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“An insiders view of Rochinas” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Favela Adventures

Favela Adventures
Ranked #87 of 444 Tours in Rio de Janeiro
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
57 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“An insiders view of Rochinas”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 March 2014

Our friendly,enthusiastic guide Erik met us ,two Russian girls and me at an agreed Metro station and took us by public bus to the favela. It was a uplifting experience to see how the other half outside Ipanema and Copacabana live. Over the years these people who help provide the labour that keeps Rio functioning,have carved a life on the precarious slopes. Erik supplied interesting information of the dynamic of the favela between the Drug lords and the Police.There was no romanticism and we were told,there were many no go favelas too.The tour went well over its schedule of four hours and was considerably cheaper than the ones offered at the hotel.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank adam m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
milano
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“One of the best experiences of my life”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 March 2014

When I decided to visit Rio, I thought of taking a tour of the favela but, at the same time, I didn't want to offend the sensibilities of its inhabitants by taking part to one of those tours, where everyone behaves as if was in a zoo.
Browsing on the internet, I found "Favela Adventures" and I immediately felt that this was what I was looking for: the site promised to visit the favela in a simple and spontaneous way, avoiding as much as possible the classical "tourist" behavior. And...my expectations were fully met! Dembore, a really great guide and a resident of Rocinha, lead us through the labyrinthine streets of this "city within the city " and made us feel more like friends than like tourists.
Not only showed us different areas of the favela (the whole tour was strictly on foot, instead of on fancy vans, as touristic agencies do!), but he also told us every aspect of life in the favela, its history, the dreams of his inhabitants and answered every single question - and, believe me, we had a lot of them!!! At the end of the tour, which lasted about 4 hours (they flew! :( ) Dembore let​​us visit the "Spin Rocinha", a free DJ school created by him and by his partner Zezinho, in order to teach the children of the favela to become DJs. The tour ended with a good lunch in a local restaurant.
In a nutshell:
- I'd recommend "Favela Adventures " to anyone who, like me, really wants to get in touch with a reality which is maybe totally new but, at the same time, wonderful!
- I wouldn't recommend the tour to everyone who is in a rush (the tour is 4h and you're expected to take it easy and enjoy the experience) or to anyone who doesn't feel comfortable with armed police hanging around or with humble surroundings.
- Cost: 65reais -(if you're from a Euro or a dollar country, it's really cheap)
- Available languages: considering the mixed-origins of my group, Dembore explained everything both in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

So..." Rocinha " means not only armed police, shootings and poverty (as it is often portrayed), it is much more than that: the poor aspect of the buildings is magically replaced by the richness given by the breathtaking panoramas, by the intense looks of old people, by the smart children running here and there with backpacks on their shoulders taller than themselves, by passers-by who wish you "bom dia" even without knowing you.
It might sound weird and for sure it's difficult to explain by words, but the favela of Rocinha is my best memory in Rio!

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank Simo23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
1 review
“Honest visit to the Rocinha Favela.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 March 2014

We found the tour to be very insightful and it felt felt more informal than formal which we liked. Our tour was conducted by Dembore who met us at Fashion Mall in Sao Conrado at 10am.

We went with Dembore by bus to the top of the Rocinha Favela and then began to work our way downwards. Through out the tour Dembore was able to give us a lot of information about Rocinha and its inhabitants. He was also able to answer any and all of our questions we had about the Favela.

Before ending the tour we were able to visit "Spin Rocinha" and Zezinho and learn more about what they are trying to do for the community by giving back through providing the Favela tours.

Lastly we ate at one of the local restaurants which was nice as it was pretty cheap and nicer compared to other places we had eaten at.

We spent roughly 4-hours walking around the Favela through the main streets and back streets. So I would recommend comfortable shoes, water and some money if you decide you would like to buy any souvenirs from the locals.

Overall we really enjoyed the tour and we would definitely recommend this tour to people who would like to learn more about Rocinha.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank dgrey6981
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
43 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Most interesting tour in Rio”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 March 2014

Our tour with Zezinho to the Rocinha Favela in Rio de Janeiro was the highlight of our visit to Brazil. We booked this tour ahead through the internet which was answered immediately by Zezinho. Zezinho picked us up right on time at our hotel at the Copacabana and escorted us on the (public) bus up to the Favela. While we were waiting for another participant who got lost, Zezinho gave us a lot of useful information about Rio and the Favelas.
Once we arrived he explained how things work in the Rocinha, how people live and work.
Then we walked through the narrow streets of Rocinha. We made several stops while Zezinho explained specific aspects (infrastructure, food, mail distribution, schooling ...).
We had lunch in a small restaurant which was very good.
Zezinho was very knowledgeable and seemed to know just about everybody in Rocinha. You can tell that Rocinha (and cats) are his 2 big passions. He was born in Rocinha and lived a few years in the USA, so he speaks perfectly English.
Overall the 4+ hour tour lasted about 5 hours. At all times we felt safe and really had a great impression about this part of Rio. Our teenage kids (16 & 18) were deeply impressed
We can highly recommend Zezinho and his Favela Adventures. Thank you for sharing some insights about your home.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank Catellani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“A visit with friends at their hometown”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 February 2014

