Bonito directly translates as beautiful and this is completely fitting for Bonito, Brazil. It is a quaint town surrounded by beautiful rivers, waterfalls and caves. Bonito is not well known on the international tourist circuit and is a great addition to your trip to Brazil. I found out about Bonito through my Brother-in-law who is from Sao Paulo and I am so glad I went! Now is the time to go to Bonito while it is still a hidden gem. Here you will find the perfect itinerary for 2 days in Bonito.
Why Visit Bonito
Bonito itself is a calm town with a high reputation for eco-tourism. The main attraction in Bonito is snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of the Rio de Prata with the huge amounts of fish in it. You can even go scuba diving! I snorkelled with so many fish that I felt like I was in finding nemo. There are also loads of spots to swim in waterfalls surrounded by jungle. Another highlight of visiting Bonito is taking in the beautiful Blue lagoon cave with a lake of bright blue water.
My Trip to Bonito
I visited Bonito in July 2022 for 2 days after an amazing 4-day trip to the Pantanal. I arranged my trip to Bonito through Gil at Pantanal Discovery. It was super easy to do it this way especially as I attached it to my trip to the Pantanal through him. Gil was brilliant at communicating and gave really good advice. (This is not a sponsored post – just my honest opinion).
Although I arranged my trip to Bonito with an organised tour, a trip to Bonito would be really easy to do on your own. There are many tour operators that provide day trips or just take a taxi to each destination from your accommodation. If you are visiting in high season it is a good idea to book your visits in advance to avoid disappointment.
How to get to Bonito
How to get to Bonito by Bus
If you are arriving to Bonito overland, you may have to change in Campo Grande, the nearest large town. Campo Grande is a 4 hour drive from Bonito. Campo Grande is also the gateway town to visit the southern Pantanal.
When I did my 2 days in Bonito, I got an overnight bus from Iguazu falls to Campo Grande and then got a transfer onto Bonito after visiting the Pantanal.
How to get to Bonito via plane
There is a small airport in Bonito that has daily flights to Campinas with Azul. There are 3 flights a week to Sao Paulo with GOL. If you are looking to fly to other destinations in Brazil, it could be easier to get a flight from Campo Grande airport which has more departures.
Where to Stay in Bonito
Bonito has lots of infrastructure for tourism meaning the options to stay are plenty for every budget! I would recommend choosing somewhere to stay in the centre of Bonito. This gives you lots of choice to go out in the evenings and is easy to leave the town centre to explore the nature during the day.
Where to eat and drink in Bonito
There are many options to eat and drink during your 2 days in Bonito. You can find great places for great food (both Brazilian and international) accompanied with a delicious caipirinha. My personal favourite is the Vila Rebua food court. There are lots of different options and live music. Casa Joao is also a great choice for Brazilian food. A lovely ice-cream place is Allegra gelato & café on the main square.
2 days in Bonito, Day 1: Blue Lake Cave and Snorkelling in Rio de Prata
Blue Lake Cave
My first day of adventuring in Bonito started early. I woke up at 6.30am to eat breakfast at my hostel before being picked up by our lovely driver Carmen at 7.30am.
The drive from the centre of Bonito to the caves was approximately 40 minutes. We were greeted by the very friendly staff and given our group number. The groups were about 15-20 people each. Closed shoes are needed to enter the caves. I was wearing Havaiana flip flops (a must in Brazil!), so rented closed shoes for 10Rs.
We were all given a safety briefing and a hard hat. We signed an insurance form that even included our blood type which made me think we were about to do some extreme caving – it definitely wasn’t.
After the initial instructions, it was a short walk to the entrance of the cave. There are almost 300 steps to get to the bottom of the cave but wow is it worth it. The water is picture perfect bright blue – it was stunning.
Why is the Blue Lake Cave So Special?
The explanation our guide gave us was in Portuguese but one of our group members kindly translated for me and my 2 English speaking pals. The blue of the water has that colour because of the way that the light reflects from the ceiling of the cave onto the water. The cave has a really interesting history, fossils of prehistoric animals have been found within. Fossils of a sabretooth tiger, a giant sloth and armadillos have been found within.
