Pretty Bonito

We had got a tip from a really helpful guy in Rio that we should definitely visit Bonito when we were out in the Pantenal. So we did.  
Bonito itself is a nice small town seemingly in the middle of nowhere but with loads of activities to enjoy in the surrounding areas. Sandro our taxi driver had sorted us out with the best couple of things to do so at 6am we were picked up and off on the road.
One of the animals I was desperate to see in this area was the giant anteater and with all the termite mounds around I had my fingers crossed. Sure enough it wasn’t long before we spotted one, what a fantastically unusual animal, just a bit of a shame that the taxi driver wouldn’t hang around long enough for us to get a decent photo but at least we got to see one!!!
The first activity we were booked on was to go snorkeling at the Rio de Prata which was an absolutely crystal clear river. And when I say crystal clear it was the clearest water I have ever seen and it was absolutely beautiful to be able to dip into the cold waters and get out of the incredible heat (pushing 40)
After about a 1km walk through the forest we arrived at the start of the river where we donned our snorkeling gear and eased ourselves into the wonderfully cool crystal clear water, teeming with fish. It was really interesting to be able to see where the river started as you could see the spring bubbling away at the bottom.
The float down the river was amazing and a definite highlight of the trip, we got to see loads of fish who seemed not to be bothered by us at all!! And to be able to just float down the river was great as we were able to just lie there and watch everything unfold before our eyes.
Three hours of floating passed in no time and before we knew it we were back at the farm where lunch was served (it always seems to be a buffet, no complaints here) and then a couple of hours relaxing in hammocks waiting for the heat of the day to pass. Brilliant
The place we were at was quite interesting as it was attempting to be an ecotourist resort and so they grew all their own vegetables for all the tourists as well as having cattle, chickens and just about everything else. So while it was a little expensive the whole experience was absolutely superb.
One of the other main attractions in this area is the Buraco das Araras which is basically the second largest sinkhole in the world and is home to about 50 pairs of Macaws.  
A little history first, the sinkhole exists in an area predominantly used as farm land so was considered pretty useless by the farmers in the area. Well that is until they realized they could dump all of their rubbish in it! But better than that it used to be considered a great place to dump bodies in as there was no easy way of getting down to the bottom!!! 
Then a farmer decided to clean it up and so (and I didn’t quite get the details) but the army were used to get all the rubbish out by abseiling down and then carrying the rubbish back up as a training exercise. This was when they discovered the 20 bodies which had been dumped there.
The farmer then introduced a pair of Macaws into the area and they have attracted other birds and bred to produce the 50 pairs which live there today. (Our guide said fifty but a few of the books claim 200 plus)
It was fantastic to see the birds, and although it was really too hot to see huge numbers we got to see plenty. The animals all looked amazingly healthy and the colors were just something else. Such rich reds, blues and greens. Also it was really interesting to see all the birds in pairs. Apparently the birds can live for 60-70 years and remain with the same partner for that whole time!!
Back in Bonito for the evening it was still sweltering, now I will admit that me sweating is no great surprise to anyone but when Sarah is complaining about the heat you know it’s hot!! And it’s only Spring!!!  
So we went to the main square where there were a whole host of restaurants and cafes with tables out and sat and had a deliciously cold beer and a couple of empanadias which with a little bit of picante sauce were equally as good. No I lie the cold beer was better 😉

   
Above is the start of the river, and below is the actual point where the spring was bubbling up from under the ground.  As we swam above it you could actually feel how much colder that water was.

    
 
Sarah snorkelling down just unbelievably clear.

   
 
Some of the fish we saw on the way down, these ones were all fairly large, about a foot long but were certainly not phased by our presence. Above some Pacu and below a Dourada

   
 
This tree looks fake but that’s actually how the bark grows,  it’s design allows the outside of the the tree to burn whilst protecting the inside.  

   
The sinkhole at Buraco das Araras at about 100m deep it would have been a pretty impressive operation to get all the rubbish out.

 
A few shots of the residents at the sinkhole the Araras (macaws)

   
 

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