| We had a fantastic time discovering the Pantanal region and Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil where ecotourism and sustainability are the main focuses. Although we have spent many years traveling to, and writing about various parts of Brazil, this was our first trip to Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), and we instantly fell in love with it. Located in a region rich in history, there are prehistoric caves, waterfalls, pristine river springs, hiking trails, and an abundance of exotic animal life to discover; all of which we did!
Find your own Waterfall
Luxury Experience found theirs
Once part of the state of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul (MS), is in the mid-western part of Brazil and became a separate state in 1979. In mid-March 2019, we flew from Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in São Paulo to Campo Grande International Airport (CGR) to spend 5 whirlwind nights "discovering" the Pantanal and Bonito. Although we had a rental car and covered a lot of the area and had a fabulous time, there is still much for us to experience on future trips.
The Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland, is located primarily in the mid-western state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and covers an area of approximately 54,000 - 75,000 square miles (140,000 - 195, 000 sq. km), and extends to the neighboring state of Mato Grosso, and to the countries of Bolivia and Paraguay. The area is home to 1000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptile species, and more.
Where to Stay in Pantanal
We spent one night in the Pantanal at Pousada Pequi, a small and charming family-owned inn located in Aquidauana, known as the "southern gateway to the Pantanal tropical wetlands," and located 112 miles/180 km from Campo Grande.
Arriving late at night, we had a very nice dinner in the restaurant before heading off to sleep. In the morning, we were greeted by 2 talkative parrots sitting on a table outside our room. After a brief "conversation" we had a hearty and delicious breakfast in their restaurant where a selection of fresh fruit, homemade cheese, jellies, cakes, breads, yogurt, and more awaited.
Welcome to Pousada Pequi
The Pantanal is the home of exotic wildlife and an abundance of birds, and after "saying hello" to the Grande Rhea walking around the property, we went on an exciting photographic animal safari where our eyes never stopped looking and our cameras never stopped clicking away.
Is this my best side?
In addition to the Photographic Safari, Posada Pequi also offers many other adventures including Ecological Tours, Animals and Birds, Alligator Tours, Bird Watching, Carriage Rides, Milking Cows, Ecological Walks, Horseback Riding, Piranha Fishing, and River Tours.
Pousada Pequi Pool
For those that are looking for a more relaxing day, there is a swimming pool lined with inviting lounge chairs and sun umbrellas.
Their restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. Breakfast is served from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, Lunch is served from 12:00 to 1:00 pm, there is an Afternoon Snack at 3:00 pm, and Dinner is served from 8:00pm to 9:00 pm.
Read more Pousada Pequi in the Hotels and Resorts section
Read more about our Pequi Photographic Safari in the Adventures section.
For more information, please visit their website: http://www.pousadapequi.com.br/en/home
Estrada Rural ATM 04
(Estrada MS 171 40 km, área rural)
Aquidauana, Mato Grosso do Sul, (MS)
WhatsApp: +55 (67) 99934-5781
Experiences: Attractions and Adventures
The focus of the Pantanal and Bonito is on eco-tourism, where there is much to do and explore. We spent 5 fabulous nights in the region, 1 night in Pantanal and 4 nights in Bonito, and while we experienced much, there is so much to experience that we look forward to returning in the future to discover more.
Discovering Freshwater Fish at Aquario de Bonito
If you plan on doing any snorkeling while in Bonito, it is a great idea to first visit the Aquario de Bonito to learn about the freshwater fish that you might see while snorkeling in the many rivers, which will make the adventure more interesting. The Aquarium opened in 2007 and it is the first aquarium in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
The aquarium provides visitors to see rare and large varieties of fish with more than 3,000 fish in their large tanks which hold 200,000 liters of water. We had a great time touring the aquarium with their guide, as well as seeing and learning about the fish, having the chance to feed the "jumping" fish, and we even took time to stroke the adorable rays, which were velvety soft to the touch.
Aquario de Bonito is open daily from 9:00 am until 10:00 pm, children under 5 years of age are admitted free, and there is a special price for groups of 15 or more.
Read more about our experience at the Aquario de Bonito in the Adventures section.
