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Redefining Adventure in Brazil’s Wild West (Part 2)

Redefining Adventure in Brazil’s Wild West (Part 2)

Here is part one if you haven't already read it: Redefining Adventure in Brazil’s Wild West (Part 1)

Prying ourselves away from the majesty of the Pantanal’s landscapes and warmhearted people was a difficult task. To ease the pain of separation, we were surprised with a traditional Pantaneiro lunch of epic proportions at the charming Recanto Vale do Sol. Greeted by a live local samba band, grilled meats galore, a refreshing swimming pool for a mid-day dip and bottomless caipirinhas, we were instantly reminded that there is no time to be forlorn in Brazil, because the best always yet to come!

The second half of our adventures in Brazil was based from the adventure heaven of Bonito- an ecotourism paradise chock full of natural attractions and rich in culture. Crystal clear rivers, cascading waterfalls, epic caves, abundant wildlife, tempting culinary delights, and a strong sense of community make this area utterly unique; it quickly became my favorite destination in Brazil (along with Chapada Diamantia).

Falls at Estancia Mimosa

We began our time in Bonito, grabbing snorkel gear, suiting up in wetsuits and exploring the limpid cool waters of the Sucuri (Anaconda) River. Countless schools of vibrantly colored fish, reflecting the sun’s rays in shimmering glints of silver and gold, darted through the alien underwater world that spread out below us. Here, where pre-historic looking shells rested in the riverbeds and submerged springs gleefully bubbled the white sand, we floated beneath toucans, monkeys and the emerald jungle’s low swinging branches.

About to embark snorkeling along the Sucuri RiverVibrant fish in Sucuri River

The following day, we jumped into the jaws of the Ahumas Abyss Cave. As we swiftly rappelled in tandem through a slender crack in the forest floor, a new subterranean landscape came into view. Humbling stalactites and stalagmites, mimicking massive pillars supporting an ancient temple, jutted in and out of a massive lake that filled the depths of the grotto. In the bellows of our awesome surroundings, we stood engulfed by wonder, as tiny specks a float a wooden platform in the heart of the watery underworld. First navigating the lake by boat, we then were armed with snorkels and flashlights and given the opportunity to explore the cavern swimming on our own. Our journey into the Abyss ended with a challenging and exhilarating ascent back towards the high noon sun beckoning through the cavern’s 225 foot roof.

Dropping in tandem into the abyssAbout to ascend out of the cave (PC Mark Crawford)

The adventure continued over the next days as we went scuba diving up the Formoso River and under a thundering waterfall. Surrounded by joyful bubbles and watching from below the surface, as the late afternoon sun filtered through, I had the distinct sensation of swimming in a glass of champagne. Capuchin monkeys clambered in branches above us, while we hiked out in the maze of trails at Estancia Mimosa to eight of the most inviting and stunning waterfalls I have ever seen and macaws made a dramatic entrance to the scene while we visited the Buraco das Araras. Awkward anteaters sauntered across the crimson red roads and armadillos scurried about as dusk drew close. In the evenings we were introduced to two local, community-based operations: Casa do Vidro (Glass House), an artisanal workshop that single handedly collects the vast majority of Bonito’s discarded bottles and creatively repurposes them, along with Taboa Cachaça Factory, a beautiful distillery where artisanal cachaça is produced and all the ingredients used to spice it are produced in Taboa’s own garden.

Views from below the surface

The final night of our dramatic adventure culminated with an authentic cowboy cultural experience at Galpão Chama de Bonito. Meat sizzled on the rustic barbecue and aromatic stews simmered on large wood fire stoves, as local women danced traditional dances with their Paraguayan skirts swirling about them and moving guitar notes drifted along on the balmy night breeze.

Is a trip to Brazil calling your name? Want to plan your next escape to Bonito and the Pantanal? Contact me!

Your friendly Brazil expert,

Gretchen

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