Bonito - Brazil's Caribbean Away from the Coast
by Zemalopes on March 1, 2011
This little, cozy town close to the wetlands is unique with crystal clear water, huge fish and amazing regional food. "Bonito" means beautiful in Portuguese. Bonito is not beautiful; it is breathtaking.
LITTLE BIT OF INFO
Bonito is located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul in central west Brazil near Bolivia and Paraguay. It is just three hours from the Pantanal, Brazil's wetland; four hours from Campo Grande, the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul; and five hours from Corumbá, near the border with Bolivia.
The waters in this area are known for their immense clarity. The concentration of limestone in the ground serves as a natural filter, purifying the water. As a result, the water is extraordinarily clear, making snorkeling and swimming a popular past time.
To get to Bonito, you need to go to Campo Grande in Mato Grosso do Sul. From there, you can catch a four-hour bus on Viaçao Cruzeiro do Sul to Bonito for around R$40-50. The bus leaves every two hours from 6am to 7pm. From Bolivia, you will cross the Brazilian border at Corumbá. From Corumbá, it is a five-hour bus ride to Bonito. Several bus companies operate the route.
WHAT TO DO
People go to Bonito mainly to float and snorkel the clear waters of the Rio da Prata. The tour starts in the morning and the ride to the farm takes an hour. There, you change into your swimsuit and meet the guide. Most guides don't speak English, so make sure when you book your tour to ask for an English-speaking guide. The buffet includes regional food and is amazing.
Prices range from R$110-150, depending on the season. As the river is located on private property and is the only one, it is quite hard to find different prices in the agencies. I recommend Pousada Muito Bonito Hostel and Agency.
You can also visit the cave of the blue lagoon and do some rappelling in the Abismo de Anhumas, located just outside Bonito. To rappel, you will need at least three days--two for training and one to do it. The cost is around R$300-600. Once in the cave, you can go snorkeling or diving.
If you want to relax, you can go to the “beach,” which is basically an area with a football field, volleyball field and some bars around the river. You can also see fish, feed them and see monkeys. The most famous is the Balneario Municipal, about 30 minutes from the center. You can rent a bike and go there for a swim.
In Bonito, there is a bar called Taboa Bar, and they also have their own cachaça, a Brazilian liquor made from sugar cane. They have an amazing menu; try the crocodile beef. There is always live music and good service.
If you go to Bonito in mid-June, you will find the city full because of the winter festival. You will see lots of music and theater groups. It will be really hard to find a place to stay so book ahead.