Rather than celebrating this commercial “holiday” with a fancy dinner (What for? We’re in Brazil!), we decided to spend the day at Rocinha instead. Although it’s probably quite a touristy thing to do, it was still a great experience and definitely one I would recommend.
When people hear favela, drug-related organised crime, murders and various violent activity would often come to mind. There was a massive ‘clean up’ operation by armed police and helicopter guards across all of Rio and its hilltop favelas, particularly in the lead up to the World Cup in 2014 and the upcoming 2016 Olympics. This has remained one of the most controversial moves by authorities, but you can get an idea of what’s been happening by clicking here.
This will be a photo-heavy post as I think in this case, photos are worth a thousand words.
In case you’re wondering, we booked with the Favela Walking Tours run by Bruno Schvidah who is a Rocinha local (firstname.lastname@example.org).