Bobbing around Bonito

Trip Start Jan 09, 2011
Trip End Oct 13, 2011

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Mato Grosso do Sul,
Friday, April 8, 2011

From Iguazu Falls we headed north into Brazil via Toledo, crossing the Rio Parana (again) at Guaira. It was one big farm on both sides of the road - corn and sugar cane being the major crops and as you may guess it was hard to find a camp. And of course anywhere near a river or creek was flooded and it was still raining .... heavily! One night was spent camped behind a small little used church - the only spot of dry land that wasn't cultivated that we could find with good (meaning 'not boggy') access off the main highway.

After a few days got to the tourist town of Bonito, although it is hardly heard of outside Brazil. Found a great little camp at the Pousada do Peralta ( on the edge of town and what made it really amazing was the magnificent birds that came in for a feed each day. And the weather changed!

The surrounding area is quite hilly and patchworked with delightful cerrado forest interspersed with rich green grasslands. Clear water streams, waterfalls and limestone caves dot the region making it the biggest eco tourism area in the country.

Got into tourist mode and headed to the Aquario Natural which is a spring fed stream where you can snorkel. It's a bit of bull - they supply a wetsuit, a buoyancy vest (!) and a guide who takes you for a 'training session' in a swimming pool before you wander along the boardwalk through the surrounding jungle to the edge of the pool.

Think of Ewan Ponds (near Mt Gambier in SA) but it is shallower with only one spot bubbling sand where the water comes up from underground. The creek is about 30' wide with a narrow and deeper (5-6') main channel where there is a bit of current that pushes you along. The visibility would have to be around 100' or more so it was quite pleasant. Quite a few large fish, most being 'Piraputanga' but there were also some large carp-like fish called a 'Piaussu' and 'Curimbata'. There were many smaller species of fish including a real small bright orange one, called 'Mato-Grosso' - the name of the state we are in. The swim is about 1km long.

Next day we went to the Lake Cave or the Gruta do Lago Azul. There's a steep walk into the cave down a 100 metres or so via some rough steps to just above the water which is another 10-20 metres below. It's crystal clear. Light comes into the cave from above and hits the water in January, Feb and early March - we were just a little too late for that. Gotta tell you there is some good cave diving around here and Bonito has three dive shops catering for that.

After three days at Bonito enjoying the ambience, the bars and streetside cafes we got back on the road and headed north for the Pantanal - of course not without doing some shopping for food and supplies.

For overlanders and those with a particular bent on travelling this continent there's more access and camping info up on the pages of - YES, it's there! Just follow the links to our South American Overland page.
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