For more information, please visit their website: www.aquariodebonito.com.br
• Watch as Debra C.Argen pets the stingrays - https://youtu.be/JFuVVG70XUQ
• Watch as Debra C.Argen feeds the jumping fish - https://youtu.be/wW5SVL_emqw
Aquario de Bonito
Rua 24 deFevereiro, 2083
Mato Grossodo Sul, (MS)
Telephone: +44 (67) 3255-3085
Website: www.aquariodebonito.com.br Facebook: www.Facebook.com/aquariodebonito
Rappelling at Abismo Anhumas
Luxury Experience Team ready to rappel
Yahoo! We loved our thrilling half-day adventure at Abismo Anhumas, a wet cave which opened to the public in 1999, and consists of rappelling a vertical descent of 72 meters (the equivalent of a 26-story building), followed by snorkeling or scuba diving (for certified divers with licenses) to explore the formations, a boat ride to explore the cave, then rappelling back up. The cave is located 23 km (14miles) from Bonito and is "the ultimate adventure" for adventure-lovers!
Adventure Kids (Edward F. Nesta & Debra C. Argen)
ready to rappel
Important Notes: You must attend a training class the night before you rappel, so plan your trip accordingly and book well in advance as they only allow 20 visitors each day. There is a minimum age of 11 as well as a weight limit. Certain health conditions may prevent you from being able to rappel. The cave is semi-dark and there are a few narrow spaces during the descent and ascent where you touch the cave walls. Certified scuba divers with diving cards can opt to dive the site however you must book this in advance as they only allow 4 divers per day.
Inside the Abismo Anhumas
Read more about our exciting rappelling adventure at Abismo Anhumas in the Adventures section.
For more information on Abismo Anhumas, please visit their site: www.AbismoAnhumas.com.br
• Adventure Kids Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta Abismo Anhumas rappel descent (Filmed with Wunder360 helmet camera - Drag mouse on screen to see 360°) - https://youtu.be/tOQ4sAisTkI
• Walking around the floating dock (staging area) within the Abismo Anhumas (Filmed with Wunder360 helmet camera - Drag mouse on screen to see 360°)- https://youtu.be/NizyMBCfdic
• Boat trip around inside Abismo Anhumas (Filmed with Wunder360 helmet camera - Drag mouse on screen to see 360°)- https://youtu.be/4X6rAW7HvkE
• Regina Sacilotti Abismo Anhumas rappel ascent - https://youtu.be/P-KpMDZ55KM
• Debra C. Argen Abismo Anhumas rappel ascent - https://youtu.be/ugW6_PUsSpI
• Edward F. Nesta Abismo Anhumas rappel ascent (Filmed with Wunder360 helmet camera - Drag mouse on screen to see 360°) - https://youtu.be/2gYrEhMhQH0
Training Center (Centro de Treinamento)
Rua General Osório, 681 - Centro
Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67) 3255-3313
Trekking, Rappelling, and Waterfalls at Bocada Onça
Boca da Onça
We spent an enchanted afternoon at Bocada Onça (mouth of the jaguar) located in Bodoquena where their mission is to "preserve life and nature with responsibility." Boça da Onça, located 34 miles (55 km) from Bonito is a gorgeous eco site that boasts the highest rappel platform in Brazil with a height of 295 feet (90 meters), and their waterfall, Cachoeira Boça da Onça is the highest waterfall in the state of MS at a height of 512 feet (156 meters).
Although you can easily spend an entire day there, we arrived in the afternoon, had a lovely lunch, followed by hiking the trails (886 steps to reach the bottom), enjoying the spectacular beauty of the waterfall, and swimming in one of their four waterfall pools. Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain in the morning, we did not have the opportunity to rappel, however we did climb out on the platform to enjoy the amazing view. Boça da Onça also has inviting swimming pools and hammocks for visitors to enjoy a bit of leisure before or after trekking or rappelling.
Debra C. Argen found her waterfall
Read more about our exciting trekking and waterfalls adventure at Boca da Onça in the Adventures section.
For more information about Boça da Onça, please visit their website: www.bocadaonca.com.br
• Watch Debra C. Argen as she describes the beauty of Boca da Onça from the rappel platform - https://youtu.be/WtggYPYNNLw
• Watch description of the magnificent waterfall - Cachoeira Boca da Onça - https://youtu.be/wPYe72apL2k
• Watch as Debra C. Argen shows you the Buraco do Macaco Cachoeira (Monkey's Hole waterfall) - https://youtu.be/-W6DZi-zH-I
Boça da Onça
MS 178 - KM 26
Bodoquena, Mato Gross do Sul (MS)
Central Reservations & Rappel Training in Bonito:
+55 67 3255-3410
+55 67 9974-8191
Telephone: +55 673255-1234, +55 67 3255-1337
Snorkeling, Ziplining, Trekking, and Beach at Nascente Azul
Edward F. Nesta ziplining over the Adventure Water Circuit
We experienced a "triathlon" of an adventure day at Nascente Azul where we spent an enjoyable day trekking, ziplining, and snorkeling in a pristine natural spring. Bonito is an eco-tourism paradise with many wonderful and exciting adventures to experience, however be sure to book your adventure well in advance as there is a limit to the number of visitors allowed entrance each day.
