Find answers for the most Frequently Asked Questions about Bonito and Pantanal
This page answers most of your questions about Bonito and Pantanal Sul!
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In Bonito the answer is that most do not. There are some people who can help with some basic things. Some restaurants have menus that have been translated. However, most guides and hotel staff speak Portuguese only.
In Pantanal, because most travelers who go there are not Brazilian, there are plenty of staff and guides who speak enough English to provide good service and all of the information about the natural surroundings.
Bonito MS is a town in Mato Grosso do Sul state in the center-west region of Brazil.
The Pantanal is the largest wetlands area on the planet and a good portion of it is within the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
They are different places, with different ecosystems that do have some species in common. Going from one place to another may take 2 to 8 hours, depending on the vehicle and path chosen, given that some roads are not paved.
Here is some specific information that will help you see the differences and be better able to decide what is best for your trip:
|ITEM||TOURISM IN BONITO MS||TOURISM IN PANTANAL|
Local agencies are required so that you can go through the official reservations systems and follow the predetermined dates and times.
The lodges themselves plan things based on the groups, the guides and weather conditions.
|NATURE IN THE ACTIVITIES||
Mostly about the crystal clear waters:
The focus is observing the flat landscapes as well as observing the animals in their natural habitat and lifestyle:
|GUIDES AND INSTRUCTORS||
Independent professionals that work the activities without necessarily being employed by the operating companies or by the agencies.
They are usually lodge employees that work and live at the properties.
There are several options of types and places. Talk to our staff to get information on required documents and available packages.
This is where most hotels are located. There are restaurants, shops, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, etc.
They are far from the lodges. This is why the packages have all lodging and meals included.
Limited, because it is a small country town.
More limited than Bonito, because it depends on private rural infrastructure.
Easily done by regular, normal cars.
Some places are ok for regular, normal cars, but a large part of them requires 4x4 vehicles or even airplanes. This is especially true during the wet season, when most of the area is flooded.
The companies that own and run the Bonito MS activities are obligated to follow strict environmental rules. These rules include limits on the number of people who can do a certain activity in a day or a time block.
All of this makes slots in Bonito MS limited every day of the year. Booking and paying in advance is the only way to guarantee the desired activities.
If you prefer not committing and booking when you arrive or day-by-day during your trip, it is possible that:
1. You will not find available slots for the activities you seek;
2. If you do find slots, they may be at weird times that do not work well with other times at other activities;
3. The possible slots are spread out into different times, keeping your group from doing the activities together;
You avoid these scenarios when you book and confirm before arrival. At H2O Ecoturismo e Eventos, aside from guaranteeing your slots, booking in advance will also get you more efficient service, because the vouchers and tickets will be prepared ahead of time and ready for you at your hotel when you arrive! :-)
Bonito MS Brazil considers school breaks and Brazilian national holidays as high season periods, because those are the times more people come into town.
Hotel and activity prices may vary between high and low seasons. Some holidays, such as New Year's and Carnaval, may have their own rates.
Check our page for dates:
Bonito MS Brazil has plenty of activities that work well for travelers of all ages and personalities! Though some activities have minimum age requirements, there are always other options that would love to have the little ones! :-)
Snorkeling Activities: Most of these are ok for children of all ages. If the kids fit well in the equipment and wetsuits, they get to do the activities with the grown ups. When they do not, they can go along on the row boat that follows the group or something like that.
Scuba Diving: These are for the little ones that are not so little. Children must be at least 10 years old to dive at the Bonito diving spots.
Waterfalls and Nature Walks: All of the waterfalls and nature walks in Bonito allow children, however some of the trails can be more strenuous and bringing children along may affect the parents' experience. Get as much information as you can about each option and make your decision based on the children and adults that are in your group.
Rappelling: Weight is more important than age in this case. You must weigh at least 50 kg to rapel in Bonito. Aside from the weight, being 12 or older is ideal.
Caves: Due to safety regulations, the cave activities in Bonito are for people 5 or older only.
Swim Areas: These are usually the best option for those bringing children to Bonito. The little ones will have plenty of space to run and play. Some have playgrounds and shallow areas marked on the river. Another cool thing is that these places do not have time requirements. The flexibility is usually deeply appreciated by those traveling with children.
