Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brazil: Mato Grosso do Sul State - "Thick Forest of the South"

The good in doing tourism in Brazil are the numerous options that our country offers. Mato Grosso do Sul is a great picture of it. The state compensates for the fact of not being bathed by the sea, with priceless scenarios. Crystal clear rivers, waterfalls, caves, dense tracks the immensity wetland flooded ... phew! It's difficult to talk about this natural wilderness.

Photo by Mirian Coura Aveiro

Photo by Mirian Coura Aveiro

Photo by Mirian Coura Aveiro

Known for its biodiversity, ecotourism is an important attraction in Mato Grosso do Sul, especially in the southern region of Pantanal. Recognized by Unesco as a World Natural Heritage and a Biosphere Reserve, Pantanal is a plain that is subject to periodic flooding and one of the most diverse natural reserves on the planet. The main town in Pantanal is Corumbá, where sport fishing is a strong attraction.

Photo by Valentim Manieri

Photo by Mirian Coura Aveiro

The Correntoso a Cavalo Route, comprising the municipalities of Aquidauana, Corumbá and Miranda offers a ride through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Pantanal. It is a 7-8-day horse ride with stops at three lodges, each with different attractions but all with good infrastructure such as rooms with air-conditioning, swimming pools, Pantanal horses and typical regional cuisine.

The ongoing work of erosion has ensured the current shape of the Bodoquena Mountain Range, where the town of Bonito is located. The area houses huge caves crossed by rivers of clear water, which are ideal for diving.
Negro River, Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul / Photo: Embratur

The state capital, Campo Grande, is marked by the diversity of customs, music and cuisine and reflects unique cultural traits due to the natural heritage left by the Indians and Europeans, Japanese, Paraguayans, Bolivians and migrants from other states. (Source: Embratur)

Campo Grande, the Capital. Photo by viajeaquiabril

Mato Grosso do Sul is one of the most aesthetically beautiful states in Brazil in terms of its abundant plant and animal species and its gorgeous views. This makes it a popular destination amongst tourists from Brazil as well as from other countries all over the world. It is surrounded by the states of Mato Grosso, Goiás, Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Paraná as well as by the South American countries of Paraguay and Bolivia. Mato Grosso do Sul maintains good relationships with these neighbouring countries, largely because of its location and the relative challenge of accessing other great centers in Brazil that it experiences. Therefore, some of its culture, customs and peoples reflect those of such neighbours, integrating these nations with one another to a certain, yet significant, extent.

Photo by Valentim Manieri

Photo by Valentim Manieri

The name "Mato Grosso do Sul" literally means "Thick Forest of the South" in Portuguese, a name inherited from its northern neighbour state of Mato Grosso, of which it was part until the 1970s. It is not uncommon for people to mistakenly refer to Mato Grosso do Sul as simply "Mato Grosso". Other names that were proposed, at the time of the split and afterwards, include "Pantanal" (a reference to its best known geographical feature) and "Maracaju" (a reference to the Maracaju mountain range that crosses the state from north to south).

This State is hot and humid and its boasts subtropical and tropical climates. Even the cooler winter months are sunny, with daytime highs of about 24 degrees Celsius. The distinct rainy season extends from October to March of every year. With these ample rains, the marshes fill with water, creating a complex system of waterways on which boats provide the main source of transport. Gallery forests and stream valleys cut through vast savannahs in this country, creating a spectacle of natural wonder. There are a large number of grottos and caves, which have been protected from the harmful effects of human habitation to an enormous degree, ensuring that their splendour is authentic and breath-taking in its simplicity.

Photo by Valentim Manieri
"Here where the river embraces the forest and where the waters kiss the trees we feel the eternal presence of God " - Valentim Manieri
Photo by Valentim Manieri
Photo by Valentim Manieri

One of the major obstacles to the industrial sector in Mato Grosso do Sul is the distinct lack of power, which is a necessary resource for almost every form of business. While the service sector maintains dominance in its contribution to the region’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), it is closely followed by agriculture. Soybeans, pork and chicken are very important products of the region and are also major exports. In addition, wheat and cotton are vital crops.
Truck on a scale with a load of soybeans in Brazil, soy storage silos in the background. Photo by brazilorg

Mato Grosso do Sul boasts a number of tourist attractions, most of which are centered on the incredible natural beauty of the area. Some of these include:

• The Rio da Prata (River of Silver) in Jardim.
• Pantanal – the exquisite tropical wetland and the largest flooded lowland in the world.
• Bonito – famous for its clear waters and impressive geological formations. While here, visit Gruta Lago Azul (Blue Lake Cave), Fazenda Estancia Mimosa, Aquario Natural and the Sucuri, Prata, and Formoso rivers.
• The Maracaju Mountain Range
• Corumbá – also called “The White City” for its high percentage of calcium

source: brazilorg

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The "Chapada dos Guimarães" a place that is steeped in mystery!

