Venturing into the favelas as a tourist is not the first to think of when you are visiting Rio de Janeiro. Our curiosity was nevertheless raised by the other darker side of this in many ways beautiful and vibrant city. When we heard about the possibility to go into the favelas under guidance of a local, we did not have to think twice.
Whereas some years ago it would have been pretty unsafe to go into the favela’s for tourists and Brazilians alike – and most of them are still no go zones – due to the urban development program ex-president Lula started in 2007 life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro has improved considerably. The program has been claimed to be a big success in amongs others the favelas Vila Canoas and Rocinha, the latter one being the biggest favela in Rio. Criminality rates in these two favelas have been lowered to such an extent, that we could walk around freely through the small alleys, seeing and hearing about the improvements made at accelerated speed not even too long ago.