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Southern Pantanal & Bonito Travel Guide

Plan for Southern Pantanal & Bonito with Local Expertise

Southern Pantanal & Bonito at a glance

As such, the Pantanal remains one of the earth’s most untouched wildernesses, and provides the perfect cocktail of nature, weather and ground conditions for an astonishing number of plants, animals, fish and birds to flourish in. In fact, this area has the highest concentration of fauna of any ecological habitat in the world. The Pantanal nature is pure and unfiltered, so visitors to the area can see vast swathes of swamp and marshland that are inhabited by jaguars, pumas, wolves, deer, anteaters, armadillos, monkeys, alligators and over 250 species of fish and a further 650 species of bird – apparently over 20 million alligators reside in the area. Take advantage of your trip to Pantanal by visiting the adventure sport haven of nearby Bonito. Bonito enjoys a wealth of natural features such as caves, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and grottos. The water that abounds in this region has been compared to that of the Caribbean, given its bright blue colour and the crystalline clarity of its appearance. This is due to the fact that the water is filtered through the limestone ground surface, which deposits the impurities on the riverbed, rendering the water itself completely clear and transparent.


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What not to miss

On an area in South America that covers the size of the United Kingdom lies one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. This area is the Pantanal, an immense wetland that spans three countries: Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The little-known area is something of a virgin territory, with particular climatic, geographical and environmental conditions that include the complete and frequent flooding of the plains, make it difficult for humans to access and almost impossible for humans to settle in. Nature tours of the Pantanal are common and the region is best visited by spending a night or two in one of the rustic lodges at the edge of the wetlands in the southern Pantanal that sits within Brazil’s territory. Visitors to Bonito can revel in the activities that this paradise and its ecotourism has to offer, checking out the stalactites in the Lago Azul grotto or discovering the waterfalls that spring from the Mimoso River. Tubing, zip-lining, snorkeling and hiking are just some of the pursuits that can be enjoyed in the region in and around Bonito.

Pousada Xaraes Lodge Top


The Pousada dos Xaraés is located near the River Abobral, one of the most interesting areas of Pantanal. The lodge is part of a commercial ranch which can accommodate 46 guests in comfort, and includes facilities like a multimedia events room, dining room, living room equipped with fireplace, games area, bar, kiosk for barbecues, mini-gym, dry-sauna, ecological swimming pool and multi-sport court, as well as a football pitch. The 17 rooms are distributed among three buildings; all of them come complete with private bathroom, air-conditioning, minibar and telephone. In each set of rooms there is a balcony with fans and hammocks providing an alternative resting area. The daily programs offers activities like horse riding, trips by canoe boats, photographic safaris in a 4×4 pick-up, ecological training and nocturnal spotlighting of animals. The lodge also participates in some ecological projects to preserve the Hyacinth Macaw, Pantanal Jaguar and the Pantanal Tapir. If you wish to help these projects, please let us know in advance. This lodge Includes all meals and excursions: trail hikes, Piranha fishing, horse ride, boat tour, canadense canoe tour, photografic safari, nocturnal tour.

Fazenda Baia Grande Lodge Top


The Fazenda Baía Grande founded in 1994, a family owned property who has been living in the Pantanal for over 150 years, their purpose is in the preservation of the environment and the local culture. The lodge offers a range of experiences included with your stay from bird watching, to wildlife observation, piranha fishing, horseback riding, nightime caiman spotting, hikes, and wrangling cattle…well not wrangling, but you get the picture!

Pousada Araras Eco Lodge Top


A comfortable, self-sustained property built in the traditional “pantaneira” farm style featuring 19 standard rooms en suite, with air conditioning, ceiling fan, screened windows and hot and cold shower. Meals are prepared with organic produce direct from our orchard or nearby suppliers. Dishes are a sample of the simple homemade farm cooking and lunch and dinner buffets include salads, vegetables, meat and delicious fish. A bar, restaurant, swimming pool with covered deck, a kiosk, large verandahs with hammocks and three exciting observa-tion towers are part of the features. The Lodge is a 2760 hectares ‘private reservation’, ensuring memorable meetings with the Pantanal wilderness.

