Brazil // Mato Grosso //

Bonito and around

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Nestling in the Bodoquena hills, over three hours by bus from Anastácio and Miranda, and four from Campo Grande and Dourados, BONITO is a small, somewhat sleepy sprawl of a town, which comes to life during the main holiday seasons when it’s invaded by hordes of young people from southern Brazilian cities. The dirt tracks that make up most of the region’s roads conceal the fact that ever since Bonito starred as an “undiscovered” ecological paradise on TV Globo in 1993, it has become one of Brazil’s major ecotourist destinations, with caves, rivers and nature reserves. Needless to say, visitors have been swarming to the town ever since (especially over Christmas and Easter, and in July and Aug), although the mood, out of season, is surprisingly relaxed and not at all pushy. Situated as the town is at the southern edge of the Pantanal, a visit to Bonito can happily be combined with a trip exploring the swamp; indeed, between the two locations it’s possible to see a fantastic range of wildlife and several ecological centres. Culturally Bonito doesn’t offer loads, but in July the Festival de Inverno showcases street theatre, art and music.

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