30.01.2013 - 07.02.2013
I suppose on hindsight it might have been a mistake to cross over from the cheapest country in South America to the most expensive, especially with prices soaring for Carnival period. However the beauty of the small town of Bonito and its neighboring surroundings soon made me forget just how much cash I was blowing through. With over 30 different tours to choose from, it was not difficult to spend the week relaxing in the sun, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, and taking part in several other popular tours.
I started out on my first activity by taking an easy bike ride over to Balnearo Municipal, a leisure park with areas for snorkeling and relaxing in the sun’s rays. While it was certainly a relaxing day, it was nothing compared to the remarkable tours offered in the areas around Bonito. In the end, I chose to do the snorkel tour down Rio da Prata, the day visit to Gruta do Lago Azul, and the Abismo Anhumas.
The snorkel tour down the river was amazing, with crystal clear waters and visibility up to 25 meters ahead. The swim itself was easy, with the gentle current of the river propelling you downstream, so much so that hardly any effort was required for the 2 hour journey.
The other tours were just as impressive. Gruta do Lago Azul was a cave with a lagoon inside, which, due to an optical effect of the reflection of sunlight in the mornings and minerals in the water, appeared an incredible blue color, almost as if fake. The cave also contained fossils, not visible to tourists but found by researchers, of giant sloths and sabre-tooth tigers dating back between 11,000 and 1.8 million years ago.
Finally, the highlight of Bonito: Abismo Anhumas. Some 23km outside of town, this tour is by far the most unforgettable in Bonito. As only 16 visitors are allowed per day, it is often fully booked days in advance. It even requires a training session the evening before to try a short rappel to ensure you can make to climb back up. The cave itself was incredible, starting with a 72m vertical drop via rappel through a crack in the cave’s ceiling onto a suspended platform in the water. Once inside, the water, surprisingly clear, contained stalagmites reaching 18 meters in height, and visible just a few feet from the surface. We were able to witness this spectacular wonder by snorkeling in the cold waters in a full dive suit.
While Bonito is quite far from the coast or any international airport, with its close proximity to the Pantanal, and its amazing tour options, it is a definite must-do for Brazil.