This is one of the largest shantytowns in South America with over 200,000 inhabitants. We took an organized tour to take a look inside.
When we arrived at the favela we took individual rides up the hill on the back of local's motorcycles and then walked into one of the only named streets in the favela. All of the entrances to each favela are guarded by drug lords, with walkie talkies and fireworks. If any police or suspicious people enter the favela, they set off the fireworks to warn everyone. If I understand correctly, before the company that does the tours began, they had to have permission from the drug dealers in the area to bring people through.
In favelas, the way to claim a piece of land is to build on it. According to our guide, people who live here are offered land outside of the city, but because of Rocinha's prime location next to the city centre and tourist destinations, many individuals prefer to live here as they can earn a better living working and living so close to the city.