Rio de Janeiro's annual party is about to kick off. The world's biggest festival is a raging blur of colour, music, crowds and street parties baked under a tropical sun. We’ve compiled insider tips from a Rio local on how to leave a lighter footprint on one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Babilonia Rio Hostel in Rio has been created from locally salvaged construction materials and uses low wattage lights and water-saving taps throughout its colourful digs. Smart architecture lets in natural light and circulates the sea breeze, reducing electricity consumption. The hostel is perched above the Atlantic Ocean in the Babilonia favela, giving even those on a shoestring budget million dollar views. The hostel also runs a community outreach programme helping their neighbours in the favela to construct affordable housing.
Refeitório Orgânico sources local organic produce when available. With a focus on clean eating, the menu is 100 percent vegan and serves a wide range of salads, hot dishes and homemade sweets.
The emphasis is on modern Brazilian fusion cuisine. Standout dishes include a Peach palm and coconut stew served with creme of manioc as well as vegan takes on classic Brazilian snacks like Eggplant and sun-dried tomato pastels.
In a city where meat is mandatory, Refeitório Orgânico is a welcome rebel on the dining scene. Either opt for an all you can eat smorgasbord or pick dishes from the buffet and pay according to how many you choose.
Grab a bike from one of the many BikeRio stations dotted around the city and use pedal power to discover the main attractions. The bright orange bicycles have become a popular way to navigate Rio and are a great way to explore the city at your own pace.
Rio de Janeiro is very bike-friendly, with over 450 kilometres of cycleways connecting the suburbs to Downtown and the beaches. One of the best rides is through the 14 kilometres of tropical parklands connecting Downtown to Botafogo beach.
Simply download the BikeRio app onto your mobile and you’re good to go. (Keep in mind that you will need to be online to connect to the app, so either get a local SIM card or make sure you’ve got a decent roaming data plan.)
Bloco da Lama is a famous Carnival street party, held annually in the historically charming (and normally tranquil) seaside town of Paraty, a few hours out of Rio.
A ‘bloco’ is a free street party and one of the defining attractions of Carnival in Brazil. It’s also filthy good fun; revellers at Bloco da Lama smear themselves from head to toe in thick mud from the bay and then dance themselves silly all day. Ditch your expensive Carnival outfit for a natural costume that’s environmentally low impact and will simply wash off when you’ve had enough.
Extend your visit to Rio after the Carnival and give something back to the community with Project Favela.
Project Favela is a school in Rocinha, the city’s largest favela with a population of over 70,000. They also run early childhood education programmes and adult literacy courses, with an emphasis on breaking the cycle of poverty that exists for so many residents of Rocinha.
Volunteers can live and work in the favela alongside the community. The programme asks for a donation to cover running expenses and to reinvest into the school, however accommodation, airport transfers and 24/7 assistance are provided for those who want to spend some time helping with the programmes.
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