It`s in the name, Bonito is truly beautiful. Its great variety in natural sites and photo genetic scenery will meet up with any kind of travelers demands. Whether you want to go out snorkeling in heavenly blue, crystal clear waters while being surrounded by hundreds of fish. Visit mysterious caves, go horseback riding, birdwatching, picnicking. Bonito offers it all.
Be aware! All good things come with a price, but if you play the game well and pick the right activities you might just fit this one in your travel budget. For those looking for something more authentic and cheap, check out Nobres, Bom Jardim.
Those with time and money on their side could easily spent weeks in Bonito. Most tours require guides and are therefore expensive. Here is some of the best picks:
Balneàrio Municipal is the only attraction you can do on your own. This what makes it even better than it already is: A crystal clear river with dozens of big dorado`s in it. The part of the river where you can go snorkeling is about 80 meters in length, but as you have the day to yourself you can go in as many times as you`ll like. Warm yourself up from the cold water on the grass while the sun warms up your skin, have a picknick or treat yourself with a meal at the restaurant.
Photo by Dutchesstraveldiary
Tours in Bonito are well organized, have a good eye for nature conservation, unforgettable and pricey. For all the following attractions you need to book a tour beforehand through an agency. Walk-ins are not accepted. These attractions are all privately owned and hire guides to run tours at set times. Tours can be booked on the internet (http://www.pantanalexpeditions.com/destinations/bonito/travel-guide) or at various agencies in town. Tours are only run in Portuguese. You might be lucky for your guide to speak some English and be willing to do the tour bilingual, but if you really don`t want to miss out on any of the details pay for an interpreter, or English speaking private guide. Booking packages might be interesting as well in this case. Once you booked a tour, you can choose to go by own transport, private transport or by shared transport. Those traveling in a group or staying for a longer period of time might consider booking a package with private transport, this might turn out much cheaper than booking several tours independently with shared transport.
At Recanto Ecologico Rio da Prata. This site includes the famous Lagoa Misteriosa (mysterious lake). Birdwatching and horsebackriding is also among the options. Snorkeling costs R$156. Transport (R$70) is mostly combined with Buraco das Araras (R$58), the famous sandstone wall with nesting macaqueas.
Photo by ecoturisminbonito.wordpress.com
At Rio de Peixe. A bit further out of town and therefor a little bit more expensive. For a whole day, including lunch, excluding transport R$178. Cheaper options are a visit to Estancia Mimosa Ecoturismo or Parque das Cachoeiras. These tours last 3 to 4 hours and cost R$89 and R$100 respectively, excluding transport.
Best adventure sport:
For the adrenaline junkies an abseiling down the 90 m tall waterfall Boca da Onca might be a good way to satisfy your addiction. It will come with a cost though, count on spending around R$550 including lunch and transport.
There`s two caves around Bonito: Grutas de Sào Miguel and Gruta de Lago Azul. The last one is an absolute beauty. The minerals in the water cause an optical illusion, making the water looking deep blue. Best time in the year to see the light is in January and February from 7:00-9:00 AM. Then the sun shines straight on the water, intensifying the effect. Don`t worry if your agenda is full during these two months, any time of the year a visit to the cave will be well worth it.
Even though this is one of the highlights of Bonito, don`t expect a romantic cave exploration. Tours are run one after the other, resulting in a presence of at least three groups in the cave at the time. Nevertheless a vivid thick of the bucketlist when you`re in Bonito anyway.
Grutas de Sao Miguel is nothing more special than any other cave seen in South America or on other continents. If you speak proper Portugeus the visit might be worth while, but those who ticked off some caves from the box might consider skipping this one. Most tour agencies will try to sell you this sight as shared transport stops at both caves, making it a mandatory to stop here when you booked Lago Azul. However, don`t feel obliged. There`s a lovely garden around the entrance, coffee and couches to sit insight, also their WiFi is one of the best in town. Consider taking a book and enjoy the macaques flying by while waiting for the rest of the group to return from the tour.
Birdwatching and horsebackriding is available at various sites.
Lago Azul by bonitotour.com
Where to stay
Caterino`s guesthouse is definitely the best budget option in town. Super clean, friendly staff, bike rental, place to hand wash and dry your cloths and the biggest breakfast you`ll probably ever got in your life (eat your heart out). The kitchen is a little improvised, but sufficient to prepare simple meals. Those looking for a feast, could ask permission to use the barbecue. People who need to work or for some reason relay on good internet might consider going to a more expensive place, as the internet drops out regally or can be extremely slow at times.
Catarinos guesthouse by hostelcatarino.com.br
When to go?
The question rather is when not to go? During Brazilian holidays from December till January, Carnaval, Easter and July Bonito will be packed with tourists. Prices go sky rocket high. During this season it`s pointless to go to the town without having everything arranged beforehand. Even if you`re lucky and found yourself a bed in a hostel. Be aware of the fact, that apart from one attraction, you`ll need to book a tour to visit the sights. These all need to be booked through a certified agency otherwise you`ll not be able to enter. Guides during the holidays will be fully booked 5 to 6 months in advance.
Still want to go during this time of the year? Check out Bom Jardim. It`s more authentic and to my opinion more beautiful than Bonito. Contact agencies like Bom Jardim Nobres tours to see if you can still hop on a tour or sign up for our newsletter and will let you know when out travel tip about Bom Jardim is online.
How to get there?
From Iguazu to Bonito, take a bus to Dourados and hop on a bus to Bonito from there. On Sundays and holidays you`ll have to travel through Campo Grande.
From Campo Grande to Bonito, a bus leaves at 7 AM, 9 AM and 3 PM, 4 PM or 6 PM. Tickets cost around R$58 and the journey takes 5 hours.
From the Pantanal to Bonito, all tour operators offer transport from the lodge to Bonito. Some might charge an extra R$80 pp.
Although not as easy as in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, hitchhiking is possible in this area. Best way is to ask trucks that are taking a break at the gas stations or taking a bus out of town and start putting your thumbs up from there. For more tips on how to hitchhike, check out: hitchhiking for beginners
Airlines Azul, TAM and Gol offer flights from Sao Paulo to Campo Grande. From here take a bus, 5 hours, R$58 or another flight offered by TAM and TRIP. TAM and TRIP also offer direct flights from Sao Paulo to Bonito.
Important to know
Stock up with cash before you go. There`s three ATM`s in town, but I met several people (including myself) who`s cards were not accepted in the machines.
Those looking for a more authentic and quite place. Bom Jardim is just starting to be discovered by foreign tourist. The town and infrastructure is still rustic, but the people and environment are still pure. Walk around town while enjoying the impressive hillside that encloses it. For more information check out the travel tip Bom Jardim: the enchanting paradise.
Photo by Dutchesstraveldiary