This week we continue our voluntourism series in popular hotspot Rio de Janeiro—proving you don’t have to go regional or remote to turn your holiday into a positive experience for many.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With its five-star hotels, glamorous nightspots and beautiful people it can be easy to forget that Rio de Janeiro is still a third world city. More than 500 favelas, or shanty towns, cover the hills that surround the city and are home to almost 20 per cent of Rio’s population.
Crime is rife, poverty is crippling and in many of the favelas the law is in the hands of drug lords instead of the police. But the favelas are also home to ordinary working people who cannot afford to live anywhere else. In recent years, and especially in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics, a process of urban renewal has begun.
Remember to also take care of yourself on your holiday, with appropriate travel insurance. You can find a policy here.
Voluntourism projects allow visitors into the favelas to work with the communities, beautifying living environment by painting murals on walls or working to repair rundown buildings. You can play a game of soccer with sports-mad local children or volunteer as a reading partner to help them improve their English. If visitors have specific skills, such as medical training, they can offer their services at the local clinic for a day.
But you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to participate. Hands Up Holidays runs high-end, fully customisable voluntourism projects in the Pereirao favela that are hosted by a private guide, with luxury boutique accommodation at the Santa Teresa Hotel. The Renewing Rio in Style 10-day tour includes sightseeing and favela visits, and prices start from US$5,850 per person for a minimum of two people. handsupholidays.com
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