Western Brazil is home to the largest floodplain in the world. This April, become a Pantaneiro (a local cowboy) and learn all about the culture and landscape that defines the Pantanal and Bonito regions. Join the ATTA on a specialized FAM and get to know the diverse ecosystems of these regions by river boat, horseback and hiking. Experience the wildlife by snorkeling or rappelling and get a closer look at an amazing variety of birds and fish and meet the locals — alligators, capybaras, anteaters and jaguars.
AdventureWeek begins in Corumba, just 8 kilometers from the Bolivian border at the gateway to the Pantanal region. After checking into our hotel to freshen up and have lunch, we will explore the historic river port town of Corumba with stops at the cultural and architectural highlights of the city. At night, a special welcome dinner will be prepared at a historical hotel with local delicacies on the menu.
As the cultural center of Pantanal, Corumbá boasts creative endeavors in literature, arts and music. In the morning, we learn about the practices of local artisans. The handicrafts are made with a diversity of materials such as fish leather, clay and the natural fibers of the Aguapé (a local plant). Cuisine is influenced by Paraguay and Bolivia: the salteña and Paraguayan soup – a kind of salty cake, made with corn, cheese and onion. After lunch, we’ll visit the Pantanal Nature Station and learn about the geology, weather, animals and plants — the entire ecosystem of the region. In the evening, we board a river boat for our multi-day Pantanal Expedition Cruise.
We leave the ship anchored at the port in the morning and start tour (by car or bicycle) through the heart of the Pantanal to the São João Lodge, where we sit in a traditional circle, like the local cowboys, to talk about work and drink tereré, which is maté tea. Then, we’ll ride on horseback through the iconic flooded fields and forests of the Pantanal that can’t be accessed any other way in search of wildlife. We will return to the lodge for a flavorful lunch from this Pantanal farm and return to our ship in the evening.
Today is dedicated to discovering the watery secrets of the Pantanal. We’ll take a small boat into the rivers and streams that are home to water lilies, water hyacinth, giant otters and capybaras. There will be opportunities to swim and canoe in the famous wetland’s clear tributaries and streams. Lunch is a traditional pit barbecue and we’ll learn about typical Guató crafts while we wait for our meat to roast in the ground. Sunset in the flooding season is unforgettable – we’ll ride through the wetlands before returning to the ship for dinner. Stargazing is on the optional agenda tonight, as we enjoy our last night onboard.
We disembark the ship to go to lunch that will be served at the marina on the banks of the Paraguay River, and then we will begin the second half of AdventureWeek, moving from the Pantanal to the city of Bonito. It’s a scenic drive from one region to the other. Keep your eyes open for caimans, herons, capybaras or perhaps even a jaguar. We will arrive in time to enjoy a welcome dinner and be briefed on the program of activities available for the next few days.
Bonito is the most popular destination for ecotourism in all of Brazil. It’s home to hundreds of waterfalls, crystal lakes and rivers, more than 80 caves and grottos, rock walls and a massive diversity of fish and wildlife. We begin our time here by visiting the source of the Sucuri River. We hike to the spring through the forest, spotting endemic wildlife along the way and then we’ll snorkel in the river. Learn how the limestone that surrounds you filters the water so that it runs perfectly clear. After lunch, you’ll choose horseback riding, scuba diving (beginner level) near waterfalls, or inner tubing down the Formoso River. No matter what you choose, your day will end with a relaxed dinner.
After breakfast, options include visiting the Abismo Anhumas cave or the Gruta do Lago Azul (Blue Lake Cave). At the Abismo Anhumas, rappel 72 meters down to an underground lake surrounded by limestone formations up to 20 meters high. Explore the cave and the formations by swimming in the lake’s warm water. At Gruta do Lago Azul, bird life abounds: spot purple-throated euphonia, barn owls, the swallow tanager or others. After a brief rest, we will visit two local attractions in town: Casa do Vidro (Glass House), an artisanal factory that reuses discarded glass bottles to produce various kinds of crafts, and Fabrica de Encantos Taboa, where Bonito’s most famous drink is made – and we’ll get a chance to taste it in many versions! Happy hour and dinner at the Taboa Bar, a historic tavern whose specialty is the Taboa sugarcane rum that you just tasted minutes before at their factory.
This morning, experience the typical Brazilian cerrado (savanna-like) landscape. Visit a large sinkhole inhabited by several kinds of red-and-green macaws, toco toucans, buff-necked ibises, Amazonian motmots, parakeets, blackbirds and many more. Then enjoy a hike through the forest surrounding the Prata River. On our way to the source of the Olho d’Agua River, look for endemic birds, monkeys and tapirs. The Olho d’Agua is an important tributary of the Prata River and we’ll jump in and snorkel through a wild aquarium of native fish and aquatic plants. Dinner at a local restaurant carefully chosen by our AdventureWeek hosts and a restful night back in Bonito are both well-earned.
After breakfast, visit Estancia Mimosa. The Mimosa River runs nearby and we’ll swim under waterfalls and explore small caves on an interpretive trail through the forest. Blue-crowned trogons, motmots, helmeted manakins, capuchin monkeys and agoutis are among the frequent visitors. While enjoying a pleasant lunch on the ranch’s veranda overlooking a lagoon and surrounded by fruit orchards, watch for birdlife and a family of broad-nosed caimans, a different species from the ones more commonly found in the Pantanal. Get down to business this afternoon in the MARKETPLACE session where you’ll meet with adventure providers from throughout Bonito & Pantanal. Enjoy a final send off from the local cowboy culture with a special dinner cooked on a woodstove and a musical presentation.
AdventureWeek Brazil in the Pantanal and Bonito comes to an end with a good breakfast and our land transfer to Campo Grande Internacional Airport to depart on flights home.