Joining Rocinha Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro

Whenever we hear of the word “Favela”, the first thing that comes to our mind is squatter community. We usually associate it with slum, shantytown and ghetto. But after joining Rocinha Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro, my friend and I learned that Favela is actually a term taken from the name of a plant native to rural northeastern Brazil. The plant is common in the Canudos hills in the Northeast of Brazil.

Favela Rocinho Rio de Janeiro

There are different theories about how and when favela was first associated with squatter communities. But according to history, soldiers who fought in the battle in the 1890s were promised to have a land in the region of Rio de Janeiro. However, this land wasn’t provided. So these people created a small community. They settled on the surrounding hills, where favela plant also grew and named the place Favela Hill.

Through the years, people who couldn’t afford to buy a land built their houses in these favelas. There are now lots of these communities located within or on the outskirts of Brazil’s largest cities. These favelas are especially in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

My friend and I were able to see some of these favelas when we were in Rio de Janeiro. They cling to steep hillsides. One that we were able to visit is Rocinha, which is also the largest hill favela.

Why Join a Favela Tour?

When my buddy and I were planning for places to visit and tours to do in Rio de Janeiro, I told her that I wanted to join a favela tour. Joining the tour will give me a better understanding of this Brazilian reality. I wanted to have an insight of this society in Brazil.

View of Rocinha FavelaRocinha Favela in Rio de Janeiro

There are several companies offering tours for Favela. I recommend booking the tour from a reputable guide or tour company. We had ours at Rdj4u (a company of Daytours4u), a travel agency offering exciting and authentic travel experiences in South America. What I like about this company was booking was convenient and easy. We felt safe during the tour and loved the overall experience.

Joining the Rocinha Favela Tour was more than just the usual city tour. It was educational and informative. The journey provided us a glimpse of what the culture inside the favela is and understanding about this historical place in Brazilian history.

Itinerary for Rocinha Favela Tour in Rio de Janeiro

The tour happens twice a day. It’s a half-day tour in a minivan visiting two favelas – Rocinha and Vila Canoa, the largest in the country. The tour has a guide and includes transfers to hotels in Rio de Janeiro’s Zone Sur. Duration of the tour is about 3 hours.

We joined the morning tour that departed at 9:00 AM. The guide started the tour by introducing himself and providing some things to expect during the tour. He then provided a bit of information about the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Here’s an overview of what happened during the rest of the tour.


Our first stop was an overlooking that has an incredible view of the city. There are also stalls selling some souvenir items. Then, we moved to another place. It was a terrace where we had a great view of the favela.

Overlook Rio de Janeiro

A short walk at Rocinha Favela

Our guide asked us to form a single line while we were walking around. We wondered through the streets but we didn’t go further inside the favela. There were some police around that made us also felt safe. During this tour, we got the opportunity to have a glimpse of how life looks like at the favela.

Rocinha Favela Tour in Rio de JaneiroExploring the streets in Rocinha Favela

Dropped by a school

We also visited a small school during the tour. It was closed that time so we didn’t get the chance to see the kids. The school is a social community project funded by the tour.

A School in Rocinha Favela

Explored the backstreets of Vila Canoas Favela

Another community that we visited during the Rocinha Favela Tour is the Vila Canoas Favela. Here, we explored the community alleys. Our guide also provided us more insights about the favela, its people and culture.

Visit to Vila Canoas Favela BrazilVila Canoas Favela in Rio de Janeiro

Rocinha Favela Tour is an interesting activity to do while in Rio de Janeiro. I have to admit I was apprehensive at first but joining the tour offered me more than I expected. The tour let me learn things not only about the favelas but also about Brazil – history, crime, politics, people and culture. I also discovered that not all people who live on favelas are actually poor.

Favelas are communities unique to Brazil. Although it is mostly associated with negative images, these communities have rich contribution to the history and culture.

A friendly, professional, and local online travel agency offering a comprehensive catalogue of exciting tours and authentic activities in Brazil.

Rdj4u (A Company of Daytours4u)
Phone: +55 (21) 40 42 92 51

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