Multi-Adventure Water Circuit
Read more about our exciting multi-adventure day at Nascente Azul in the Adventures section.
Debra C. Argen underwater photographer
For more information on Nascente Azul, please visit their website: www.bocadaonca.com.br
• Watch Adventure Kid - Debra C. Argen riding the zipline over water at Nascente Azul - https://youtu.be/vftiBJphtYU
• Watch Adventure Kid Debra C. Argen ride the Zipline (Tirolesa) in Mato Grosso do Sul - https://youtu.be/ks0SGlKg80o
Rodovia Bonito Bodoquena Km 22
Telefone: +5567 32552297
Learning about Boa Constrictors at the Projeto Jibóia
If anyone had told The Adventure Kids® aka Debra C. Argen and Edward F.Nesta that we would be intentionally going to see boa constrictors we would have laughed and said, "No, we don't think so!" However, that is exactly what we did by going to Projeto Jibóia, founded in 2005 by Henrique Naufal, where we not only learned about boa constrictors, we posed holding them, and we actually enjoyed the experience!
Debra C. Argen tries on a boa constrictor
Learn more about our adventure at Projeto Jibóia in the Adventures section.
For more information on Projeto Jibóia please visit their website: www.projetojiboia.com.br
• Watch Debra C. Argen "wearing" the Boa constrictor - https://youtu.be/eSJdFu94tJI
• Watch Henrique Naufal of Project Jibóia talk about snakes (in Portuguese) - https://youtu.be/Ifgysh-S9O0
R. Nestor Fernandes, 610 - Formoso
Bonito - Mato Grosso do Sul (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67) 8419 0313
Reuse, Recycle, Create Something New - Learning and Shopping at Casa do Vidro
Colored etched recycled glass
Casa do Vidro is a creative initiative that reuses discarded glass and repurposes them into objects of beauty, all of which are for sale. Founded in 2014 by Carlos Cardinal, Caso do Vidro's focus is to reuse, recreate, and repurpose everyday discarded glass bottles, jars, and other glass objects into new, usable and attractive decorative and functional designs. In an area renowned for sustainable ecotourism, Casa do Vidro is a shining example of what can be achieved with inspiration and initiative.
Read more about our experience at Casa do Vidro in the Luxury Products - Gifts section.
Collection of green glass works
For more information on Casa do Vidro or to purchase their products, please visit their Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/casadovidrooficial.
Casa do Vidro is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 11:00 am, and from 1:00pm until 7:00 pm, and on Saturday from 8:00 am until noon.
• Watch as Gina, Manager at Casa do Vidro, talks about Casa do Vidro -in Portuguese - https://youtu.be/zBwEct_2SqI
• Watch Debra C. Argen talk about Casa do Vidro in English - https://youtu.be/PQLWDURH840
Casa do Vidro
Rua Afonso Pena, 587
Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul, (MS)
Telephone: +55 67 32552297
Snorkeling at Barra do Sucuri
Brown Capuchin Monkey
Our last adventure before we headed to the airport in Campo Grande for our return flight to São Paulo, was snorkeling at Barra do Sucuri (Sucuri Falls) located 10.5 miles/17 km from the center of Bonito. Donning wetsuits, water shoes, masks and snorkels provided by Barra do Sucuri, we trekked a short distance in the tropical forest with our guide, where a boat awaited us to take us to Rio Sucuri where our adventure began. Its location was as much of an adventure as the actual snorkeling, as we saw Brown Capuchin Monkeys (macaco prego, Cebuscay) in the trees on our way to be fitted for our wetsuits and gear. During the boat ride we saw monkeys jumping from tree to tree along the river's edge and saw Giant Otters (Ariranha, Pteronura brasiliensis) playing in the water. The flora as well as the fauna and exotic birds made for an interesting and enjoyable experience, as well as seeing the plethora of fish while snorkeling.
Ready to find the perfect snorkel site
Barra do Sucuri is open daily from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm.
