Whilst in Rio we had wanted to visit the favelas, but favela tours were all booked up in advance and we thought we would miss the opportunity…but on our last night in Rio an Argentinian guy who worked in the hostel we were in offered to take us on a trip to two of the favelas in Rio to have a look….and so started our night.
After a very long bus ride (all the favelas are situated outside of the city – and in Rio this means up the surrounding mountains), we arrived at the first favela. We were greeted to spectacular views…rivalled only by Christ the redeemer statue. About seven armed policemen stood at the base of the favela…which I think served to make us more nervous rather than feel safer…the favela had amazing graffiti all over the walls and was like a rabbit warren of small concrete steps and breeze block houses, some of which had satellite tv. We climbed higher and higher until a random man chatted to our Argentinian friend and basically said we weren’t welcome unless with a guide from the favela itself. So back down we went to the bottom of the favela and we sat at one of their cafes sharing many a beer and watching the sunset over Rio in the peace of the favela -magical.
We then got on another bus and off to a different favela, very similar to the previous apart from less artistic graffiti. In ths one we were able to climb higher and higher and even got to listen to their Church band practice. The people were very welcoming and we stopped off again to take in the scenery and enjoy the atmosphere before heading back to our hostel in the early hours.
The favelas we visited weren’t the usual ones we would have seen on tours and actually were probably some of places I felt most safe in Rio. And the residents must be fit….the number of stairs just to get to their houses is unbelieVable!