Rio de Janeiro Top Favelas
By Viator, January 2011
Most reputable tour groups operated by locals restrict their operations to the favela of Rocinha. Portuguese for “little farm”, this is Rio’s largest favela. Located in the state's South Zone between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea, Rocinha is built on a steep hillside overlooking the sprawling metropolis less than a mile from the beach. Unlike other shantytowns or slums, this favela has a highly developed infrastructure, with hundreds of businesses, banks, bus lines, a cable television station, and a McDonald’s franchise. Tour groups offer a variety of customized trips, ranging from short visits (roughly 3 hours) to extended tours that stop off at dozens of places of interest, rooftop views, eateries and community organizations, culminating in samba and funk parties that run well past midnight (in fact, many do not even begin until 12 a.m.).