We had heard that Bonito Brazil was a must stop on our way back from Iguazu Falls. Bonito is a paradox. Surrounded by open fields filled with cattle, you would never know pockets of jungle with crystal clear water flowing throw rock-bottom rivers are tucked into the folds and crevices of the area.
We had Camping do Gordo to ourselves aside from the occasional young couple escaping what I can only assume were their families prying eyes. The campsite is situated on one of the clear rivers. After acclimating to the cool water, we started our first float downstream. It was so perfectly serene with light refracting off the water’s surface.
Bonito offers plenty of activities, but the real draw is the Rio Prata (Silver River). To visit the river, you drive over dirt roads and past perplexed cows to the jumping off point of the tour. Nestled in lush surroundings is a well manicured base where your procure wet suit and snorkel for a float down the river. A short hike gets you to the starting point of the roughly 2-hour trip. Floating downstream we passed what felt like hundreds of tiny little worlds nestled in tree roots stretched into the river from the banks. The experience is more like scuba diving than snorkeling because you are not fighting with the currents.
G and I were already falling in love with Brazil, and Bonito really sealed the deal for us.
We made the call in Pantanal, Brazil to make the drive south to Iguazu Falls instead of coming north from Buenos Aires. As you can see from the video below, we had an OK time.
Note: We stayed at Hostal Natura on the Brazilian side which is a little out of the city, but has great facilities for campers, a pool, and a swimmable lake. There is also an organic veggie farm near by with amazing produce. Highly recommend.
We visited the Brazilian side the first day from which you get a better sense of how expansive the falls are.
Outside the park entrance is a bird sanctuary which feels a little like a zoo. Don’t fear though, their mandate is to rehabilitate injured birds and provide shelter for those who are not able to reenter the wild.
The following day we headed to the Argentine side of the falls. It wasn’t until the eleventh hour and some encouraging sentiments from our guide that we decided to take the plunge in the form of a boat hauling ass towards the falls. The entire ride took 30 minutes or so which was enough time to take four passes at the falls.
Originally I wrote this as part of the Pantanal blog post but I decided this issue annoyed me enough to actually bother with making it a separate post.
On the way out of Pantanal we stopped in the city of Cuiaba. The FIFA World Cup 2014 is going to be in Brazil and Cuiaba is one of the host cities for the tournament. The Brazilian government chose Cuiaba to promote tourism in Pantanal. The World Cup stadium is called Arena Pantanal which is kind of cool since after our little adventure there I feel emotional attachment to this amazing place. When we went to see the new stadium I really started wondering. The stadium was nowhere close to being finished with six months left to the beginning of the tournament.
When I looked on the official FIFA page for the stadium turns out the stadium does not have an official completion date. It is possible the website designers decided the date is implied so they cut it out from their masterpiece. However it made me think what happens if a stadium is not really finished in time. I guess as long as the stands, grass and TV cameras are in place it will all look ok?
The thing that blew my mind, this brand new stadium is being built to host four games (link). Really FIFA?! Not sure if this is corruption, but it looks wasteful to me for sure. We are talking about building a $210 million USD stadium. The cost per minute of playing time for four games is $583,333 USD in this stadium alone … What happened with frugality and common sense?
That big thing on the left side of the picture is half of the roof.
Let me in !
Picture from FIFA official website. How Arena Pantanal is supposed to look finished.