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Bonito: Caribbean Of The Brazilian Central-West

November 9, 2013

Also known as the world’s “Capital of Ecotourism”, Bonito, Brazil has so far lived up to all of its nicknames. Bonito is part of a of the Serra da Bodoquena National Park, located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), in the central-west region of Brazil.

Bonito is home to some of the clearest waters in the world, and its breathtaking rivers are more refreshing than anything you could ever imagine! So why not take a break from museums, architecture and urban life and take a dip in this Heaven on Earth?

The local authorities restrict the number of tourists the region can receive a year, and a great number of tours can only be booked at official travel agencies, which offer accredited guides. All of this is to make sure Bonito’s natural beauty stays the same, and can be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come.

How to get there

The easiest ways to reach Bonito are via Campo Grande Airport (Mato Grosso do Sul) or Viracopos Airport (near São Paulo). Both cities have busy airports served by major local or international airlines. From there, you have the following choices:

Flying: Bonito is served by Bonito Regional Airport. TRIP Airlines offers direct low-cost flights from Campo Grande, Viracopos and Corumbá airports. Asta Air Transport also offers flights from Campo Grande, Corumbá and Cuiabá, using smaller Cessna Caravan aircraft which can carry 9 passengers.

Driving: There are five daily buses from Campo Grande, and others from Jardim and Dourados. The vehicles are very modern, and count with air conditioning, comfortable reclining seats, toilets and TVs. There are also vans, departing daily at 15:00 from Campo Grande’s coach station. Because of its topography and vegetation, Brazil’s rail links do not serve most of its territory.

Where to stay

Bonito has hotels suitable for all sorts of travelers, from small family-run bed-and-breakfasts (pousadas, in Portuguese) to 5-star resorts. Most of them have equally adequate accommodation, with air conditioned rooms, good breakfast and TV. As the price goes up, commodities like swimming pools and saunas get added to the pack.

Tip: In most businesses in Bonito and Brazil, the staff will not speak English. While Spanish is understood to some extent, be sure to learn a few words in Portuguese before your trip, and carry a handbook with you at all times! Click here for a basic guide.

What to do in Bonito

Bonito has 30 official tours offered by the travel agencies, which cater to all tastes.

Grottos

The Blue Lake Grotto (Gruta do Lago Azul) and the St. Michael’s Grottos (Grutas de São Miguel) offer some breathtaking sights.

The Blue Lake Grotto, 100m underground, houses one of the biggest flooded caves in the world – the lake’s estimated depth is of 90m. With an amazing atmosphere, created by the fresh air, deep blue and clear waters and stunning stalactites and stalagmites formations, it is definitely a must see!

The lake amuses tourists and researchers alike – no one knows the exact source of the waters, and divers have found fossils of giant sloths and saber-toothed cats resting in it.

Tip #3: The Blue Lake Grotto is especially beautiful between December and January, when the sun shines straight into its entrance.

The St. Michael’s Grottos are also one of the most popular attractions, taking you through many caves swarming with pearls, stalactites and stalagmites, plus with informative videos, lectures and an exciting suspended trail.

Adventure

For those with a love for adrenaline, Bonito offers six official tours: the Anhumas Abyss, the Baía Bonita natural aquarium, rafting and scuba diving in the Formoso River, “Buoy Cross” (rafting on individual buoys), all-weather ATV trails and a tree-top adventure park.

The Anhumas Abyss, the most famous of them, is often compared to a trip to the Earth’s core. Consisting of a 72m rappel descent into a cave with magnificent formations and a crystal-clear lake, it has a limit of 16 people per day – for both safety and environmental reasons. If you have a scuba diving certificate, you may dive up to 18 meters in a 177m circuit established at the bottom of the lake.

Snorkeling

Bonito’s clear waters are perfect for relaxing snorkeling trips. With diving suits provided by the travel agencies, you can swim and see the beautiful vegetation and enormous shoals. The waters are very refreshing and make you feel like a part of nature – it is an experience you can only ever have in Bonito.

Relaxation

If you love tropical animals, the “Buraco das Araras” is the place for you. An enormous sinkhole 124m deep and 160m wide you can admire from a trail around it, it is home to numerous red macaws, toucans, monkeys, anteaters and many other animals. They live in  the trees and in cracks on the walls, and from above, you have the perfect place to watch them in peace. Besides that, Bonito is also home to many waterfalls and resorts, where you can swim and enjoy yourself for as long as you want!

Why not do something different and trade the salty waters of the Caribbean for the fresh Brazilian rivers? Create your route in Trekeffect, share it with your friends and have the best summer ever!

Mariya Tugayeva

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Maria Tugayeva
Mariya is a Marketing guru and writer, with a world experience from living and growing up in different countries. Her work quote is: "In a word: pleasure. It's like, my pleasure in other people's leisure." -Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Trainspotting