Enchanting and alluring Bonito is a fascinating small town sitting comfortably on the edge of the Patanal, the world’s largest wetlands. Bonito is a bit off-the-beaten track in terms of accessibility – it’s not located en route to the Pantanal, and therefore requires planning to get there. Known as the eco-tourism capital, Bonito is a town that simply should not be missed. And for what reason? The town is centred around the headway of crystalline rivers teeming with colourful fish – it’s a snorkelling paradise. It’s also home to the world’s largest sinkhole that is of great ecological significance – there are 100s of nesting macaws. Of course, if that’s not enough there are lakes inside caves dripping with stalactites.
Bonito in Brazil is a water-based adventure capital, and there are so many tours on offer. Most of these tours (discussed below) start from a central meeting point and normally the transport to and from your hotel is not included. This can get expensive if you’re not staying in the town, or haven’t hired your own car. In terms of accommodation, we recommend the Zagaia eco-resort hotel located in a large park in the centre of Bonito town. The hotel was nominated as the “Best Ecotourism Destination of Brazil” and all tours to surrounding areas can be arranged while at the hotel. Not only is it the perfect place to base yourself for adventure activities, but it’s also the perfect place to unwind and spend time with your family – it really caters for all types of travellers!
Snorkelling is a highlight in Bonito. Hailed as being home to the cleanest and purest water on the continent, the Prata River certainly provides endless snorkelling opportunities. There is a high limestone concentration in the area, which is why the waters are so clear (limestone acts as nature’s filter). And there are actually two spring-fed rivers which means the water is warm. It’s an aquatic playground beneath the surface, and the crystalline waters ensure 100% visibility of the underwater world. There is also another pristine place to snorkel, which is Lagoa Misteriosa – also known as the “mysterious lagoon” because of its sky-blue waters. This lagoon has 60m visibility and is one of the deepest “flooded” caves in Brazil – no filter needed when you take photographs!
Hiking paths will take you up into the hills overlooking the rivers, where there is a 156 m high waterfall tumbling into the Mimoso River. When you’re done exploring underground lakes and ogling over flocks pf macaws nesting; head into the town to sample local cuisine at Casa do Joao – a restaurant known for its freshwater fish.
If you fancy caving and rappelling some 72 metres down into the depths of the earth, then Abismo Anhumas is your spot. This submerged cave houses a crystal clear lake home to some of the largest underwater stalagmites in the world.
The environment alone is a melting pot of the surrounding environments : Underwater scenes, wetlands, waterfalls, birding, geography and jungles. And the town buzzes with activity. That’s why we thinkg Bonito is best – don’t miss it. Spend a few nights in this garden of eden paradise and combine it with your safari to the Pantanal.
Getting There : You need to fly into Mato Grosso do Su and either hire a car or take a bus.