This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)
Bonito è una città del Mato Grosso Do Sul molto famosa per la sua propensione al turismo ecologico. Lungo la strada che da Iguazù ci ha condotto fino a questo luogo ci è capitato spesso di scambiare quattro chiacchiere con qualcuno e ogni volta ci è stato chiesto se Bonito sarebbe stata la nostra prossima destinazione. Famosa in tutto il paese questa località è di fatto un’importante attrazione per il mercato del turismo brasiliano e effettivamente quando si arriva in questo posto si percepisce immediatamente la sua propensione al ricevimento dei visitatori.
Urbanistically speaking, Bonito is a small town that looks almost entirely on the only main street where you can find shops, ice-cream parlors, restaurants and major tourist agencies. Parallel to the main street there are two other streets where instead all local services such as mini-markets, hardware, dressmakers and bakers are located.
As we said Bonito is a real model for Brazilian tourism, and in particular it is the flagship of the eco-tourism sector. For all Bonito effects is a real playground that exploits the water resources of its district. The feeling of trying to get to Bonito is to leave Brazil for a moment to enter a place where the day runs at a different pace. Everything here seems to be moving in terms of tourism and the same is the one that marks the times of everyday life of all the inhabitants.
What you perceive in Bonito is perhaps accentuated by the fact that in the rest of Mato Grosso do Sul for all the effects there are not many tourist attractions. On the other hand, the whole area around Bonito has spectacular natural resources and the locals have been able to make use of it. There are caves, caves with lakes and formations of stalactites, waterfalls and incredibly clear rivers surrounded by a lush forest where you can swim along with hundreds of fish. The organization is impeccable, everything is hand in hand with the private tourist agencies that sell to the visitors the packets of attractions and they are obliged to practice all the same price. Every year the owners decide on the prices of their activities and the agencies adjust the rates accordingly.
The attractions in question are more than 40, and virtually none is within walking distance of Bonito. Agencies are involved in organizing all the outbound support infrastructure, travel, meals, overnight stays. A real industry that involves the whole community.
Our low-budget travelers do not really fit the peculiar features of a place like this, in fact the first problem we have to face is our Valentino accommodation. There are no free parking spaces and campsites in the country are really overpriced. Everyone tells us that the whole country is very quiet, and we believe it, but we will go to Bonito for several days and park along the road does not seem to us the best choice. We request information from one of the many tourist agencies in the country, but these are more used to working with tourists who buy packages of attractions, rather than those who are looking for a place to park for free.
We will finish passing the first night on the road, then find accommodation in the enclosed car park of a service station (Aroeira Place). This place that is located in the center is for us an ideal accommodation, because being completely self sufficient what is enough is a minimum of privacy. We will also have the chance to download the motorcycle and leave it parked safely for several days next to our truck, which would have seemed less workable along the way.
But let’s talk about Bonito, which has been known as the eco-tourist destination since the early ’90s and which contributed to the birth of the Serra da Bodoquena National Park. Although many of the attractions are within the park itself due to the privatization of the territory, much of it is inaccessible to tourists. Visitors are guided and guided by the owners of the Fazende – who are also the same owners of the attractions – in very specific areas and all in all limited. Do not imagine yourself losing the inside of the park and spending the days in the company of nature alone, so Bonito does not work that way.
As far as we are concerned, we will have the incredible luck of trying some of the attractions together with Ivo and Silvia, who came to see us from Italy! We had a lot of fun snorkeling with the fish for over two hours dragged by the Rio Da Prata stream. We did a great swim in the magical Lagoa Misteriosa, a small lake whose depth is not known but certainly exceeds 200 meters. We walked into the Cave of Lake Azul, where in addition to the stalactites that chase the light we admired a lake with blue water. Finally, we went for a walk in the woods, followed by a long snorkeling in Rio Sucuri, where we swam between the crystal clear springs of the river.