What to Know Before Visiting Brazil’s Favelas: An Insider’s Guide

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If you’re from an upper or middle class background in Brazil, people might not want you to visit a favela (slum) because it is dangerous and risky. They may even ask you why would you even want to go there?

Going to these types of places just for sightseeing isn’t good; it’s like visiting a place with humans as exhibits!

If you want to understand the lives of people living in a community, spending time and connecting with them, or even celebrate their culture and support local ventures or social projects – this is what travelling is all about!

Maybe visiting a favela in Brazil isn’t that bad. Here’s some useful information for you if you do decide to visit one.

Connecting with Local People in a Favela

Tourism can be a great way to celebrate different cultures that come from areas that people don’t usually think of. However, if it focuses too much on potential problems, people forget how important and influential these places are.

An example is favelas. These neighborhoods can feel unsafe compared to other areas of the city but they also have lots of amazing people living there like talented singers, rappers, dancers, artists and athletes as well as entrepreneurs who work hard to build successful businesses.

Micael Amarante, who worked in the UPP favela pacification project in Rio, said that nowadays, favela culture is the most important culture in Brazil. But life in favelas isn’t always nice – these people face a lot of hard times and need to be creative just to survive.

Do you ever want to find out what it’s like to live in a favela? Then, you should read “Quarto de Despejo – Diário de Uma Favelada”, which is an autobiography other by Carolina Maria de Jesus. This gives us detailed information about everyday life in a favela located in Sao Paulo. This book is currently available in 13 languages and even though the information was from the 1950s, it’s still relevant today.

If you’re visiting a favela (Brazilian slums), it’s important to understand both the good and bad things about life in one. This will let you better connect with the local people there. Also, it’s usually okay to take photos if you get permission first!

Navigating a Favela

Even though they go through tough times, people living in the favela are usually very friendly and nice. But if you want to visit, there are some rules that you should follow.

Avoid Unsafe Areas

Try and figure out which areas are safe. Stay away from certain streets, as they can be dangerous places where people get kidnapped for human trafficking. Whenever someone tells you to avoid a place, make sure to stay away from it for your own safety.

Get Lost No More! Guides and Locals Can Lead the Way

It’s easy to get confused in the winding streets, so bring someone to show you around like a tour guide or a friend from a social project. If ever you are lost and don’t know where to go, just tell any local who you are, who is with you and why you’re in the area. They will help you find your way without any problems once they know what your purpose is.

Capturing Favela Culture in Brazil

It’s okay to take pictures in favelas, but make sure you don’t take any which show someone’s face unless you’ve asked for permission first. Some gangs that have a lot of control over some favelas don’t even want pictures taken at all and police can prosecute anyone if something illegal is seen in one of the photos (like smoking weed or drinking alcohol). Here are some ideas on how to experience favela culture in Brazil:

Vidigal’s homes are built up the side of Dois Irmãos mountain and you can see them in all their glory when you look at Shutterstock images.

Get Ready to Explore Rio de Janeiro’s Amazing Attractions

Vidigal and its smaller brother Chácara do Céu are close to two expensive neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. These towns have lots of houses made from concrete, brick and blocks that go up a famous mountain called Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers). From here, people can see amazing sights like Ipanema, Leblon, the Lagoa and the Cagarras Islands.

Vidigal was a popular spot for tourists because of its great location. Bars, places to party, restaurants, and hostels started sprouting up all over the hillside. Celebrities like David Beckham and Madonna even bought homes there! A huge expensive hotel also opened up on the hilltop.

If you want to explore some of the best attractions in Rio de Janeiro, then head to Alto Vidigal. It’s a party spot that sits on top of a hill and offers stunning views. Right next door is Bar do Lage – a bar and restaurant with just as amazing sights. If you’re looking for some Italian-South American food, check out Flor do Céu in Chácara do Céu (just make sure you have reservations). You can also catch an awesome show at Nós do Morro theater group or visit the Sitiê Parque Ecológico for a nature trip. Last but not least, take the trail to reach the summit of Dois Irmãos mountain!

Explore the Heart of Samba at the Iconic Morro da Mangueira!

The neighborhoods of the North part of Rio aren’t as safe or popular to visit as those in South, but if you’re into samba music, then there is only one place you must go: Morro da Mangueira. That’s where Rio’s first samba school is located, also known as GRES Estação Primeira de Mangueira. Many Brazilians love Carnival and samba music and that is especially true for natives of Morro da Mangueira.

“Visiting a samba school during Carnival in Brazil is an exciting way to learn more about our culture,” said Monica Bertazzolo, a tourism guide from Mangueira. You can even take tours of or watch special performances at the Cidade de Samba – that’s where all the samba schools have their final preparations!

Morro da Babilônia is a place that has incredible ocean views and fun rainforest hiking activities. You will feel like you’re in paradise with all the amazing sights you can see!

Explore the Marvels of Morro da Babilônia and Chapéu Mangueira!

At the end of Copacabana Beach, near a residential area called Leme, there are two places known as Morro da Babilônia and Chapéu Mangueira. They offer beautiful ocean views and are a great place to go hiking in the Atlantic rainforest. Plus, you can find some really tasty bar food there too!

For tourists, the itinerary includes a stop at Mural Babilonia, which is 140 meters long and made of mosaics. Then you can take a guided hike to Vulture Rock, followed by some sunset drinks at Estrelas da Babilonia after climbing the stairs. Last but not least, a trip to Bar do David is a must! It was rated as the 2nd-best bar food in town according to the Comida di Buteco competition.

“Exploring the Artistic Talent of Paraisópolis

Paraisópolis is the second biggest neighborhood in São Paulo and it has around 100,000 people living there. Estevão Silva Conceição is someone who stands out with his unusual style when it comes to making buildings. People call him the Brazilian Gaudi!

In 2019, Conceição’s house was part of a project called Circuito Paraisópolis das Artes. This was an art tour in the neighbourhood that featured things like the Ballet Paraisópolis, the BECEI Library and Casa de PET. The latter was made from green plastic PET bottles by Sr Antenor – another artist living in the community.

Unfortunately, the virus called coronavirus stopped a project, but people still give tours here to show off the art skills of Paraisópolis’ residents. These tours are set up by leaders from the community.

Get Up Close and Personal with Favela Culture

If you want to learn more about favela culture without putting yourself in danger, try going to Lapa in Rio and attending a carioca funk show at the Fundição Progresso or take part in a traditional Roda de Samba. In São Paulo, check out the recently built Museu de Favela which provides great insight into the vibrant street culture of Brazil that’s like a lifeblood there.

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