We were given lots of photo opportunities with no one in the background. We had to wear facemasks in the cave due to Covid but were all good to take them off for the photos. The visit in total took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then we jumped back in the car to go to Rio De Prata.
Rio De Prata
Prepping to Snorkel
We arrived at Rio de Prata with time to spare for a tour to start at 11.30am. We were checked in with our details and given an explanation by our guide. Our guide only spoke Portuguese but again we had a translator in our group – very handy! Although after the initial explanation, the majority of the tour was underwater so not much talking was involved.
We were given short sleeved wetsuits that were 5mm thick as well as some water shoes. The water temperature started at 25°C and further downstream was 20°C. Because of the amount of time you are in the water, the wetsuit is definitely appreciated.
The visit starts with a quick tour around the organic vegetable farm as well as a homemade dulce de leche point. Then we all jumped into an open top jeep for about 10 minutes to get to the entrance point of the river.
Before getting into the river, we were given lifejackets and snorkels with masks. You can rent a full face snorkel for 10Rs if you want. We were given quick instructions on how to swim to disturb the fish as little as possible.
Snorkelling in the Rio de Prata
When I first entered the water I was genuinely shocked! I don’t think I have ever seen that many fish in my life. And to add to that the water was crystal clear. It was so impressive.
We floated down stream and just enjoyed the views of the fish with the occasional photoshoot opportunity from the in-house photographer. There was one section when we needed to get out of the water and walk for about 5 minutes. We got back in the water at a rapid section which was fun.
There are a couple of underwater springs which are so impressive. The patterns formed in the sand looked like a boiling pan of water. It was a bit mind bending to be honest – I couldn’t quite get my head around it.
For the final colder section there is a chance to get out into a boat but if you can, try to avoid it. This is because the last section has the most amount of fish. I genuinely felt like I was in finding Nemo – is this the way to 42 Wallaby Way Sydney??
The whole excursion was about 3.5 hours. It was quite a while to be in the water so I was ready to get out and warm up after.
We jumped back on the jeep to come back to the start point for a late lunch. The lunch was included in the entrance ticket and was a yummy buffet. The homemade dulce de leche was a true highlight.
Before leaving, I bought some of the photos as I don’t have a GoPro or waterproof camera. (If anyone wants to buy me a GoPro I won’t say no!). We got back in the taxi to chill in the hostel before going out to dinner in Bonito town.
2 days in Bonito, Day 2: Swim in 6 beautiful waterfalls at Ceita Core
Swimming in the Waterfalls
When there are exciting things to see, no time to sleep in! I was up at 6.30am for another 7.30am pickup with the lovely Carmen again. We arrived at the ranch of Ceita Core to check in with our details and have a coffee. The ranch and house itself was absolutely stunning and had a really relaxing atmosphere.
We were offered water shoes for 10Rs but I chose not to as I had my trusty Havaianas. If you don’t have shoes that are good with wet feet this is a good idea as you get in and out of water a lot during this trip.
The excursion in total is a 4km walk to visit 7 different waterfalls. 6 of the waterfalls swimmable. Each of the waterfalls is beautiful and surrounded by beautiful jungle. The walk takes you across bridges over the river and means you can explore some of the nature. Some of the swim spots have swings, jumping points and my favourite a pulley jump!
Source of the River
The last stop of the trip is to the source of the river. It is an underwater cave which they provide a mask to be able to see into it. The cave is over 150m deep and the water is a deep blue colour with lots of fish in it. It is a really impressive thing to see. From the source of the river, it is a quick walk back to the ranch in time for lunch.
The lunch was a lovely buffet of Brazilian food. We then had the opportunity to enjoy the facilities of the ranch for the rest of the afternoon. There are options of paddle boarding, kayaks and even horse-riding. I took the relaxing seriously and had a nap in a hammock, oops.
There is a swimming pool at the ranch that is filled with the water from the source of the river. It is refilled each day so is fresh and clean, there are even fish that come in too! We were then collected at 4pm for a transfer back to Bonito. I then went onto Campo Grande to catch a flight the next day to Sao Paulo.
Thats the end of your 2 days in Bonito
That’s the end of your perfect itinerary for 2 days in Bonito. I hope it was helpful and please let me know in the comments what you thought of Bonito!