Read more about our snorkeling adventure at Barra do Sucuri in the Adventures section.
For more information on Barra do Sucuri, please visit their website: www.sucuri.com.br
Barra do Sucuri
Rod.Bonito/Faz América, Km 17 Zona Rural
Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67) 3255-3988
Where to Dine in Bonito
We had a wonderful dinner at the family-owned attractive Juanita Restaurante where we began our evening with Guavira Caipirinha cocktails (cachaça, lime juice, sugar, and juice from the guavira, (a regional berry-like fruit), followed by one of the freshwater fish "stars" on their menu, Paçu en Brasa. The grilled moist, flavorful, and boneless fish, a relative of the piranha, arrived sizzling hot on a platter topped with capers and accompanied by sautéed broccoli, potatoes, white rice, their house specialty of fried banana manioc (cassava) farofa made with fried bananas and manioc flour, and pirão de pintado, a "fish gravy" made from pintado (a freshwater catfish) broth and manioc flour.
Juanita Restaurante is open Wednesday through Monday for lunch from 11:00 am until 2:30 pm, and for dinner from 6:30 pm until 10:30 pm. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.
Paçu en Brasa
Read more about our dining experience at Juanita Restaurante in the Restaurants section.
To learn more about Juanita Restaurante please visit their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/juanitarestaurante/
• Grilled Paçu en Brasa at the Juanita Restaurante -https://youtu.be/i-Q8jjOuyfs
Rua Nossa Senhorada Penha, 854
Centro, Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sol (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67) 3255-1924
Restaurante Casa do João
Restaurante Casa do João
The family-owned Restaurante Casa do João opened in 2007, and is located steps away from the Praça da Liberdade with its large fish sculpture. The charming restaurant has a lovely fruit-tree laden garden, a shop filled with artisanal gifts, and a whimsical museum where true antiquities are mixed with "recent museum items" such as cassette tapes, 8-track tapes, and even old computer monitors. The food is delicious, and the ambience is welcoming. We had a very tasty and "exotic" dinner of Bolinho de Traira (Wolf-fish balls), Jacaré (alligator), Pirarucu (one of the largest freshwater regional fish), and Filé Gorgonzola, as well as delectable caipirinhas!
Restaurante Casa do João serves lunch beginning at 11:00 am, and dinner from 6:00 pm.
Read more about our dining experience at Restaurante Casa do João in the Restaurants section.
To learn more about Restaurante Casa do João please visit their website: http://www.casadojoao.com.br/
Restaurante Casa do João
Chef Felipe Caran Vizcaino - Executive Director and Chef
Rua Nelson Felício dos Santos, 664 - Centro
Bonito - MS,79290-000
Telephone: +55 (67) 3255-1212
Restaurante Marruá is located inside the upscale Marruá Hotel, where the restaurant gets high marks for the quality of their kitchen and inspired cuisine from the talented Chef Sylvio Eduardo Trujillo. Attractive surroundings and attentive, professional service complement the inspired Contemporary and Regional cuisine from this gastronomic kitchen. A few of the highlights of our dinner: Sealed salmon with a Sesame Crust presented with wasabi cream, grilled cherry tomatoes, sautéed mushroom caps, and ginger soy dipping sauce; Grilled Pintado, a regional freshwater catfish, glazed with an orange vinaigrette, and garnished with chopped orange, sliced chili, finely sliced red onions, and cilantro, and nestled on a bed of pureed and grilled manioc (cassava). Dessert was luscious layers of pastry cream with strawberries marinated in a blend of balsamic vinegar and honey, and crispy meringues to add texture and a bit of sweetness. Crowned with whipped heavy cream mixed with honey and garnished with mint, the dessert was the crowning touch as a showcase for Chef Sylvio's style.
Sealed Sesame Crusted Salmon
Restaurante Marruá is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Read about our dining experience at Restaurante Marruá in the Restaurants section.
You may also enjoy reading the Chefs' Recipes section where Chef Sylvio EduardoTrujillo shares his recipes for Sealed Salmon in a Sesame Crust and Grilled Brazilian Catfish with Mashed Cassava "a la Plancha" in English and Portuguese to entice your palate into experiencing the restaurant for yourself.
To learn more about Restaurante Marruá and Marruá Hotel, please visit their website: www.marruahotel.com.br.
