At embark.org, we do our best to promote true cultural experience in travel. Quite often the most authentic experiences of a city lie in seeing the unpromoted, unglorified evidence of its people as they mete out their day-to-day lives. A lot of tourism organizations do tours of impoverished areas and little to no profits go to the people of the area and few to no community members are employed, turning it into less of a mission of human empathy and more of a perpetual zoo of human exploitation. Then we find a group like Favela Adventures, an organization created by community members in the Rocinha neighborhood to give visitors a chance to see their world. They give training in local arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Capoeira, as well as provide half or full day tours of the sights, sounds, and smells of their hillside neighborhood, which is considered the biggest favela (slum) in Rio. Check their official site for itineraries, costs, and other pertinent information.
Location:Rio de Janeiro
Note:Please be aware that there is an element of danger to touring impoverished areas. At the end of 2011, there was an increased police presence in Rocinha in response to high drug trafficking. That being said, if you are interested in an authentic cultural experience in Rio, this is an excellent opportunity.