Pantanal: When coming to our area with children, also consider Pantanal! It is wonderful because of the animals and also because the activities there are mellow and chill.
Bonito MS Brazil has tons of activities that cater to various types of ecotourists! We all live and age in our own way, so it is important that you know what YOU want out of your trip when you choose the activities.
Bonito has activities that are more intense and also mellow ones. The nature walks, for example, can be long and filled with stairs and steps, or you may prefer a shorter one that goes on mostly flat land. The same is true for snorkeling. Snorkeling can happen in longer rivers with no boat support or shorter streams that offer all of the support you need to enjoy the activity and even get out before it ends, if need to.
It is a good idea to also look into Pantanal options, because it is an area with gorgeous activities that tend to be less physically demanding. The trip from Bonito to Pantanal is about 2 hours and it is usually warmer in Pantanal than Bonito. Those things aside, everything is easier and more chill at the Pantanal lodges.
Gather as much information as possible about each place and how they organize their activities. When you make your decisions, be sure to consider your moment in life and what you want to get out of YOUR trip!
Most of them yes.
In Bonito you spend most of your time walking, swimming, playing in the water and burning lots of calories! The end result: You become very hungry!! Haha
After lots of feedback from visitors throughout the years, the activities have adapted and prepared their operations to take care of this hunger right there. Today most of the Bonito activities offer meals that are comparable to town both in quality and prices.
Some of the activities where lunch is offered, it is still optional. However, there are several places where lunch is just always included. They do this because of how long the activity takes, could be a full day thing, or the distance from town, which may be up to 50km. The best thing to do tends to be planning lunch in the activities and saving dinner for the town restaurants.
In Pantanal meals are always included for similar reasons. The farms and lodges are far from each other and also far from the towns. This makes it impossible to have lunch anywhere other than the farm's restaurant or dining hall.
In both cases, Bonito and Pantanal, the meals are prepared in professional kitchens with a chef or professional cook overseeing the entire operation. Buffets are the most common way to serve, but sometimes menus and regular orders will be the way to go. It is also very common for the food to come from their own garden and prepared on a wood stove, making everything more fresh and more delicious! To top it all off, the local fruit desserts are totally worth it!
Yes, and you should!
Bonito MS Brazil is famous because of its crystal clear waters, which impress everyone! The activities happens in rivers that are so transparent, they make it all seem like a dream sometimes!
Not knowing how to swim will never keep you from enjoying all of this! :-)
The activities have several different kinds of support that cater to all types of travelers that come to our area! Check it out:
Snorkeling Activities: You float because of the wetsuit and also the mandatory life vests. There is always a guide with the group, as well. Some options offer a rowboat and rest stops on top of all this.
Waterfalls and Nature Walks: It will always be possible to take a life vest with you. Some places may charge you for it. Aside from the vest, you can count on the guide to show you which areas are shallower and easier to get into and out of.
Tubing Activities: Everyone wears life vests and the instructors are well prepared to provide support for everyone.
Raft Ride: You rarely go into the river on this activity, because the raft is very stable. Even still, you wear a life vest and every rafts has a conductor.
Swim Areas: They all over life vests, which may sometimes be a paid service. They all also have people who are water rescue certified at key points around the rivers.
Fishing is not allowed in Bonito MS Brazil, but there are areas nearby where fishing is possible.
Going from Bonito to these areas will take anywhere between 1 and 6 hours, depending on the option chosen. These times are based on traveling in a regular, normal car.
It is possible to fish from the river bed or book boats and go on fishing boat rides. The options also include half day, full day, and even multi day possibilities.
The multi day packages may be in farms and lodges - where you leave to fish up and down rivers during the day and come back for dinner and overnight at the lodge at night - or you can go on the larger boats and sail the larger rivers in Pantanal - where you stay at the boat itself and can fish right there or leave on the smaller fishing boats that are attached. These boats are like very simple and small cruise ships and the packages tend to include all meals and drinks.
Fishing packages usually do not include things such as the poles, baits, etc. These things should be purchased or rented separately.
Be sure to look into the information about Piracema (Click here for the Wikipedia page) and other fishing rules within Brazil and the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
It is also important to know that having the right licenses is the client's responsibility. Go to http://pndpa.mdic.gov.br/pndpa/web/pesca_amadora.php and find out more about how it works.
