Bonito – The Capital of Eco-Tourism
Bonito in Brazil is called the Capital of Eco-tourism and rightly so. The city is located in the Matto Grosso do Sul region of Brazil and is a heaven for all the adventure lovers. It is one thing to wander off looking for hidden niches at different corners of the world and completely another to find most of them preserved and found in just one region. The town’s name in Portuguese loosely translates to ‘pretty’ and the city welcomes you with a backdrop of green mountains waiting to be climbed.
Imagine taking a boat ride 72 metres below the ground or scuba diving in a mysterious lagoon. If the thought of it makes you want to crawl out of your comfort zone and jump right on into the list of adventures, this is the right place for you. Clearwater, colourful fishes, natural vegetation and hidden caverns, Bonito is much more than what you can imagine but before we jump onto the list of the top attractions, let’s get to know the town a little better.
Best time to visit Bonito
The best time to visit this town is December & March (Summer & Rainy Season), that’s when you can thoroughly enjoy the spectacular sites, lush greens, cascading waterfalls & high river levels. The city offers a tropical climate and hence it’s raining throughout the year but November is the wettest month and should be completely avoided.
Expect your internet to stop working if you start seeing pouring rains outside in this town. Lastly, it’s wise to pack adventure clothes including your hiking shoes, layers and layers of clothes, sun/bug protection, etc.
In & Around the City
The town is paved with cobblestone streets and rustic shops and hotels with a story behind each one of them. Upon entering the town, you will be ambushed by the earthly smell and small-town art & cultural vibe.
Once you are in the city, make sure you have your digital voucher with you, which is issued by the local tourism agencies to make sure the tourists abide by the rules to create the least impact on the natural preservations of the town. The voucher acts as a passport that you must carry with you at all times and it is highly recommended to buy the voucher beforehand.
Most of the attractions here are privately owned and hence the visiting fee for each one of them differs at a different time of the year falling into the category of ‘Off-Season’ & ‘On-Season’. The prices are decided by the owners and advertised by the agencies.
The best way to reach the city is by landing in the capital city of Mato Grosso do Sul which is Campe Grande and home to the nearest international airport. From there you can easily find a cab or a bus to drop you off at Bonito, located 300kms away from the city.
The optimum way to travel in and around the city is by foot, but if you are not a huge fan of walking, do rent a car to take you around as in does not include in the tour packages.
Before booking a tour or a package, make sure to have asked for an English tour guide as most of the guides you get are Portuguese and its really tough to get the gist of the place if you cannot understand the history behind it.
The Must-Visits of Bonito
A natural architectural wonder, Abismo Anhumas (Into the Abyss!) is a huge hole into the face of the earth with a beautiful crystal clear water body beneath it. The thought of being inside it is surreal but here’s the tricky part – to get down, you are required to rappel your way 72 feet (almost about 30 stories in height) below the ground before you are welcomed by the crystal clear emerald coloured water body.
Once your feet touch the bridge-like structure floating steadily on the water, you will be surprised by the vastness of the cavern which is more or less of the size of a football field.
Although the abyss is accompanied by daily tourists, the tour guides test their clients to see if they can and are willing to climb down and up again through a narrow shaft or rock.
Take a boat ride or dive into the clear waters filled with fishes and huge limestones to have an overall life-changing experience. If you think, climbing down was difficult, wait till you have to climb all the back up to have a real adventure. Don’t forget to dress comfortable and have your sports shoes on!
One of the largest submerged caves in Brazil, Lago Misteriosa is an underwater adventure hotspot with a unique environment. The word ‘lago misteriosa’ translates to Mysterious Lagoon and has incredible depth with crystal-like waters.
The cave is one of the most flooded caves of all time and can be reached by climbing down the stairs of 170 steps after which you can swim your way through the mysterious cave in the presence of small fishes, majestic eels and rays of light hitting the surface of the water body.
The depth of the lagoon stays a mystery to everyone but rest assured as even without actually knowing how to swim, you are going to have a marvellous time floating and snorkelling in it.
Lago Misteriosa is shut between January & April due to the blooming of algae.
Boca da Onca Ecotour
One of the most famous and sought out tours for travellers of Bonita is the Boca da Onca Ecotour. The 4000m trail along the riparian forest of the Salobra river offers a tour of eight waterfalls and four bathing stops with a chance to take a chilly dip in a few of them.
Each waterfall offers a unique and pleasing experience surrounded by the natural vegetation of the town. The trail is set on a steep staircase which goes downhill or uphill depending on the starting point you end up choosing.
This spectacular combination of trekking and waterfalls is one of its kind and the most famous visiting spot in Bonita. Who would want to miss being in the presence of nature and be welcomed by a set of beautiful cascading waterfalls so make sure you have it on your itinerary to visit this place.
Gruta do Lago Azul Natural Monument
Also known as the Blue Cave, Gruta do Laga Azul Natural Monument is yet another cave or a set of two caves located in Bonito. The cave is made of interesting but also fragile formations made out of calcium carbonate. With the dimensions of the largest cavity on the planet, the blue lake in the is 80 metres deep illuminated with sunshine.
The best time to visit this site is between the months of September and February when the water takes on an intense blue colour which is mesmerizing to the naked eye. The way to the well-preserved lake bed is bypassing 100metres slope and walking down 300 rustic stairs but its absolutely worth it.
The imposing beauty of this lake attracts more than 300 visitors per day, so don’t forget to pre-book your tickets.
Another tour you don’t want to miss out on when in Bonito, is the Ceita Core which also means ‘land of my children’. The place is heavenly and the activities offered here are numerous. The destination is surrounded by riparian forests which make the place even more enchanting than it is. There are six waterfall trails laced with hardcore Brazilian woods that might be scarce and one of its kind.
You can also visit the source of River Chapeninha which has a mysterious underwater cave with freshwater and never-ending depth. What makes this place different from the rest is the feeling of being present in a magical and mesmerizing wooden kingdom where losing yourself into the woods and walking down the beautiful trails is nothing less than a mystical dream.
It’s almost impossible to visit the town and not fall in love with the charming sites that are perfectly preserved with its natural beauty. It might not be a cheap trip (monetary wise) but its definitely worth every penny.
While here are our top five attractions, look out for more to turn your trip into a vacation.
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