Because of difficulty understanding directions, the family ended up in a slum area known to have drug traffickers, according to the O Dia newspaper.
Authorities say a group of people approached the vehicle and yelled at them to either leave the area or get out of the auto, but the family didn't understand the orders and someone opened fire.
A Kent mum-of-three has been wounded after being shot at while "looking for water" on holiday in Brazil, police say.
A police statement said the woman was hit in the abdomen and was being treated in hospital. They ended up going to the Agua Santa neighbourhood where they were targeted by criminals.
"Because they did not understand the order to leave, they continued on and were shot". It did not give her condition.
The 46-year-old, who was born in Dartford and went to Painters Ash Primary School in Northfleet, was targeted by a gang while on holiday, the Daily Mail reports.
Brazilian police are now hunting the two gunmen.
The Foreign Office said: "The Foreign Office is in touch with local authorities in Rio de Janeiro following reports of a British national being shot near the city".
Armed men on the streets of a Brazilian favela.
It also warned tourists to be especially wary of favelas, which are "unpredictably risky areas".
Police said the family were travelling were about 150km (90 miles) west of Rio de Janeiro on the Costa Verde when the incident happened.
The area is a popular getaway for Rio residents.
Slave ships also arrived there with hundreds of slaves to supply forced labour in the region's coffee plantations.