Discover the famous favelas in the safe hands of an organised tour group
See the favelas up close
Director Fernando Meirelles shows his more human side in his film City of God, while José Padilha depicts a more violent Brazil in the Elite Squad saga. These are, in fact, two faces of the same reality: the Brazilian favelas. They originated from the surge of emigrants who relocated from the countryside to the city during the 70s and 80s, almost causing complete chaos. Rocinha is one of the most populated, with more than 300,000 inhabitants. These favelas, which are home to the more humble population, are famed for drug trafficking, brutal gun fights with the police forces and the gang violence which runs rampant through their narrow streets. Nevertheless, organisations such as Favela Tour (www.favelatour.com.br) offer completely safe guided tours to these towns. If you are really keen to understand this Brazilian way of life, you can visit areas like Vila Canoa or the busy Rocinha with the guides from this agency. By doing so you will be contributing to a good cause, as all the proceeds are used for development and education projects, such as the maintenance of schools in which the youngsters from the favelas try to build a future away from this tough life.