The springs for the rivers where the Bonito MS Brazil activities take place surround Bonito in all directions. There are also some springs that are part of the activity themselves!
The water in the area comes from the ground at around 20 or 23 degrees Celsius. They tend to remain around that same temperature, because the activities take place near the springs.
Because of our high heat in the summers, it seems like the water is cold. In the winter, when the weather gets chilly, the water feels nice and warm in comparison. :-)
The wetsuits help with body temperature management during the snorkeling and scuba diving activities.
For the Bonito MS Brazil activities the best things to always have at hand are: Swim wear, towel, light clothing, sneakers, flip-flops and a hat. Sometimes you may need high socks and long sleeves or pants.
You can bring your own towel with you or rent one at some hotels. The activities normally do not offer any kind of towel service. Some of them have souvenirs shops, where you can buy a towel to use and keep it to remember the activity by. :-)
Booking through H2O Ecoturismo e Eventos you will see links to tips on what to take with you on the e-mails. You will also receive this info when you arrive, on the welcome letter. To make sure that you have the info easily accessible, the H2O voucher holder often shows the tips as well. And, to end this short text on a high note, here is the link to the tips right now! Haha
Bonito has 04 banks only:
1. Banco do Brasil
3. Caixa Econômica Federal
This means that options for getting cash out are limited. Brazil has Rede 24 Horas, which usually works for most world cards and banks. However, in Bonito this options is limited as well. The best thing to do is get cash out before coming to town. :-)
Some activities, hotels, stores and restaurants are able to take debit or credit cards, however it is not all of them and sometimes the connection is just poor in the area.
Most of them do, but it is good to always carry cash around Bonito or Pantanal. Because they are both remote areas, there is limited connection, so the card machines sometimes do not work. The activities are places where it is common to have problems, because they are in the more rural areas.
Bonito MS Brazil has different kinds of hotels. One of the most important things to know when you book is that all hotels in Bonito are local companies. There are no hotel chains in town.
It is also good to know that because of the limestone in the water, most hotels cannot offer your typical shower. The bathrooms in Bonito mostly have electric shower heads, which are common in other areas of Brazil as well.
Something else to think about is how "close to downtown" you would like to be. Because the town is small, this can be relative. Hotels located 1km away from downtown may sound close, but feel far when you are here, because Bonito downtown is small, only about 4 or 5 blocks along the main street.
With all of this in mind, you are better prepared to make your decision. Here is a little more information on each style you can choose from:
* Pousada is a Portuguese word that refers to smaller lodging places like inns or bed and breakfasts.
Small and Simple Pousadas: Most of these places are run and operated by the owners themselves. They take care of reservations, breakfast and front desk services. These are places with 6, 10 or 15 rooms at the most. When you stay at one of these places, you will have very close service and it may even seem like the owners are your parents or uncles and aunts. :-)
Simple Larger Pousadas: These are similar to the ones described above, but they may be as big as 20 or 30 rooms. The owners will have hired staff to help run the busier aspects, but are still very much involved in everyday operations. Some of these places have areas for grilling or small swimming pools. Some will also have phones in the rooms.
Small Hotels: When operation jumps to 40 or 50 rooms, we find hotels that are closer to what most travelers are used to. These are businesses with larger staff and services more like regular commercial hotels. These hotels will normally have a place for meals, a bar, a large swimming pool, a more complete breakfast, 24 hours front desk, etc. This is also the level where the regular showers start to show up, or even hair driers in the bathrooms.
Larger Hotels: These tend to be around 70 to 100 rooms. They usually have restaurants, swimming pool, gaming area, 24 hours staff and professional services. These places also offer the infrastructure you are used to seeing other places. Customer service has a much more professional approach. Some of these places have rooms and spaces for events. These will also often have regular showers, while some may still have the electric shower heads. Hair driers are common at this point and there may even be shampoo, conditioner, soap and such in the bathrooms.
Resorts: The resorts in Bonito offer what the larger hotels offer and more. You will probably have more meals included, some green space, workout rooms, pools, etc. This is the type of place for those who would like to spend sometime at the hotel itself. These also tend to have space for events. Because of all of the green space and large facilities, these types of places are normally far from town.