WHAT IT IS:
These tours offer an honest and genuine visit of the Rocinha favela, where Zezinho, the very friendly and personable owner and organizer, and his tour guides live and work. It is a walking tour, not a bus/jeep tour, meaning that your guide walks around with you through the streets of the favela, even the deeper ones, all the while explaining many things about it. 40% of the price of every tour with these guys goes towards projects in the favela in some way, always, and all employees of the tour live within Rocinha (not the case in most other tours, definitely not the jeep or bus tours). The tour is safe, relaxed, and honest. The guides are responsible, disciplined, and organized, explain anything you ask them, know the favela in depth from their daily lives, and are friendly and welcoming. Moreover, they understand where you come from, so they can explain things from your perspective.

Bring a camera, any type is fine, bring comfortable walking shoes, definitely some extra cash for food/drinks/souvenirs, and dress comfortably. And remember that you represent your country of origin while there. You will be safe.

HOW IT WENT:
After having exchanged some emails with Zezinho a few days before, we set up an appointment for a tour and met our guide named Dembore at 9:45 am on the sidewalks of Ipanema. Dembore was perfectly on time and he met us (my girlfriend and I) along with a few other guests like us (6 total). He knew our names already and checked to see if we were the right persons. Dembore explained that we would be taking a bus up the hill to the top of Rocinha (bus fare is included in the price so he paid for everyone) and then we would be walking down through the streets and alleys of Rocinha with him.

And so we did, arriving at the top of the hill by bus where immediately some local residents selling souvenirs (music, paintings, fruit soaps) greeted us with smiles and made us feel welcome and safe right off the bat. There was no real pressure to buy anything, but we bought a CD of samba music made by one of the locals. Then Dembore gave us a few quick rules: you can take photos of anything except the police squads (the police are very tense and not always very nice); you can take pictures with local residents in the background, but please do not take photos of them from inches away without first asking or conversing a bit with them, just like you would do anywhere else in the world (in other words have respect); and be careful of where you put your feet when you walk around since there are many uneven spots and random dog poop on the sidewalks.

The UPP police presence was prominent in almost every corner (apparently they were running an "operation" that day), and was, to be honest, intimidating (large rifles, M-16's, popping out of their car windows at an angle as they drove by and stared). I actually felt more at ease when the police was not around. Otherwise, we never felt threatened by any residents at all, everybody was just normal living people going about their day and seemed used to having tourists around. Interestingly, they seemed as interested in us as we were in them! And the kids! The kids were great, running around as they left school, asking us to take pictures of them and always smiling, laughing and playing.

The rest of the visit was amazing, informative and enlightening, as we descended first on the main streets, then through the narrow alleyways where local residents go about their days as they would in any other part of the world. We started off with a couple stunning views of Rocinha and Rio from the top of the hill (really some of the best views of the city), and then descended through from there, all the while the very well spoken (in three languages!) Dembore gave us an explanation of Brazilian life from the viewpoint of favela residents, a side of things that you will never get anywhere else but from a favela. Media coverage only shows one side, and even the several books and articles about favelas do not offer as much insight as just a few hours spent on a local visit. Moreover, the visit was very interactive, with many questions and answers, discussions about issues, points of view, ideas, etc.

We ended the tour at the bottom of the hill, sort of a "downtown" of Rocinha, where Dembore showed us his DJ school and where we went to an excellent local "por Kilo" restaurant for a very late lunch (it was bout 2:30 pm by then, but we did buy other small snacks earlier in the visit). Delicious meats and vegetables. Very satisfying. After the meal, we paid Dembore for the visit (R$ 65, cash only) and he walked us back to the bus stop that would take us back to Ipanema or wherever else we wanted to go. He explained which bus to take, gave us cash for the return trip (also included in the tour price) and waited with us until all of us had boarded the bus.

OVERALL FEELINGS/IMPRESSIONS:
The visit felt safe and organized, and any fears I had prior to visiting dissolved as time passed. Rather than a "tour" it felt more like a visit with friends, a walking conversation. The thing I understood with this tour is that favelas contain normal people, who just go about their day and live with normal emotions and desires. Not criminals. Nobody is out to screw over anyone else, and actually depend on each other quite a bit, more so than in richer parts of the world. The UPP police presence was quite intimidating, it felt like being in an Afghan village occupied by soldiers. As always, there is more than one side to every story. I loved the tour, however it is difficult to explain why I liked it so much--it is hard to formulate into words. The only thing you can do to understand is to experience it yourself.

I am definitely glad I went on the tour, and I would do it again next time I visit it Rio. That said, you should only do it if you really have an interest in favelas, their people, history, culture and dynamics. Do not go just to brag about it at home, and do not go in hopes of seeing criminals and drug dealers roaming (you will not). If you are not genuinely interested in the phenomenon of favelas, just don't do it, you won't appreciate it much and Rio has so many great things to do that you'll find something else. However, if you are truly interested, genuinely, this visit cannot be missed, it is a MUST. It will be a highlight of your travels.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Fede I
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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