Cachoeira Véu de Noiva (Waterfall Bridal Veil) and its more than 80 m waterfall Photo: blogmundi

The Chapada dos Guimarães National Park (Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Guimarães in Portuguese) is a national park in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

Situated in the heart of Brazil, Chapada dos Guimaraes offers the visitor a variety of wildlife, including maned wolf, pampas deer, anteater and crowned caiman. 

The topography indicates that at some time in the past the entire area was ocean floor. The typical vegetation of the savannah (known in Brazil as cerrado) comprises colourful flowers, low and twisted trees, and gallery forest which contains many diverse plant species.

The Chapada dos Guimaraes lies only 46 miles from Cuiaba (and almost as an extension to it). Its scenario, which is also where the rivers rise before flowing into the Amazon Basin to the north and the River Plate Basin to the south, has helped create the mystique that in the Chapada it is possible to regenerate energy and that even the UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) were attracted by it - there is even an "Ufoport" at its highest point, the Morro de São Jerônimo. 

The Chapada divides the state of Mato Grosso into a southern area of flat wetland – the Pantanal – and the central upland region of high plateau. Further north lays the southernmost extent of Amazon rainforest.

Chapada is a Brazilian word that means a region of steep cliffs, usually at the edge of a plateau.

Photo: challengingyourdreams

Photo: pantanalechapada

Photo: wikimedia.org

white egret Photo: portaltagit

The Chapada dos Guimarães National Park was created in 1989 with the objective of protecting the enormous sandstone formations, outlooks that provide a broad view of the swampland plains and many waterfalls, thanks to the rich hydrography and sudden changes in altitude. In its 33 thousand hectares, the location is also home to more than 50 archaeological sites with prehistoric cave pictures and animal fossils. It is a natural Brazilian heritage.

The twisted trees are unique; flowers of all colours and exotic fruit exhibit a generous and beautiful Cerrado. The Park is open for the public from 8AM to 5PM, and it can be visited all year long. But the best time to get to know the location is between May and July, when the region is filled with flowers and the waterfalls are full. During the rainy season, between December and April, the trails are dangerous and access to some attractions is blocked.

If you happen to be visiting in July, it is worth mentioning that the Winter Festival takes place at the time. This is a very interesting occurrence that attracts artists and craftsmen from all over,and providing a mixture of ancient and modern art along with quite the underground, counterculture kind of atmosphere. 

Photo: viajeaquiabril
Photo: 27weeksinsouthamerica

Photo: challengingyourdreams

Photo: challengingyourdreams

Photo: brasilturista

Photo: pantanalcamping

Photo: adrenalinamt
Morro de São Jerônimo: This is the highest point of Chapada, 850 meters above the sea level. This hill is flattened, called ufoporto, or landing strip for UFOs. To get to the hillside, a 1 and a half hour walk to two hours is required, you need good physical preparation. In this way, there are fossils of shells embedded in the rocks, demonstrating the ancient geological formation beyond the natural sandstone sculptures.

Trails in the Chapada are excellent, so bring your hiking boots to avoid the snakes! Visit the Park Visitor Center, located about 5 miles inside the park from the entrance. (065-301- 1133) Obtain a map of the park, and go explore and take in the beautiful views, waterfalls and trails. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Amazon: Meeting of the Waters

One of the main attractions for travelers to Manaus is the visit to the Meeting of the Waters. The phenomenon is considered a Brazilian tourist spot, and many travel agencies offer boat tours of the region, carried out in Janauari Ecological Park.

These tours are more frequent in the period of full river (January to July), and  in addition it becomes more clear the beauty of the natural spectacle and also you can still see many animals like birds, monkeys, sloths and more. A tour really unforgettable. But you know why this happens? Why the waters do not mix?

It's amazing, but for more than 5 km the clear and muddy waters of the Solimões river run side by side with the black water of the Negro river, without mixing. The "Rio Negro" as its name suggests, is a river of very dark waters. Its black tea staining is due to the large amount of organic acids from decaying vegetation. It features a high degree of acidity, pH 3.8 to 4.9, has an average temperature of 28 ° C and flows slowly to about 2 km per hour.

For other hand the Solimões River has a very similar muddy color with latte. All this because of the large number of sediment that the water carries to flow beneath the Andes. It is cooler than the Rio Negro, having 22° C. In addition, flows much faster, running about 6 km per hour.