Nature or Farm Hotels: These places are far from the urban area, with lots of green spaces and sometimes even rivers to play in and enjoy! The lodging in itself tends to be comfortable, similar to the larger hotels in town. Because of the distance, most of these have dinner included. They are great choices for families with kids, because the little ones will be able to run around and play a lot. :-)
Several hotels and restaurants in Bonito are handicap accessible. There are also places where activities happens that have been able to work well with different kinds of handicap. It is important that you discuss the situation with the travel agent responsible for your bookings, so that the businesses involved can get a sense of how to best serve you.
For some hotels, this will mean making sure your room is on the ground floor. At the activities, it may be that you can "skip" the trail and be driven straight to the main spot. Things like that make it possible for everyone to enjoy Bonito's wonderful natural beauty! :-)
Campo Grande x Bonito:? 293 km (BR-060, BR-419, MS-382 and MS-178)
We suggest taking the way that goes through Sidrolândia, Nioaque and Guia Lopes, because it is completely paved. There are shorter ways that the GPS may suggest, but they will include non-paved areas. From Aquidauana to Bonito, for example, it is much shorter but over 100 km are not paved.
Campo Grande x Pantanal Sul:
Miranda: 202 km (BR- 262)
Corumbá: 425 km (BR-262)
Going from Campo Grande, the way to both Miranda and Corumbá are completely paved. There will be non-paved areas on the way to the farms and lodges themselves.
Bonito x Pantanal Sul:
Miranda: 134 km (MS-178 and MS-339)
The way between the towns of Bonito and Miranda is completely paved. There will be non-paved roads to get to the Pantanal farms and activities themselves.
The activities in Bonito vary significantly in terms of distances and pavement conditions. The distances themselves may be anywhere between 5 and 60 km. Here are some examples:
1. Snorkeling at Aquário Natural (Baía Bonita) is 7 km away and 5 of them are not paved;
2. The Waterfalls Park is 17 km away from town out of which 6 are not paved;
3. The snorkeling activity at Sucuri River is 19 km away and the entire way is not paved;
4. Boca da Onça Ecotur is 59 km away from town and about 10 of them are not paved;
Sort of... Haha
You can fly into Campo Grande, the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil, and pick-up a rental right there.
There are different options of directions to Bonito. The one we suggest is the one that goes through Sidrolândia, Nioaque and Guia Lopes. Click here for a map. This way is a bit farther, but it is 100% paved. Not all roads in Mato Grosso do Sul are two-lane, yet, but traffic in these areas is not very busy. The drive from Campo Grande to Bonito will take around 4 hours. Once in Bonito, you will have the car to come and go as you please, to activities, restaurants, shops, etc.
When it comes to Pantanal, things get trickier. You can leave Campo Grande and drive to Miranda or Corumbá easily. The roads to these towns are paved and well kept. However, tourism in Pantanal normally happens at the farms, lodges, and rivers. The access roads to these places are rarely paved and, because Pantanal floods part of the year, cannot be taken on by a normal, regular car. On top of that, Pantanal is a very remote area. Things are far from each other. There are few places for gas, food, bathrooms, etc. Trivial things can become a hassle on the trop. Given all of this, when going to Pantanal, the best thing to do really is hire local transportation services. This way you will have peace of mind in terms of directions and be in good hands with the locals.
The activities in Bonito MS Brazil all happen in private properties, which are business taking care of the activity itself. They focus on the guide service, the meals, the equipment and environmental maintenance of the area.?
Transportation and logistics are left to other companies, such as the local tourism agencies, which organize several options that cater to various types of travelers. This is why transportation is offered separately and the prices can vary so much. Here is more information on each kind to help you decide what is best for your trip:
Car Rental: You can rent a car and drive yourself places. Depending on the rent-a-car company you choose, pick-up and drop-off may be in Bonito or in Campo Grande. Look into what is best for you. Once in Bonito, the roads to the activities are well marked and booking through H2O Ecoturismo e Eventos you will receive a map, so that you can navigate with not trouble. The best part of renting a car in Bonito is that you can leave earlier or stay longer at the places where the activities happen. This means you may have more time to get ready or enjoy the hammocks, for example.
