Floating the Pantanal Brazil

Bonito may be the name of a fish, but is also the name of a city in the Brazilian State of Mato  Grosso du Sul, which is in the central west of Brazil bordering both Bolivia and Paraguay.

Bonito is located in an area called the Pantanal, which is the largest wetland in the world, covering an area of about 140,000 square kilometres (54,000 square miles).  The Pantanal is now being called the Caribbean of the Central West by travel marketers because of the incredibly blue colours of its waters.

And this area is truly special owing to the enormous quantity of limestone in the ground.  What this means is that the water of the regions’ rivers passes through a real natural filter where impurities are deposited at the bottom of the river bed, leaving the rivers to be some of the clearest and most transparent in the world. A number of fish and plant species have adapted to this high calcium environment, so that all rivers teem with life.

One of the increasingly-popular tourist activities is called floating.  Floating involves lying face down in the water, whilst wearing a snorkel and goggles of course, and letting the river carry you in its gentle flow.  In certain parts of the Pantanal, the transparency of the water surpasses 30 m, providing a vision of rare beauty, among coloured fish, such as piraputangas, dourados, pintados, and piaus, in addition to the flora decorating the underwater scenery.

The Pantanal is fast becoming popular with Brazilians, but has yet to entice many international visitors.  Because of its local popularity, the tourist infrastructure, hotels, amenities, tour programmes, are increasing.  English is spoken in some of the bigger hotels, but visitors would be doing themselves a favour to learn a bit of Portuguese in order to get by.

Bonito is presently quite difficult to reach; the nearest airport is at Campo Grande City, about 250 kilometres away, or about 5 hours by bus.  Alternatively you could rent a car or hire a taxi.

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