Pouring down a hillside in Rio’s South Zone, the one-square-mile (2.6-square-kilometer) Rocinha favela is crammed with a colorful maze of cement buildings, tin roofs, and upwards of 180,000 residents living in challenging socioeconomic conditions. The district is considered the largest favela in Brazil, complete with a culture and history of its own, and has entered a period of renaissance, with urban gardens, community art projects, and educational services revitalizing the neighborhood little by little.
The best way to visit Rocinha is on an organized tour with a local guide who is familiar with the daily challenges of neighborhood residents, as well as various sustainable development efforts and empowering grassroots actions being taken in the favela. Educational walking tours offer insight into daily life for Rocinha residents while leading visitors to spots they’d be unlikely to find on their own, such as craft shops, community centers, and well-situated viewpoints. Private tours offer more personalized experiences and cultural exchanges.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Some tours donate a portion of proceeds to Rochina nonprofits or employ local tour guides to give back to the community.
- A guided tour led by a local is the safest way to visit Rocinha.
- Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes suitable for walking on uneven surfaces, or book a tour by bike or vehicle to stay off your feet.
- Favelas provide a stark contrast to Rio’s ritzy neighborhoods, such as Ipanema, and an educational tour of Rocinha can offer a well-rounded understanding of Rio’s varying socioeconomic environments.
How to Get There
The best way to visit Rocinha is on a guided tour, most of which include stress-free, door-to-door transportation from your Rio hotel. While it’s possible to see the area on your own, it’s preferable to visit with a local tour guide to make your visit as educational and noninvasive as possible.
When to Get There
Rio’s climate is warm year-round, with the hottest months being December through March.
A Note on the Ethics of Slum Tourism
We are sensitive to the issues and concerns surrounding slums, and we understand that tours of them may not be suitable for everyone. We strongly believe that these tours are educational and allow for a better understanding of life inside Rocinha.