Exclusive Vehicle: This tends to be the best all around option. It is basically a hired vehicle that includes a driver and fuel. You will be picked up at your hotel at the agreed time and dropped off for your activity. In the end, the driver will again pick you up at the time set and bring you straight back to your hotel. Because the service is exclusive to you, everything is organized and set according to your plans. The best part for those in exclusive vehicles is peace of mind in terms of directions and confidence in terms of costs, because everything is set ahead of time.
Shared Vehicles: This is sometimes also called Shared Transportation or Regular Transportation. If you are alone, or in no more than 3 people, it may be the cheapest option. It is always good to do the math and double check. It is cheaper, because as the name says, it is shared with other people and other agencies. This means the group can be a bit limited in terms of times and plans. Because each person is picked up at their hotel, this option of transportation can be late or arrive earlier than planned. It will always depend on the day and the group. Once the activity ends, the vehicle will normally leave right away, so that it can drop everybody off and go on to do other services. This means you are less free to choose and decide things. This options is good for people who are willing to give up certain privileges in order to save some money or really enjoy being around other travelers and meeting new people. The key trait here is the low cost.
Some yes, but not all.
The roads that connect the towns themselves, if you follow the directions suggest by H2O Ecoturismo e Eventos, are all paved.
When it comes to the Bonito activities, not all. Most of them will be a mix of paved and unpaved roads. While in Bonito, even the unpaved roads are ok for normal, regular cars.
In Pantanal, however, things change a bit. Some unpaved roads are ok for the normal, regular cars, but most are not. In fact, because Pantanal floods part of the year, there are areas that sometimes require 4x4 vehicles or even airplanes.
Yes, it is possible. It does not happen all of the time, but it may happen with you! It depends on each person's luck and awareness. In fact, this is a great reason to drive carefully in the area. It is common for animals to walk or run across the roads and highways, especially on the way between Bonito and Pantanal.
Azul Linhas Aéreas, a Brazilian airline, has regular flights on Wednesdays and Sundays. They leave from Viracopos Airport in Campinas straight to Bonito's airport, which is about 15 km from downtown.
Sometimes there are extra flights on Saturdays, due to holidays or vacation.
The Bonito airport is also ready for small, exclusive planes. You may hire a Cessna, for example, to bring you from Campo Grande, Aquidauana or some farm or lodge in Pantanal. These flight services may cost a bit more, but they are totally worth it! Traveling this way is faster, safer and the landscapes and sights turn it out into an unforgettable experience!
Bonito MS Brazil is a town that is great any time of the year! It will all depend on the kind of traveler you are, what you want out of YOUR trip! Here is some general information:
The first semester tends to be less busy. This is good for those who like to see less people around town or at the activities. This also makes it good for people who plan to bring large groups or host large events in town. Because business is slower around this time, companies are more willing to negotiate prices and terms.
Those who like people and busyness will prefer the second part of the year. These kinds of travelers may also want to try to come during the high season (School vacation or national holidays), when the town is at full capacity. Activity slots are even more limited during these periods, so think carefully.
The people who are more worried about the weather will be glad to know that december, january and february are the rainier months. Summer showers in between sunny moments are common around this time. It does not change the temperature much. It is always hot here around this time. It also does not tend to affect the activities, which will usually happen just the same.
For people who like cooler temperatures, the winter is the best time to visit. May, June and July are the months when the heat dials back a little. Travelers who prefer this kind of situation may also like to know that the water temperatures remain about the same. The river springs are always around 20 or 23 degrees Celsius.
The snorkeling and scuba diving activities in Bonito are all prepared for travelers who have no experience.
As result, they all include the equipment in the activity prices. They only work with the better brands and the maintenance is top notch, up to national and international standards.
Given all of this, it is not at all necessary for you bring your own equipment.
Should you choose to bring it anyways, their use must be checked and cleared by each place and the activity prices remain the same, just like the standard controlled rates.
Yes, because all Bonito visitors must be included in the Voucher Unico system, which is organized and controlled by the town government and available only to the agencies.
The activities in Bonito focus on the operations themselves. Sales, organization and reservations are done only by the local agencies, which must always follow the strict, predetermined rules and prices.
This seems strange, but turns out to be a good thing for the travelers who come to the area, because you only drive all the way to an activity when you know for a fact that there will be availability for you!