By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The favela communities of Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho have restored a hiking trail along their hills in order to boost ecotourism in the communities. The peak of the trail lies on 200 meters and offers a great view over the city including Ipanema and Copacabana beach, the Lagoa and on clear days even Niterói on the other side of the bay.
The trail was restored with the help of PAC Social investments and can be visited with local guides through the Museu de Favela (Favela Museum) located on the Morro do Cantagalo hill. The museum already offers several tours through the communities, such as for example the Casas Telas tour showing local art and murals.
The new trail will start in Cantagalo and continues on to Pavão-Pavãozinho to the border between the neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema. It was created out of several older trails with some parts now closed through reforestation.
“This was an underutilized space, with several trails that looked like Swiss cheese,” Lúcio Meirelles Palma, a eco-trail consultant, who was involved in the creation of the new trail explained.
The parts of the path that were restored were chosen based on sustainability, drainage and landscape aspects. It was labeled properly and a guide office was installed. Additionally, residents of the communities were taught how to preserve the trail, allowing the communities to take care of the trail themselves.
“Well cared for, it [the trail] constitutes an important recreational area and can also generate income through tourism,” Palma explained.
“The top of the hills were inaccessible to residents for a long time, as they were used by drug dealers and people were afraid to go up. Now thy will be a tourist attraction,” PAC coordinator Ruth Jurberg added.