Most visitors to Rio do their sightseeing by checking out views from Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf, or the deck of their hotel overlooking Copacabana or Ipanema Beaches. Well that’s all fine and good, but did you know that some of the best view properties in Rio are rarely visited at all by camera-toting tourists? What are those brightly colored buildings clinging precariously to the hillsides, anyway? Aren’t they the slums – the favelas? Aren’t they ridden with crime and poverty and machine guns and drug lords?
Actually, favelas are neighborhoods with people and kids and schools and stores and restaurants and businesses, much like any other neighborhoods. Sure, they have a crime-ridden reputation which is based partly in fact, but which is widely exagerated by films and media. Yes, they can be dangerous, and you wouldn’t want to go wandering into a favela on your own. But if you so desire to see “the other side of Rio”, then book a favela visit with an experienced and reputable outfit, such as Marcelo Armstrong’s Favela Tour.
Of course, there are the views of Rio you don’t get elsewhere.
But the best experience is to wander through the streets and alleys and get a glimpse of every day life in a favela. I did just that, and was charmed by the colorful buildings and people who make the favelas their home.