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Favela Adventures

Favela Adventures

Welcome to FAVELA ADVENTURES. Bridging the gap betwen Favela and Asfalto!

We are a small company that is operated 100% by residents in the favela of Rocinha. Our company consists of several parts of sustainable tourism in the favela. Our main purpose is to educate people about our community and the great things that exist here.

Favela Tours/Visits

The first section of the website covers our diferent types of visits or “tours”, which are more of a cultural exchange and learning experience, than a short stop into the community. Visits to the community vary in length and type depending on what visitors want to do and how long they want to visit. If there is something you really want to see on your visit here, please let us know. Our visits range from 4-8 hours as there is much to do and see in Rocinha. We enjoy what we do and if visitors want to stay longer in the community, there is no extra charge for this. We had one group from Finland who stayed in Rocinha for 13 hours!

Accommodations

This section of the website is important if you have plans to stay, rent or buy a place in the community for any period of time. Please click on the link to learn more about this opportunity. Lately many people have expressed interest in staying in the community to volunteer or just enjoy the culture that exists here!

FAVELA ADVENTURES programs

To third section is the FAVELA ADVENTURES programs section of the website. We offer programs to foreigners who want an authentic experience in their studies of Capoeira, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Body Boarding, Surfing, Muay-Thai, and Western Boxing.

As popularity grows, we plan on expanding with other favela specific cultural programs.

RACI

The fourth to last section is the RACI (Rocinha Arts and Cultural Institute) section which is about our Non Profit and Volunteer programs. Part of the proceeds from our visits and cultural programs will be put into a fund. The goal is to save enough through our sustainable tourism to build a community center for the Rocinha Arts and Cultural Institute (RACI).

Please contact if you have interest to learn more about what we offer!


Rating: *****

Organization details

  • 70 reais per Day
  • Available Anytime
  • Duration: 1 Day(s)
  • From 2 to 8 people
  • Starts at Rio de Janeiro

Travel pro profile

  • Speaks English, Portuguese
  • Tourism Organization

Comments

*****

Yvonne J, (Toronto, Canada )

“First, I was in Brazil for Carnaval just to relax and hang out. The idea of going to a favela was not something I thought about. I was not interested in going on some zoo type tour to see poor people. There is enough misery in the world never mind seeing it up close. I am certainly not a heartless person, but I feel that the invasion of tourists in favelas is kind of strange. My first question is what does the community get out of this?

So, while at my hostel, I met up with some Europeans that wanted to go to the favelas. I asked them why would they want to go and they responded that all the interesting culture is there.

So, I kind was more interested in what they meant by that. I did some research online and found some tour companies but, I did not want to go in take photos and then leave. I certainly did not want to sit in a jeep to do a tour. I figured if I was going to go, I wanted to go to a party or see something of interest then just looking at people and poorly built housing. In our hostel there were flyers advertising favela tours too but I wanted more information.

After getting great reviews from some other hostelers, I decided on Zezinho’s tour. The main thing being that he was from the favela and could answer all my questions. The other guests that returned from Zezinho’s tour said it was a highlight of their Rio experience and that if anyone were to do a tour, Zezinho was the best guide. They told me Zezinho knows EVERYTHING about favelas and Rocinha. These other tour companies seemed less personal and too “touristy”. I emailed Zezinho and set up a day. I had two others interested, so three of us met Zezinho at the Post 9 in Ipanema. We proceeded to take vans to the bottom of the favela where we first stopped in the Rocinha Samba School.

All I can say is that I felt like I was visiting a long lost friend. Zezinho is likable and represents Rocinha like nobody else. This guy is crazy for Rocinha, tattoos and all. He has this passion for his community that you can’t help but feel too. He also knows all the best photo locations in the favela. I got some awesome shots.

We took motorcycle taxis to the top where we had great views of the downtown side and the San Conrado side of the favela. Great photo opportunity. Through our visit we met some of the nicest people, kids and adults alike. From the top our tour took us eventually to the bottom right back from where we started but this was after 5 hours. The tour was not rushed. The highlights were going to Zezinho’s house and having the neighbors drop by for a beer. I felt like this was a tight knit community where people somehow managed. It was like I knew all of Zezinho’s friends. There was no judgment of us because we were from some far away place, no prejudice.

I felt like I got a history lesson about favelas and Rocinha. Some information I found interesting was how the houses were built, garbage pickups, recycling, how the residents gain access to water and electricity, and how they feel about existing (or being treated badly) on the margins of carioca society. Favelas, to the average Brazilian are “no go” zones. I was told by many Brazilians before my tour that I would probably get raped or robbed. I constantly heard, “Why would you want to go THERE?” “Favelas are dirty, the people are stupid and “those” people do nothing in society.” So much prejudice against the hillside dwellers. Yes, we saw some guys with guns, but never felt threatened. I never once heard a favela resident say anything negative about people who live outside of favelas. Strange eh?

We accessed areas that other tours do not go according to Zezinho. I believe him because on some parts of the neighborhood we saw other vistors but other areas none. Some of the places he took us were a school, day care, radio station Brisa, TvRoc (cable tv), catholic church, real estate office (yes they have two in Rocinha), the residents association (local favela government), Lan House, Trapia restaurant (awesome food), three diferent roof views, various becos or alley ways that you could easily get lost without a guide, Art school non profit, Casa da Paz community house, Rocinha 1 Fitness, and so much more. I took photos of almost everything. Every place we went, everybody knew Zezinho and treated us like his best friends.

After the tour was over, I was sad because I wanted to hang out there longer and see more of everyday life. It’s also sad in that Zezinho talked of the prejudice that he suffers because of where he is from. He made it very clear that at some point, he wants his own tour company with guides from the favela. He told me “I want people to get to “KNOW Rocinha”. Well I am not sure if I “know” Rocinha but I probably know more now than the average tourist who has visited. The tour was well worth the time and money and this guy needs to advertise because his service is very different from other favela tour companies. The reason I know this is because other hostelers went with Jeep tours and told us “average” stories of their favela experience.

I felt like I will forever remember my experience of Rocinha and Zezinho. His dream is to open a community center where he can have all the talented people of Rocinha teach their art form, anything from Capoeira to ju jitsu and of course his Dj school. I hope he earns enough to buy his building. He and this other guy we met “Rambo da Rocinha” are Rocinha originals.

So, now how do I feel about favela tours? Well, I think favelas are intriguing places and I would love to go back someday to volunteer. Maybe Zezinho can have me volunteer at his community center. I think the experience you will have on a favela tour really depends on the guide. Zezinho lives and breathes Rocinha. He really is trying to make a difference in his community. I think his passion for his favela certainly rubbed off on us!

At the end of the tour, Zezinho made us an offer that if during our stay we wanted to come back for a visit, samba show or baile funk, that he would escort us as friends (no money exchanged). Two of us went back the following Sunday to a funk party that was “off the hook”! lots of fun..With all the bad things the news says, we only experienced good things in Rocinha but we are not stupid, we know favelas do have police invasions and can be very dangerous places.”

Since taking a visit to Rocinha, I have decided to help Zezinho design a website, organize and help run his own tour company. I believe so much in the positive activities that he is doing for his community.