Refugio Ecologico Caiman Lodge Top


The most luxurious lodge in the Southern Pantanal, Caiman Ecological Refuge is located 230 km west of Campo Grande, the state capital of Mato Grosso do Sul. It is part of a working cattle ranch, with 5,000 hectares separated as a reserve of open fields, forest and lakes. The comfortable lodge was the first one in the Southern Pantanal to cater for eco-tourists and bird-watchers, with many hiking trails set up. An environmental project to help protect the beautiful but endangered hyacinth macaw is also run from the lodge. There are 3 comfortably rustic lodges for guests, each having their own living room and pool. The main house has a bar, and a restaurant, which serves regional and international cuisine using fresh ingredients from the Southern Pantanal, including meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. The gardens are a great place to observe birds, including the hyacinth macaw project, and also the cowboys at work with the cattle in the mango orchard. The other two lodges are independently situated some kilometers away. One is built on the side of a beautiful lake with alligators and fish visible in the clear waters, while the other is built in the forest and has an observation tower. Both have kitchens that serve regional and international cuisine. The rooms at all three lodges have air-conditioning and private bathrooms to ensure your visit to Caiman Ecological Refuge is as comfortable as possible.

Snorkeling the Natural Aquarium Top


Situated in the Baia Bonito Ecological Reserve, the tour starts by walking approximately 25 min through the forest until you reach the Baia Bonita Spring. Here you can snorkel downstream for 900 meters, appreciating the rich underwater flora, which makes you feel like you are in a real aquarium. There is also the option of ‘Animal Track ‘ where you can observe the variety of animals from the region (Pantanal and scrubland). You will end the tour by visiting the Baia Bonito history museum.

Swim & Snorkel at Rio da Prata Top


Starting with a gentle 1.24 mile walk through the beautiful Bonito forests that are rich in flora and fauna, you’ll arrive at the Rio de la Prata (Silver River). Looking fabulous in your wetsuit, snorkeling gear and life jackets you’ll gently float down the Olho d’agua spring, sharing the river with all kinds of tropical fish and underwater vegetation. The water here is as crystal clear as any tropical sea and with fantastic visibility you’ll be able to spot hundreds of colorful fish. don’t worry if you’re not the most confident swimmer or snorkeler, the rivers are shallow and as it flows softly downhill, you can relax and float your way downriver so even those with little experience will have no problem and will be able to enjoy this beautiful underwater world. The other option to complete the day would be a horseback ride.

Underground Blue Lake Cave Top


The adventure begins walking through a verdant forest to the entrance of the beautiful Blue Lake Cave. Descending 492 ft by staircase you’ll arrive at this magical blue lake surrounded by high rising stalactites and huge stalagmite. The morning is one of the best times to visit the underground lake that fills the bottom of the cave as the rays of sunlight that stream in through the gaps, turn the water a vivid and electric blue.

Natural Paradise at Rio Sucuri Top


The transportation will take you to the beginning of the walking path that has about 500mts, this walk will take you to an amazing natural paradise. Once you get to the Sucuri river, that has a fluctuation of 1800mts, you can enjoy from the beauty of all of the subaquatic life.

Adventure Formoso River Top


During this tour you will have the opportunity to see local fauna and flora on the bank of the river as you float down on inflatable rubber boats. You will be able to stop at ‘Priest Island’ where there are decks and waterfalls for your pleasure.


This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Southern Pantanal & Bonito.

When to go

Given that the Southern Pantanal is a wetland, is it best to visit in the dry season between May and September, when it is easier to spot the wildlife when the waters have receded a bit. Temperatures during this time range between 77-86˚F (25-30˚C) during the day and 9-18˚F (5-10˚C) at night. The rainy season between October and March makes it difficult to navigate the area and it is harder to see the wildlife. It is also more humid and hot during the rainy season, with temperatures averaging 86˚F (30˚C) during the day, dropping only a little to around 77˚F (25˚C) at night. The high humidity means that there are more mosquitoes, which can be annoying, so it is best to avoid the wetlands during this time. Bonito is best visited between December and March, when the rains make the surrounding area very lush and green.

How to get there

Visitors to the Southern Pantanal will usually arrive to Campo Grande, the state capital. Campo Grande is connected to most major cities in Brazil, but international flights will arrive into Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. The flight from either of these cities to Campo Grande takes about 90 minutes, and all internal flights and transfers will be organised for you as part of your itinerary. From Campo Grande, it is best to visit the Pantanal with a tour, which will bring you into the wetlands on a 4×4. Campo Grande is also the main entry point for Bonito, which is about four hours away.


Lodging in the Southern Pantanal encompasses everything from rustic huts to high-end eco-lodges. Fish and seafood are a staple on every menu, and piranha and alligator are local delicacies, so try them if you dare. The menus will vary a lot depending on the type of accommodation you are staying in, but there is always the opportunity to catch your own dinner. Given the virgin nature of this area, a lot of it is still inaccessible by road, and the mud can make travel difficult. There is no public transport, so organised tours are the best way to see the area. While Bonito has a number of high-end hotels, the small size of the town means that they often book up well in advance, so be sure to let our travel experts know if you plan on visiting the town so they can reserve accommodation for you ahead of time.

Tour Packages to Southern Pantanal & Bonito

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