The Meeting of the Waters is the meeting of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimões, that initially do not mix. Once they join, were given the name of the Amazon River, a major economical means and transport for the inhabitants of the city of Manaus.

The composition difference of the acidity rate, flow temperature and the density is what prevents mixing of the two when they meet. The color contrast is very striking, and this phenomenon can be seen even from space.

Sometimes the water encounters obstacles that form strong swirls shaking the two rivers, making very beautiful shapes.

Watch the following video produced with exclusive images by Amazon Portal team:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cuiabá the "Southern gate to the Amazon"

Cuiabá is the capital of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso! It is located in the exact centre of South America and forms the metropolitan area of the state, along with the neighbouring town of Várzea Grande. The city is actually two sister cities separated by the Rio Cuiabá: Old Cuiabá and Várzea Grande (where the airport is located). Its name is an indigenous bororo word meaning ‘arrow-fishing'.

Cuiabá is a trading center for an extensive cattle-raising and agricultural area. The capital is between some of the fastest-growing cities in Brazil. The city is the seat of the Federal University of Mato Grosso and the largest football stadium of the state, Arena Pantanal.

Cuiabá City Hall

There is a very rich local culture based on Portuguese, African and Amerindian influences. It is home to an interesting Indian (native American) influenced cuisine, native dances, craftwork and music and numerous museums reflect this. Known as the "Southern gate to the Amazon", Cuiabá experiences a hot humid tropical climate.

The city sits in the middle of three biomes, or habitats, that surround the city:
Cerrado - the Brazilian savannah
Pantanal - one of the world's largest tropical wetlands
The Amazon - the great river
Even though it is much less humid than Manaus to the north, Cuiaba still reaches up to 37C (98F) in the winter.

Most people arrive in Cuiabá and immediately leave on a Pantanal tour. The hotels, sights, and restaurants all within walking distance of the town center. The main hotel neighborhood and center of town is quite safe. The only part of town to avoid is along the riverside. Taxis are inexpensive -- (US$2.30-US$6.95) to get around town -- and quick for getting out to the airport or bus station. Lodges will usually arrange transportation and pickup from hotels.

Three days is the minimum reasonable itinerary for the Pantanal. Four or five days allows you to take things easier; with wildlife viewing, the longer you spend in an area, the better your chances of seeing animals. 
  • Take a guided hike, and after sunset, go for a spotlight drive on the Transpantaneira highway to see the night creatures: capybaras, tarantulas, and (with the most incredible of luck) jaguars. It is also strongly recommended that you take the time to explore the Pantanal as it was meant to be seen, on the back of a horse. The Transpantaneira is an elevated dirt road that runs from the small town of Pocone to Porto Joffre. It is known all over the world as an extraordinary place to view and photograph wildlife. The infrastructure of numerous lodges along the Transpantaneira provides for easy and comfortable access. The various lodges offer a variety of ambiances and nature viewing opportunities. It was here that Jacque Cousteau and his film crew came in the 1980’s to photograph wildlife for a documentary on the Amazon Basin because the photography there was so difficult.
  • Canoeing one of the North Pantanal's small rivers is a great way to spot monkeys and giant river otters.
  • After exploring the Pantanal, consider a 1-day or overnight trip to the Chapada dos Guimarães, the highlands to the north of Cuiabá. The beautiful red-rock formations, plateaus, and canyons offer excellent hiking and fabulous views, great waterfalls and swimming holes, and some excellent birdlife, including red macaws and also visiting the town of Bom Jardim.

Photo: wildpantanal

A Pataxo Indian celebrates after his tribe defeated their competitors in a tug of war competition during the 12th Indigenous Games in Cuiaba, Brazil (2013).
Photo: Felipe Dana/AP
One top rated restaurant: CHOPPÃO @CUIABÁ, BRAZIL. Occupying an entire junction, this Cuiabá restaurant offers huge portions of meat and fish for two, all chased with frigid chope (draft beer) in specially iced tankards.
Photos: tohomefromlondon

Some Cuiaba Attractions

1. Our Lady "Bom Despacho" church
2. Sesc Arsenal Theater
3. Museum of Indigenous People "Marechal Rondon"
4. Historic Museum
Our Lady "Bom Despacho" churchHigh on a hill, has neo-Gothic style that imitates the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Photo: wikipedia

Historic Museum of Mato Grosso. Photo: wikipedia.org

SESC Arsenal Theater. Photo: wikipedia.org

Marechal Rondon Museum. Photo: wikipedia.org
Some sources: wikipedia and wikitravel