• Watch Chef Sylvio Trujillo discussing the first course of SesameCrusted Salmon - in Portuguese - https://youtu.be/23Bg3trt5LY
• Watch Chef Sylvio Trujillo discussing the Pintado- in Portuguese - https://youtu.be/b77ELV6n9bM
• Watch Chef Sylvio Trujillo discussing the incredible dessert - inPortuguese - https://youtu.be/igVxwDtTRz0
• Watch Luxury Experience's interview with Chef Sylvio EduardoTrujillo - in Portuguese - https://youtu.be/VAcq2Uhhsrc
Rua Joana Sort of, 1173
Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sol (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67) 3255-6262
WhatsApp: +55 (67) 99189-8264
Tapera Restaurante is a charming restaurant located in the center of Bonito. A large tree grows in the center of the inviting outdoor dining space of the restaurant adding charm and character, and firmly establishes itself as a restaurant to stay. Owned by restauranteur and poet Antonio Carlos Silveira Soares the restaurant is a welcome respite in a city of great cuisine. We had an excellent dinner at Tapera Restaurante where we dined on two of their exceptional fish preparations of pintado (regional freshwater catfish), Natelha and Á Bonito. The Natelha version was very tasty and consisted of catfish in a rich and flavorful spicy tomato sauce presented steaming in a terra cotta roof tile. Á Bonito was pintado cooked with coconut milk and cream cheese, which was also delicious.
Tapera Restaurante is open for lunch from 11:30 am until 2:30 pm, and for dinner from 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm.
Read more about our dining experience at Tapera Restaurante in the Restaurants section.
To learn more about Tapera Restaurante please visit their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/restaurantetapera/about/
• Watch Andre of Tapera Restaurante discuss the restaurant's guavira-infused cachaça - https://youtu.be/EtohssWsXFo
• Watch the Pintado dish being served- https://youtu.be/shMuQGT1-J0
Rua Coronel Pilad Rébua, 1961
Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sol (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67) 3255-1757
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Pantanal and Bonito experiencing its beauty, its many adventures, great cuisine, and even finding time to fit in some shopping at its many artisanal shops. Until our next destination, keep enjoying traveling with Luxury Experience!
Read more about our experiences in Brazil in the Pantanal and Bonito in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Gastronomy and Adventures sections.
"Come visit me in the Pantanal,
I'm waiting for you"
Important Travel and Planning Information
Brazil requires visas for several countries, however they announced that they will waive visa requirements effective June 17, 2019 for citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Be sure to check travel requirements before booking your trip.
How to Get There from São Paulo
Azul Airlines flies from Campinas (VCP) Airport to Bonito (BYO) airport. The flight time is 1 hour and 35 minutes. Note Azul Airlines only flies to Bonito on select days of the week. Check their schedule accordingly. Flight time 3 hours 25 minutes.
GOL Airlines and LATAM fly from Guarulhos(GRU) International Airport to Campo Grande (CGR). The flight time is roughly 1 hour 50 minutes. To get from Campo Grande, the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul to Bonito, you can rent a car. Drive time is roughly 3 hours 40 minutes.
Travel and Tourism information:
We used Agência Ygarapé for expert and professional tour information and booking our adventures. The agency has been providing high-quality, attentive service for tours, packages, accommodations, and transport services and more for over 20+years, serving Bonito and the Pantanal region.
Please visit their site for more information (site is available in English, Portuguese, and Spanish): www.ygarape.com.br.
Agência Ygarapé is open daily from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm (and until 10:00 pm during high season).
Rua Coronel Pilad Rebuá, 1853, Centro
Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul (MS)
Telephone: +55 (67)3255-1733
Cellular: +55(67) 99213-7374
For more information on Bonito and Pantanal, please visit: http://www.visitbrasil.com/en/destinos/bonito.html, http://www.visitbrasil.com/pt/destinos/bonito.html
Adventure Paradise - Pantanal
Important Tips for Bonito and Pantanal
Bonito is focused on eco-tourism and as such they only allow a certain number of visitors to eco sites each day. Be sure to book your tours well in advance to not miss out.
For Water Sports (snorkeling), the sites request that you not use sunscreen, tanning lotions, or insect repellent to help keep the waters pristine.
Going hiking in the woods? Wear light colored clothing as dark colored clothing attracts mosquitos!
There are no ATMs, only banks: Banco do Brasil, Bradesco, Caixa Economica and Sicredi, so plan accordingly. Some small restaurants accept cash only.
Shops stay open late in Bonito usually until around 10:00 pm and most accept credit cards.
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