Ethical favela tours in Rio?
October 2, 2013 8:13 PM Subscribe
I would like to see the favelas while I'm in Rio. I'd also like to not engage in poverty tourism. Is it possible to ethically and safely tour favela neighborhoods?
posted by whoaali to travel & transportation around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I should start out by saying I don't speak Spanish and while I'm an experienced traveler overall I've never been to Rio and wouldn't feel safe wandering around a favela neighborhood without a guide.
Poverty tourism and treating poor people like museum exhibits makes me deeply uncomfortable. I have no interest in going inside anyone's home as that seem invasive and bizarre, but I would like to walk around the streets of a favela neighborhood. It's a huge part of Rio and it seems weird to go there and not see how half the population lives. I've been to plenty of shanty towns around the world, but it is my understanding that the favelas are potentially very dangerous (although I think some are improving dramatically). Not know what I'm doinging and not speaking Spanish precludes me from going on my own safely. There are lots of favela tours, but from what I've read the guides bribe drug lords for safe passage, which is also something I'd rather not participate in.
Is there any ethical and safe ways to do a brief walking tour of a favela neighborhood? Any tour companies that are sensitive to these concerns? If it just isn't possible then I won't go. This was my initial instinct, but the more I think about it the more I think it's a unique experience I shouldn't just walk away from.