This is the largest favela (basically meaning shanty town) in Rio De Janeiro. A Brazilian man operating short visits took some mates and I through the township.
I had heard mixed reports about these tours from a variety of people. For example, the receptionist at my hostel was deeply opposed to the idea believing that it was tantamount to viewing animals in a zoo. On the flip side, others had given optimistic reviews. I decided to find out for myself by taking the tour.
Despite the obvious dangers I never encountered any hostilities. Although, we did hear distant booming flares used to warn drug dealers of approaching police. Also, it’s safe to say that had we been guide-less, the situation may have been very different.
At the end of the experience it was my opinion that the receptionist was wrong. I gained insights into the culture through the art, graffiti, welcoming people, and our guide. And, the views were outstanding, possibly the prime place from which to admire Rio in all its natural glory. From our vantage point we noticed that the wealthy hotels and the poor townships are just a stone’s throw away with no middle ground, reflecting the massive wealth distribution in Rio.
Further, part of the trip’s payment was donated to a school within the favela and there are opportunities to make donations to other schools during the trip. Our guide had personally set up his own school to keep kids from off the street in the evenings.
I took this photo from one of many rooftops deliberately composing it
so that only the houses were visible. My aim was to depict the dense
clutter of housing. It was taken with my first SLR (Nikon f65), hence
the grainy quality. I’m trying to find a place which will scan it for
me at excellent quality.